Friday, February 29, 2008

School Ups and Downs

photo credit-DJ1
creative commons license

My apologies for not posting lately. Things have been busy (work, home, kid's school) and I just haven't had the feeling that I had anything of any importance to say lately. I don't really have anything that important to say today, for that matter, but felt more like posting.

Overall, this has been a good year in school. So good for Buddy Boy that I haven't really talked about it, for fear of jinxing him. His second grade teacher is the best teacher in the school (at least that's what parents who have had kids in her class say, and I tend to agree). Mrs. J loves Buddy Boy, sees the positives, is great at motivating him, and is great at including him. Did I mention that he is included in the main gen ed classroom for the whole day, with the exception of some pull out time for OT? He has an aide, and has gone from less than half time in the gen ed classroom last year to full time this year. Buddy Boy has had a few rough spots, but his teacher took them in stride, never threatened that we "needed to do something about him", and kept pushing on, expecting him to succeed. And he has.

Buddy Boy still has problems completing his work in school, but his teacher allows for some modifications, and we complete some of it with him at home. He's doing fine academically, and really excels in spelling. He loves his class.

Sweet Pea is a bit of a pistol, but has settled in fairly well to Kindergarten. She firmly believes that the world revolves around her, that she is a true princess, and that she always deserves to be first, best, etc., etc. She is a social butterfly, and has a lot of friends. She also has some enemies at school (ironically, most seem to be girls amazingly like her, who also think that they are the best and only ones). But mostly she's done just fine.

I really shouldn't (and can't) complain. Especially when I read some other blogs, and see that some of my cyber acquaintances (I'd call y'all cyber friends, but you'd probably think I was a bit creepy) like Niksmom and Marla are going thru right now. I truly have nothing to complain about.

And yet I've been down a bit lately, because Buddy Boy has been struggling a bit more (getting into more arguments with his teacher at school, refusing to do homework, etc.) over the last few weeks. About 5 weeks ago he trashed our kitchen, including breaking up a wooden chair. It seemed to be an isolated incident at the time. I've asked him if he's unhappy in school, but he says he's not. I think he feels pressure, but he also desperately wants to stay in the gen ed room. This week has been especially bad at school (compared to how the rest of this year has been).

This week Buddy Boy's class has a student teacher (without the regular teacher in the room), and his aide has been out sick (and has not been replaced). They are covering the solar system in his class, and it is being presented as a "Space Adventure". The solar system is one of Buddy Boy's favorite things. He can name the planets (in order) tell me which ones are gas planets, was sad when Pluto lost its planetary designation, etc.

Whether it's been having the student teacher, not having his aide, or just one of those things, for the first three days this week he had to be removed from science class. As soon as the teacher started talking about the solar system he started interrupting, saying "It's not a space adventure!" He wouldn't (or couldn't) say what exactly he thought it should be, but something was truly upsetting about the way this was being presented, and he basically decompensated. When Buddy Boy decompensates, he gets less verbal, starts verbal ticks (grunts, clearing his throat, barking) and then starts getting physical (throwing things and/or tearing at his clothes). No one got hurt, and the school hasn't threatened to do anything, but it's been kind of disappointing. Once he was out of the classroom, he stayed out for the rest of the day. Things were going so good. We've tried talking to him about it the last few days, but he can't really say what's been setting him off, and each day has been pretty much the same. Liz called his teacher yesterday, and politely but firmly said that he absolutely needed to have an aide, as he was clearly having problems. His teacher agreed.

Today he got thru Science class! Maybe it was getting an aide back, maybe it was a fluke, or maybe he's accommodated to the changed teacher and unorthodox method of presenting the material. But for whatever reason, he made it thru today, which was good.

Meanwhile, down the hall in Kindergarten Sweet Pea was getting herself in a bit of trouble. Earlier this year the school called us because one of the parents complained that Sweet Pea was weaseling food from her daughter. Not exactly stealing it, but going up to this other girl and saying things like "That sure looks good. I sure would like some of that. Can I have some of your food?" This other girl didn't seem able to just say no, but always felt bad, and would go home and cry about this. The school also has a strict "No Food Sharing" rule, to prevent kids with allergies from getting the wrong food, as well as for general decorum. We talked about it when we found out, and thought she had stopped it.

