Posts Tagged ‘children’

This is a follow-up to my blog called My son and a different path.  Read on if you want to know what life is like when you are first diagnosed with epilepsy.

In my previous post I described the first time my son had a seizure. As soon as my son was able to talk again, I scooped him up and took him to an urgent care facility.

The physician concluded, what I already knew, it was a seizure. The physician suggested that we make an appointment with a neurologist for further testing and possibly medication.  He said it seems that my son was okay now and was just tired from the seizure.  He also gave us some basic information about what to do if my son had another seizure.  The following information is available from the Epilepsy Foundation for this circumstance:

When providing seizure first aid for generalized tonic clonic (grand mal) seizures, these are the key things to remember:

  • Keep calm and reassure other people who may be nearby.
  • Don’t hold the person down or try to stop his movements.
  • Time the seizure with your watch.
  • Clear the area around the person of anything hard or sharp.
  • Loosen ties or anything around the neck that may make breathing difficult.
  • Put something flat and soft, like a folded jacket, under the head.
  • Turn him or her gently onto one side. This will help keep the airway clear.
  • Do not try to force the mouth open with any hard implement or with fingers. A person having a seizure CANNOT swallow his tongue. Efforts to hold the tongue down can injure teeth or jaw.
  • Don’t attempt artificial respiration except in the unlikely event that a person does not start breathing again after the seizure has stopped.
  • Stay with the person until the seizure ends naturally

In addition to the above information the doctor said if my son has another seizure and it goes on for 10 minutes or more, then I should call 911 and get my son to a hospital.

After the doctor visit, I took my son home, who was very sleepy.  The whole situation was jarring.  My son had a seizure which was shocking to me. It isn’t something you expect or plan for. Luckily I knew some of the first aid procedures for seizures from a first aid class I had in grade school. I also knew a couple of people who had seizures. One was a young girl I went to grade school with who had a brain tumor. The other was a neighbor and I knew he did not have his driving license because he had epilepsy. Up to this time I had not ever seen a seizure in person, but had seen them depicted on TV.  I am sure you can imagine how accurate that is.

I was reminded that my husband and I had such a hard time having a baby. Finally after five years with no success, I got pregnant via invitro fertilization when I was forty years old. Our son was our miracle baby and we were grateful to have him in our lives.

The day after my son’s first seizure I made an appointment for my son with a neurologist. Coincidently we lived in a city that had a Children’s Hospital.  The earliest we could get in to see a doctor was Friday, which was 5 more days away.  I called in sick to work because I wanted to make sure that everything was all right with my son.  The last thing I wanted to happen was to take him to daycare and he have another seizure.

While we waited for the neurology appointment I kept running things through my mind about what could have caused this to happen and why did it happen to my son now. At the moment I could not think of anything except earlier in the week my son had fallen off the bed head first. When it happened he was fine and he just shed a few tears.  I think the falling was more traumatic than the actual landing on his head.

That first morning I also called my husband and told him what happened.  He was in West Africa and was stunned went I told him the news.  He asked that I keep him informed as more information is available. He was going to make plans to conclude his business as soon as possible and come home.

To be continued . . .

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May 15th through June 15th is Tourette Syndrome Awareness Month.

My family has been greatly affected by Tourette Syndrome.  My son has tourette syndrome and every day that he has tics is a struggle.  Dealing with the disorder is one thing that is hard.  Even more complicated is explaining his behaviour to those who may have seen him have a bout of tics.  The stress all of this while he is going to school and trying to have a “normal” life is exhausting.

On a daily basis I scour the internet for research news or new treatment methods for Tourette Syndrome.  I do this for a number of illnesses, and it has become apparent to me, based on the insignificant amount of research activity, that more people need to become familiar with the disorder.  Once their awareness is raised, hopefully they will join the cause and push for more research to find a cure.  May 15th – June 15th is Tourette Syndrome Awareness Month.  Watch for updates on this blog during the awareness month.  Take a moment and join the cause.

