Tag Archive: Public School


Chi in motion.

Ten years ago, I birthed a baby boy. He was a difficult baby, if exceptionally cute. He seemed very unhappy with his lot. He cried a lot. When he wasn’t crying he was staring out at the world through giant blue eyes that grabbed your attention and held it. At about three weeks old, he started crying every evening for hours on end. Most people told me this was colic or gas, but I didn’t buy that then and I don’t buy it now. I discovered, by sheer force of intuition, that his crying was less severe and lasted for a shorter period of time if I turned out almost all the lights, and made my apartment as silent as possible after the dinner-time feeding. I also learned that keeping his day dim and quiet helped with the nighttime crying jags.

As he got older and he developed far beyond his age, for the most part, (commando crawling by 4.5 months, pulling up by 5 months, cruising by 6 and walking by 9), he got happier. The more he was able to move the more smiles wreathed his face. When he started cruising, he would circle the room over and over and over again. Once he started walking, he always walked on his toes and would run as fast as he could. This began the day after he took his first steps out into the room. When he became more proficient at both walking and running, he would slam into things on purpose and spin and spin and spin without getting dizzy.

As he began his tactile and oral explorations, I noticed that he never touched anything with his hands first. He always touched things with his feet, played with things with his feet. I have record of this phenomenon as early as 10 weeks old.

As he got older, instead of falling less, he fell more. He would fall right out of chair at the dinner table even when sitting directly on his behind. His movement grew more, not less, awkward with time and maturation.

Whenever we would go out, he would fall into screaming fits for no reason that I could see. He wasn’t worried about not getting something he wanted, he just seemed extremely distressed. If the schedule was off by the barest fraction of a minute, he would fall apart. If something was a surprise, if plans changed last minute, if a playground wasn’t exactly as he’d expected, he would melt into a limp little ball of Chi. (This still happens today, by the way.) He isn’t a spoiled brat. He knows that no means no and I don’t do negotiations. Still, these things happen.

**note: If you see one of those parents with the screaming kid who seems much to old to be throwing a temper tantrum, consider for a moment that they may have an autistic child, or simply a child with SPD or ADhD that cannot process the sheer sensory overload that occurs at places like grocery stores and the mall**

Once he started public school things seemed to progress in a backward sort of direction almost immediately. He became uncontrollable and completely over-stimulated at all times. I had not had him assessed before public school, because I had, somehow, always figured out how to best deal with him without professional help, but school introduced a whole lot of outside influences that I had no way to control.

Fast-forward to this year. (You can read about our struggles through public school elsewhere on this blog just look under Educational Experiences in the Categories section. I’ve pretty well documented things since he was in the second grade (when things when from awful to untenable).) We started homeschooling and we’ve had our bumps along the way, but one thing stands out as a bright shiny beacon of AWESOME. Chi is better.

Chi is flourishing. He’s not cured, if there is such a thing, if I would even seek it out if there were, but he loves homeschool. He looks forward to it. He pays attention, in his way, and does the work and cooperates. We’ve been slowly working toward him doing more and more of the work himself without me having to walk him through everything, and he hasn’t balked at being asked to write more and more of the answers himself.

He is calmer. He can still meltdown unexpectedly, but it is very far between right now. We keep a schedule still and we stick to it. He knows what to expect and can even deal with things he’s not that excited about without much issue. The only time in the last few months that we’ve had major issues has been when I’ve taken him to the grocery store (or Target or mall). I’ve learned that avoiding those places unless absolutely necessary when Chi is with me is really the best course of action. It makes everyone’s lives a little bit easier.

I can’t tell you how awesome it feels to know that I made a good decision so far as Chi is concerned. I’m so glad that the investment we’ve put  into homeschool  is paying off in such big dividends. It’s priceless, really.

So, summer has started and things have been cranking right along. There’s swimming, and playing, and crafts, and heat, and cousins, and company, and more company, and trips, and having five kids instead of three. It’s pretty crazy around here these days. Then, in July, after that family trip? We start school. I have to figure out how to work around having two extra kids; include them, I guess, but I’m intimidated enough at the prospect of teaching my own kids much less weave in two kids for all of three weeks. Well, I’ll figure it out.

