Saturday, July 30, 2011

School, how's it going....(old post)

Some good, some bad in this area of our household.  I will probably have to make this a two post topic.  I'll start w/ the little kids and work my way up.  So, here goes.

Nik-- Nik is in 1st grade this year and doing very, very well.  How well??


Yes, you are seeing that correctly.  100% AND a bonus on his last spelling tests.  He is comfortable w/ his peers and that is awesome.  He is doing total communication.  That is trying to speak and sign.  He is more comfortable w/ signing right now and that is okay.  Nik is also trying to communicate w/ me more.  Last year, he wouldn't answer me w/ what he did in school.  This year he is trying really hard.  Teachers say he's smart which is always great to hear.   We are working on reading and I am still learning how to teach Deaf children to read.  Many ways I'm finding out.  For now, school has him doing sight words and he is recognizing them when we read.  Don't know how all this will come about once he's bilateral and hearing sounds a bit differently.  For now, happy with the progress and hope it continues.

Alyona-- Alyona is in fourth grade but in a self-contained setting.  Alyona is quite mentally challenged due to the alcohol exposure which in turn gave her frontal lobe brain damage.  This is part of FAS.  Many aspects of Alyona's learning are effected.  Many.  Alyona is 11 years old but more on a kindergarten/1st grade level.  Math, maybe lower in that area.  Math is an extremely hard concept for FASers to get.  All mine struggle with math.  Another issue w/ learning and FAS is one day you'll learn something and the next day you'll forget.  This is what Alyona struggles with the most.  It's hard.  Alyona can not read.  Well, very little.  Alyona is going to have lots of troubles as she gets older in regards to school.  I don't say this lightly and w/out validation.  Teacher also agrees she is one of those "caught in the middle."  See, in the state of NC, once they get to middle school & high school, there are NO self-contained classes.  It is just inclusion.  Which has proven to be VERY detrimental to all my older teens.(more on that in their posts).  See, once Alyona gets to middle school, she will have to go either to the inclusion classes and try to keep up w/ regular ed students.  Umm, impossible if you won't be able to read even near grade level.  Or, she'll be classified as life skills which she doesn't fit into either as she is self-sufficient.  Hence, the "caught in the middle."  Right now, it is not a concern as she is in elementary and in a self-contained setting.  However, once in 6th grade, it is obvious she will have to be pulled from school or she'll regress in the life skills setting.  It's all very sad to me.  One of the harder parts of parenting special needs children. They indeed have potential and in the public school setting, I feel they can't reach it as they're not in a certain "mold."  Unless things change, Alyona will be pulled to be homeschooled once she reaches middle school.  For now, Alyona will stay in school.  She has a great teacher who is doing all she can for Alyona.  I do like how she teaches.  Kind of what we did in homeschool.  Incorporate all subjects in one unit of study.  They just finished up a thing on seeds and plants and just was great.  We are both working on getting rid of Alyona's residual laziness.  We don't baby her.  2 years ago she had a teacher that did and it created a mini monster.  Still have effects of that.  But, this teacher knows the abilities alyona does have and makes her do the work.  It's wonderful to have a teacher that believes she can do it and make her try.  I do the same at home.  Alyona is moving at her own pace.  This is the year though it's become evident just how far behind she is and that is always hard to swallow.  But, we do everything in our power to get our kids to reach their fullest potential.  She is no different.