Well last week we found out that Sweet Pea has been up to her old tricks again (and with the same girl). I guess she figures if there are no teachers directly around her at lunch time that she can get away with it. While I worry that my son will get bullied at school, his little sister is practicing her own bullying skills (this year treats from another's lunch, next year the lunch money?). So this time we've grounded her three favorite stuffed animals (all cats) and have threatened that if it happens again, her birthday party at the end of next month will be canceled. I'm hoping that will do it. But I fear that even if this battle is won, there will be many bigger ones with her in the future.

I'm crossing my fingers that Buddy Boy gets thru tomorrow OK, so he can finish the week on an up note, and that Sweet Pea doesn't forfeit the party. Because she has been planning this party since last year, and I know she's really looking forward to it.

Like I said, nothing earth shattering, or really all that interesting.

Springs coming, I know it is. And I can't wait for the clocks to change.


Niksmom said...

Why thanks for the "link-love." You can call me a cyber-friend; I like that. :-)

Sounds like they're both just going through a bumpy patch. Is it possible tht SP picks up on BB's anxiousness (either at home or school) and this is her way of dealing with it? (Or has the lunch bit been going on longer?)

I'm keeping my fingers crossed that BB finishes the week on a grand note and the SP gets to have her special party after all.

On a side note: I wonder what it is about this other girl that draws SP to her so? Maybe it's not her food she wants but some intangible "thing" (that she has that SP feels she doesn't?)

Ange said...

I am with you... spring, please get here! Winter seems to just get to us all. I hope your kiddos have a good Friday! I like to read other people's "non earth shattering posts"... sometimes reading about other people's day to day ups and downs makes me feel like my life isn't untypical! And it gves me ideas how to celebrate, how to cope, etc.

Let my boy release the pressure OUTSIDE. Bubba is in the regular classroom except for small pull outs for reading and social skills (he loves that small group of kids so I think it's worth him being pulled out). He's one of those kids where the pressure builds and builds and builds through out the day, and it all comes out the minute he gets off the bus. Some days there is just that extra stone at school thrown into his glass of water and it all overflows before he gets home. We are trying to get the school to allow modifications that keep some of th epressure down (like allowing some typing rather than all writing). He needs a para to basicaly sit in the corner and just come when he needs extra help or to redirect back on task. Somedays a lot some days not.

Club 166 said...

Thanks for the comments.

I guess one significant thing I've left out is the problems we've been having with sleep, with Liz getting the least, then Buddy Boy, then myself (Once Liz gets up with Buddy Boy she usually doesn't fall back asleep. Sweet Pea sleeps just fine).

During the winter months Buddy Boy's nose gets dry, and he gets a lot of nosebleeds. This despite the fact that we got a humidifier added to the new furnace we had to buy this year, and we vaseline his nose every night before bedtime (which helps some).

But Buddy Boy still gets a fair number of nosebleeds, which leads to a lot of lost sleep (and frustration with two sets of sheets/night.

And there's no way we can leave one of those misting things in his room (either the warm or cool ones) as they would become instant objects of experimentation.

So we're really hoping for some good lower Midwest humidity.

Sweet Pea may indeed be acting out because of the extra stress of Buddy Boy's anxiousness. And she can be a real sweetheart at times. But at others she can be a real witch with us all, stamping her feet, yelling, slamming doors, etc., while not forgetting to taunt her brother.


VAB said...

The end of winter is a tough patch for many of us. People tend to quit diets, stop going to the gym, have arguments at work, fall behind in their studies, run up credit cards, let the house get messy and, in general, regress, during the late winter months.

Our guy, who, like Buddy Boy, has been making awesome progress this year, has been tuning-out in class and acting silly. He has revived a trick of internal distraction that I thought he had completely outgrown.

I tell myself that humans do not move in straight lines, and taking one step back, it seems, is sometime necessary to position us for those next two steps forward.

kristenspina said...

Sorry to read about the ups and downs, backs and forths.

I hope things turn around again soon. The school stuff, the social stuff, it's hard. No matter what. Hang in there. And I hope you get a good night's sleep soon.

Bink said...

If my ASD child had both a different teacher AND no autism specialist (aide) for a whole week, I really cannot imagine how she would react. I applaud Buddy Boy for holding it together as much as he did in these circumstances.

I also wave a weary hello to your wife. It's been a long time since I could count on getting a good night's sleep. (In fact I fully expect I will be up at 3 a.m. checking your blog again.)

As we Quakers say, I will be holding your family in the light.

