Saturday, November 15, 2008


was one crazy, roller coaster day yesterday. What follows is kinda of a raw 'dump', I'll probably edit later for clarity.

It started (after I got the boys through the morning routine and on the bus to their respective schools) with me composing a long email to Salamander's school outlining the reasons why I am starting him for remediatory reading (and math) interventions at the Lindamood-Bell center on Monday. I also outlined what his schedule will look like until the end of this calendar year, and that, yes, the Lindamood-Bell instruction will take place during part of his regular school day (as I am hesitant to add intense interventions AFTER the end of his regular day, as he is POOPED by the time school is done). I had not expected a whole lot of reaction from school (after all, during the past IEP meeting, while lots of other great and positive things DID happen, they did not seem to look at Salamander's struggles with reading and math quite the same way I do, as technically he is not failing YET; and I have certainly done my own, private, interventions before. So school knows that I don't exactly sit and wait for things to 'fall in my lap'. - I go off and get Salamander what he needs. Period).

But school did respond, at around 3.35 pm on Friday afternoon. More specifically the sped department responded. And oh what a conversation it was.

I realize that I will need to compromise, and that I will need to move the bulk of the Lindamood Bell instruction to after school hours (Salamander would miss too much school otherwise, and while I am primarily concerned about the amount of instruction he'll have to make up for, the school department is looking at it from a 'is he in school for sufficient numbers of hours every day, and if not we are dealing with tardiness/truancy issues' perspective). But the person from the sped department 'got' that I am pursuing these interventions for very well substantiated and documented reasons. We talked about several reading interventions that are available through Salamander's school and that could be offered to him as part of his IEP services. I received a promise that the person I spoke with would do some investigating and researching on Monday. I promised in return that I would rework the current Lindamood Bell schedule to make sure the bulk of the instruction would take place outside of school hours. And we will reconnect either on Monday afternoon or on Tuesday morning (trust me, I'll be on the phone again Monday afternoon).

Now considering what the sped department person told me, I need to connect back with Salamander's school asap on the reading (and I am thinking math too) goals as written in the IEP that was just issued. They are just not detailed and specific enough, especially in terms of specifying what instruction methods will be used to get him to grade level (and especially in reading there is quite a gap) by the end of 5th grade.

Yup, I have lots to think about and sort out.

In between writing that email and getting that call was the 'usual' stuff, involving a trip to one of my client's, several meetings at my client, racing back home to grab a few groceries and making sure I got home in time for the school bus, etc etc etc..

To say that I was 'fried' by the time the boys were in bed was putting it mildly.

I'll be honest, the conversation with the sped department wasn't an easy one. It started out quite adversarial. But about 10 minutes into the conversation, when the sped department person realized that I have very good reasons to pursue these interventions and that I too am concerned about the amount of school Salamander would/could be missing, but that a tardy/truancy rule will not stop me from seeking out those interventions that I believe will benefit Salamander the most, the conversation shifted. The sped person realized that [the person] did not have all the relevant information regarding Salamander's neurological challenges and his history. And I explained that my entire focus will always be on making things work (I am not interested in pissing contests), that I am very grateful to all that Salamander's school TEAM has done for him so far, but that I will make sure Salamander gets and continues to get what he needs to be the best he can be. And of course, flexibility and 'give and take' are part of the process of getting to the best solution. The best solution for Salamander, that is...

It'll be interesting to see where this conversation goes next. I'll keep you all posted..


At 12:56 PM, November 15, 2008 , Blogger K Fuller said...

I never understand why what the school offers has to fail before and outside source can be used. You are totally pro-active and should continue to be so.
Sounds to me like the school will lose money if your son is not there enough hours. It also sounds like if he has great success with LindaMood Bell program they are afraid you may ask them to pay for it. I don't know you well but I can tell from your writing that you will push for the best for your boys. The school system is not used to dealing with parents who are as determined as you are.
You are an inspiration! And your boys will be the best because you don't give up.

At 2:27 PM, November 15, 2008 , Blogger Petra said...

Thank you!!
It's like that Tom Petty song "Now I won't back down, I won't back down. You can stand me up at the gates of Hell, but I won't back down." LOL

To clarify, I don't equate the school with Hell. Not at all. They have done phenomenal work with Salamander, and I know they will continue to do so.

I do understand where schools in general are coming from; there are so many more kids in the sped system, and so many are so much more "severe" than Salamander, it's logical that their attention goes to the more severe kids that are very obviously failing ('squeeky wheel and all that').

So kids like Salamander, who are both blessed and cursed with a 'splinter skill profile' (exceptional in some areas, but with severe deficits in other areas) and who are as of yet still somewhat successful in using their 'exceptional' skills to counter balance their deficits and as a result continue to come in as 'low average', run the risk of falling through the cracks. And it really is not the school's fault. It is a system issue (too many kids, too little trained staff, too little money).

It is my job, however, as Salamander's parent and advocate, to ensure he gets what he needs (either through school or through outside services) to help him remediate or bolster his deficits so he can truly access his exceptional skills (and become a productive and contributing member of society further down the road - the employment statistics for adults with Asperger's are very very sad and discouraging).

I am not interested in waiting UNTIL he fails (as he WILL fail in Middle School; and I've read and seen enough horror stories to know that the psychological damage done when an obviously bright kid utterly tanks is incredibly hard to overcome) - let's do the necessary course corrections NOW. I also firmly believe that getting remediation in place NOW will save the school system money in the long term - we all know what outplacements cost...

As I said, it's a 'give and take' process. I will have to accommodate, school will have to accommodate. My goal is to end up with a plan that will benefit Salamander the most. And I truly believe that the school's goal is the same.


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