Archive for the ‘Edlucation’ Category

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a high school graduate!

Walking in line at the graduation ceremony

Walking in line at the graduation ceremony

It has been a long road, but it has been worth it.

Our oldest (my stepson), who is on the autism spectrum, graduated.   He got his actual high school diploma, and is looking toward a bright future!  Hopefully he will be attending school in January, as space becomes available at a special school here in PA called The Hiram G. Andrews Center.  Not only will he be able to get an associates degree, but he will also continue to learn independent living skills at this residential school.  Yes, residential! We are all excited for this!  🙂

But more about that later.  Right now we are basking in the excitement and the glory of his graduating from high school.  I have not told his story on this blog in order to protect his privacy, but it suffices to say that, when I married my husband, my then little 3-year-old stepson was not expected to ever be independent.  There are many reasons for this, but we are so thankful that he overcame all of those obstacles!  Here’s a little of his educational story:

 

Celebrating at the graduation party!

Celebrating at the graduation party! Not so little any more!

  • Entered school for the first time at age 9, as a third grader (when he came to live with us).  He didn’t know all of his alphabet or his numbers.
  • Caught up to 3rd grade math, after not knowing all of his numbers, by 5th grade.
  • Was in special education most of his school career.  However, as a senior, was in a regular senior English class!
  • Graduated on time, with an 81 GPA!

When my oldest crossed that stage at the graduation ceremony, my younger boy called out, “It’s been tough, but your made it.  Go, big Brother!”  And that sums up how we all feel. He has overcome much.  We, as a family, have overcome much.  And we are looking forward to what God has in store for him.

Congratulations, buddy.

Expectation, crying, and a call from the school

At 7:30 AM,  my son’s learning support teacher called. My son, P,  was very upset and crying.  She was concerned, as this was the second time she had seen him cry in three years.  He said he would feel better if he could talk to me.

The issue: his older brother M did not wear a coat to school.  (Also, another kid reported that M and another student hitting P while on the school bus. So she was going to report my older son and this other kid for bullying on the school bus.  But P. was mainly upset about the coat issue.)

Sigh.

As my husband listened in, I consoled my boy. Here’s a snippet of our conversation.:

Me: Hi, sweetie, what’s wrong? You were crying?

P: Yes.  M. did not wear a coat to school! And Dad told him to.  He needs to listen.

Me: He didn’t wear his coat?  And that upset you? Well, he does that sometimes.  It’s his decision.  It’s weird, but it happens.

P: Yeah.

Me: I’ll have Dad talk to him about it, ok?

P: Ok.

Me: Was M hitting you on the bus, sweetie?

P: Yes.

Me: And who else?

P: “Jake.” (name changed)

Me: We’ll take care of that too.

P: Ok.

Me: Is there anything else? Do you feel better?

P: I feel better now.

Me: Ok, sweetie. You have a good day.  You can start your day over right now, ok?  I love you.

P: I love you too, mom.  Bye.

My husband and I looked at each other and took a deep breath and sighed. My husband said, “Oh, boy.”  I shook my head.  We were  upset by the bullying and that P. didn’t report it himself.  P. was upset by the coat.  So there’s two life lessons that P. needs to learn: letting people make their own decisions and standing up for himself.

I am so grateful that other students were looking out for P.  I’m grateful for an understanding teacher.  I’m most of all grateful for a son who knows that he can call me if he has a problem and for teachable moments.  And this gives me hope.

 

Homework

I have to say that I’ve struggled to let myself off the hook for this one. I know that if I get too busy, something is bound to fall through the cracks.  Kids know that and they are sneaky!

Last fall, I vowed to be a better help to my younger son regarding school work.  I knew that I had  dropped that ball for sure when I received an email from a teacher saying that he was in danger of failing because of missed homework.

Imagine my surprise when I found that my  “honor-roll”  student was making D’s in some of his classes, and that my precious little boy had been lying to me (“I don’t have homework. I did it in resource period.”) like some crazy teenager.

Oh, wait, he is a teenager.  Wake up call!!!

The D that surprised me was in English, most notably his spelling assignments.  He has always been an excellent speller.  I noticed that, although he was making A+’s on his exams, he was making F-‘s on his homework.  Since there was more homework grades than exams grades, his average had plummeted to a D.

I also discovered that his grades in history were dropping, mainly because he wasn’t doing his weekly homework.  I was surprised to find out that he had been expected to find a current news event– tv, internet, newspaper, etc.– to share with the class every week since school began and he hadn’t done it all year!

I called him in to review his grades. First, I addressed the history grade.  I asked him where he was getting his news articles or stories, and he said that he made something up every week to share with the class.  (Boy, I bet those stories were interesting. Kudos for creativity and imagination.) He also said that he “forgot” his current events paper every week.  I told him that I had found his weekly current event paper on the teacher’s web page, and made him  encouraged him to save it to his computer so he could print it out if he “forgot” it at school.  No more excuses.

Next, I addressed English / spelling. I showed him his homework grades and his average grade.  In response, he pointed out his test scores.  He didn’t feel that he needed to do homework if he could ace the tests. Good argument.  However, my goal was and is to teach responsibility for himself and his own work, and part of this is homework.

After our “discussion,” I threw down the ultimatum.  I told him that he needed to get his homework average up to a 70% in all classes or he would lose his new tablet computer.  That did the trick– he brought home his spelling homework and completed the whole week’s worth in 15 minutes.  Stinker!  He also had a “real” news story to share with the class that week.