The last weeks of school were really quite pointless. After the EOG’s were administered, the kids basically went to school for structured day care. There was no homework outside of daily reading, and no school work, apparently. Lots of drawing and reading and movie watching. So, the third grade did this thing where they counted down to the end of the year using the alphabet. Each day they had a theme that began with that letter. Things went anywhere from simply wearing a hat or bringing your favorite book, to ice cream or popcorn parties.

One of the days was “Kindness Day” during, which, the kids were to say kind things about their classmates. Mizz Eff took it a step further and gave each kid a piece of paper with their name on it and then the kids went around the room and wrote the kind things on each others’ paper. Chi brought his home.

Kindness

Mizz Eff wrote “creative with new ideas,” which just makes me beam, but my most favorite one, because I think it is so perfect, is right under his name: “You know all the rules =)”. And isn’t that the truth.

Well, we are in the home stretch. School for my elementary kids ends on June 10. (Pieces’ last day of school was last Thursday) We’ve successfully navigated this year and it was a hard row to hoe, but every obstacle brings a learning experience and I can only hope that I’ve learned…something. Patience? One can hope.

Chi finished the EOG’s and was none the worse for wear. AND HE PASSED!  He got 3 out of a possible 4 on the reading and combined math tests with 2 requiring a retest and 1 meaning “sorry there is no hope for you”. So, yay! He has, since, struggled with the changes in his daily schedule because, well, it’s the end of the year and there’s retesting for those who got a 2 which puts all the kids who passed in different classrooms where they have to be quiet. (and in case you forgot? Chi is almost NEVER quite, during sleep included.) Still. It’s close to the end and I can’t help but breathe a giant sigh of relief.

Both of my kids have moved on to the next level. I will be teaching it to them. I’ve discovered that it’s possible to be so excited about something you can’t sit still and paralyzed with a sick fear of making the wrong decision all at the same time.

EVIL END OF GRADE

Chi took the dreaded EOG this week: Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. He was as prepared as possible. His attitude was positive and he seemed unfazed all of a sudden. So okay, I’m thinking, maybe all will be well.

When Chi got home Monday afternoon, I asked how it went. We had talked about what he was expected to do a bunch and I reiterated all the salient points on the way to school that morning. He was excited and said that it went, “GREAT!” and that, “IT WAS WAY EASY!” (I can’t make those letters any bigger, but I could add extra exclamation points and it still wouldn’t impart the level of excitement this kid was vibrating with when he walked in the door.)

I asked him if he wore his headphones (yes) and if he finished all the questions (YESSSS! With much sighing and irritation. How could I even need to ASK this question, his tone of voice seemed to say.) I asked if he had any meltdowns or if he was able to work diligently (OH-MAH-GAWD-YES! IT WAS ALL FINE AND NO FITS AND ALL GOOD! If he were a teen there would have been eye rolling involved. I think if he cursed, now would be the point when those would be added.). So I asked if it took him the whole three hours. He just looked at me. “Well, did it?” He huffed and said, “We got breaks, Mom. Every twenty minutes.” As if I hadn’t planned it that way. As if I hadn’t had meeting after meeting about what would be the best way to present this testing situation to Chi.

But I was curious. How did these scheduled breaks factor into his test completion. So I asked the question differently, “How much time did you have to finish the test, bud?” He plunked his hands on his hips and then flopped into a heap on the couch (His favorite position is with his head jacked at a ninety degree angle to his body, up on the back cushions with his back along the seat cushions and his legs folded up near his ears. I’m not sure why, but there you are. OH, and he almost ALWAYS achieves this position by slamming himself onto the couch.). “The test ended at 12:30 (pm), Mom, ” he deigned to reply. “We started at 9:30, but I finished in 40 minutes.”

“…y-you. You did whaaaaaaat?!?” I’m a little in shock. I was told to expect this part of the test to be the most grueling. It may have the fewest questions, but it takes the longest to complete.

“I finished the test before the second break. We had a break every 20 minutes.” He seems completely unphased by this, like somehow it was to be expected.

“You were supposed to be taking your time.”

“I DID, Mom. I answered all the questions.”

“Well what did you do for the rest of the time?” I’m still stunned. Unable to wrap my brain around this.

“I just sat there.”

OOOOKAY…

So on Tuesday we talked about the Math part (there are two days of Math testing) and he seemed ready. His math test was going to be read to him, not because he can’t comprehend reading math problems, but to help pace him and keep him from getting overwhelmed by the sheer number of math problems. Plus, his class practiced these tests with the teacher reading the questions to the students. Wednesday morning we were going over, one last time, the expectations.

