Yeah…that happened again.
Friday afternoon I came home, went through O’s backpack (because it’s what I do every day when I get home.) and found this note from her speech therapist:
Dear Mr. and Mrs. AandO,
Olivia missed speech today due to not completing classroom work. I walked into the classroom and she was under her desk picking up her pencil. The teacher was writing a math problem on the board for a math review. The students were instructed to copy the problem down onto the given paper. She was not copying the problem down so I told her to copy the problem down then come down to the speech room. I was working in the speech room with one of her classmates for 30 minutes and she never came down to speech. When I went back into the classroom Olivia was still at her desk and this was the sheet that she completed. It was supposed to have two to three different math review problems.
Please let me know if you have any questions.
She included her contact information.
I replied with:
Thank you so much for your note last Friday. I am sorry that Olivia was uncooperative that day.
By the time she got home from school, she was unable to articulate to me why she behaved the way she did. She tried but couldn’t quite tell me what she was doing when she wasn’t doing her school work.
Please believe me when I say that I understand the frustration and share in it when Olivia is at her most obstinate. I do, though, want to say that I don’t think she’s ever deliberately trying to misbehave. I think she’s easily distracted and some days are worse than others.
I really think she wants to cooperate but sometimes things get in the way of that in her head.
Yes, she’s very stubborn and once she’s set on a path, it’s VERY hard to get her to change paths.
I talked to her about the importance of following instructions and doing what you and all her teachers tell her to do.
I hope I’m not coming across as making excuses for her. We know she’s capable of following directions and doing the work. She sometimes just needs to be guided back to the task at hand over and over again.
Thank you again for keeping me in the loop with her progress and/or lack of progress.
Yeah. So I find myself wondering…is keeping Olivia in the mainstream classroom doing her any favors? Would moving her to the special ed class full time help her at all?
I mean…would she be missing out if we moved her? Is she even getting anything at all out of being mainstreamed? Sure, she’s learning but she’s also frustrated because she can’t do the work as well as her typical peers. Then again, if she were in the special ed classroom full time, I don’t even know what she’d be learning. I don’t know how that classroom works when it comes to academics.
She CAN do the work. I know she can. She’s proven she can. But she needs someone near her ninety percent of the time keeping her on task. She’s capable of doing the actual school work but she has a hard time maintaining focus if there isn’t an adult there helping her maintain that focus. She needs to be redirected often.
Is it fair to her peers in the mainstream class that her teacher or the teacher’s aide, has to be nearby most of the time? Then again, do the rest of the kids even need the help of the teacher or the aide and is Olivia’s presence hindering them in their learning at all?
So many questions, so few answers.
Her next IEP meeting is in a couple of weeks. I plan to go in with these questions and more.
I desperately want Olivia to succeed but I also want her to be happy and if academic success means she’s stressed and frustrated all the time…well, we may need to weigh the positives against the negatives.
Honestly, if we were independently wealthy, I’d opt to homeschool her and look for other, less stressful ways to find social experiences for her, like dance, gymnastics (non-competitive,) crafting with friends, etc. There are so many things I feel like I could do for her if I didn’t have to work. But we have to deal with what is, not what we wish was so I’ll keep doing what we’re doing and hope it’s enough.
First, hugs! I never liked getting these kinds of notes, emails, or calls. When I read this, it launched me right back to our own school situation as there are many similarities. Okay, I'm going to throw some stuff out there and as always, take and toss some or all of it.
If she has speech minutes on her IEP, O is at school that day, and the SLP(A) is also present, then she MUST have speech that day! Speech is not contingent on whether or not she attempts or completes any given lesson when it's time to go to the speech room. Now, some kiddos have that need to finish before moving onto the next task/thing. I get that. As far as following directions, I'm sure that she understood them, but copying something from a board onto a paper involves so many steps and executive functioning skills. That's an area where a whole bunch of teachers are simply unaware. Does she have OT? That's definitely something that can be addressed there, but if not, you can request that ALL of the teachers' examples (or whatever written junk the teacher is having students work on) be printed out for Olivia. Oh yes!
Schools love to use that LRE against the student, but if she could benefit from an aide, then request one. Now, the school will most likely refuse that request, so you want to then request an OT eval (if she's already had one and been denied, then request an IEE which is an independent eval on the school's dollar). If she hasn't yet had an FBA (Functional Behavior Assessment), then request one of those too and all of these requests should be in writing with a date and ready to go at your next IEP meeting. The idea of an aide is to provide supports to the student in and outside of the classroom as needed, then slowly phased out with time. Schools will always provide the minimum, so if you want more, you've got to prove it on paper with assessments and document.
You are doing an amazing job! You've got this! I've heard some parents say that they were able to get whatever they wanted in school for their kiddo. Some parents have had to battle for what their kid needed in order to be successful. I've learned that things look one way on paper to keep it nice and legal and in reality, the classroom looks just the opposite and the kiddo suffers. I know that you have toiled with mainstream vs. Spec Ed. Been there too. Obviously, I've never met O, but I feel like I know her through your posts:) I believe that general ed. is the BEST place for her and with supports, she can be successful each and every day. I'm finding that there just aren't enough options for high-functioning kiddos. Fight, hold them accountable, and make them listen to you. Once schools get a whiff that a parent is privy to their rights, things get very interesting.
Keep us posted,
I feel your frustration! I have no idea what is available in your district or at the girls' school specifically, but I have seen public schools in our area who assign an aide to a student full time when seen as beneficial to the student, peers and teachers. It enables the student who is capable of doing the work of the mainstream classroom to stay in it, so their education can stay on track with their academic abilities, even if their social/developmental/executive functions aren't quite the same as their peers yet. I so understand the wishing for things to be different; like when the emails for volunteers keep circling and I keep deleting while my kid keeps asking why I don't come in to school and help at lunch "like the other mommies." Hitting the lottery is the best solution I can offer......
Love and Hugs
You are doing a great job! Being a teacher, let me say Speech trumps classwork. If it is in her IEP then it is required, not a reward or consequence system. My daughter is in speech as well and I would be up there in a heartbeat if she was denied it because of classwork. As for the Spec Ed vs Reg Ed, request testing. If you write a note, the school has so many days to do that testing, keep on them. If she qualifies for any services they will start immediately. There are many different types of Spec Ed classrooms. It doesn't seem like she needs Life Skills but perhaps a pull out for extra help or maybe an aide. Hope this helps.
Oh my gosh, everyone has such amazing suggestions. I got nothing except I love you and you are doing an amazing job.
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