Take a look at the facts about Tourette Syndrome:

  • Boys and men show the symptoms of TS more frequently than girls and women. The ratio is about 4:1.   
  • There can be other conditions associated with TS, in particular OCD, ADHD, and Sensory Processing Disorder   
  • TS is a tic disorder. It is a neurological condition. It is not emotional in origin but it may have psychological consequences and effects.   
  • A tic is an involuntary movement (motor tic) or sound (vocal tic). Tics can be ‘invisible’ – intrusive thoughts or compulsive behaviours.   
  • Movements may vary from minor (eye blinking) to severe (complex movements of the whole body).   
  • Sounds may vary, from throat clearing to whole phrases.   
  • Phrases can be repeated, from whole words to parts of sentences (Echolalia)   
  • Although the movements are involuntary, the person may be able to control them at times, although this takes a lot of concentration.   
  • People can ‘suppress’ the tics for a period of time, but they will always need to tic when they feel safe to do so.   
  • A child may control or suppress tics at school; however they may then tic constantly for a while as soon as they get home.    
  • A teacher wont realise a child has tics if they ‘suppress’, but it also means that the child will not be concentrating on school work.   
  • A child may only release the tics in the privacy of their own room, so that others, even parents, aren’t aware of their existence.   
  • Early multi-diagnosis, positive intervention, medication/alternative therapies may help someone living with TS.   
  • Someone living with TS – what may help – understanding from family, friends and public.   
  • Someone living with TS – what may help – understanding from Health, Education, Social Work, Employer.   
  • Someone living with TS – what may help – regular breaks/support for parents/care providers/siblings.   
  • Someone living with TS – what may help – contact with others through Tourette Sydrome Association  
  • TS, which was once thought to be extremely rare, is in fact one of the most common genetic diseases affecting man and many people have it.   
  • Tics range from mild to severe and can change over time, ‘wax and wane’ so they don’t stay the same for life.   
  • People with TS are often of high intelligence, and are often creative or artistic.   
  • TS is genetic and can run in families, which may also include someone with Asperger’s or OCD, ADHD or similar conditions.   
  • Teachers can assist to make a positive learning experience for a student with TS, by creating a supportive environment in the classroom   
  • Awareness raising should include the personal experience of those with TS, which is helpful in explaining the varied aspects of the condition to others and in gaining empathy.    
  • Use of methods such as ‘Time Out’ and working with the student on their individual learning plans.   
  • The use of management tools, can assist the teacher and the student in smoothing the way for productive learning relationships.   
  •  More understanding, in that the condition has many facets, should be sought and teachers be made aware  of the particular traits and challenges facing the individuals in their care.

Information from the Tourette Syndrome Association.

I was watching Oprah Winfrey’s final shows this week. There were several presentations regarding her contributions to education including her celebration of teachers, the girl’s school she founded in South Africa, her ability to touch the lives of so many children, her book of the month club or the scholarships to young men at Morehouse College.

As I watched this show honoring her, I wondered to myself what about my son. Will he ever feel the rapture and the power of education? Will college be in his future? If not, what will happen to him? What will his life be like? Without education beyond high school, I knew his life would be hard. Both my husband and myself have degrees from college. Even with this education, our life has been a challenge. I can’t imagine facing life without that little extra knowledge and without the advantages it may bring.

Right now my son’s education is in the hands of our public education system. This is the education system that everyone is talking about as failing to prepare our children to be leaders in the world. This is the education system that needs to be completely overhauled. Now keep in mind all of this criticism is in reference to mainstream education. This criticism is in reference to the children who don’t have reading problems. These are the children that do not have problems doing mathematics. These are not the children who have autism. These are not the children who struggle with school, who need to learn things in a different way, and who have learning disabilities.  I am not talking about the children that have developmental delays.  I am talking about children who need a little extra help.  There is a group of children who do not fall into the classification of children with developmental delays or in with children in the mainstream educational programs.  I am not talking about have a “quality of life” plan, which is directed at children with developmental delays. 