Alex--  Oh my.  Issues galore is an understatement.  I absolutely HATE his arrangement in school and it has indeed caused him to regress.  Trouble is, teachers don't see it that way.  The kid has 4 or 5 teachers.  can't remember how many & frankly, neither can he.  This is the utmost worst arrangement you can have for a kid with FAS.  Too much transition.  He has become almost unbearable at home.  Meltdowns every single night.  Yet, teachers are insistent he is making so much progress in this setting.  I've requested an IEP meeting for November.  I really don't know what to do.  He is not getting math.  I've been highlighting his homework so the teacher can see what he's not absorbing. I don't know why there is such contradicting information between the teachers and I.  It is blatantly obvious he is NOT getting the information he needs to.  Yet, they are saying he is doing so well this year.  Keep in mind, he failed last year and is repeating third grade.  Part of this is due to his brain damage due to FAS.  But, part of it is indeed from laziness and I have to be the one to sort which one is which.  Honestly, I laid into him the other night w/ homework as I thought he was kidding that he didn't know what a question was.  Felt bad afterwards.  What is killing me is teachers are saying yes, he understands it and then when I'm working w/ him, it's clear he does not.  I've been testing him here and there on stuff and keeping it.  I don't see how he's getting such great grades in school w/out being able to do the work at home.  Something is not adding up and this situation is not benefiting Alex at all.  We are at the point of almost pulling him but Alex and I are not the best of buddies lately.  With RADishes, you go through ups & downs in relationships.  Alex & I are in the "down" part right now and working through it.  This is not uncommon for kids with RAD.  We've been through it before and we'll make it through again.  However, I can not pull him now and teach him at home or it would damage our current relationship.  I know that probably makes no sense.  Trust me, if you have a child with RAD, you know exactly what I mean by this.  Teachers are also not getting the magnitude of Alex's issues and I think at the next IEP meeting, I'm going to finally have them document it all.  I try not to disclose all my kids' information unless I have to.  Well, we are at the point where I think we have to.  So, though Alex's grades are saying he's doing awesome in school, Warren and I have grave concerns in regards to his education.  Oh, btw, if they are labeled special ed & receive services in elementary school as Alex does, they don't have to take science or social studies. URGHH!!!!  Who's stupid idea was that?!  It's a state idea....figures NC is way down on the bottom of the charts for education.  I can't remember our ranking now but know awhile back it was 48th out of 50.  They want to boost their reading & math scores.  They told me they will incorporate it into their reading and math groups.  Umm, no.  Unless you're doing experiments in those reading groups how is it the same thing?  It seems the schools try something new each and every year to try to boost their scores.  Nothing has worked.  Why?  Because they focus on that test.  Warren and I grew up w/ the concept of the teacher(one teacher) teaching throughout the year and kids learning.  Not preparing for a stupid test.  Scores are not going up like they should in students.  Our generation did well w/out all the teachers in group team teachings, without all the technology, and w/out every new "thing" that comes out to try.  We learned, were excited to learn, and applied what we learned.  They don't do that nowadays.  I see homeschool #'s around here increasing like wild fire.  The special needs homeschool group is huge.  Many things for them to do.  I was shocked when I pulled Max & Irina at just how much they did not know.  I was being told they knew these things by their middle school teachers.  It was totally false.  Found out later by one of our therapists who used to be a special ed teacher for the school just how the scoring worked.  He was so ashamed that after 9 years he decided to leave teaching as it was doing a horrible disservice to the children here.  His words, not mine.  In addition, he had a special ed son.  He homeschooled after that and they did great.  He was told they told him to give "group" scores.  What?!  I recently spoke w/ a teacher in a county over.  She was told by admin that it doesn't matter what scores you give your special ed kids.  They have to pass anyhow.  She too was shocked.  So, you can see why I'm way skeptical of Alex doing so well at school when I test him on the same stuff and he doesn't know it.  I do honestly believe the kids have awesome teachers.  However, I think they are limited in what they can do due to state laws & regulations. 

Bojan-- Bojan is in 5th grade.  It's his last year of elementary school.  Bojan is doing awesome.   Excellent grades and really learning.  Now, I do have a big issue w/ a recent IEP meeting.  I was unable to attend that morning as Bojan was up sick all night throwing up and I was feeling under the weather as well.  Since the meeting was due that day or they'd be out of compliance, they had to hold the meeting w/ out me.  Told them okay as we had spoken and thought we were on the same page.  Umm, nope!  For the most part, IEP was okay.  However, we are going to request an addendum meeting and change things.  There is no reason whatsoever Bojan needs to be in inclusion math.  Nor does he need resource.  Shoot, he didn't need it last year according to the teachers and I agree.  So, don't really understand the rationale for holding him in these classes.  Going to get him out completely.  Testing is great, grades are great, he's learning so no need to hang onto that label especially in middle school.  Other than that, no complaints.  He has good teachers and a great class. 

Forgot I wrote this last October.  I think you know how all the school stuff turned out.  BTW, this coming week I will write what we'll be doing this fall and who exactly we'll be homeschooling.  

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