Dizzy

June 16, 2009 at 2:03 pm 8 comments

     Right after C’s first day of kindergarten, the principal caught up with me in the parking lot to tell me he thought C should just skip K and go right into first grade because he was so smart. We’d had an extensive meeting with the school team before starting C in order to convey to them our concern not with academic issues, but with social ones. Hadn’t this guy heard anything we’d said? In hindsight, that was the beginning of the end of “The Terrible Montessori Experiment,” (see here and here) which came to its final, and extremely painful, end a scant few months later.

     I’ll never forget some of the principal’s parting words to us. “C will never qualify for an IEP anywhere. He doesn’t belong on one. He’s too smart.” (Nevermind that he’d already been on one for three years.) It was all I could do not to send this idiot a copy of the full IEP C ended up on at the public school 15 minutes up the road – along with the full IEP he’s had ever since at yet another school. The principal’s complete misunderstanding of not only hyperlexia, but high functioning autism/asperger’s, was a rude awakening for us that has made us skittish ever since. That caution has fortunately been unnecessary as since we left that charter school nightmare we have worked with people who actually know what they are doing.

     Now, however, it has come full circle. As C prepares to enter third grade, his end of year IEP meeting brought a bit of a surprise. Two of the members of C’s team, and arguably two of the ones who know him best, feel we should consider having C repeat second grade. We are starting to see some comprehension issues coupled with challenging social issues as the maturity gap between C and his peers continues to grow. The thought is that perhaps with younger children, C will emerge as a leader in his class instead of struggling to make connections and friends. It’s not a bad idea, and it’s one Husband and I have considered extensively since that meeting, although we have decided not to pursue it.

     Yet I find it almost amusing that we have gone from someone wanting C to skip a grade to potentially repeating one in just two short years. It reminds me how important it is for parents to listen to their instincts when it comes to the people with whom we trust our children. Clearly I should’ve listened to those bells going off in my head that first day of kindergarten as it became obvious to me that the principal had no clue how to deal with a child like C, and that skipping him ahead a grade would’ve been a disaster given his social challenges and maturity level. My only regret is that we even bothered to return to the school on the second day and didn’t move to C’s current school that much sooner.

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8 Comments Add your own

  • 1. pixiemama  |  June 16, 2009 at 3:09 pm

    Regrets? We all have a few. It’s OK. I found that allowing Reilly to repeat Kindergarten gave him time to really strengthen some obvious foundational weaknesses, without all the out-of-classroom special ed supports. Yeah, he needs those now, but I can’t imagine where he would be if we hadn’t given him that breather.

    xo

    I just think it’s funny that this principal wanted to jump him ahead – especially after all our talk about the need for social skills help. Fortunately, that’s been the only place where we’ve had a bad experience – it was completely smooth sailing both before and after. It’s always been tough with C because of the hyperlexia. For awhile he was academically so far ahead of his peers. He’s still doing well in most areas but is falling behind in others. Yet all this principal cared about was the fact that C could read and add – he just didn’t understand him at all. Didn’t care about the whole child and didn’t understand the fundamentals of an IEP at the elementary school level…ugh…

    Reply
  • 2. jesch  |  June 16, 2009 at 3:19 pm

    Repeat?! He’d be doing Rocket Math Division.

    He did in fact make it well into division by the end of the 3rd quarter. We’re not going to have him repeat – it just gave me pause that two really incredible, clued in people thought it would be a good idea, so we batted it around a bit. Ultimately R and I decided it would not be the best move. He’s just so scattered in his skill set, you know? That’s what makes it hard to figure out just what his placement should be…

    Reply
  • 3. robinaltman  |  June 16, 2009 at 8:25 pm

    So frustrating. There always seem to be crucial decisions to make. I truly admire your fortitude. I’d be reduced to jibbering idiocy on a daily basis.

    And you’re saying I’m not reduced to that?? 😉

    Reply
  • 4. mama edge  |  June 17, 2009 at 5:34 am

    The ignorance of supposed education specialists such as that principal never ceases to amaze me.