So what is a mother to do when she has a child that has learning disabilities?  How does she ensure that her child is prepared for an adult life, facing the world on their own?  This topic leaves me sleepless at night.  I don’t want my son to have to struggle, especially as a result of limited or inferior education. 

As you may already know there are scholarship programs for post secondary school for children with special educational needs.  Young people with special needs are finding their way to college more and more, as disability law mandates access to classrooms and campuses, and programs are developed to meet the needs of students with intellectual disabilities.  I am very thankful that these opportunities are available.

My concern is not with post-secondary school.  My concern is getting my child to post-secondary school.  I know that my son is at serious risk for dire consequences of not receiving a proper education.  If his education continues as it is in the public school system, he is going to have a hard, hard life.  So when it comes to scholarships, I need the help now. 

I need maximum access to any educational resources available so that I can get my son through middle school and high school.  I can’t rely on the public schools.  They don’t care.  Children like my son are considered to be a burden on the schools’ budgets and are the first place they cut.  It is very obvious to me that the public education system has an objective to limit resources to a child such as mine.  They seem to be very complacent to continue passing him from grade to grade without meeting any measurements of a quality education.  From what I have seen so far, the Individual Education Program is useless in regard to this.  It is a facade to make it look like they are providing an education. 

As evidence of this, our school system has been working with my son for 3 years learning basic math facts.  The reality of the situation is, if they were really vested in his education, he would have surpassed this level of math in year one.  The other evidence of this is my IEP meetings.  Everything is presented as going “great.”  I am not stupid.  I can see where my child is at, as compared to other children in his grade. 

My frustration is that I see me child falling further and further behind in a school system who doesn’t care.  I want to get him additional help, but I can not financially afford it.  I need help and I don’t know where to turn too.   Like I said, I appreciate the scholarship programs for post-secondary school, but I need scholarship programs now to get my son through secondary school.

My employer provides a scholarship program to the children of their employees.  Once again it is only for post secondary school.  I actually submitted an application for my son, and of course it was rejected.  From my perspective what good is a post-secondary school scholarship if I can’t get my son through secondary school.

I write this story to raise awareness.  I don’t think there is enough public attention on this subject.  I am sure if more people saw this topic through my eyes,  more could be done to help children such as mine.  I will continue in this awareness campaign, and continue searching the web for some program that may give my son a sliver of hope. I realize teachers have a hard job, but I need to focus on the child that I am responsible for, and at this point the teachers have let us down.

For more information on post-secondary education scholarships, check out these sites:

http://www.allianceforschoolchoice.org/UploadedFiles/Home/School%20Choice%20Yearbook%202010-11.pdf

There are things happening in this country that do not add up.  There are heated debates that our educational system needs to be reformed.  Why?  The education system is doing a bad job and is locked into old ideas of how to educate children. That is why the United States ranks significantly lower than comparable countries.  For instance in math Finland is first, South Korea is second, and the United States is at an embarrassing 25th.  In science Finland is number one, and the United States if 21st.  Is there anything we do that ranks us higher than Finland?  Yes, it is the cost of education per child.  In the United States the cost for one child is $129,000 from K through 12. The other countries average $95,000. (Information provided: Other Nations Outclass U.S. on Education )

We are obviously not doing a good job, but there is a perspective that no one is talking about.  Keep in mind the statistics I quoted are in regard to children who are a part of mainstream education.  I ask, what does this picture look like when it comes to Special Education.  In my research, I could not find any specific articles that compared Special Education in the United States versus other countries.  In fact I could not find any articles that even talked about the quality of special education in the United States.

One good thing that recently occurred is the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities which is an international human rights instrument of the United Nations intended to protect the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities.  It was ratified March, 2011 with 147 signatories and 99 parties.  The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities instills a right to education.

The Convention states that persons with disabilities should be guaranteed the right to inclusive education at all levels, regardless of age, without discrimination and on the basis of equal opportunity.

