Second grade began. I decided to write an essay about my son and deliver it to all his teachers, the principal, and the nurse prior to him starting school. I called it, “A Picture of my Son”. It was six paragraphs long. I gave a brief description of my son, his personality, disabilities, and allergies. Followed by the essay I had bullet points under three titles, “Difficulties”, “Needs”, and “Strengths”. It ended with a sentence stating that I was available to help with parties, special projects, and class trips along with my Home, Cellular, and Office phone numbers.
The school had scheduled my son’s occupational therapy session during one of his reading periods. I did not agree with this decision. Why would we pull a child with a severe reading disability out of reading? I requested that my son be pulled out from his lunch early and my son was fine with the idea. The district claimed that the law prevented him from being pulled out from lunch. They also misconstrued my request too and wrote that I had requested for him to miss his lunch altogether. I could see it now, Nazi mom won’t allow her son to eat! That wasn’t the case. I had asked for him to be dismissed from lunch fifteen minutes early.
In the meantime, I found out that the Department of Agriculture controlled the rules or laws pertaining to school lunches. The women from the state answered my question and sent the page that referred to the requirements of lunches in school. It stated that schools must offer a lunch period between 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and needed to provide sufficient time for a student to eat their lunch. Surely, my son did not need the entire forty five minutes to eat his lunch. I requested that his lunch period be lessened to thirty minutes instead of forty five in order for him to receive a portion of his occupational therapy. The last fifteen minutes he would miss Spanish. It made sense to me. Let’s think reasonably my son didn’t need forty five minutes to eat a sandwich and if he couldn’t even master the English language what the hell did I care if he missed fifteen minutes of Spanish for anyway? So as soon as I provided the school with the information from the Department of Agriculture that showed, yes he could have a shortened lunch I was now told I needed a letter from my doctor. The good old runaround. I was getting use to it. But of course, I got the letter and they had no more excuses. My son would leave lunch fifteen minutes early once a week.
I also still had to answer the Special Ed Director’s last letter to me. I wrote, “In response to your August 25th letter I would like to clarify that I am only asking for factual errors to be changed and not changes to my son’s program. I do not understand why a new IEP meeting is necessary for these changes but I have set one up for next week. My advocate and I actually had asked after the court session to set up an IEP meeting to implement the new decisions that were agreed upon at court but at your request you asked that this be done by mail and stated the a new meeting was not necessary. After reviewing the copy of the IEP that I received through the mail I only wanted the incorrect information to be changed.”
I decided if he wanted to drag his entire child study team to a meeting to correct four factual errors it was fine by me. When it came to my son, I always made the time.
So besides the petty stuff with the administration my son was doing much better then he had for the past two years. He especially loved going to the one on one reading class and he was starting to learn a bit. He felt happy about that. The reading specialist never once said he had a bad day. She was also able to keep him on task too with the one on one instruction.
However, there were a few things that upset my son on occasion in his other classes. For instance one day the resource room teacher wrote a note to me that stated, “He was embarrassed today about identifying the letter p for a q. Immediately after he started to not follow directions, spinning the chart cards, not using the felt properly and raising his voice. Therefore he did not absorb the lesson and did not get a star.” Another incident the resource room teacher reported was, “He was frustrated that he didn’t know the order of the days of the week. Immediately after, he scribbled on his paper, shut down and would not work independently. Therefore, he didn’t take a risk or try and did not get a star.”
The reason for her documentation was because the behaviorist had set up what is called an “ABC Chart”. This would ultimately set up a system to keep data on my son. The A stood for “Perceived Antecedent Behavior”. In other words, what had happened before the behavior (EX: embarrassed about mixing up the p and q). The B stood for “Behavior”. That was easy and they were always so willing to document that ( Ex. did not follow directions, spun chart, etc…) The C was the “Consequence”. This would include the natural consequence (didn’t absorb lesson) and the teacher consequence (did not get a star).
The ABC chart would be extremely helpful in collecting data and determining the cause of behaviors. Was the child frustrated due to his learning disabilities or did he have some kind of emotional problem? I found the ABC Chart very telling. And to be honest my son was good more then “bad” anyway. Now it would all be documented.
Now in the mainstream class I noticed that my son NEVER got a sticker. I inquired why? The teacher wrote, “He has not received stickers during Social Studies because he chooses not to participate. He remains on task but doesn’t want to take a risk and answer many questions.”
Little did that teacher realize my son was actually working harder then all the other kids in class JUST BY REMAINING ON TASK and of course why would a child who probably felt like a failure and could barely read want to expose himself to more potential embarrassment.
Why couldn’t educated people make logical sense of what was really going on with my son?
Copyrighted 2011: danadogooder and DMT