Thursday, April 23, 2009

Problems from not Establishing an I.E.P

OK, now before you read this, I am not "bashing" MJ's teacher in any way. We are just trying to figure things out. We thought we needed an I.E.P., but then the school made it seem like things would work out. We've only looked to the school for direction and where to place MJ. We know teachers have enough responsibilities and kids to deal with and they can't focus on just one kid, but we are just trying to see what we can do or what accomodations need to be met.

I thought we had been pretty lucky. We had gotten through 2nd grade without a struggle, and although we were seeing added characteristics of his Asperger's during the summer, we still thought maybe things were going to work out for MJ. We were on the ball and met with the teacher the first week of 3rd grade. We gave her an outline and a list of detailed information about MJ, and we thought things would go well, but soon things went elsewise.

#1-The first month of school I noticed right away that MJ was coming home with tons of homework. I felt bad for the poor kid. He would be doing homework from 4 pm till bedtime. I didn't understand. His teacher said at the beginning that homework shouldn't take longer than 45 minutes, but with all the stuff he had it wasn't possible.

I let it go for a while hoping things would mellow out, but they didn't. I finally emailed the teacher asking what was going on. She emailed back to say that MJ was supposed to be doing these things in class and only taking home what wasn't finished, but I guess somehow he wasn't even getting started on these huge booklets of work.

Well, then what was he doing? I know he has the distraction issue where he could see something on the window and stare at it for an hour, but wouldn't the teacher notice? She promised to keep a better eye on him and for us to let her know if anything got ugly again as far as homework.

#2-Homework wasn't bad for a while, but what MJ was having problems with were these timed math tests called 36's. (36 math problems that must be done in 90 seconds.) We found out about them over the summer and remember I directly asked the teacher how these were going to be worked out because of MJ's processing delay. She said she would try doing some orally, but really it doesn't matter orally or written, there is still the delay. I did not and still do not agree with timed math tests for grade. Sure, I think it's OK to have limits like you can't take forever but making math problems a pass or fail if not finished just seems unfair to me. If they know the facts, they know them. Why must they be timed?

Anyway, he was not doing that well on these. He knew them all and we worked with him daily shouting out multiplication and division problems but there is always the delay. He knew them all, and he wasn't stalling, it's just part of MJ. It takes his brain an extra second to process and verbalize or write. No big deal, but for a timed test it meant a big difference. Pass of fail! I kept telling him it didn't matter if he couldn't pass these off because I knew he knew them all and the tests were just stupid. (Yeah, I know, I probably shouldn't have been giving him a bad attitude, but I couldn't help it. They were unfair for a kid with his disabilities.) I told him I was proud of him no matter what.

He seemed to accept this until he started coming home telling me that the teacher was making him stay in from recess everyday until he passed off every 36 test. So, that meant he was being punished everyday to stay inside and do test after test after test until he could pass them. At this point he had stayed in the whole week so far.

#3-Now, the meltdown---one day in particular I picked up MJ from school and he was in tears. He was super upset because he had gotten in trouble repeatedly enough times that he was in big trouble with the school disciplinary rules. (They do so many warnings, and then you have to face consequences.)

I asked him what happened and he said first his teacher marked him down for not doing his work but he said he was trying but another group was working right next to him and he couldn't concentrate on what he was doing with them talking. (Now it is seriously impossible for MJ to work with a lot of distractions.)

Next he said he got in trouble because the class was talking. (OK, so group punishment, I can handle that.)

But then 2 strikes means you must stay in from recess. So OK, that's fine, but when it was time for recess his teacher came up to him and said "I hope you know that THIS IS RECESS TIME." So MJ, being that he takes everything literal and he must be constantly reminded and cued to remember things, looks at his teacher and takes her sentence as, hey--I need to go to recess now. So he does. And as soon as he does, his teacher tells him that he did not fullfill his punishment and stay in from recess, so he is in trouble a 3rd time.

OK, so it really wasn't a super big deal, but MJ was really upset. I mean, sure he was distracted, but couldn't he move to another place to work? And then if he is being punished, then can't you just remind him "Hey, remember you got marked down twice, so you need to stay in from recess" rather than making some hidden statement about it being recess time now (when you're really meaning, this is recess time now, NOT for you because you're in trouble) and then punishing him yet again for not fullfilling the punishment?

We already outlined all these things at the beginning of the year about
#1-processing delay
#3-constant reminders
#4-the need to be cued
and many many more, but why was he getting in trouble again and again?

I felt so bad for him because he was just crying and crying trying to tell me how he didn't mean to do wrong and he didn't mean to be bad, he just forgot he was supposed to stay in and his teacher didn't remind him and why would she tell him it was recess time now?

So, goes to say, what I thought was going to a smooth year was just getting ugly, and apparently I was dumb to think he didn't need an I.E.P.

I did email her right away and I was actually very nice stating things like, "what can we do to help solve these problems together" and then restating some of the instructions and characteristics of Asperger's for her info. But when she did not email back, I took this as a negative, and a need for me to look for help in other places.

I immediately began contacting the school department head and calling MJ's team of doctors to see how we could go about establishing an I.E.P.


Mrbeerbelly said...

I love how people blast their children's teachers for their children's problems. Your son's teacher has 20-30 other kids in the class she needs to give attention to as well.

Your son obviously requires more help and attention that can be provided in a standard class, this isn't a problem with his teacher! It is going to get worse and worse as the work he is expected to do advances faster than he does. You need to get your son in special classes, wether you like it or not.

I've worked with children for 10 years and it's unfair to the other children in his class to have their teacher dedicating most of her time to your son. If he can't do the work he shouldn't be there.

Becca said...

Woh woh.....calm down their. I'm not bashing his teacher, I'm just frustrated that he was being punished for forgetting his punishment. Yes, some things just do not work with him in the class, but there really isn't a place for him. They won't allow him in a special ed class because he is so far advanced. This is a gifted class as it is and he deserves to be there. He is more advanced than most of the class. All he really needs is some sort of accomodations or maybe even an aide, but we are trying to figure things out and see what works. The school is in process of doing the same. I'm sorry maybe I should have changed the post title. I didn't mean the teacher had problems, I meant we were having problems communicating with her. Sorry, I guess I'll change that----

Mrbeerbelly said...

I've worked with many children with Autism (for the most part high-functioning). I don't think your sons teacher is wrong for making him do speed math, I don't know your son personaly but I feel with practice this is something he will be able to do.

The smartest person I've ever met was a 7 year old girl with Asperger's. I think you should hold your son to the same standards you would hold a "normal" child. Perhaps talk parents of other children in your sons class to get their thoughts on the teacher? It is possible that maybe his teacher just isn't very good.

Maybe I was out of line for my post, and now that you edited your post it looks extremely out of line. Anyway good luck with your son, I hope he leads a "normal" happy life, and I am sure that he will.

The Emery's said...

I cannot believe they did not have an IEP in place! That is, in my opinion, irresponsible on the part of the school. Was his diagnosis through the school? I agree with you IEP must be in place. It is a pain in the butt to do but it is in everyone's best interest. Especially MJ's and HE is #1 important.
I do think the teacher was insensitive and wrong (I will not apologize for saying this). She was prepped beforehand and the way she handled it was not appropriate.
I am not a peron that likes conflict but I have to admit that it would make me fighting mad.
I have much more to say but I am writing this on my phone and it is rather difficult. Much more!!

Juliet said...

Sorry to hear things aren't going as well as everyone hoped. I think the teachers comment was a little miss placed too since you had told her that he has a hard time finding the hidden message. Hopefully things will get better for him so he can enjoy being at school and not be afraid of getting into trouble from something he really can't control.