State Parties should ensure that:

  1. children with disabilities are not excluded from free and compulsory primary education, or from secondary education;
  2. adults with disabilities have access to general tertiary education, vocational training, adult education and lifelong learning;
  3. persons with disabilities receive the necessary support, within the general education system, to facilitate their effective education; and
  4. effective individualized support measures are put in place to maximize academic and social development.

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities also supports protecting the integrity of the person.  Article 17 of the Convention states that every person with disabilities has a right to respect for his or her physical and mental integrity on an equal basis with others. (Information provided by:  Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities)

In the United States, as of 2006, almost 5 million students received special education.  The 5 million students were divided into the following categories:

Disability↓ Students↓ Percentage↓
Learning disability (LD) 2,710,476 44.6%
Speech or language impairment (SI) 1,160,904 19.1%
Other health impairment (OHI) 599,494 9.9%
Mental retardation (MR) (now known as Intellectually Disabled) 523,240 8.6%
Emotional disturbance (ED) 458,881 7.5%
Autism 224,594 3.7%
Multiple disabilities 134,189 2.2%
Developmental delay 83,931 1.4%
Hearing impairment (HI) 72,559 1.2%
Orthopedic impairment (OI) 61,866 1.0%
Visual impairment (VI) 26,352 0.4%
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) 23,932 0.4%
Deaf & blindness 1,472 0.0%

 

 If the United States is not doing a very good job with mainstream education, what do you think is happening in Special Education?  From personal experience, I can tell you that it is in even more trouble.  This country is truly talking the talk, but is not walking the walk.  These children are being navigated through our educational system with no real measurement of success or progress in educating children with disabilities.  Sometimes I feel that the goal in school is to lead these children through twelve years and the schools’ efforts are concentrated on the navigation aspect rather than the educational progress.

Keep in mind that this is 5 million children.  That is almost the same population of the entire state of Wisconsin, or Minnesota, or Maryland.  All but one city in the U.S. (New York) has smaller populations than the 5 million children in special education.  There are fewer people in Chicago, Los Angeles, Houston, and Denver than there are children in special education.  It seems to me that these children represent a large population in this country.  Are we supporting these children?  If we were, then why am I seeing the following headlines.  I also ask if our federal laws require districts to maintain the same level of special education spending from year to year, then why am I seeing blatant news headlines about cuts in programs for Special Education.  Something is seriously wrong.  It isn’t right, and this country needs to stop ignoring it. 

I encourage everyone in this country to scream in outrage and insist that this country invests in our children who are the future of this country.  Even more important, the education of all children, including the 5 million children in Special Education, have a right to a better education.  We are talking about the United State, which is one of the greatest countries in the world.  Don’t we want our children, all children, to be the best and the brightest?  Don’t we want to give all children the tools they will need to lead this country into the future?  I don’t think anyone can deny it needs to be a priority.  I ask everyone, please don’t be complacent about this topic.  Get emotional.  Get inspired.  Care.  Participate and take pride in the accomplishment.  Our children deserve it.

40 school employees face layoff or cuts

By: Meg Heaton, Hudson Star-Observer

The Hudson Board of Education approved staff cuts for the coming school year at a special meeting Tuesday night.  These positions include education assistants in math, reading, school libraries and special education made up of education assistants.

 

School budget cuts could mean layoffs

By: Meg Heaton, Hudson Star-Observer

Based on the proposed Wisconsin biennial budget, the Hudson School District could be facing a budget deficit of around $3.4 million dollars in the coming school year.

The reduction of educational assistants in special education, English as a second language, math and reading and media assistants; Elimination of the vision-impaired teacher services to be replaced through CESA 11;

Non-personnel reductions recommended included:

  • $165,000 from the elimination of special education out of district student placements.
  • $45,000 from reducing the purchase of textbooks, smart boards and other technology and materials.

 

Special education requirement could derail budget plans

By GINA DUWE ( Contact )   Wednesday, April 20, 2011
 

Federal rules require districts to maintain the same level of special education spending from year to year. 

