Monday, 18 June 2012

The Dreaded IEP Meetings

It's that time of the year again, the time when parents are called to the school to review their child's progress and talk about expectations for the new school year in September.

This year is different for me.  Regardless of what the staff thinks of me, my boy's done good this year, thanks to a wonderful teacher who actually cares about him and his education.  It wasn't always this way.

At one time (until last year, from grade one until grade three), education had become an "us" (parents) versus "them" (teachers, guidance cousnellors and principals).  How did this happen?  Why did this happen?  Did we not have the same goal here, that is to teach my son how to become a productive member of society?  And how is a parent supposed to feel comfortable during meetings when it feels like the school staff are the probation officers and you and your child are petty criminals?  How do both parties come up with an amicable resolution to your child's education when there's this underlying perception that it is you, the parent, that are the cause of your child's behaviour?

Having had a break from feeling like a criminal this past year, as well as having the chance to meet some really wonderful EA's this past year, I now wonder how teachers feel...  Teachers and educational assistants who are percieved by the parents to be the cause of the child's behavioral issues?  Our pride rears its ugly head and denies, denies and denies that our child could possibly be what they describe.  My most famous comment to teachers is "wow, are you sure you're describing my babe?  I mean, he sure doesn't behave like that at home..."

It seems in the chaos we all forget that the child is a person of his own.  Yes, the child learns things by observing parental behavior, but he/she also learns from teacher behavior as well as their classmates from school.  I think that at this point in Dayton's life, he is more likely to learn most of his behviours from he classmates then us adults.  It's no longer cool to look up to us old folk.

So, to recap the year for Dayton:  He's made some great progress, especially when it comes to controlling his impulses to strike out at people who 'annoy' him.  Dayton's been using his words much more affectively rather than his fists.  Thank heavens!!!

The meeting was friendly, with no digs towards my parenting, which was awesome!  All of us were smiling and focused on Dayton's strengths.  While Dayton didn't meet all of his goals on his Individual Education Plan (IEP), we didn't get all gloomy about it.

The only part that made me sad and apprehensive is Dayton's grade level...  While he will be heading into grade five next September, my babe is intellectually sitting at a grade one level...  Make that beginning grade one level.  While I've always worried about my son, I'm terrified now.  What does this mean for his future?  Was I wrong?  Was I in denial believing my son will be a contributing member of society?  I'm scared.


As my dad Paul always says, consider yourselves hugged,

Lou

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Life's Just Too Short

This post has nothing to do about autism.



I've had a rough week, both professionally and personally.  One of my favourite patients passed away, after just recently re-marrying.  He was 43 years old, and talking to his wife, something she said really hit home for me...

"After 14 years of being married to an asshole, I finally found the right man.  And now he's gone."

Later, I found out my co-worker's 21 year old sister in law was killed in a car crash.  The wedding took place last summer.  I feel horrible for the family...  No one should lose someone so young...

21 years old.  Seems like a life time ago for me.  43...  

And so I think of my life.

I've had two major surgeries:  a hysterectomy and a bilateral mastectomy to ensure I live past the age of 35.  I'm a wee bit older than that, no need to worry about my age, but it's always been in the back of my mind to be grateful for the extension of my life.

Today, I'm thinking about how to spend the extra years...  have I truly been happy with my life?  Is there anything I can do to make it better?  Healthier for both Dayton and I?  Happier?

The answer is a resounding YES!!!  But change is scary, and there are no guarantees starting something new.  The unknown is a scary place to be.  Not knowing expectations and boundaries, afraid of 'messing up.'  I've never been one to take a chance or a risk.  I am a creature of habit, comfortable in knowing how my day looks like ahead, even though I know I won't be happy with it.

That is coming to an end.  I will no longer walk on eggshells.  I will do as I please and laugh when I want to laugh.  That is not to say that I'm going to become a complete jerk.  I'm not about to go out and blurt whatever's on my mind and tell people they need a hair cut or a change in stylists.  I am not a cruel person.

I'm done pretending for other's happiness.  I'm moving on with my life, and taking risks and chances along the way.  I'm going to be happy, and share my happiness with people I care about.  And for those that have hurt me, I'm no longer willing to bend over backwards for their happiness.

