Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Heart to heart with Ashton's teacher

So.... Ashton's teacher called me over the weekend. I'd heard from one of his classroom assistants that the teacher had been in and out of the classroom all week due to a family emergency, turns out her uncle had been in the hospital and then passed away on Friday. :( What a sad time for her family, please keep them in your prayers.

She reiterated her statement, Ashton is not going anywhere. While she may have mentioned SECEP somewhat offhandedly a couple of weeks ago, she is not looking to move him anywhere right now or even at all this school year. For those that may not know, SECEP stands for Southeastern Cooperative Education Programs. They are a regional educational system that is usually housed in a public school. The program that we are possibly considering, is ACP (Autistic Children's Program). However she, nor I, is looking to move him anywhere right now. If (or when) he goes into SECEP, she's not even wanting it to be a full-time placement, just wants him in there for the academic instruction.

We talked about the testing that has currently been done by the school district (psychological and educational). We both feel that the testing is somewhat irrelevant; Ashton is capable and able to do far more than the testing shows. But, we will continue on with the other testing, as I do feel it's a good idea to get a baseline. We may redo testing next year and find he's made a 3-4 year progression in just a year!

So ... here's where things are going right now......

The right direction..... finally.

His behavior is still causing some issues, he's calling kids names (not to be mean, but because he's seriously never been taught how to appropriately interact with other children) and his non-compliance with academic work.

There's one kid he keeps calling Blob... this particular child is in a wheelchair. Let me now state that Ashton comes up with names for people that he enjoys and likes being around. (Chameleon, Baby Elephant, Baby Cornball, Johnny Test, Brenda the Whale, Herky Jerky, etc..... are all names he's given to others in the past; obviously some are nicer than others but to him, it's just a name to call someone he enjoys and likes). Well, calling this child 'Blob' hurts this child's feelings, obviously. He has a name and that's what he wants to be called. Ashton will frequently call this child 'Blob' and then giggle. The teacher will correct Ashton in a firm voice to which he'll then apologize for being rude, but then goes back to calling the child Blob.

As far as his academics ..... he's just not wanting to do any work, although this is slightly changing now with the addition of a very small dose of Adderall XR. We started out on 15mg over a week and a half ago but it became very apparent that 15mg was way too high of a dose. All he did was lay around the 2 days I gave him the meds and didn't smile, eat or anything. Emailed Dr. Madren who said to halve the dose, and he's been at that dose now for about a week. School has noticed an improvement in Ashton's ability to focus and work on schoolwork, and this is without the staff knowing he was on meds. The only one who knew was the main teacher. The speech therapist came up to her last Friday and was like "What is going on with Ashton?" He sat and participated in the lesson, answered questions, etc. A total turn-around! It's definitely not a perfect change, but if he's finally starting to sit, listen and participate in class and Speech and OT, than we're doing good!

Basically ... the teacher wants to give Ashton the rest of the school year to figure out where we are at. She's looking for academic progress, to show that he's actually learning. Looking for progress to be made to calm some of his behaviors. Basically, anything to show that this class is a good mix for him, both academically and socially. If he keeps up the way he's doing, I think we'll be just fine. We did discuss retaining him in 7th grade in the fall, though in the self-contained classroom world, this isn't really a big issue, since the only thing that would change would be his electives/teachers for electives. He's a young 7th grader (still 12years old) and it will give him some much-needed catchup time to be ready for high school. Plus, it will give him some classroom, teacher and school stability. In addition, if we're going to retain him, now is the best time. He's at a new school with new classmates and teachers. He won't see classmates that he's been in school with since 3rd grade move on to high school while he's still at the middle school another year at his old school.

We're (well, the teacher is) rewriting his IEP and the goals/accommodations and modifications. We're still waiting for the rest of the testing to be done, but in all actuality, neither one of us really thinks the testing is all that conclusive or helpful. It gives a baseline to work from and that's about it, but Ashton's got far higher level thinking skills than the test portrays. He's capable of a lot of higher level academics in some subjects, but he needs the means and time to be able to process and comprehend. I'm excited to see what his new IEP goals and stuff will look like.

I'm also going in to observe his classroom at least a couple of different times ("Sure, come in any time!" his teacher said.... my classroom has an open door policy!). I want to see what they're seeing so that maybe I can come up with some strategies to help him. He's a smart kid and loves hands on activities! Take one of the days that he was suspended last year, I basically put him through the paces for a full day and had him do all kinds of classwork, etc. Granted, it was stuff I knew he could do; the intention wasn't to frustrate him, but to see what he's capable of doing. He obviously had several breaks throughout the day, but he did a phenomenal job! But his favorite part of the day was when we did some science experiments. He had a blast and had a HUGE smile on his face.

So.... all of this to say that we're in a much better place than we were before. As long as things keep progressing the way they are, then nothing will change, except Ashton's IEP goals, etc. If he can't pick up on things academically, we may have to change his placement for academic purposes. But that's putting the cart before the horse. :)

Have a great day everyone!