02 December 2005

Butts and Bozos

Was going to do a blog with Betty Page's bare butt in it. Hers was feted. Hers was also bigger than mine, which is somewhat reassuring. Wrote it twice, got bombed out of blogger twice. I can take a celestial hint, you know - if it bashes me across the head two or three times.

It was Segue's comment at Zilla's that got me Googling to find a nude picture of said lady. Happy Birthday, by the way, Segue.

On the school front, I am more and more prepared for the meeting with Son's new teacher on Monday. In spite of supposed careful hand over from year to year it seems that:
  • She has eradicated use of his three level stress warnings, used by his previous TA and teacher to great success, to educate him on how loud he was becoming, as he has little volume control. Now he just doesn't know he's pushed it too far until its too late and he's in trouble.
  • She has allowed him something to fidget with as an aid to concentration, but has insisted that when she is speaking to him he is to stop fidgeting and look at her face. In other words she has no bloody understanding of his neurological issues at all and is actually forcing him into a pattern of behaviour that makes it much harder for him to hear what she is saying. He needs to be looking away and doing something vacant to occupy the rest of him, in order to clearly hear her instructions - reduce stimulus from the eyes and allow his fingers to hear her words. He has to be moving to absorb info.
  • She has had several stern words with him about not saying 'sorry' with enough sincerity. Without home school communication when this happens I can't say whether he is being facetious (He could out Bertrand Mr Russell) or whether he is genuinely saying sorry. When he is genuine, the voice is flat and a little clipped and there is no eye contact. I know which scenario I suspect.
  • Last week another special needs kid, one that Son counts as a true friend, threatened to commit suicide, even running scissors up and down his forearm. He got a half hour detention for it. Son, not understanding the mechanics of that decision, was so distressed that he ran from the room, found a table and chairs in an isolated corner under some stairs, built them into a cave and hid under them. He was still muttering to himself to calm down over half an hour later, got in trouble for doing that in class, and got a half hour detention for trying to walk out of class when he felt unsupported. Obviously the teacher sees it differently, but neither incident was even mentioned to me by the school, whereas last year or the year before I would have had an instant phone call, to allow me to work through the issues appropriately when he came home.
The more I ask him, the more I begin to suspect I have an 'old school' teacher here, that what goes (punished but) dismissed and unreported to either me or the SENCo, all adds up to show what a great job she's supposedly doing and how the essential strategies built up over years arent necessary in her class because she's Mrs Super. It appears she has no idea of, or interest in his differences and sees herself charged with pressuring him into behaving like a neurotypical kid, as if, if she just keeps being stern, somewhere in his head the penny will drop.

She doesn't seem to have even considered that he might be in torment - her main concern seems to be that whatever is going through his head, success means that he sits still, shuts up and doesn't take her attention or complain.

Never mind that for five years the top goal on his ILP was to put his hand up before speaking.

And there she sits, believing that close home school communication is a sheet full of sad or smiley faces recorded each lesson and shown to me at the end of the week.

How many teachers are fixated on behaviour as a boon or disturbance to the way they like to educate? How many feel that the limit of recording behaviours should be to show whether they did or did not comply with classroom standards, with no explanation or investigation of where the 'wrong' attitude came from, or whether their teaching methods actually allow every child to access the lesson content?

This is why so many Aspergers kids go into senior school and promptly show signs of OCD and clinical depression. I'm damn sure its got less to do with puberty as a hormonal and chemical condition than it has to do with puberty being the start of adult self respect and the increased need to fit in and stand up for oneself. Faced with confusing, depressing, disinterested teachers like that, where nothing I said was heard as I meant it, I think I'd go doolally. Actually I think I'd start throwing things.

Which probably explains why still, in this all caring and knowing and beneficient school system of ours, one in four pupils on the autistic spectrum still end up being expelled.

I have a meeting with her on Monday. I've already told her I am not on the attack - just seeking to work together. All I have to do now is depress this righteous anger and resist the urge to shred her to pieces with all the ammunition she's given me. I have to wangle this to make her feel that this is 'us' making forward strides, with her, as the expert, in the lead. I know thats one treasured emotional minefield of hers that would take a dozen counsellors and a year of therapy, so I am forced to work with it instead of challenging it. I am going to have to manipulate her, basically; to make her feel that reinstating all the tools and attitudes that the school has had up until her class is not only a good idea, but possibly also her idea.

