Friday, May 15, 2015

Exhausting all options and thinking outside of the box.....and my comfort zone

    This week sucked. I spent the entire night before my IEP board meeting on Wednesday (scheduled at a gods awful 8am time period), playing out every possible scenario in my head.  This meeting was largely dependent on my giving an answer to the question the board and principal has been asking for roughly 5 months: Is Crisis at Home Teaching (CAHT) something my family is willing to consider?

    There's less than 5 weeks of school left. Nixon's final week of school is all early dismissal days, he has Memorial Day off the end of this month, plus 2 days off next week due to Kindergarten spring parent-teacher conferences and he'll miss a day due to a doctor's appointment. The point I'm trying to make is, there's really not a lot of school left. He still has Kindergarten Field Day and the class yeah, lots of school but not a lot of educational requirements left.

    I spent time talking to Mac, or as much time as I could given his training situation, and asked for his opinion on the proposal especially since once he's home and back on shift he starts the overnight shift.
   Ultimately we decided to do it.

   But I didn't make that known to any of the school personnel prior to the meeting. I had a phone conversation with the County psychologist last week, but I told her I needed until the morning of the appointment to make a decision because I needed to give my husband time to think on what was going to be the situation at home, in the event we agreed to the CAHT.
    During my conversation with her, I learned the behavior charts I was getting every day were basic "fluff" charts (for lack of a better description) and they didn't have any of the details that she or the Special Education teacher used to comply the data they used and presented at our IEP meetings regarding Nixon's behaviors during the school day. That information came from a total different form that I had never even thought to think to ask about before last week. I asked to get those figures in addition to the daily "fluff" report. What pissed me off is that, because of that "fluff" report, I believed Nixon was adapting to the new classroom setup. I thought he was having fewer meltdowns, was being easily redirected, was cooperating and completing tasks asked of him and most importantly, I thought he was done having the aggressive behaviors (throwing things, kicking chairs and trying to hit/kick)....I was wrong. He's not shown any improvement behaviorally speaking since the classroom shift happened.

    Wednesday morning.
   Nixon and I arrive at the school at 8am, just in time for my IEP meeting. I brought Nixon's breakfast with us so he could sit and eat it while I was in the meeting, since we'd be there before school started I was throwing off his entire morning routine. Imagine how much better the day was going to go when I learned someone considered the conversation I had last week with the County psychologist as a meeting and took mine off the books.
   Yeah, no one called to see if there was an outcome. "Someone" just decided to take me off the books without even notifying me of the schedule change. Even better than that was, while I'm hearing apologies and mouth action, I'm reading pressure from the Vice Principal for an answer regarding the CAHT. I have this amazing ability to smile and play nice, while freezing a person out of their own skin. It's exactly what I did to the VP when she asked me the third time about the CAHT situation. After I placed the sweetest smile I have on my face, I informed the VP that I had already told the county psychologist I would not make my decision known until the IEP meeting with the board members present.
    Suddenly, she left the room to figure out her schedule and when she can get the board together. She returned and asked if I was available later that morning. I really wasn't but even if I were I wasn't in a very accommodating mood. The solution was to do it all over again the following morning: full IEP board meeting at 8am.