Marilyn Monroe said it best:  "I'm selfish, impatient and a little insecure.  I make mistakes, I'm out of control and at times hard to handle.  But if you can't handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don't deserve me at my best!"  Totally sounds like me and where I am at this point in my life.

Anyways, if you're worried you're on my black list, here's a simple way to know where I've placed you on my priority list:  The only people who matter to me are those who treat me like I matter to them.  I think that's fair, wouldn't you agree?



Consider yourselves hugged,

Lou

Monday, 4 June 2012

Like An Autism Mom's Plate Ain't Full Enough

It doesn't seem to matter what your age is, some people just never grow up.  Sure, they grow taller, as Dayton's dad seems to remind me when I tell him to grow up (he always points to his height and tells me he's more grown up then I am, yes, I'm height challenged).  But I'm here to tell you that just isn't the same.

Someone messaged me on facebook, telling me how an educational assistant at Dayton's school has told people that my son is a "Curse" on his school.  While I have mentioned Dayton's name more than once on Autism Diva Help, I have never mentioned the school name or anyone who works there by name.  This person was able to name the school and one of the educational assistant's name, in fact the same educational assistant who hurt Dayton last year by bending his thumb back harshly in order to get an item out of his hand...  So, naturally, I paid attention to this message and even put up a message on Autism Diva Help to have this person contact me again.

Here are his/her messages to me:

Message number 1:  Hi Mrs. Lovrin. I think you would like to know this, and as a parent myself I would want to know. There are teachers and EA's at ****** School that talk about you and your son outside of school, and in inappropriate manner. I called the school as a concerned parent to complain, but also thought you should know this.   Ms.******** and other teachers that work and have worked with your son do this. It should stop! It disturbs me that this goes on, the maturity level of these people that are suppose to show and teach our young. Never mind how much of a confident breach it is. Sorry to tell you this, but you probably already thought it went on. I am confirming it does.

Message number 2:  I emailed you in shock about what I was hearing said about your son at ******** school. And as far as I can tell you have not done anything about it. I heard some more terrible things today from an EA Ms. ********** about your son and how much of "A Curse" he is to have in the school. And there were people around. How can we have EAs and teacher think, and speak about kids so wrongfully. I have called the school about this and they have not done anything. I am hoping you do!

Did you know that facebook has two different places to check messages?  Yup, I now check both places for messages every day.  The first message was sent to me in Feb, the next in March.  I didn't read the messages until MAY!!!  So I message this informant back, explaining that I'm just not as facebook savy as I once thought I was and to please contact me...  Her/His response, message number 3:

Hi again, 
My apologies on the delay this time. I have been away from Facebook. I just seen your blog today. I do not have any more information to tell you, other than what I have already said. The rest is up to you to follow up on. It must be tough in your shoes. I feel for you, and these kind of people who feel they have to belittle the mentally challenged and socially weak. To me this is a kind of bullying in the worst form, something the schools are against. This is why I feel as though I had to inform you about what I know. I am sure you can pick out the handful plus a few who have spoken badly about you and your son behind your backs and in very inappropriate manners. I do not feel I am close enough to the situation to be directly involved, I have enough on my plate as I'm sure you would appreciate. I wish I could help you more. If I hear of anything else, you would be the first to know.


Please keep me and your other blog fans informed on how things turn out. You seem like a very nice woman with a lot on your plate. Keep in touch.

My response:  I would like to know who the other teachers are, and WHERE they were discussing my son. I have called the school, and the principal says that he has already dealt with the situation, telling me that you and Ms. ********  have a 'private' issue and that this is why you called the school, to get even with her. So... without further information, they are not going to do anything.

Message number 4:  Ms. ***** ****is the only one whose name I know. The others I do not. I do not have any issues with anyone, I do have issues with teachers slandering students. Especially students who are mentally ill. Can I ask you this Mrs. Lovrin? Whatever my situation is with Ms. ************* or anyone, why do I even know THESE things at all? That is inappropriate in itself. I should not have had to say anything other than what I said in the original email to you, and the phone call I made to the school. They should be doing something about this, it is a shameful response from the principal to chalk this serious situation up to a "personal issue". I personally would not want my families issues flaunted around a public school. By the STAFF! Maybe you have to take this up with your Superintendent? Local MP?. I would try the school division first. This is a sad situation. Like I said good luck!

Soooo...