I have to work out how to couch the condemnation as 'I'm just a dumb mum, whats your idea Mrs Expert?' and soft soap her social climbing ego out of damaging my kid. I don't like treating people like idiots, even when they are.

God help me.

Any ideas, I'm all ears.


Ms Mac said...

Sorry, no. I have no idea how to deal with person. I do empathise though. While we don't have to deal with Aspbergers, we do have to deal with idiot teachers with God complexes. (And we have to do it in German, imagine how frustrating it is to not be able to articulate properly your concerns!)

My only advice is to not back down, make sure she hears what you have to say and has understood. Make sure she understands that you as a parent know what you're talking about- too many teachers these days are too quick to write parents off as neurotic messes.


Ally said...

I second what Ms.Mac says. It's a horrible position to be in - but if manipulating her is what you need to do to get the best for Son, then that's what you need to do.

[radiates empathy]

Milt Bogs said...

Try here Cheryl. The first one is for undergraduates but a lot of the points are relevant.
If you are unhappy about what's going on or not going on, go to the Head, go to the Director of Education, go back to the people who issued the original statement. Ask for Son to be reassessed. Above all keep pushing!

doris said...

Keep smiling (even as you want to throttle her), keep the moral high ground and good luck!

Writer Mom said...

Cheryl! Sounds like I'm a few years behind you.
Jack gets an evaluation this month because his preschool teacher completely misread and humiliated him on his first day of school. I yanked him from the class.
Long story...aren't they all?
But I know your frustration...
I had the choice this year, but kindergarten starts next fall.
Whatever is going on with him, it still amazes me how little a teacher can know about children.
"Parents expect us to do everything!"
Nope. Just expect you to teach my kid--who is every bit as important as the kid sitting next to him.
Somedays I fantasize about starting my own school...

The floor would be a gigantic trampoline..."Keep jumping, Suzy! And let me hear those ABC's--"
"I'm sorry, Mrs. Suzy, but Suzy is just taking up too much of my time. She just wants to sit at a desk and raise her hand all day. This class is about practical life situations. We need kids to learn how to think on their feet. I regret to inform you that she's our worst student...isn't even capable of bouncing and spelling at the same time. We have a boy who can do multiplication while somersaulting mid-air--
Suzy, in my opinion, is just being lazy. Perhaps you can work on that at home. Do you have a trampoline?"

Cheryl said...

Mac and ally (I like the sound of that rofl) and doris - thank you!

Milt you are a genius mine of information and I really value those links. The first one has some good links at the end too, and the second - well the NAS site is so huge that its a needle & haystack situation unless you hit the right search term. VERY GRATEFUL, especially as on is from Sussex and so can be related to local teacher aspirations.

Mom - can you write a book please? If not I will. Set in a world where the few neuro typicals that flourish in a linear school environment are the oddballs and have to fight for recognition. Could be a world changer, what a brilliant insight. Thanks.

fineartist said...

I agree with all that has been said, but I must stress that an honest approach is always best. If she balks at, or outright rejects your honest approach at teaching your son and communicating with you, then right up and over her head, I would go.

You are the expert in this situation, you are your son’s greatest champion.

I am still baffled by the attitude of some, I am always thankful when a parent offers me insights and support towards helping their child. Blows my mind.

Dear teacher, I would like for your experience and my son’s experience to be productive and satisfying. Please allow me to help you help my son and yourself. Please take heed to the things that I will tell you that affect my son as an individual. Please use care, kindness and wisdom when teaching my son, and all children. Please do not write me off as a pain in the arse parent, as I REALLY do know my child better than anyone else, and I have been through this before.

Hugs, prayers, and a knowing in your heart that all will be well, Lori

zilla said...

I think it's wonderful that we neurotypicals finally have our own label popping up in mainstream usage. It's already taking on a derrogatory flavor in the Silicon Valley, so it's only a matter of months

before Sally cries, "Teacher, teacher! Susie called me NT!" and Sally won't get a detention because the teacher secretly agrees with her. Oh, big fun ahead!


Cheryl said...

Thanks Zilla - but if in the story world, musltisensory learning has become the norm, then that will be whats typical.
How about linear retard?
I'd really like to see something written to put the shoe on the other foot, so shock is cool.

Astryngia said...

I didn't set you a very good example, did I? And I'm still coming down from the experience. There's a great quote tho' which you might want to print out and give her. I'll set it out on Astryngia for you.

Take care and lots of luck!