    Thursday morning.
   *I was tempted to not have my coffee before this meeting, but I'm not sure where Mac sits on my bail fund account, so I had a cup before we left.*
     After waiting for everyone to arrive, because who has ever heard of one of these meetings starting on time, I sat through the initial "blah, blah, blah" (which really sounds more like "Your kid's not bad, but he has a lot of issues and in case your self-esteem is too high this morning we're going to give you a highlight reel of his most "concerning and problematic" behaviors" followed by the highlight reel). I've never cried during these moments, even though in my head it sounds like a firing squad going off every time another behavior is listed.
    Finally, about 20 minutes into the meeting, someone finally addresses the giant pink tutu wearing ballet dancing elephant in the room: CAHT. It began with the principal listing all the things they've tried to help Nixon. And it went on with her adding how exhausting it is for everyone to not be able to solve the "puzzle" of Nixon. Still continuing with her adding "I probably should have suspended him, but I know that's not going to help him", quickly followed by "But it's hard to explain that to other concerned parents".
    I was thankful she was on the far end of the table from me, because other parents issues/concerns and shit like that, should not be addressed to me during (and only during) IEP meetings. I never hear about these issues or concerns from other parents until these IEP meetings. (Last time it was his teacher informing me another mother was concerned about Nixon's interaction with her child in the classroom.)
    Before I lost my composure, I spoke up.
    I let them know that Mac and I had agreed to do the CAHT, on the proposed half-day schedule, for the remainder of the school year. Nixon will go into school after lunch and stay until the end of the day. I'll be handling the majority of his learning and he'll still get his specials with his classmates. But, I voiced concern that he may not handle this situation well at first as it'll be new and will require time to adjust.
   We'll also be getting a teacher coming to the house during the morning hours Nixon is home to make sure he's staying on curriculum. He's currently not behind, though he's not easy to test. He knows everything he should know, but he's bored and that's leading to him acting out as well. (His aide doesn't think he's bored, she think he doesn't like being told what to do if it doesn't involve computer work).
    After 45 minutes of phone calls, to figure out a 2-sentence addendum to Nixon's IEP, which left me alone with the principal and Nixon's teacher (awkward and also enlightening...those are some burned out women and not just in their professional lives). I forgot to bite my tongue from letting my usual (and natural?) sarcasm slip out, and I made a Common Core math joke while listening to the Special Education teacher discuss the home teaching hours versus the in-school hours which apparently endeared me to the teachers in the room. That was NOT my intention!

    It's finally all figured out. Nixon, starting Monday, will be at home with me doing literacy/reading/math/science work and go to school for PE/art/music/media and other specials. I've bought several workbooks to keep him interested until the teacher situation is worked out (most likely after the Memorial Day holiday) and to hopefully keep him off the computer, which is what the school has gone to allowing him to do as a "maintaining" tool. He's been spending 2-3.5 hours a day on the computer, because surrounding classrooms are involved in end-of-year tests and Nixon's screaming and refusal to do tasks requested of him (that don't involve computer work) was becoming very disruptive, so the decision was made to offer 2 prompts to do the work and then if he continued to refuse or he escalated in his refusals, he was allowed to remain at task on the computer. This was happening to the point he was missing lunch! This was also another contributing factor in our decision to do the CAHT as I feel like the school was merely tolerating Nixon and not doing anything to help him as a person.
    Well, screw them! They don't deserve Nixon in their lives anymore.


  1. Ok... This makes my blood boil!!!!

    First, it is the school's JOB to educate children!!! I understand being a teacher is neither glorious nor easy. But, they CHOSE to become teachers (and if some one isn't in the right mentality to be a teacher, they should feel morally obligated to gain other skills and change fields, for both their best interest and that of the children they are exposed to).

    Secondly, what the mother loving hell is CAHT? From what I've read, they are essentially forcing Nixon into a home schooling situation, regardless of whether it is what you want or what he needs. Teachers should be negotiators. They should have some understanding of children's behaviors, even those with special needs.

    Thirdly, if they don't tell you about something, such as the "concerns" of other parents, you CAN NOT address it and help Nixon to acclimate. You can't fix something you are unaware of. And a child won't understand that a 3 minute span in his or her day caused "alarm" to another student in many cases (let alone a parent). It's the TEACHER'S/AIDES JOB to keep you fully informed.

    OMG, I could rant on this for days. Maybe there is a school in your area you can look into that deals more specifically with Nixon's needs? I hope he gets the hell out of there. Those people are not being proactive, they are not focusing on Nixon's best interest and they are scapegoating you. Fuck them hard with tree trunk. Those idiot morons probably got their degree from an online college who never had to deal with any of them directly.

  2. The education professionals are rewarding problem behaviors! Of course they can't figure out the "puzzle." I'm glad he has a strong mom making sure he gets what he needs.