The Last Straw.

I came early with him each day.  Butterflies in my stomach.  Hope in my heart, mixed with a heavy foreboding at what would probably be.  Each day filled me with worry.

Monday morning, I left him happy.

Monday afternoon, I picked him up in a fog.  The fog of an overmedicated child.  I was surprised and so was the tutor who took over the shift.

The tutors split the school shift.  One is in the morning and a switch occurs at noon.  The one who takes him at noon does not see the administration of the medication which is done by school staff.  My son takes 1/2 a syringe of ADHD medication just before noon.  If he is given more than this dose, he goes into a foggy state.  I saw it when we were trying to get the dosage right when he started the medication.

From a lively, interactive morning, he went into a fog.  That never happened at the right dose.  But over medication could make him just like this.

The second tutor had the first shift the following day.  At noon, the administration of medication came.  She watched.  She saw that the dose was too high and grabbed the syringe headed toward my son’s mouth.  The school person says she had the right dose – that there was just air in the syringe.

Why would the tutor, specifically watching for what was happening, grab for the syringe?  She’s not an over bearing person.  She’s quiet, mellow and kind under normal circumstances.  She was protecting my child from what she saw the day before.

Tuesday after she protected him, when I picked him up?  He was his normal, interactive self.

Tuesday evening was back to school night.  I sat down in his tiny chair.  The teacher sat on a chair in the front of the class.  She said nothing about herself, her teaching method, how she would approach the curriculum or what it included.  She pointed to some books for math, said there would be 6 reading groups.

The teacher smiled at me, in the way someone smiles right through you.  She never had a single sentence for me as Tootles’ mom, just – nothing. I’m the only mom of a special needs child in the class but she only spoke to confirm my availability for the volunteer jobs.

She strikes me as someone who cannot keep a houseplant.  You know, a nice healthy plant? Left without water, light, attention, care, it slowly withers away.  My son’s skills, well nourished and cared for by kindergarten teachers, ABA staff and me, are turned over to her and then just lie unattended, withering.

The teacher talked about about class size in the politically correct, propagandized way, to reassure those who would believe her.  I was not one of them.  She said how she’d taught only large classes of 28 students or more.  How does that add quality to her teaching?   She emphasized that half the class would split up and with smaller groups, she would do math or reading.  Did that not just prove that smaller groups were conducive to better learning?

She said the kids were so “cute” this year.  Not bright, well-behaved, respectful, mindful or responsible, just “cute.”

If my heart was a ship, she sank it.

Back when my son was still in kindergarten, I registered him for a private school for first grade. Because the school’s kindergarten class was full and expected to move up to first grade, the classes were full, but Toots was placed on a waiting list.  He was third on that list.

You see there was a limit on the number of students per class. It is a K-8 school.  My son would have the same faces for eight years!  With the difficulty he has in facial recognition, this was important.

The medication incident was the last straw.  Coupled with dire concerns about my son’s safety (see this post) when Wednesday rolled around, I was distraught.  I thought again, of homeschooling and simply involving my son in extracurricular activities that could provide social skills opportunities.  That could work.

And then the call came.  The call that changes everything.  There was an opening for Tootles.

And just like that, the first day of school starts again.

You mean instead of table space, I get my own desk?!

Orientation was last night.  400 students in the auditorium.  A video presentation done comically with an “Olympics” theme to music to introduce the entire K-8 staff.  Short, informative warm speeches by the Principal, the President of the parent teacher group, welcoming us, an introduction to the online web service where we can access every record pertaining to our child’s education, and topics from uniforms to parking lot traffic.

Adjournment to the “Ports” where the children watched a movie while I went to Tootles new first grade class.

Running in the freedom of the “port”, a gathering area outside the classrooms…

His teacher gave a power point presentation telling us all about her family and that of her aide, and their backgrounds, her philosophy on teaching, a discussion of curriculum, building character and socialization.  The children can earn tickets for good behavior that can be used to buy things (parent donations) from her “shop” and then buying things for family at holiday (building character).  They have to pay tickets for things like losing an eraser or pencil (learning responsibility).  The children do math with partners.  She showed us behavior charts she implements and her style in doing so.  She gave us pages of written materials to help us along.  Each week is a celebration of each student with an activity for each day of the week for each student throughout the year…

Can you see a little night and day here?

Tootles has been rescued from an unsafe, stagnant environment to a strong, structured environment that implements behavioral and social education with academics in a clear, consistent way.

We were persistent.  We knew there was something better, but just didn’t know how much better until the contrast was complete.  From the detour, we have made our way back to the main road.  And don’t doubt that I know how fortunate Tootles is.  Tootles does too.

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About solodialogue

I'm a lawyer and the mom of a 6 year old boy with autism. I work part time and spend the rest driving here and there and everywhere for my son's various therapies. Instead of trying cases, I now play Pac-man and watch SpongeBob. I wear old sweaters and jeans and always, always flat shoes to run after my son. Yeah, it's different but I wouldn't change it for anything. The love of my child is the most powerful, beautiful and rewarding aspect of my life.
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29 Responses to The Last Straw.

  1. Yay! I’m so glad you got him into what seems to be a better environment. Here’s hoping for a totally fab school year.

    • solodialogue says:

      Thank you Deenie. I thought a lot about your suggestion to get involved and took the advise. I signed up both places and I will still watch. It’s just that here, I feel he is safe in so many ways.