I said, “You listen to the teacher and take your time. She’ll help you stay focused.”

He pauses for a moment and then says, “Oh, I just finish all the problems on that page and sit and wait until we can turn pages.”

Me, deep breathing, “So you don’t wait on the teacher?”

“MOOOOOOOM, she’s sooooo slooooooow! I can finish all the problems on the page before she gets finished reading the second question.”

Me, almost afraid to ask, “So what do you do while you wait?”

“Oh, I just sit there.”

Sheesh, well, I guess, at least he didn’t shut down and not finish his test, but I don’t know how to feel about this. Did he rush too quickly and make a bunch of stupid mistakes? Did taking the test with all these buffers help him stay focused and that’s why he finished so quickly? Would he have fared perfectly well with the rest of his class? Jeez, I guess I’ll find out when we get his test results.

You can bring the EOG to the kid, but you can’t predict how he will handle it. No matter how prepared he is.

**Disclaimer**  I didn’t sleep much last night so I expect major leeway in what actually gets put into this post.

**side note**  Other than minimal brain function, that has absolutely nothing to do with what I have to say.

Dimple

I had an email from Chi’s teacher Wednesday morning, early. (I don’t usually check my email before I take the kids to school because that can take more time than I have to give and we might end up being late. You know how it is.) I checked my email for reasons unknown and came across one from Mrs. Eff requesting an emergency conference and an immediate call back, which I did. We scheduled the conference for later in the day and I did a short scramble to find childcare for Pieces.

I get to the school and the conference isn’t just with Miz Eff, but also, with the PrinciPAL, Ms. A and a woman I know but have no clue what her job title is. We’ll call her EOG Admin (EOGA for short), as that seemed to be her duties in this meeting. (Ms. A is the 504 coordinator). There were some concerns that there was no way to meet all of Chi’s requirements for testing as laid out in his 504. I had talked a little about some of this with Miz Eff in March but I thought things were settled.

Here’s the score:

Chi’s 504 has some pretty specific requirements for him while taking the EOG. Things to help him cope better with a process that is likely to be very difficult for him to adjust to because it changes everything he knows to expect in school for three days only, but three crucial days. These things are (and I’m gonna use bullet points, YAY!) (in no particular order):

  • He is able to write in his test book. Meaning that he doesn’t have to fill in little circles. For a kid who hates writing and coloring, that would be tedious at best. Also, he couldn’t stay in the lines to save his own life. And that’s a fact.
  • He is to be in a group of kids of no more than 10 and no fewer than three (including himself). He does not do well at all when he is the center of any kind of attention. He does not perform. He will shut down. That is a fact. Also, if there are too many kids things get too busy and too distracting. Not good. Additionally, Chi is noisy. He is almost constantly making noise. When he is in a good mood and doing his work, they are little and quiet: hums and chirps and little squeaks, but when he is shutting down and having a bad day, they escalate in decibel level and intensity/frequency, etc. This is not a quiet kid. If he were to be too much of a distraction for the class, a mistest could be called and the whole class would have to be retested. Yeah. So not good. (oh, by the way? These noises are not something he does consciously. Yes, sometimes they are, but for the most part he has no control over them. For the record? Bringing them to his attention to makes matters worse.)
  • He is to get as many breaks as he needs, whenever he needs. Chi is remarkable at focus. When he is enjoying himself. When he is uninterested he can take a task that should take 5 minutes and stretch into hours and hours of flopping and moaning or just diving into his inner world. Plus, he has movement needs.
  • He is to wear his headphones. He has noise canceling headphones. They eliminate white noise, and most extraneous ambient and distracting noises and allow him to hear the teacher or those talking directly to him. It is like a miracle drug for his ability to cope.
  • He is to be allowed as much extra time to complete the tests as he needs. Because his focus can wander and he can have shutdowns and he may need breaks as often as every 15 or 20 minutes, he will need extra time to complete his exams.

Well, I found out in March that there was no group that met all of his requirements, which meant that he would be alone with two teachers (the proctor and the administrator)(talk about center of attention, sheesh). There was one, however, that met most if Chi could have the test read to him (just the Math portions, not the Reading portions). Since the kids have been practicing taking the EOG in class and those practice exams have been read to them problem by problem, Miz Eff thought this might be a good fit for him. After some discussion, I agreed.

