Usually the way things went, we were to supposed to set up or review his 504 Accomodation Plan through the principal, and it is signed by parents, teachers, and student involved. His plan was set to be renewed last May, but the principal was leaving the school and decided it was best to wait to renew it in the fall with the new principal and new teacher. So that is what we were waiting to do.
This time, however, I decided to do things differently this year. In the past we had always met with MJ's new teachers to discuss his Asperger's, but usually it was after the first week of school. It had seemed OK, but things were different this year. Rather than make an appointment to discuss things with the new principal, I decided to go to where things really mattered first. I decided to set up a meeting with MJ's new teacher first, and also, to meet with her before school even started. She was the one who was going to be directly involved with my son, and so I felt it best I talked things over with her first. When we initially set up MJ's 504 Plan, I felt embarrassed, if not guilty, the way it was all set up by the Principal and school counselor. It is all school protocol, but I felt like the teacher was just brought in and told what she was going to do without having much input on the situation. So, I figured I'd at least give the new teacher a heads up on this new student. Plus, it would be nice to see what she thought of everything before approaching the principal for renewal. So, I set up an appointment for a week before school started to meet with MJ's new teacher.
Now, maybe I was going overboard, but I typed up a list of 12 things entitling it "Differences With Asperger's Syndrome Specific to MJ". I mean, I wasn't going to leave any questions unanswered, and I figured it would be a sort of guideline/help for the teacher if any problems arose. I hope it wasn't too much, but here is what I listed:
1-Lack of Eye Contact
2-Difficulty in Remembering Basic Tasks
3-Difficulty in Cognitive Listening
4-Misunderstanding of Social Norms
5-Lack of Emotional Response
6-Inability to Understand Non-Literal Communication
8-Difficulty in handwriting and understanding Spacial Relationships
9-Misunderstanding of Personal Space
10-Problems with Gross Motor Skills
11-Difficulties with Transitions or Change in Routine
12-Difficulty with Communication
Now, along with this list, next to each characteristic I explained what I meant and some of the solutions that we have created for better self management. I explained which characteristics had specific accommodations already set up in his 504 Plan, and also gave a few suggestions of what worked well with MJ.
MJ's 504 Plan had 6 key points:
1-Preferential Seating closest to the teacher
2-Allow extra time on written assignments, or limit the amount
3-Cuing MJ when invading personal space
4-Allowing the use of graph paper for written assignments
5-Cuing MJ when not talking appropriately (slow down, softer, louder)
6-Helping MJ with communicating assignments and getting all needed materials home
Pretty much we weren't going to be changing anything with the 504 Plan Renewal. We were going to one small idea to the last point, but I'll share that idea in my next post.
So, I feel bad. Poor teacher who I basically just bombarded with all this information before school started. Here I am trying to explain to her that our son is "basically normal and like any other kid" but at the same time I am shoving all this bizarre information to her obviously showing that he is not just normal. Maybe I did too much, but I just didn't want to leave any rock unturned and I just decided to give out ALL information instead of just some.
She seemed very nice and accommodating. She seemed to have a good attitude, and she even suggested that we don't even bother setting up an appointment with the Principal until maybe October because she knew the principal was busy and she didn't think there would be any problems.
So, with that, the meeting was over, and we waited to see how this new year would turn out for our MJ.