Wednesday, June 24, 2009


I've had a rough week, with the dance recital trauma of last weekend, then being on my own with the kids for 2 days while my husband was at a conference, and of course the usual end-of-year stuff. Not to mention that my daughter's birthday is Friday and I'm trying to not be a failure. It's hard for me not to take so much responsibility for this, but I am not working now, and my husband is pretty busy at work. I just work better when I'm bouncing off someone else.

But today was the last day of school. I went in to volunteer for the ice cream party at my daughter's class only to find that they started 15 minutes early and were done by 1:30. So I sauntered through the halls, walked past my son's classroom, and realized pretty much every teacher was showing the kids a movie. Unfortunately, that's the consequence of the miserable weather we've been having. It's been 64 degrees and damp/drizzly for the past week.

The school is now having a kind of moving-up day routine/ritual. All students are told who their teacher will be next year and are brought to the classroom to meet (her) (all the teachers are female here). So my kids found out who their teacher would be and who would be in their class.

We're all kind of disappointed. My daughter is not in a class with either of her two best friends. My son is apparently in a class with none of the boys from his current class. I couldn't get him to identify anyone who is in his new class. He's not the most observant, so this may mean little, but I asked about all the kids I knew from kindergarten to see if they were in his class. He only could name one kid I knew.

This will be great for his social skills development. Not.

When it comes to teacher assignment, I always feel so powerless. I'm powerless in part because I lack information. I simply don't know these teachers! I am totally ignorant about the 5th grade teachers, and though I should have some knowledge of 2nd grade because my daughter's already been through it, I don't. Several second grade teachers retired after she moved up.

But I also feel powerless because the teachers work out all the classes based on what they know of the students. It's a reminder that my kid's needs aren't paramount. It's quite possible that his needs will be at odds with those of the majority of students. I may want my son to be in a class with Z, but maybe it's not the best thing for Z or for other kids.

The only thing I put my foot down about is that I found out that one of the second grade teachers would be on maternity leave for the first month of the school year, and I requested my son not go into that class. Why? Well, it takes E a while to warm up and become comfortable with someone. I didn't want him to have to go through it twice.

He is not feeling anxious about next year yet; his summer vacation has just begun, and he has 2 months of fun ahead of him. But for me, the dread is already creeping in. It's the dread of wondering whether I've done the right thing. Have I advocated for him enough? Should I have known more about how to help him succeed in school?

I don't think I can wait 2 months to find out.


Amy P said...

I had a meeting with the head of the elementary program a month or so ago on this very subject. I know the 2nd grade teachers to some degree as people (one was my neighbor last year, one is the wife of my husband's colleague), but I don't know them as teachers, so I just told the head of the elementary program that C needs someone who is very warm, very firm, but at the same time flexible. I don't know if I got this across, but ideally, C's teacher should be someone who is really good at creating win-win situations, and it needs to be someone that I can work closely with. The head of the elementary program told me that they were doing some hiring and that she actually had C in mind while she was making some of those decisions. That was amazing to hear. I'm supposed to have a meeting with the new teacher over the summer. I'm not exactly sure how much I ought to unload on the new teacher before she starts working with C, but it will be an excellent chance to talk to her about C's point system, give her some Howard Glasser books, DVDs, etc. Depending on what C's testing turns up this summer, in the fall I may wind up doing a mass arial drop of one of those slender books like "Can I tell you about Asperger's Syndrome?" (We had a really "funny" situation with one of the specials this spring that involved the special not quite being able to wrap her head around the fact that C couldn't deal with being touched on the shoulder, so handing out a bunch of books could save a lot of grief.)

Wendy said...

I finally got off the waiting list with the psych I want to see E. She specializes in gifted w/ ADD and Aspergers. We see her Thursday for the intro meeting, then a week of testing in mid-July. Maybe we'll get some better answers, which will also help the teachers.

Amy P said...

C was seeing a psychologist (an MA) this spring who had excellent rapport with her. MIL (a psych professor herself) suggested that we have some intelligence and achievement testing done since teachers are more motivated when they believe a child is bright. Because of the need for testing, we have transitioned over to a second psychologist who has a doctorate, does a lot of testing for schools, and who specializes in Asperger's. In the initial interview, she lit up at the initial mention of Asperger's and said, "I tell everybody to send all those kids to me!" So far, C has done IQ testing and achievement testing, but I'm not sure if there has been any Asperger's specific testing. We're supposed to do a feedback session in a couple of weeks.