ORFORDVILLE — School districts cutting employee wages and benefits fear they’ll be forced to buy things or hire people they don’t need to meet federal minimum-spending requirements, two area superintendents said.

Federal rules require districts to maintain the same level of special education spending from year to year. But in districts such as Parkview, all teachers—including special education teachers—are taking a pay cut next year and are beginning to contribute to their retirement and health insurance.

The result is less money going into special education, which could put the district in violation of the federal requirement.

If a district spent $100,000 on special education this year, for example, and salary and benefit cuts reduce the expense to $70,000 next year, the district would have to find a way to make up the $30,000 drop to keep spending $100,000 on special education, Zellmer said.

The  penalty for not meeting the requirement is to pay the amount of the spending reduction to the government,

This requirement states that states must ensure that current year funding for special education is not less than 90 percent of the funding level provided two fiscal years earlier.

 

Federal Economic Stimulus Package Update

 Q: How much IDEA money will be provided by the stimulus? A: The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) will get a $11.3 billion boost in funding over the next two years for students aged 6-21. This funding is in addition to the annual appropriation of $11.5 billion. For Wisconsin districts, the ARRA will mean an additional $208.4 million in IDEA funding.   Half of the IDEA stimulus allocation and half of the Title I stimulus allocation was released in early April with relatively few strings attached other than the rules and regulations that normally accompany these programs.  However, the U.S. Education Department is asking states to submit much more detailed information on how the plan to improve student learning before they can access their second round of funding, which is scheduled to be released in the fall.  States must explain how they will comply with transparency and accounting requirements, including:

  • improving teacher effectiveness and quality;
  • establishing longitudinal data systems that track progress and foster continuous improvement;
  • enhancing the quality of academic standards and assessments; and
  • providing targeted, intensive support and effective interventions for the lowest performing schools.

 

 

Special Note:  This article is in no way critisizing those teachers that have made it their life career to teaching children with special needs.  Their dedication to our children is valiant.  Unfortunately the educational system itself is not supporting them enough.

If you have been following my posts you may know how much school has been difficult for my son and myself.  I am also sure that I have made some educators angry when I wrote a post called,  There are bad teachers . . .   If you haven’t read it, I suggest you do. 

Between third grade and fifth grade I prayed that my son could survive long enough to finish each school year. I say survive because those three years were torture to my son. With all of his health problems, the school actually made things worse.  I had expected the educators to be the experts when it came to educating children with learning difficulties and health issues.  Unfortunately, I found out that is not necessarily true.

I am ashamed to say, as a result of this elementary school and the information they had been providing me, I had very low expectations for my son. The school drew a bleak picture of a young boy who did not pay attention, was not organized, wouldn’t say hi to his classmates, had difficulty reading, was always sleepy, was struggling with math, could not physically write, was not a self-starter, and made up symptoms to look like Tourette Syndrome. With all of this observations, I truly worried about what would happen to him when he is an adult.

I must say some of the things the school experienced we also experienced at home. For example if you told my son to do three things, you might get one of them accomplished. His bedroom is an absolute danger zone. I used to try to keep up with it, but I gave that up long ago. I keep telling and showing him that everything has a home.

The most annoying situation is when my son misplaces everything. I always joke that he would lose his head if it was not attached. I can’t tell you how many mornings we were scrambling to find this or that before school. I kept explaining to him that if he followed the rule and put everything in its home, then he would know where to find it. I have tried every trick in the book to correct this behavior with no success. What we did do, which I did not realize until he went to school, was we had subconsciously adapted our home activities and behaviors to fit his needs. At home I learned to only give him instructions for one thing at a time, or the night before school we laid out all his clothes and got his back pack ready.  We didn’t do this to be organized.  We did this because we knew we would be looking for something in the morning which would take up all of the time.