Yesterday they tell me that the group that meets all the other requirements has only one other kid in it. This is a problem if that kid is sick because that would leave Chi all alone, which is why the 504 stipulates no fewer than three kids. I was told that, really, Chi could write in the test book and wear his headphones in any group, so those aren’t deal breakers, but there was no one group that fit all of the other stipulations. So we set about deciding what was most important.

There was a group that fit everything, but the breaks were scheduled every 20 minutes. Miz Eff worried that with Chi being such a proficient reader such a rigid schedule would interfere with any groove he may get into with reading and answering the subsequent questions. So I pointed out the most important parts: he will need breaks and he cannot be alone. I, then, pointed out that while I found Miz Eff’s concerns valid, that Chi does really well with a rigid schedule and that the best solution would be to tell him what that schedule was going to be and let him know what time the timer started and what time it was set to go off. I think he would do fine with that. If every thing else was met in that scenario, then things should be set to run a smooth as possible for him.

PrinciPAL was worried that if Chi was sick that he would have to make up that testing day in a one on two scenario and I assured her that, if that were to be the case, then we could deal with that when it happened. It would be hard, but I think with the right prep, he would be semi-okay. Miz Eff then asked if she could be the one to administer any make up testing and was assured that, indeed, she could. That’ll make a big difference if that is a necessary thing.

EOGA was concerned that Chi was going to be uncomfortable with his testing administrator and has been pairing him for the last couple of weeks with a woman, Ms. Title 1 to be exact, who sees Chi at no other point. Thus eliminating any stress of feeling like he’s being judged by any of his academic authority figures, but still putting him with someone familiar.

So now, I come to it. I sat in this conference room, with these Education Professionals and boggled at how thoughtful and caring they were about this one student. These women have fought for Chi along side me. There has been no fighting, no head butting, nothing but cooperation and compassion. They truly care. They see the exceptional kid before them and not his issues. They want to help him.

Things have been far from perfect this year for Pynni and Chi has had his struggles, too, but in the end these people are trying, and in the case of Miz Eff going so far beyond that it takes my breath away. I sat in this room with these people, strangers really, who were fighting for Chi, and found myself, not questioning whether or not I should homeschool, but lamenting that they wouldn’t be in my children’s lives anymore. Homeschooling still solves so many problems that we will face in the future.

But I can’t say that I’m unhappy with the adults they’ve had in their lives thus far. I can say that I’m grateful. I can say that I appreciate what they’ve done; what they do.

When I left, they, each one, told me how amazed they were with my quick response and willingness to come in to meet with them so last minute. That still, flabbergasts me. Who wouldn’t, I think, this is for my son, how could I not?

Okay, so I mentioned before that the elementary school administration has decided that Pynni needs a PEP (Personalized Education Plan) which sounds great, I know. The point of this PEP is to address deficits in Pynni’s academic performance. In math. In Kindergarten. What she needs to know by now and what she needs to know before the end of school (in 8 weeks if you count this week. (and I do)) is how to count/write/draw to 30 (now) and how to add/subtract using visual aids and manipulatives (by the end of school).

Wait. What? BUT SHE ALREADY CAN COUNT TO 30! SHE CAN WRITE TO 30!

WHAT THE HELL?!?

Now, admittedly, she can’t add or subtract. She doesn’t even really know what those terms mean.

because

THEY INTRODUCED THAT TWO WEEKS AGO! (and last week was spring break. HELLO?!?)

Irritated Face


Kay, sorry. I’m a little angry. I’m a lot disgruntled. I knew this was coming because Pynni’s “not very happy” Teacher warned me it was coming even though she has argued against this necessity. She tells me over and over that she knows Pynni is proficient in these areas; that she is not behind.

Still.

Really?

Angry Face with ! and !!! and !!!1one

Oh yes. The system has failed. What are the statistics for illiteracy in middle school students? I don’t know but I found this when I googled “illiteracy statistics us”. What it says is that 42 million Americans cannot read at all and another 50 million read no better than a 4th or 5th grader and those numbers grow by 2.25 million every year as kids leave the school systems to become part of adult society. Those numbers are scary and I actually have a passion for teaching literacy, but that isn’t the point of this post.

