Friday, August 14, 2009

Back to Reality with the Boogie Woogie Sheep

We are back to reality. Even though it is only August 14th I'm in full on school mode. Classes don't start until September 8th, but Daniel has a big transition this year and everyone is working to make sure it goes as smoothly as possible.

I returned from vacation to have a meeting with the social worker and the new principal. (She was the assistant principal last year) to discuss the proposed schedule changes. I had blogged before the eastern trek that the schedule we proposed at the IEP wasn't going to work. It wasn't logistically possible. He is in 7th grade this year with 6 hours and switching classes every hour. There are only so many options each hour and it didn't work. I applaud them for calling me in JULY to let me know and bringing us together to work it out. I ended up going with their recommendations. They obviously went about it the right way, because at the moment I'm feeling better than I ever did about the original schedule. I always had unresolved issues with the original schedule that I couldn't quite explain. It wasn't sitting right in my gut. I believe I expressed that here months ago. Those feelings are gone. I am a true believer in my gut. It is never wrong. The times I'm wrong I go against it or I can't find another option. Afterward I'm always all, "I knew that was wrong, why did I do that?" So, I'm feeling ok now.

This is now how his schedule is laid out.

1. Computer applications (new as of this week. Daniel and I are excited. What a great way to start his day) Apparently this teacher (male) is great and gets lots of "our kids". I'm going with the recommendation.

2. Co taught Science. Co taught is the new way in our district. They are general ed classes that also has a special ed teacher in it. It's expensive for the district, but the best of both worlds. PLUS his para will be in there. That makes 3 adults, at least. In at least one of his co taughts there is another para, making 4 adults. Nice.

3. Co taught Math, pre algebra.


4. Reach. This is a half hour time that all kids have. You can get help with subjects, may have social work time etc. It has a teacher during it, but is sort of a down time.

5. Band. Five days a week. That will be a huge change. That reminds me, I have to email the band teacher about an instrument...Band was a must have and part of the reason his schedule wasn't super flexible. Not negotiable.

6. Resource English. We are concentrating on reading this year. His understanding of language is very poor, even though he presents differently. He can read words at grade level but comprehension is testing at 3rd grade. Usually with a concentrated effort we have been able to help bring a subject up. The problem is you can't concentrate on everything at once, so you have to pick and choose. We are choosing reading as the main focus. He has always been with his peers for English for the socialization part. This is a big change.

7. Academic support. The same special ed teacher who is in his co taught classes and reach is in here. Daniel can do homework, maybe speech 2 days a week for part of it, organize the day, reteach or preteach math for the next sections, get things ready for home.

Notice no social studies. We dropped this for this year. See the language in #6. It all goes completely over his head. My hopes and dreams are we get his language up and this can come back. A girl can dream.....

We spent part of the morning at the school yesterday. I brought Daniel and a very reluctant little brother to the middle school for a personal tour. We got his locker assignment which this year there involves combination lock. He practiced it on two different occasions during the tour, many times, without a whole lot of success. I can tell, he'll get it. ALL kids need practice, I KNOW I KNOW. Everyone says this to me. The thing is when all kids need practice Daniel needs 10 times more than they do. His fine motor isn't great. He has the combination memorized. He told it to me last night! But he can't get it from his brain to his fingers. Road blocks. Disconnects. It's amazing to watch it at work. How frustrating to know something and not be able to get it to happen. But he will. I know it.

We walked around to all of his classes. His English teacher was even in so he met her. It was one hour and he was visibly EXHAUSTED afterward. His gaze was diverted, his eyes glazed over and he looked like he was about to shut down. Then the principal came up and introduced herself to him. He was done, which she didn't know of course. I was impressed that the social worker who really doesn't know him, caught on and immediately said, "he's taken in a lot and I think he is done for now!" The principal was kind and wanted to make a connection. She said hello and shook his hand. Daniel then started talking about..... "The boogie woogie sheep".

Principal-"I don't know about them"

Daniel-"they dance"

Sigh. His first interaction with his principal was talking about the Boogie Woogie sheep. Now that I think about it, he was saying he was tired and I realized he went the whole tour NOT talking about videos etc, which is perfectly appropriate. But his limit is usually an hour and that's how long we were there. Which is giving me an idea....More on that later. If you are interested, here is the video of the boogie woogie sheep. You can see how he would have thought of this in his exhaustion. Ernie is keeping Burt awake and it's frustrating Burt. It's amazing how his mind works! At least the school has some idea what to expect!


Anonymous said...

Glad to hear about the schedule changes and that you feel settled on it now. I am also a firm believer in "mama's gut." I think it is amazingly clever that Daniel would think of the Boogie Woogie sheep and express that in the midst of his exhaustion. But it's just like you said with the combo lock - he'll keep practicing and he will get this 7th grade thing.

mama edge said...

As soon as I saw the title of this post, I started singing, "Beeeee----caaaaase---- III----- get up off the pillow and I flip on the li-ight..."

Both of my boys loved their first year of middle school, and the adjustment was much easier than anticipated. Especially with all the upfront prep you've done, I'm betting you'll be pleasantly surprised at how smoothly the transition goes.

BTW, Taz never learned how to use his lock, which was no big deal. His aide helps him. Rocky still refuses to use a locker at all, and the school finally gave up trying and gave him permission to haul his backpack around the building, something that is normally against the rules. There are lots of ways to make things work for our kids.

Tanya @ TeenAutism said...

That sounds like a good schedule, especially the academic support at the end of the day. I'm going to request something like that for Nigel. He's going to need it for high school. Gah!

Michelle S. said...

I just want to clear up something, based on other comments I've heard on facebook too...It's not really me making him learn how to do the lock, HE will want to do it himself. Even practicing he didn't want anyone showing him how. It's very ME of him! I know he'll get it, I can tell, as I said. I think it is amazing how he can appropriately express himself through songs. Even if I don't always "get it" right away!