Daisy said...

If it's any consolation, this is the time of year when we teachers see the worst (i.e. most difficult) behaviors. The long stretch from early January to spring break is hard on a lot of kids -- and their parents and teachers, too. Wishing you luck through cyberspace...hoping spring will bring relief in some form.

Club 166 said...

The Sweet Smell of Success

Well, when I left this morning mom and Buddy Boy were both in a foul mood. Buddy Boy had started the day by spitting in mom's tea. Mom was not amused. I had little hope for a good day for Buddy Boy, though I did hear Liz promise him Chinese food for dinner if he had a good day.

When I walked in tonight I could smell MSG mixed with garlic sauce coming from the kitchen. I was hopeful, but worried that only Sweet Pea was getting it, and not also Buddy Boy. Alas, my worries were for naught. I walked in, spied the prized dinner, and gave Buddy Boy two big thumbs up.

Thanks to everyone for putting up with my whining over comparitively trivial stuff. None of what's happened is the end of the world, and it's not like anyone's dying of cancer. It's just been the little stuff building up. I know from experience that all will not be perfect, but it's good to end the week on an upward swing.

VAB-I think I do get a little SAD going on in the winter months. My favorite day of the year is when the clocks change to daylight savings time. Up until then I get up in the dark and come home in the dark. After that, there's light on the way home, which is good.

kristenspina-my sleep hasn't been too affected, as Liz tends to shield me from getting up in the middle of the night for the most part. But if momma ain't happy, then no one's happy.

Bink-Thanks for "holding us in the light". It means a lot. Before we lived in Philadelphia, I didn't know a whole lot more about Quakers other than the 37th president of the US, and of course this guy.

Once we lived in Philly we toured the meeting house downtown, and I read more about the Society of Friends. It's hard not to like a group with "Friends" in its name.


Club 166 said...

Thanks, Daisy.

I didn't see your post until I had finished doing all of the html for the links (I'm kind of slow at it, even with cutting and pasting).


Marla said...

"and his aid has been out sick (and has not been replaced).: Argh!!!! So frustrating when things have to get bad before the aide is replaced. Drives me nuts!

I think it is great you are setting limits with Sweet Pea. Set them now and follow through no matter how hard. Then, she will know you always mean business. I think that will make it easier in the future for you both. She sounds spunky and I like that. It will serve her well in the future.

I am sorry to hear about Buddy Boy having a rough time in school. I think you are right that there is a trigger or something going on that is upsetting him. This was constant in M's schooling. I had the best luck observing in class to figure out the mystery. Teachers are usually open to it and in our case M would typically forget I was even there. I realize that may not work with all kids. Since we know our kids the best it may be something a teacher may not notice.

Hang in there. I know how distressing it is. Thanks for mentioning me in your post. That means a lot. I just wish I was mentioned for something happier!;)

misha_k said...

It surprises me that the school didn't have another aide available considering they know your son works with one. Like Marla said, it's a shame things had to get bad before they got somebody to fill in. It's good to know he had a good day and got his Chinese food.

I understand the ups and downs with school. My own son recently went through a period where he felt he wasn't as smart as his classmates or wasn't the smartest. He felt he had to be and it caused problems for a while. He's worked through the issues that caused it (some of it was from me not feeling well) and is doing better now. Hopefully you'll be able to pinpoint the trigger that's upsetting your son and can help him work through it.

Club 166 said...

As Liz says, they wouldn't dare take away the aide from the kid in the wheelchair in the class (not that they should). But when your kid looks "normal" (and does OK with the aide) they figure that he's fair game to pull the aide from.

We anticipate that this issue will come up again when they do MAP testing for the No Child Left Behind Act. Although the kids in the 2nd grade aren't tested, the school pulls every available person to assist in test prep and proctoring for those that are taking the test.


S.L. said...

Glad that, it seems, things began to look up for ya. I can't wait to turn those clocks back either, come on Spring!!

mumkeepingsane said...

I've taken a couple of 'I have nothing to say so I don't blog' breaks lately. Sounds like things have been busy.

I would be LIVID if my son showed up at school one day and not only did he have a different teacher but he had to deal with that change without his usual support. I can't beleive they did that!

Glad he got his yummy supper. Sweet Pea sounds like a handful. I think by setting consequences the way you are now you'll be avoiding trouble in the future. I hope she gets her party.

This parenting stuff sure is tough!