    Are you going to have C repeat the grade? It worked for us: Taz repeat preschool rather than starting K when he was eligible, and it was definitely a good move for him.

    I don’t think we’re going to do it. I would’ve done it when he was younger, but as I said to another commenter, he’s just entrenched in his class, and I hate to remove him from it. I do think it’s a great idea in theory, however, and it really made me think about it when two people I adore so much brought it up. It’s a tough one, though.

    Reply
  • 5. jlewicky  |  June 17, 2009 at 7:35 am

    I totally understand and appreciate the frustration. We moved cross-country because our school system was so bad. Unfortunately, in some cases it is not because the educators don’t understand the child’s needs, but because they don’t want to provide the resources, but I digress…

    When we moved, we were given the opportunity to hold Jon back in preschool also, which we did. He did some amazing progress in his social skills that year. Kindergarten was a challenge in many ways, but at least he was able to interact with his classmates on a better level, if not totally age-appropriate. An added benefit – when Jon started to tantrum or act out, the teacher or aide would remove him from the classroom and away from his peers, which eventually motivated him to temper his outbursts, in order to stay with his peers. But it wouldn’t have worked without that extra year.

    I think that’s a great time to hold a child back – I hate to do it now, when he’s entrenched in his class, you know? It’s not that he has that many friends or anything, but he’s a part of his class, and removing him from that seems a little bit counterintuitive. That’s despite the fact that I think it’s probably a great idea. We actually talked about holding him in preschool one extra year, but he was so academically ahead of his peers at that age we knew it would be ridiculous to do. Now it’s a different reason…ugh!

    Reply
  • 6. Tracy  |  June 17, 2009 at 4:38 pm

    Making those types of decisions can be really difficult as a parent. Another alternative avenue outside of the classrom are activities and games online and at home

    I’ve been working hard on an online math game called Dreambox Learning with this goal forefront in mind. Check out our website if you’re interested. And good luck!

    I will check it out. Thanks!

    Reply
  • 7. Good Fountain  |  June 17, 2009 at 7:21 pm

    Are you going to get C any kinda tutoring for the comprehension?

    There’s a Lindamood Bell program that was designed with Hyperlexic kids in mind – it’s called “Visualizing and Verbalizing.” And it’s supposed to completely break down comprehension skills for kids like ours. Have your heard of it?

    I feel Charlotte is too young – I need to give her another year or two of school before we pursue something like that. I think C might be just the right age for it.

    If you google Lindamood Bell you can find info on their website. I’ve heard nothing but very good reviews of the program. Except of course it’s pricey – but worth it.

    Yes, I am familiar with that program. For the moment, no we’re not going to do it – I guess we’re at a phase where “extra” work is very troubling for C – after so many years of intensive therapies, I want him to have a chance to just be a kid, you know? That will probably come back to bite him in the butt in a few years…but maybe in the future we’ll give it a shot…

    Reply
  • 8. PolkaDotMommy  |  June 18, 2009 at 1:43 pm

    Mommy does always know best… I’ve learned that many times over the years. Good for you, going with your gut and not caving under the pressure.

    We’ve decided to homeschool L.C… she is technically young for kinder this year because of a late Bday. I’m going to start her anyway with the knowledge that we may run the same curriculum for her next year.

    I’m a bit worried about her social experiences because that is her biggest struggle, but I think the combination of the 7-10 kids in our home every day, several other homeschool families that we schedule outings and projects with and our church activities, she will get plenty of social time. I also really like the idea of being the master of her social experiences, I will continue to brave trips to the store even if it means leaving five minutes into the experience, I will be the one making the notes in her book when we figure out what works and what doesn’t.

    I’m a bit scared… but I feel this is the right choice. Time will tell and like you, I trust my decisions!

    I think you are really smart to homeschool, and it sounds as though you have the social piece alll worked out. I think it’s GREAT! Good luck!

    Reply

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