My point is this:

My daughter is not one of those people nor will she be. We work with her on reading and writing and math after school every day. EVERY DAY. I was told in February that she was not going to pass Kindergarten when I knew for a fact she was at or beyond grade level in every subject. Still, I took the IRT’s advice and the PrinciPAL’s suggestions and began doing even more work with her. Then, her teacher came back to the school from her maternity leave (all is well with her baby, yay!) and was appalled at how her class had been handled in her absence.

She set about reassessing all of the kids and found that, at least in Pynni’s case, she had been miss-assessed (is that a term?) and was actually above grade level in reading and writing and at grade level in math. She told me that Pynni would most certainly move on to first grade, and might not have to go to summer school. (I’m still reeling from this. Summer school for rising first graders? Really? That just seems like overkill.) “MIGHT not?” I asked. Ms. S said that the administration felt that she would need the extra tutoring that summer school would provide even though Ms. S was not recommending it.

On Thursday, I found out that Pynni is being recommended for a P.E.P. (personalized education plan) which would be GREAT except that it is reserved for academically troubled students. Ms. S stated that she was against such a thing and that in the end it isn’t bad, but the administration is determined that Pynni is this horribly slow student whose parents are checked out and is in need of all kinds of interventions to keep her from falling behind.

I cannot express in words that don’t make me sound awful and uneducated how angry all of this makes me. I appreciate that they are trying to catch the “at risk” students before they are sent forward through the system without all the necessary tools, but Pynni isn’t one of them.

Conversely, Chi isn’t necessarily “at risk” but he needs all the help he can get. He needs academic and sensory interventions. He most likely needs an aide specifically for him in the classroom and that will increasingly be the case the further through school he gets as he accumulates subjects and teachers. But can I get many of these things without jumping through hoop after hoop after hoop? No.

Then the school tries to “help” Chi prepare for this test they’ve been hanging over his head since the beginning of the year by putting him in this before school “camp” twice a week. It turns out that it was a camp not geared toward kids with Chi’s particular needs or even with needs similar to his. It wasn’t a camp taught by a teacher with any experience either with Chi or with any other Aspies or simply Autistic kids. Said teacher was not briefed on how to handle Chi. Thanks in part to this camp, Chi almost completely regressed into the state he began the year in.

This is not the kind of “help” Chi needs. (Mrs. Eff agreed and we are pulling him out of that camp.)

Chi is smart. Ridiculously so. He astounds me with what he understands and what he knows. The kicker? He doesn’t like to write. Period. He will avoid it at all costs making it hard to judge how much he understands about what he’s reading or measure his writing ability when it comes to grammar or expository writing. He doesn’t like to answer questions. He doesn’t like to be the focus of attention. He would prefer it if you didn’t look at him directly (I mean he does YOU that favor, after all).

It takes a special person to see beyond his issues into the wonderful kid underneath. It takes a special person to recognize the wonder that is Chi’s intellect within all that refusal to write and cooperate and compromise.With this we have been blessed beyond belief, though. Chi’s teacher is truly a miracle in his life. She truly cares about him. She gets him. She is able to see issues and work to help him overcome them without diminishing him. She appreciates that his brain functions differently than most people. She sees that he has understanding beyond what he is physically able to show her.  (I know I gush about her, but even with all of that, you really have no idea just how great she is and how much I appreciate her)

The problem is that we can’t pocket her and cart her around from grade to grade and class to class for the rest of Chi’s schooling and even she is worried about his ability to succeed in the future grades. Not because he isn’t smart enough or because he’s behind, but because not everyone can work with him and see all of his facets through the coating of his Aspergers PDD-NOS and SPD. He’s a kid who could use the extra help.

Is there a way I can transfer the help for Pynni to Chi?

So I think the system is broken. Ninety-two million is a lot of people who leave school either unable to read or are barely functionally literate. Neither of my kids will fall into that category and I will not be allowing them to fall behind in other subjects either, and so I’m wondering, “How often is this extra help misplaced? How many kids, like Pynni, receive extra help they don’t need? And how many who do need the help slip through the system’s safeguards?”

Plenty apparently.

Just an update or two.

**In September of last year, late in the month, I herniated a disk in my back while dealing with the recovery of throwing it out a month or so earlier. I am still struggling with this and dealing with pain. So, on Sunday, I will be heading off to the Radiologist to have an MRI of my lumbar spine. Woop! (/sarcasm) I’m not sure to hope for nothing to be wrong (in which case, wtf is up with the continued pain in my back/hips/legs, etc), or hope the MRI shows something wrong (in which case, does that mean surgery? ICK!). You get the picture. In the end, I want everything to be alright. I want this fixed. I want the pain to end.