If this is someone trying to get back at Ms. ***********, then who am I to falsely accuse anyone of something as horrendous as bullying a child with autism?  I will agree with the writer of these messages on one point...  Confidentiality HAS been breached, in a BIG way. There's no way for this person to know where my son attends school or any private family issues that are circulating around the school as well as outside of the school.  I can not ignore that.  Even if this person has an issue with Ms ****** and is somehow trying to get even with this EA, it is obvious that this EA has been talking about Dayton and I.

I do have a message for this EA:  UNDERSTAND THIS:  Say what you want about me, I'm an adult and can certainly handle your level of immaturity...  But, say the wrong thing TO or ABOUT my child (this goes for ANYONE that disrespects my babe) and you'd better sleep with your eyes open.  You think my son is a curse in your school...  Lady, you don't know what a curse is!  Try having what are supposed to be mature, caring adults trying to make you go crazy, pushing your buttons until you go postal...  That's a curse, and you've imposed it on me.  Maybe I should have done more last year when you hurt my babe, but I let it go as people make mistakes and get frustrated.  Dayton wasn't very hurt, so no harm done, but do not mistake my kindness for weakness.  That is your curse my dear.  The old Lou, the one who bent over backwards for y'all is gone.  She's been replaced with a new me.  One that doesn't cry when you hurt her feelings, but fights back.  There's a curse for ya!


So.  If you have any information on what's happening or have any ideas as to how to come to the truth of the matter, please email me or facebook message me.  Your thought, prayers, weapons and advice is very much appreciated.


Consider yourselves hugged,

Lou

Friday, 1 June 2012

Back Away From The Board Of Education

Have you had one of those as a kid growing up?  You know the paddle called the board of education your parents wielded at you when you misbehaved?  I sure did, and I'm wondering if my dad still has it...

My little man's been quite the little grand master bully at school, and not bullying kids either, but his principal and educational assistant...  And it gets better...  It's all my fault.

I've noticed how I've trained the kids at our patio homes to get Dayton in trouble.  Trying to avoid conflict between Dayton and the kids and raise some 'understanding,' I've asked the kids to come to me if there are 'issues' with Dayton and their 'play.'  You know, be the referee before things get out of hand.  Thinking I could prevent meltdowns, embarrassing moments for Dayton, awkward times with kids...  Yeah, how about no.  That didn't really work out well.

Instead I hear kids screaming at Dayton "no, stop, don't hit me!!!" when I'm sitting on the patio, look up and see Dayton playing by himself, clear across the field.  Seriously?  What the hell is that all about?  Obviously these little punks are trying to get him in trouble.  Not cool!  And it makes me feel like walking around with one of my croquet hammers to supervise the play ground.

So I had a talk with my son.  I told Dayton that if anyone hit him, he had full permission to go ahead and smack the little freak shows into next day.  If kids are using their words to fight, he is NOT allowed to get physical, but he could use his own words to fight back.  Never, ever strike at someone unless they strike first.  That's the rule.  I'm tired of kids picking on him and than Dayton getting in trouble for it.  They want to play this game, then game on.  I know my babe can take them on.   He may have heard me tell my friend that I didn't raise no 'sissy,' and how Dayton was far from being weak, and maybe it's time these brats got what they deserve.

Anyhow...

Dayton goes to school and gets himself in trouble.  The principal comes to get him.  Dayton's talking back at him and reaches out to smack him saying:  "you're weak, why don't you defend yourself?"

What the...  How did he confuse "defend yourself Dayton" for bullying the principal???

I got a call from the school to come and get Dayton early on Monday...  Long story short, Dayton had to be physically removed from the computer room as he was threatening to stab his poor educational assistant and his principal with scissors...  because he wanted more time on the computer...

It gets better...  Yesterday, Dayton snuck a Call of Duty game cover to school...  My mother always taught me to kill`em with kindness, but I think in this case I am justified to beat Dayton`s father with a baseball bat.  It`s me that gets the notes from school, not him!!!  My parenting is questioned, never his!!!  He`s making my life a miserable hell by playing these video games with Dayton, and now he`s bringing them to school!!!

So, as you can see, I`ve got my hands full.  Just when you think you`ve figured out your child, he throws a curve ball at ya and expects ya to `fetch it.`


Hope all is well with y├áll.  Consider yourselves hugged,

Lou