  2. Ohmygod ohmygod ohmygod! I am SO HAPPY for you and T right now! Hooray!

    But at the same time — what a horrible road to get there. Why oh why they continue to let burned out teachers take charge of our children’ eduction is beyond me. There has got to be a better way… something to ensure that teachers have the opportunity to be refreshed and ready to guide our children through a lifetime of learning…. it’s just sad.

    I’ll be thinking of you and T as you make your transition and looking forward to hearing about the new school!

    • solodialogue says:

      I know, Karla! Toots and I are so happy! It was just a world of difference. Such a relief. Safe environment brilliant curriculum, with behavior plans, and character and socialization building?! Major score!

      And yes, I’m sad at the same time too. What an eye opening shame that all schools and teachers cannot provide what is appropriate and more importantly keep my child safe. There is no comparison and no doubt that this is what is right for us. Thanks for being here with me and getting me through it!

  3. Lisa says:

    I am sooooo excited that a spot opened up for T at the new school. It sounds 1000% better…better environment, better teacher, better philosophy of teaching, better support, etc, etc, etc.

    I am looking forward to hearing more about his new school and all of the experiences!!

    • solodialogue says:

      Thanks Lisa! I am relieved! We were lucky that somehow he squeaked in just under the wire. School starts the day after Labor Day and we just made it in time for Orientation! And guess what? I need more school supplies! Wanna come? 😉

      He actually needs a mechanical pencil and calculator for 1st grade! Yay!

  4. savvyadvocatemom says:

    I am so happy for you. It seems sometimes that the Universe just adjusts for what we need. I was very worried at the beginning of your post. I am SO glad it all is turning out well. Night and day.
    What strikes me is that your family has the option of a private school. I know many parents in Sensi’s class, including us, cannot make that option happen for our kids. I am so grateful she has her place at our specific autism program in the district. I know I have some battles ahead to keep her there. Yay for you and Toots!

    • solodialogue says:

      Thanks Lori. I was devastated by the whole medication issue and then, just as I was preparing for homeschooling, this news came!

      We are very fortunate to have the chance at private school. And I will be right back at the office working to help pay for it. There are a few private schools that have tuition waivers and discounts. It’s always worth a call regardless of whether you think you can or not.

      Thanks for being here through this. It means more than I can say. 💗

  5. Jen says:

    SO happy for you and Tootles! Sounds like this new school will be so much better! Now I feel sorry for the 1st graders in that other school. You are such a great Mom!

    • solodialogue says:

      Hi Jen! Yes, the contrast is so intense. The other kids are all NT and while the environment is less than safe for a child with autism, I think the other kids will be okay. I do feel sad that not all teachers are created equally! Thanks for the kind words but really, I was just lucky and a bit pushy… 😉

  6. Allie says:

    Reading that first part, I was thinking to myself, “That does it. It has to end here”. And like magic, there’s the open door. Thank you God. I hope T has the best year ever! I bet you feel like a 1 ton weight has been lifted off of you, huh?

    • solodialogue says:

      Thank you God is what we have been saying around here! There were a lot of prayers being said for Tootles’ safety. And they were answered! Yay! 🙂

      Thanks for the Offer of help with homeschool Allie! I admire you so much! You are truly a super mom!

  7. Teresa says:

    What a relief! I have worried about that pond every day. The medication mix-up is alarming. Perhaps now both of you can get some work done and a proper cup of tea.

  8. o, this just makes my day. I am so happy for you all!

  9. Melissa says:

    Wow, the first part of that freaked the hell out of me! Really happy that you and toots are in a better environment!

  10. Yay! I am sooo happy for you all!!! Your persistence paid off and I know what a relief it must be to have Tootles in a safer environment with a great teaching staff.

  11. Denise says:

    What GREAT news!!!!! This school sounds so much better for Tay!
    It always makes me feel so disappointed and so sad when anyone working in a school doesn’t absolutey adore what they are doing. I’m so happy for Tay and you!
    First Grade is such a fun year. Enjoy and love it!

  12. Denise says:

    Dang! I hate it when I post a comment and then I notice I spelled something wrong or something doesn’t make sense!

  13. Mary says:

    YaY! YaY! YaY! YaY!

    And hey, some of us just don’t have a green thumb, ok?

    And now I am wondering how many other children are being overdosed in the school systems…

  14. Broot says:

    Wow that was scary!! Thank goodness for that opening. I’m happy for you and Toots.

  15. Kelly Hafer says:

    OMG – that is so scary! I cannot even imagine the thoughts rolling through your mind. Thank GOD that Tootles is out of that place. What a miracle. Hugs, hugs, hugs my friend.

  16. Oh, Karen, that is fantastic! My heart just about stopped when I started reading this and saw what had happened with his medication. Thank goodness his tutor intervened. So glad Tootles is out of there and in an educational environment so much more suitable for learning and safe. I can’t imagine how relieved you must feel right now. Good luck to Tootles in his new school 🙂

  17. Awesome!! So exciting that he got in!! I’m so happy for all of you!

  18. Gave me chills! Love how God works! Writing was excellent….subject matter and outcome superb! Yay!!! ;0)

  19. Sue says:

    So glad you moved hime! Hope this year is his best ever!

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