 

**I decided mid-March that I needed to go talk to my doctor about this issue I’ve been having with exhaustion, depression, hair-loss, and loss of focus. Then, I hurt my back and spent the next two plus weeks lying down full-time again. Yay. Well, I went Wednesday and she ordered some ridiculous amount of blood drawn for tests which I went in to give them this morning. I’ll let ya know the verdict when it comes. I think it’s my thyroid.

 

**Here I talk about the issue Pynni began having at school.

Here I talk about the meeting I had with the Principal to discuss the above mentioned issues.

So, I had a parent-teacher conference with Pynni’s teacher this morning (after I gave blood to the lab people).

OH, her teacher came back a couple of weeks ago! Did I tell you? No? Well, she did.

Now this woman is one of those delicate, soft spoken gentle flowers who never raises her voice and is blessed with a bottomless reservoir of patience. If she weren’t so pleasant, I might want to punch her.

Anyway, she’s back and she’s angry. She is angry at the way her kids were taught while she was gone. She is angry at the way they were evaluated (piss-poorly, if I get my interpretation of the tightness around her mouth correctly). I’m thinking she must be livid considering that I got angry vibes from her and I get the feeling that she and angry aren’t good friends. According to her: my Pynni is fine. My Pynni is right where she is supposed to be and beyond in some cases because I have been spending an inordinate amount of time making sure Pynni isn’t behind at all.

What I got from this meeting: Pynni will go to first grade. Pynni might be required to go to summer school, but Mrs.S is gonna fight against that. (**grumbles** summer school?)

Did I mention that I’m homeschooling next year?

**My story that was just a short story? Right it’s longer. It’s about 36000 words right now, and I don’t see an end in sight. heh. That makes me happy. And whether it ever ends or not? I’m enjoying the process.

I bought my first homeschooling materials today. I am beyond excited.

If you had asked me three years ago whether I would ever consider homeschooling, I would have said, “Hell, no!” I thought people who homeschooled were crazy, and not live-in-a-“compound”-with-arsenals-on-the-fringe kind of crazy. Seriously-a-glutton-for-punishment kind of crazy. “Not me.” I thought. “Never me.”

Then, as school has gotten harder and Chi has struggled more and more, I began to see that, at the very least, I might have to homeschool through middle school. I’ve said it before, but I will say it again, the middle schools in our district are crap. CRAP! (Our elementary school is NOT crap and we have issues.)

Now, after the awful year that has been 2010-2011, I can barely see doing it any other way.

I’ve been researching what curricula I want to use and I’ve made some decisions. (Truthfully? I’ve made ALL the decisions. I KNOW how I’m going to start, but I’m trying to pace myself. heh)

So today, I purchased Writing with Ease by Susan Wise Bauer and  the workbook The Complete Writer by the same. I will also be using First Language Lessons for the Well-trained Mind by Jessie Wise. These two women are former teachers who specialize in home education consulting and they have some really great philosophies on why so many high school graduates have little to no idea how to write persuasively or creatively, and not just with grammatical accuracy.

The Future

Susan Wise Bauer writes “…In an effort to solve the problem of poor writing skills, schools are giving longer and more complex assignments to younger and younger children. They theory is that the more writing children do, the better they’ll get at it; as one proponent of it recently told me, “Give the children high-intrest assignments and have them write, write, write and revise, revise, revise.” First and second graders are told to write journal entries; third and fourth graders are assigned book reports and essays. Fifth and sixth graders are given research papers.

Meanwhile, writing skills continue to decline. And for the last ten years, at education conferences all across the country, I have heard the same refrain from the parents of these children: My child hates to write.”

Now, Chi hates to write, but he has ALWAYS hated it. He never liked to color or draw with any type of media. But Pynni LOVES to write. She draws, and colors, and writes words and letters and her name. When there is no pressure to write any one thing in particular, she will spend all day drawing in one manner or another. Even with all of that, she has developed a dislike for writing as pertains to school. Who wouldn’t, though?

She has barely learned to form the letters semi-correctly before she is asked to write SENTENCES. Not just words. She can’t tell you what a subject or a noun or a predicate or a verb is. She can’t SPELL the words they are asking her to write. The homework is generally something like: write a story about what you did this weekend. IN KINDERGARTEN. And now, I see, that maybe, just maybe, some of Chi’s dislike of writing (and now Pynni’s) is that they are asking TOO much TOO early in his development.