My son also has a little OCD. As a result of this, when he loses something he will obsessively be on the hunt for it. I can remember when he was very young, before he was diagnosed with any of his health issues, he had a toy which was a learning toy consisting of an airplane and three animal passengers. The airplane interacted differently with each character. He loved the toy, but as you can guess, he kept losing one or more of the characters. We spent so much time looking for them, and if he couldn’t find them he got very, very upset. Usually we would eventually find them, but there was one time when they were nowhere to be found. I was so tired of his extreme grief, and obsessive hunting, that I went to the toy store and bought a new one. Thank goodness he grew out of that toy.

So I am not surprised to see these issues at school. In fact our neuropsychologist said that my son has impaired executive functions, which includes organizational skills. Since this has been identified as a part of his medical issues, there are objectives in his IEP to improve that behavior or learn other skills to help him remember. The school used a pictorial schedule for him so he knew where he was supposed to be at different times during the day, but that was the extent of what they worked on. Numerous times his homework was left at school. It was a miracle to receive flyers for field trips or book orders.  His assignment notebook came home but you couldn’t read any of it.

Then sixth grade came, which meant going to middle school. I could tell that things operated differently there. At the end of fifth grade, representatives from the elementary and the middle school met with me. The purpose of the meeting was to understand my son’s health and educational needs. It was probably the best and most thorough IEP meeting I had ever had. There was no topic left unaccounted for, and there were indications that they were making a genuine attempt to create a successful learning experience. They also knew that the learning experience starts on the first day of school. Not one week later. Not a month later, which was our experience at the elementary school.

A couple of weeks before school started for the sixth grade, the middle school invited my son to attend four half-day sessions with the purpose of getting used to the school and to know where everything was, such as the gym, the lunchroom, and the health office. They also worked through the procedures of a day, including their schedule, their locker, going to lunch and getting on the bus. It was a great program, and it took some of the anxiety away for starting a new school.

School started and my son was very cautious. Cautious about the new school. Cautious of being a new student. Cautious of his peers and the kids from the upper grades. I will admit I was very anxious for him, and waited with my breath held, praying that nothing happened.  I didn’t want us to go back into survival mode for another three years, with his progress at school continuously slowing down, with minimal forward movement.

His schedule was set up so that all of his core subjects were held with the special education teacher, Mrs. G and a small group of students. The remaining classes were with mainstream teachers and students.  A number of factors happened in the beginning days of school which created a very positive effect for my son. First of all, he did not start school at the same time as the rest of the students, because he was newly diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. When school started we were in the middle of getting him stabilized and learning everything we needed to do to support his diabetes which was really daunting in the beginning. The delayed school start was good because all of the other students were in a rhythm by the time he started. As a result of this the teachers were able to focus purely on my son with individual all the individual attention he needed.  Not only was he starting a new school, but he had a new health issues that had to be dealt with throughout the day. 

The second thing that occurred was when my son went to his first class in the special education room.  He saw that his assigned desk was beside a girl that he went to school with in kindergarten, first and second grade. They were huge friends.  After second grade she moved and we had no way of contacting her. In fourth grade at the end of the school year the fourth graders from all of the elementary schools in the area participated in a field and track event. It was there that he met up with her again. They kept each other’s company throughout the track event. They exchanged phone numbers and talked with each other for the next year, meeting again at the fifth grade field and track event.

My son walks into class and this girl is his desk partner. Unbelievable! I have since heard from his teacher Mrs G that they are really good friends and do everything together. I think this is one thing that reduced his anxiety about school. In the previous year my son was a victim of a bullying situation, and he was very anxious about running into these students at the new school. Finding his friend eliminated that concern entirely. He knew he had someone to back him up.

The third event that happened during the beginning days of school, my son’s special ed teacher, showed him that a teacher could have empathy.  She acknowledged that things have been hard for him, and said she was proud of him enduring it all.  This empathy from Mrs. G was a total new experience for my son.  She understood his health issues and showed concern.  She had previously taught kids with Tourette Syndrome and understood the disorder.  She didn’t berate hm when he had tic episodes.  She didn’t accuse him of faking it. She didn’t tell him to stop it.  What a relief. 