So, I dropped the ball, but I got it back.  And I learned once again that even sweet little boys with autism grow into snarky teenagers.  I wonder what he’ll have for me next!

Question: What are some ways that you keep your kids accountable for their homework?

Free Printables and Resources for Autism

From time to time I come across resources that I find are helpful.  So here’s a link for you. I think it’s pretty neat, myself:

Free Printables and Resources for Autism.

A great resource I want to share: Quotes for Kids

I met an amazing woman the other day.  Her name is Lisa Meyer and she wrote the book called Quotes for Kids: Today’s Interpretations of Timeless Quotes Designed to Nurture the Young Spirit.

I think this book is a great resource for social skills, communication, life skills, etc. for our kiddos with autism and for typical kids, too.  Here’s an excerpt from her website:

It all began in my early teens when my father gave a book to me. I devoured the quotations like a sponge and memorized all of my favorites. I still have that very same book! And, I still love quotations. When it came time for me to write and self-publish my own book, I gathered my favorite quotations and added explanations for them along with simple illustrations to help create a clear interpretation of each quote. That’s how Quotes for Kids was born! (My presentation tells the rest of that story – there’s much more to it!) My goal is to kindle a love for quotations in young people today to warm their hearts and to help them make good choices for a lifetime.

I don’t know how your kids are, but my kiddos like quotations once they know what they mean.  I have a copy of the book and the reproducible workbook, and am looking forward to going through them with my kids this summer.

If you want to look at this book on amazon, and buy it, use this link will take you there.  It is my amazon affiliate link, so I will make a commission off of your order.  Just sayin’.

Regardless, it’s a good book.  I highly recommend it.

Middle School Madness part 2

Well, it’s not so much “madness” anymore, but how else to name this post?  😉

We had an IEP team meeting regarding my boy.  I have to tell you that I have so much more hope now than I did.  (How many times have I said this after one of those meetings?  Maybe three times twice once.)

I discovered at the team meeting that the principal and special ed supervisor insisted that my son have one on one support.  (Gasp! Yes, really!)  That’s why he has a paraprofessional now.  Hooray!  I didn’t have to fight!

We moved him out of the large classes and back into small ones.  Yes!  I let them think it was their idea!

We also decided to honor his request not to be in chorus.  In fact, my little prodigy staged his own “walk out” in protest of his being there.  I was surprised, since he loves music so much and has a nice voice.  However, after finding out that there were 60 middle schoolers in chorus, I totally understood. He has perfect pitch.  Can you imagine being in chorus with 59 other kids?

Seems that he wants to “skip down the yellow line” that divides the hallway like a highway, rather than “stay to the right.”  Kind of funny… “follow, follow, follow, follow, follow the yellow brick road line! However, not so funny when you are running into kids who may just decide to deck you.

So, we decided to let my boy have a later class dismissal, so that the crowds had cleared the hall by the time he was ready to go. That one backfired.  He can’t stand being late, especially to lunch.  So we’re ditching that idea.  We aren’t moving it to an early class dismissal, either, since he’d probably obsess about leaving exactly 2 minutes early.

So that I get the daily communication as specified in the IEP, we are devising a checklist for him to take to each teacher so that I know how his days are going.  This way he gets to know his teachers and they get to know him.

Yes, it went well.  And to my surprise, the special ed supervisor asked if we could have a follow-up meeting within a week so we could see how our solutions are going!  (What? Not having to write another letter requesting a meeting? Wow.)

It went well.  Now we have to see how my boy does with the changes.  It seems to be going well, as I asked him how he liked his new schedule, and he said, “It’s better.” 🙂

Middle School Madness

Middle school is underway for my middle guy. Madness explains what’s seemingly going on so far.

Sometimes I question: Do teachers and staff really read the IEP’s prior to the new school year? Should I just buckle down and cyber school my kid? Am I over reacting?

My answers to my questions: Maybe not.  Maybe so. Not this time.

After hearing from my son’s school several times the first week, it is obvious that he needs more support during this transition.

This is what I have been told by the school thus far:

He has as “high level” of need, and needs more support to get through the day. Duh.

After rereading the IEP, the case manager saw that my son had social stories to help him in certain situations.  And then the case manager asked me if she should have said social stories.

Ya think?

I was also asked when my son would have a TSS in school, since we are approved for one.

How should I know?  I don’t oversee that.  Last I heard the agency was short by 14 TSS’s and was still hiring.

Yes, it’s been a stressful beginning to middle school.  Top it off with more drama from the county medical assistance office and medicaid, and I’ve about had it.

However, this blog is supposed to be about finding the humor and hope in our lives affected by autism. I have resolved to not wallow in my anger.  I still believe that there is hope and humor in almost all situations.

Here are my glimmers of hope:

  • The first time my son was a “car rider” rather than a “bus rider,” his homeroom teacher (not a paraprofessional, therapist, or even a special ed teacher) walked him to the van to make sure he’d be safe. A regular ed teacher who cares– that gives me hope!
  • When I asked my son if he liked middle school, he didn’t blow me off.  Instead, he thought about it and said, “Sometimes.”  My son not totally writing off  school (just yet, anyway) gives me hope.  And his answer gave me a chuckle.
  • My son’s occupational therapist at school, who also had him in elementary school, is seemingly watching out for him. I’m hopeful and thankful that there is at least some continuity there.
  • After speaking to an educational advocate, I know I’m not over reacting.

So there it is.  I love my boy so much, and I want him to be successful.  I know that as long as we don’t give up there is hope.