I look forward to starting over in this with him. I look forward to working through this curriculum (it’s very scripted and I NEVER thought I would be looking forward to something like that) and giving my kids the tools to be competent writers, and hopefully, at the very least, not hate writing.

I’ll let you know how this goes and what I think after we actually get into it.

Hmmm, now on to what to use for math.

Sad Panda

I thought that after finding out what was up with Chi (why is he so WEIRD, anyway? Surely, not because I am, heh.) we could move into a more proactive phase of childrearing and put all of the structures and tools in place to stop regression before it started. (Although, now that I look back, I had NO CLUE that regression was going to be part and parcel of raising a child with Asperger’s.) I thought all the therapy, all the money spent, all the nifty tools purchased, all the meetings with teachers and administrators would naturally ease Chi’s way through life and make everything easy, and ooooh, I don’t know, normal.

This has not been the case. No matter how many books I read. No matter how much money we throw at it. No matter how many therapists we see. NO MATTER WHAT. Life with Asperger’s; life with SPD is REACTIVE. We remain on the defense. Our defensive line has to win by playing the game as the offense dictates it to us. Never will we dominate the offense and make them play the game OUR way. And VERY RARELY will we actually put our offense on the field. That’s not the way this thing works.

Chi’s been sliding backward a little in the last couple of weeks, and the regression has been marked in the last few days. This morning, he said not one single word of English. NOT ONE. He moaned, groaned, squeaked and chirrupped his way through the morning giving me a splitting headache, that I cannot get rid of, in the process.

We’ve been lucky this school year that the small backwards steps seem to resolve themselves in a relatively short amount of time and things continue in a more forward sort of direction. I hate to admit that I get so used to things being good, and dare I say, even normal, that when Chi starts shutting down, I flinch away at first. I try to ignore him and then, as if I’ve lost the ability to deal with these things, I completely lose it and yell. (Not screaming, as such, but I snap at him) So, as he has gradually regressed over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been having to have little talks with myself about patience and looking for the root of the problem (there seldom is one glaringly obvious one) and dealing with it in a helpful manner.

This morning, after the not talking and the absolute FAIL that was our morning pep-conversation, I was tracing Pieces’ hand and thinking. Things have changed at school. Chi isn’t dealing.

INFORMATIVE MOMENT: School this year, third grad year, has been almost entirely about taking this End of Grade (EOG) Test that kids now take EVERY YEAR once they reach the third grade. Starting early in March there are EOG camps for special needs kids. Starting early in March, the classes start taking practice tests. The individual subjects themselves are now taught in a way that aligns them more with how things are going to be worded on the EOG; how questions are going to look and therefore how they need to be answered. The content of the classes has changed. The subjects not covered in the EOG’s are being shuffled off to the side in favor of spending even more time learning, talking, working, and practicing for the EOG.

These changes are rocking Chi’s world. He is very rigid. There is no bending when it comes to his schedule or his

BUT I was gonna go to Toshi Station to pick up power converters!!!

expectations. When it is time for Math and he goes into his class and instead of the teacher explaining something new or expanding existing knowledge, the teacher plops a sheet of paper covered with 200 problems on it and says, “Do this as fast as you can…GO!” He doesn’t pick up his pencil thinking that he can be the first to complete this paper. He just stops functioning all together. He may stop hearing. He may stop speaking. He may stop using muscles to hold himself upright. He may start stimming. He may hide under his desk. He may start kicking the legs of his chair REPEATEDLY. He may chirrup or squeak uncontrollably. It can vary depending on several factors. 1) how stimulated is he? 2) is this the first time this has happened today, in this class, this week? 3) does he struggle with this subject under normal circumstances? 4) was he already out of sorts from some other surprise thrown at him?  etc. And Math? Well, Math is his favorite subject. Imagine if it were something he hated.

It burns us, Precious!

Now, I found out that he basically piled himself into a heap at school and chirrupped at Ms. Eff after I dropped him off at the door. He wouldn’t even sit in his chair. Now’s the time for reaction, I guess, since being proactive hasn’t eliminated the regression I had been working toward avoiding all year long.

**sigh**  Reactive sucks, but it’s what I’ve got. Off to contact Ms. Eff for a conference and see what we can come up with.