Sunday, September 18, 2005

My own private council of Elrond

I don't know where the Lord of the Rings allusion comes from but I have to laugh about The Kid as the Samwise Gamgee to my Frodo, tackling Mt. Doom, perhaps a metaphor for us taking on ADHD or perhaps the bureaucracies of insurance and the school system. The Kid really is a Sam, as he likes to water our plants and all, is loyal and ultimately kind, but no, it doesn't work. I don't think he'd ever eat a rabbit, although when he was a toddler he called guinea pigs "cookers."

So anyway, I met with The Teacher, The Principal and The Social Worker on Friday over their lunch hour. We talked about the efforts I've done to get us outside help. The Social Worker outlined the things she is doing to get moving through the bureaucracy to get Special Ed resources on our side. The Teacher talked about The Kid's comportment in the classroom. The Principal, who has a special ed background, talked about the time they spend together every day when The Kid loses it, runs away or hits.

We also talked about our behavior chart/smiley face thingie. I think I got them to agree we needed more criteria. The Teacher is still not willing to (or able to get her head around the idea of) evaluating in shorter spans of time. I tried to explain it as an identification of bad times of the schedule for him, but I think she's still of the opinion that it's generally all bad. I think she'd be surprised, as we move ahead, that we'd see trouble in certain sections of the day. Then again, I'm not there everyday.

Instead, we came up with four criteria, each earning their own value. We're targeting hitting, shouting, running away from class/teachers and then we'll have an other category. I asked for more detail, hence the "other." I also asked that if he does anything well during the day, that that be added to the other. As much as I need to reinforce that what goes wrong during the day has consequences at home, I also need to reward/congratulate him for the things he does right. He also needs to know how awesome it is when he does something well. A little positive feedback goes a long way. We also decided to stop with the emotionally-connected smiles and frowns in favor of the value-neutral 0,1,2 (thanks Ms. Ris and Peggy for suggesting that!). So, while it's not perfect, its moving in a direction that I want it to go.

Overall, we all love each other. I can feel the school's appreciation of a parent that is willing to work with them, and I feel very lucky with the team I've fallen in to. Imagine, a principal with a special ed background! The Teacher taught for 15 years prior to coming to this school at our district's open school, a catch-all for unique kids/parents seeking alternative education in a public school. I don't know The Social Worker's background but she's just great.

Whenever I speak poorly of school districts, the school, etc, I know that it is a symptom of bureaucracy, bylines and guidelines, but not of the individuals (necessarily, or at least generally--we all know of individual teachers who aren't "there"). My parents were both teachers. The majority of their friends were teachers. Most of the adults I knew through my childhood were teachers, in school and socially. I hold them in very high regard. This is the toughest job since parenthood, and most of them do it very well.

One last thing, and this post is done. We talked about sensory integration and The Kid. The Principal reported that when he comes into her office all riled up, she applied pressure to his head and shoulders, rubs his arms. She said he visually melts when she does this. I thought that was so very interesting. Isn't the human body amazing?

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