Another event that happened is Mrs. G  was totally supportive of moving his education forward, and she recognized that praise was a great motivator, or telling him a story that she had some of those problems too.  This was a message to my son that she understood him and had been there herself. 

One of my son’s education issues up to this year has been that he has dysgraphia which are a result of a couple of factors including tremors.  Until recently he could not read his own handwriting, let alone have someone else read it.  In the past there were attempts to use a speech-to-text software program, and to teach him typing, with not much success.  I think if a little more effort would have been done one of these mechanisms would have worked.  As I watched him learn, I realized how important it is to visualize your own writing.  Without being able to do this, it really hampered his ability to learn spelling, grammar, writing complete sentences or capturing information in a report.  Up to now he had missed out on all of this.  Besides providing alternative methods of writing, the elementary school also did not give him extended time to complete his writing.  The combination of all of this resulted in a sixth grade boy who could not write and had not learned language skills.  It just seemed his previous school just ignored the importance of being able to see what you write and how it would affect everything he is doing.

His new special ed teacher, Mrs. G knew about this issue, and beginning the very first week of school she told him that she liked his handwriting and that he was doing a great job.  This little comment was a huge thing for my son.  The day she said this he came home from school and told me what she said and he was so happy.  I suspect she is also giving him the time he needs to do his writing.  Believe it or not his handwriting is improving.  He can read it.  I can read it.  He has a way to go to catch up with the spelling, writing proper sentences, or organization of information, but that is expected.  In the past he had given up writing, even though I tried to work with him.  Today he is writing pages and pages of information.  He has even started a blog discussing video games.  He does the rough draft and I work with him to find corrections, and then he publishes it.

Another new educational experience is that this Mrs. G has the philosophy that she really didn’t care what the kids read, as long as it was appropriate and they kept reading.  My son has been attracted to graphic novels.  At his previous school they would not let him read graphic novels.  His special ed teacher said he needed to read some books with more structure and that were more substantial.  Okay, his beginning chapter books were thirty pages long with limited information on each page.  His graphic novels were about 250 pages long, but in total consisted of more reading than the beginning chapter books.  This year my son has said to me that this school is letting him read the books that he likes and chooses.  As a result of this he is reading all of the time, and now his reading interests have expanded beyond graphic novels.  I can’t tell you how happy this makes me.  I have always been a big reader, and I have wanted him to experience the enjoyment of reading, which hadn’t happened up to now.

Now for the pièce de résistance.  We recently had our first IEP meeting at this school.  Mrs. G was reading the objectives and results that were written by his previous teacher.  For example a goal said, the student must on three out of five attempts, initiate his work in the classroom without reminders from the teacher.  I suspect this is a goal for getting him to be a self-starter.  Mrs. G said that she was not experiencing this issue.  She said that my son is always ready to get his work done and is usually the first one done in the class.  She said she has not had to give him any reminders to start his work.  She also said since he had missed some school, due to his new health issue, he is easily able to keep up with the rest of the student.  She continued through the review of the IEP and all of the objectives had the same observation.  She said, “He is not having and of these problems at school.  Looking at his IEP, it is as if he was a different kid.”  Wow.  That was a big statement.  At one point she questioned me about what was going on.  I explained I didn’t want to get into the details, but I thought we had some teacher issues previously.  Also attending our meeting was the OT specialist who has worked with my son since first grade.  During this discussion he tried to intervene and say that my son had really matured over the summer.  Bull.  Yes, there was some maturing but not to make a night and day difference. 

Anyway, I am so thankful for Mrs G and the Middle School.  She is doing a great job with my son and I am so appreciative.  I am now seeing that he will be okay, and with time will be able to self sustain as an adult.  She keeps in contact with me weekly.  She predicts when my son may have an anxious moment and eases him into it.  I absolutely love her.  This year is going to be a big turning point for my son.  He is loving school which is a big relief.