Friday, February 27, 2009

The Start of 3rd Grade

MJ was entering 3rd grade and would have a new teacher, so the first week of school I emailed his teacher asking if I could meet with her to discuss his Asperger's and kind of give her a "guideline" to working with him. She emailed back and set up a meeting on the Friday of the first week of school.

Before this day the school had a "Back to School" night where you can go and meet the teacher and they usually give you handouts and explain class policy and curriculum. It was here that I found out some interesting things she demanded of her students.

Now during the summer MJ had been assigned to practice these timed math tests called 36's. This is where they have 36 math problems that they must complete before a minute and 30 seconds. When we worked with him during the summer, he never finished any of them. I tried them and finished OK, but my husband, the computer programmer barely did. I figured it was no big deal that MJ wasn't finishing them, that is was just to get them to go faster, but when I went to the Back to School night, I found out that she required these to be done in a pass or fail.

Now, when I heard this, I immediately raised my hand and told his teacher that I didn't agree with it and why must they be timed---if they knew the math, wasn't that good enough? I told her how we had timed myself and my husband, and if he, a computer programmer, could BARELY finish them, then how did she expect an 8 year old boy to? She proceeded to tell me how it wasn't that bad and that they work on them for a long time and eventually everyone passes them off. I held off and told her I would discuss more of this with her when we met on the following Friday.

Friday came and I was ready. I got on the internet and printed out a copy of the Oasis Guide for Teachers for teaching kids with Asperger's. It is a great resource and great to give to teachers. you can find it here. I went through it and highlighted the things that more pertained to MJ, and I wrote little add ons and suggestions, as well as writing a list of things very particular to him and how she could handle it.

I thought I had a pretty good resource and guideline/outline sheet for her and it would help her and MJ alot. When I met with her I proceeded to tell her how he was pretty much an average kid, but there were a lot of differences that might cause him problems.

I explained about how he had to be cued for almost everything. I explained how he had problems with transitions. I explained how you had to be extremely literal. I asked her if she had noticed the way he walked or the little jerks and hops he did. She said she had picked up on that from day 1. I explained to her what they meant and how to read MJ in a sort. We discussed his terrible handwriting and spurts and repetitions in his speech. (She would ask a last opinion from the speech therapist that worked with him the previous years if she wanted to continue that.) And then, I began to explain his processing delay and asked her how was he to do these 36's?

She said she would work with him a lot and take him aside, and even have him pass them off orally. But here I am thinking what difference is that going to make because his processing is delayed from brain to mouth or brain to writing. It's not like it's going to be faster orally. I didn't say anything toward that, but I figured I would wait and see, and hopefully something would be worked out.

Mostly the meeting went well, and she seemed very helpful and accepting of MJ's differences, and I was glad she was so open as far as communicating with us.

Things seemed alright, at least the first couple of weeks, but then they began to change and we would soon see an up and down rollercoaster of events to follow.

Once we had thought he had "grown out of" this Asperger's stuff, and maybe he had adjusted or matured, but we would soon learn we were mistaken.

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