Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Where does the time go?!

I am a terrible, terrible blogger when life is crazy. I admit this. This last couple months it seems like it has just been one thing after the next. Jaymes has had a lot of appointments lately, mostly because I'm trying to get everything finished up prior to Jason going back to work on Monday.

I had a meeting with Jaymes EC teacher, and also the school OT. I LOVE the school OT, she is just wonderful. She's about the nicest person I've ever met, and she has great ideas. Better yet, she actually follows through with things she says she is going to do- a rarity in the school system, from my experience.

Jaymes teacher is also really good. She seems to have gotten a much better understanding of Jaymes, and of my goals for his future. She spent quite a bit of her after school time on Tuesday, showing me Jaymes' work, his workstation, what they've been doing in class, and the really neat sensory area, relaxation thingy the OT set up in the classroom.

I was incredibly impressed with Jaymes' progress, and the fact that his teacher considers him one of the easier kids in the class is a wonderful thing! He participates in everything, and his vocabulary is expanding at an amazing rate. He particularly loves Letter Land, and can recite the character names, their letter sounds, and do the hand motions that go with each on from A to I. He enjoys showing me this skill on a fairly regular basis, and it never fails to make me smile.

He also LOVES music time. I came to get him last Thursday, and he was out of the classroom doing music, so we walked down there. We caught them in the middle of a song, and Jaymes didn't see us. He was dancing, doing the little gestures that go with the song, and looking SO happy. It was the cutest thing I've ever seen. I love seeing Jaymes doing well at things. he's always been a fan of musical stuff, so I can't say it suprises me that he is so good at music class! I believe they are going to start trying him in a regular-ed music class to see how he does. Should be interesting.

Anyway, the game plan has changed. I've thought long and hard about this, and discussed with with my husband, Jaymes teachers, the OT and the speech therapists both at school and at therapy up at Baptist, and everyone in in general agreement that it's not a terrible idea...

The more I look at what's left of the school year, I realize that while Jaymes had made HUGE leaps and is doing so incredibly well, no amount of good teaching is going to get him ready for first grade. Rather than let him continue to move up the grades in special ed classrooms, I've decided that the best plan would be to have him retained in Kindergarten next year. He's done really well this year, and this way the teachers he has now can continue to slowly add more and more time spent outside of the EC classroom. I can stop pushing so hard to get him more time, and let things go at the pace the teacher sees fit, now that I know that they are actually trying to get him out of the EC room and into the regular Kindergarten population. My hope is that over the rest of this school year, both the teachers working with Jaymes will help him gain the skills needed to join a regular Kindergarten class for at least 50% of his day next school year.

The point of all this can be a little hard to understand, because it's a little different. I'm pushing really hard right now, not because I expect him to be mainstreamed by first grade, but because I want to put him on that path. I don't want Jaymes to go on and on in special classrooms, on the vocational track rather than the academic one. He is smart enough, and capable of learning the academics. He wants to leard, and he wants to do well. So this is really just setting the stage for later down the line, when Jaymes hits middle school. He will NOT be pushed into Lowrance Middle simply because of his diagnosis- that is not acceptable to me. I'm hoping by starting early, I will save myself and Jaymes the stress that I see friends going through with their children.

I like to think I'm pretty realistic where Jaymes and his abilities are concerned. I know what he can and can't do, I accept him for who he is. If I did not think he'd be able to do the academics, or that he would never be able to be with the "regular" kids, I wouldn't be pushing him. But I know that he has the desire, and the capacity to learn and to function in what will eventually be a regular education situation.

Anyway, since life has been so hectic, I have not even begun to think about another IEP meeting. I don't have the energy right now. I hate those meetings SO much. They are so uncomfortable, intimidating, and honestly pretty embarrassing. I don't like being talked down to, particularly by upper level school folks who barely know my child or his situation. The benefit of all these meetings is there though- I think that many members of Jaymes' IEP team have come to realize that I'm not an idiot, and that I am only trying to get the best for Jaymes.

Right now the only real issue is the fact that the school will not let Jaymes case manager observe in school anymore. I imagine she's working on this, but I find that really frustrating. I could observe, obviously the school allows that, but it wouldn't be worth the effort- there would be nothing to observe. It would be incredibly distracting for poor Jaymes to have mommy in class. That's why I liked being able to have Julie observe, because she isn't distracting to him. But, like I said, I'm a little tired right now. I'm realizing that I need to choose my battles, and sometimes we all need a break from the constant arguments.

I went riding yesterday, that was a wonderful mental health day for me! We were out for quite awhile, and decided to be sneaky and ride around the TRAIL CLOSED sign. About halfway through the creek crossing, we realized that the water was realllllly high, and that perhaps we should have listened to that sign. My friend got wet legs, I kept mine up and stayed dry until we crossed back over later, and slipped and ended up with equally moist feet. We saw a ton of deer, the temperature was perfect, and the sun was shining- it was great riding weather! On the way back, we had a nice gallop. I rode in the english saddle, and boy am I sore! It was a really nice day to relax and have a life again. Seems like I spend all my time in waiting rooms, or at school. And after the fiasco last week with Jaymes hearing aids going into the wrong backpack and being basically lost for 24 hours... Well, I needed some sanity. We did get the hearing aids back, and thank god for that. The school very nearly saw the wrath of an angry Amber, something they have not ever witnessed. It's not a common phenomenon, the Angry Amber. I don't think any school has seen it. It's scary, trust me.

So anyway, that's the update. Not to thrilling, but overall good news.


leah said...

That sounds like pretty awesome news! I know another little girl who is on a similar kindergarten path- she doesn't have autism, but some other things to deal with (her mom writes the "Listen to my words with your heart" blog on my sidebar). He obviously has the academic skills, so mainstreaming makes sense in the future.

I dread entering the school district, because so many people have such a hard time fighting for the services their children need. Hopefully our school district will be one of the "easier" ones (I can only hope, with recent budget cuts)!

Melanie said...

We retained my mildly/moderately autistic son in kindergarten for this year, and it was very very much the right choice. He's currently not spending much time in the typical class, but that's because his aggressive outbursts spiked up and I totally support the self-contained teachers in that short-term decision. My boy is now approaching grade-level academics in his self-contained room and his typical-class teacher brings over the projects from her class on days that he can't attend, which is great! He was the very youngest kindergartener last year, so even if he were more neurotypical, retention would have been a consideration based on his maturity. Llike Leah said, follow your instincts on this, as retention is so much easier socially when young.