Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Little Hurts

There are a lot of big issues that we have to deal with (which doctors to use, which therapies, which drugs in what doses, what school to go to, etc.). And there are things which hurt us (inappropriate placements, ignorant people in public, inappropriate treatment and comments from school staff, etc.).

There are also a lot of good things in our life right now (my ability to move to a different job position with a little more predictable hours, positive interactions between Buddy Boy and his sister (as well as "normal" competition and arguing between them).

But some of the things that hurt the most are the seemingly little things.

This year Buddy Boy is in a different school than he was last year. He started out last year "mainstreamed" in Kindergarten without an aide assigned to him. This was disastrous (as we predicted during his IEP). Instead of adding support in the classroom, he was pulled out and spent half the year in the "resource room" being "taught" by 7-8 different "teachers" a day. They were never consistent, treated him as if his non-compliance was willfull on his part, and responded with suspensions. This year he started off half time in a school for emotionally disturbed kids, and half time in a "Communications Classroom" at a different school than he attended last year (this was the best deal that we and our lawyer could get, considering the malicious paper trail they had layed). Part of our bargain was for him to have an independent evaluation, which was done in November. Since the holiday break he's been full time in the Communications Classroom, but still without any mainstream inclusion.

There is one other child in Buddy Boy's class that is also there full time. The remainder of the kids in the class are mainstreamed with support for varying parts of the day. The only things that Buddy Boy does do with other kids are recess, lunch, and all school assemblies (if he's able to tolerate the noise).

Right before the holiday break the school had what they termed a "Peace Assembly". They wanted to have a celebration before the holidays, but didn't want to offend anyone, hence the term. This assembly was run by the parents association of the school. For this assembly the kids practiced singing specific songs in Music class that would be sung at the assembly, and every kid in the school painted a rock for the assembly. All the rocks were brought by the kids to the assembly, and they made a big thing about these rocks. They are going to make a patio behind the school with these rocks embedded in it. A big theme of this assembly was including everyone and everyone getting along together. Parents were invited to the assembly to share in this experience. Everyone in the school participated in the assembly.

Everyone except for two kids in the Communication Classroom. Neither of whom went out to Music class to practice singing the songs, and neither of whom went out to Art to paint rocks.

We might not have found out about it, except that Liz did indeed attend the assembly, and was totally mortified that Buddy Boy wasn't included in this. How welcome do you feel at a new school when everyone at the school does something, and you and only one other kid are excluded? How hard would it have been for the parents association and the teachers to assure that ALL kids in the school were included?

I know that it was an innocent oversite, born of ignorance. No one meant any harm. And after a flurry of e-mails, they have promised to do better next time (though they don't seem to think it was a big thing).

But this one hurts. Bad. I'm sure that my son felt even more excluded and left out then he is usually made to feel by the system. And there was absolutely no reason for that to happen. What a great thing it would have been if someone had thought a little, and for once he was truly part of the group. What a lost opportunity.


kristina said...

Little hurts, big and lasting sting----know the feeling---thanks for phrasing it so well, and telling it so truely.

Daisy said...

Found you through Mom-nos. Those hurts -- they really last. I sincerely hope the school climate improves for Buddy Boy and for your family.

Mom without a manual said...

Okay, I probably shouldn't have read this after your "Small Victories" post. I feel like an emotional yo-yo!

Your school sounds like a nightmare! Thank goodness that Buddy Boy has parents who are up to the challenge!

We can only do our part and change one person or (one office) at a time! It sounds like you are definitely doing your part!

Club 166 said...

I'm on bit of an emotional yo-yo myself today, as you'll see if you read the blog I'm working on right now (won't probably be up until after I put the kids to bed tonight).

In the school we are in now, we have had a few bad incidents, but mostly it's working out OK.

The school we were in last year (and one of the schools we started out in this year) were nightmares. In fact I probably have a mild case of post traumatic stress disorder when it comes to last year, as evidenced by the immediate visceral reaction I had to a post I read on another blogger's site this morning. It was just too similar to what we had experienced last year.