xmlns:og='http://ogp.me/ns#' Yeah. Good Times.: At the start of the busy IEP season...

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

At the start of the busy IEP season...

So, apparently the general consensus is that 3rd grade is the year when other kids start to clue in to weirdness and it's time to start teaching the child how to pretend to be normal. This means that he's not allowed to run back and forth against the fence at the back of the yard and he's DEFINITELY not allowed to draw roads in the mulch on the playground. This according to the new Resource Specialist (or whateverthefuck her title is today) who I actually really liked a lot. She's young and perky, a stark contrast to her predecessor, but she seems to really know her shit and had a lot of surprisingly perceptive things to say, despite never having met the boy. I feel slightly optimistic. We'll see how the homework/academics go but the chick from the district seems ready to pay close attention to what happens in the first month. She's convinced that I'm just a worry-wart; I don't know WHERE she gets that idea. Bitch. No, she's actually really cool and has always been really open minded about everything; we have a good team.

I'm still mourning the loss of our beloved Speech Therapist/Sensory Integration therapist (a thing which apparently does not even exist at our district; we just got lucky with this particular person). She had written a combination of IEP goals that were both speech and sensory and since there's no way we can actually replace her with somebody who will do both, the new speech therapist will do the speech stuff and we'll just have to hope we can find an Occupational Therapist who is capable of SI stuff (you'd be surprised. Then again, you might have no idea what the fuck I'm even talking about). I just wanted it in the record, anyway: "write down that I said I was concerned about these sensory goals not being implemented." It's his biggest challenge and if they don't address it I don't know who will. Nobody.

I don't like that my concerns about 3rd grade were essentially reinforced by this meeting. He needs to start learning how to pretend to be normal so that the other kids don't make his life hell. How to teach him this while still letting him be himself? Um. Yeah. You can't. He doesn't give a shit what other kids think, so what is his incentive to do what these crazy grownups want? And who gets to define what "normal" is, anyway, huh? Why isn't it normal to crawl along the ground drawing roads in the mulch? Okay, because it's not, but if that's what makes him happy, and he doesn't care what the other kids think, why not just let him do it? Because you can't, is why, because that's not what 8 year old kids are supposed to be doing at recess, they're supposed to be playing with each other and having fun. So let's construct some activities that he might enjoy that we can include the other kids in. We'll make him do that for 5 minutes and then he can do an activity that he enjoys. But only if that activity isn't running back and forth against the fence at the back of the yard because that's not normal.

Good times.


Anonymous said...

I'm no expert (yes I am) but my first reaction is to say that the school needs to find a way to let your kid make roads in the mulch.

Play is play, and should not be directed to such an extent. Re-direction is sometimes necessary, as is preparation for any activity, but the whole idea of play is for one to explore what one finds interesting. It's how people think and learn--pattern recognition and all that.

Your public school seems more worried about appearances (NCLB anyone?) than about your child.

Demand that your child be allowed to play in a way an autistic child might want to play, like drawing roads in the dirt. Hell, he will probably end up solving all the traffic problems on earth, unless we remove him from what he finds interesting.

Schools are notorious for guiding (mis-guiding) kids AWAY from what interests them, often for stupid reasons (like you mentioned). Schools need to nurture the people they have, not try to turn them into other people.


Unknown said...

Well, nothing ever happens unless I demand it so this is one of those times where overburdened, overworked public school staff letting a kid slip through the cracks might actually work in our favor.

Anonymous said...

I suppose. But they aren't so overburdened. They are over-directed from the top, and an ignorant top it is. And they don't know how to supervise a yard.

Ask why normalizing your kid is on the agenda, but normalizing all the kids who would be fuckers to him is not on the agenda.

Ask why kids are so noisy during performances (because they have not been taught to behave as an audience--my kids knew). Too much focus on small moments, how-to's and spiraling math curricula and not enough focus on how to be a human?

Schools should be places where tolerance and acceptance are taught, not where conformity is taught, as an end in and of itself.

In my classroom, when there was a kid who was obviously "different" we'd embrace the kid and his/her differences. We'd try to understand the kid, and make ourselves understood. We'd try to help find things that the weird kid likes, and can do, and that are a challenge-not a burden. That is what we did in my class.

Remember, the school wants to save money. That's why the rules are the way they are.

Anonymous said...

do you need the atty advocate to make a fuss ?


Unknown said...

Not at the moment, there isn't really anything to fuss about right now. We just have to start the year and see how it goes.

Anonymous said...

This is my 2nd favorite blog.

Unknown said...

I wish I could "like" comments here like you can on Facebook.....

Margaret Sequeira said...

Dear Jill,

I had been wanting to respond to this. As someone who used to supervise the yard it makes me absolutely livid that the goal is to make your child "normal" so that other children can hold onto their prejudices. Somehow then it makes it your child's fault when he is bullied rather than the fault of the child doing the bullying. So this prayer for school children comes from Meg Riley, a Unitarian Universalist minister and I thought it was perfect:

A prayer for school children who are different

For those who are different, or who feel different—

Who learn differently, think differently, feel differently,
Who look different, whose faith is different, whose family is different,
Whose way to connect is different, whose way to dress is different,
Whose faith is different, whose place to live is different,
Whose sexuality is different, whose gender is different,
Whose culture is different, whose language is different,
Whose favorite foods are different, who loves different smells,
Whose body looks different, or works differently
Whose values and beliefs are different--

Do you see that different is just a word?
May you be freed from its poison.

Different: Just an idea laced with fear,
Don’t let it scare you.
A word expressing lack of imagination by those who use it to judge,
Don’t let it limit your own.
They can’t see that difference is the very essence of life,
The opposite of different isn’t normal; it is death.
Don’t let their sharp thorns kill your true self.

As the school doors open again,
May you walk in safety,
With all of your unique loveliness intact,
Knowing you are loved by people who haven’t even met you yet.
People you see and don’t see,
Your closest friends and family, and people who will never meet you,
All hold you in our hearts.
We need every bit of you as we walk our own different paths.

As the summer days end,
May you find the long days’ bright light
Shining in your mind as you learn.
As you go out on this crazy river, this life
Where you will navigate choppy waters, take new turns,
May you know in your bones you are never alone.
As you search for a place of ease and comfort,
May you know in your cells that it lives within you.

And that people who love you are everywhere smiling.

Margaret Sequeira said...

Dear Jill

I have been wanting to respond to this and had not yet found the words. As someone who used to supervise lunch recess at that very yard it makes furious that the goal is to change your child and not the environment that makes being "different" bad. It blames your son for bullying he may endure rather than putting the blame on the person doing the bullying.

This came into my e-mail box and it is perfect!

It is too large to post but here is the link:


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