Great diary! Thanks for posting!! – Gloria
I have a 13 year old son with Aspegers and ADD. He is (of course) a wonderful kid, typical Asperger’s, extremely intelligent but socially inept. The IEP team has been really good with him, no complaints there.
My experience – both as a mom and as a special ed attorney – is that the problems are usually not so much with the IEP team as with the school administration, and to some extent with the regular education teachers and their “one size fits all” rules. When the ADD causes a screwup, the Asperger’s means it has to be handled a little differently, because an Asperger’s kid is somewhat emotionally tone deaf. They don’t always get the analogies, the undertones, the subtext.
My son has been having some organizational problems. They’re part and parcel of how he is wired, i.e. the ADD. This morning, halfway to school, unduly anxious that he would be late, he said, “oh no! I had to bring in a new notebook for science!” He was beside himself, because the science teacher has taken to riding him like a circus pony at every opportunity.
Not his fault, since he had reminded me over the weekend, but I had the flu and didn’t much get off the sofa. Not a problem. I dropped him off so he’d be on time, scooted over to the only thing open in my town at that hour, the grocery store, and came back with a notebook. At the school office, after the retina check and the three buzzers to get in, I asked to see him.
“Well, no. We can’t do that. It’s our policy. Why do you want to see him?”
In four years of having one or another kid in that school, this is a first. I said, “I need to give him something.”
“Oh, well, if he forgot it, too bad. We can’t interrupt instructional time. We were having parents come in here 30, 40 times a day to bring their kids stuff.” (Dear me, you’d think they were, oh…a school or something????)
Out comes the principal, who says that she circulates during the day and drops things off. How it is more efficient to waste an hour of the most highly paid administrator’s time dropping off notebooks, lunches and sports equipment is beyond me, but hey, obviously it’s their school, we just provide the fodder. The kids were allowed to pick stuff up at lunch hour, but since this was for his first period class, that would be useless.
Then came “they need to learn responsibility”. I explained this was not his error but mine, and it would teach the kid nothing to have him take the consequences for someone else’s mistake. (By now I was one invective away from making the analogy to Bush and Iraq, but still had enough sense not to.) I pointed out that this teacher, in particular, has been making an issue of stuff that is common with ADD kids and as far as I was concerned she was punishing him for a manifestation of the disability, which as far as I know is still illegal. I also promised them that next time I’d just take him back home, and he could be late, which would really interrupt the class. I mean, what is the difference between the kid leaving the room to go to the bathroom and the kid leaving to go down to the office? Once he’s leaving, he’s leaving.
The upshot was that I left the thing, and skulked away. There is no chance he will get the thing before lunchtime, and since it was a first period class, it was for nothing. I will get another email home about how he didn’t have it, and he’ll get chewed out. And I’m mad at myself for now just saying, “you know what? Get him down here, I’ll take him home. He’s had a bad cold anyway.”
What bugs me is not just the allegedly evenhanded application of a policy that makes no sense when you deal with Asperger/ADD kids. It’s that he has organizational issues because of the ADD, and “making an example” and “teaching him responsibility” has to be done very carefully with Asperger kids because a little bit of rebuke goes a very long way. It’s also that I felt they were challenging me as a parent. Why didn’t I get the book in the bag before we left? (We know that one: because I’m a bad mom.) Why did I try to bail the kid out? (Their version: I’m an enabler.)
I did it my way because he’s my kid. I know how to work with him, and we’ve come a long long way. It isn’t easy for a kid in his sneakers. He deals with enough having Asperger’s. He had phenomenal grades first marking period, and the second period has tanked, while complaining of nasty teacher incidents with this particular teacher.
I guess it is time to ask for an IEP meeting, and pull four teachers out of their classes for a period so we can discuss solving the issues as a team. Talk about interrupting their instructional flow. It’s his first year totally mainstreamed; maybe he needs some support on some of this stuff at both ends of the process. Oh wait. It’s already in the IEP.
Or I could just start ordering pizzas to be delivered to their houses at inconvenient hours. Like I said, tiny town.