May 20, 2010

A is for A

"Mom, I got an A in jog-e-fee".

These words were music to my ears. What Mom doesn’t want to hear this? However, other Mom's would have heard geography. I heard jog-e-fee, because that is what Alex said. John, Courtney Tom and I rarely have problems understanding Alex. But, sometimes we do make her slow down and annunciate.

Alex’s speech is mostly clear and intelligible. She does need to work on articulation and correct tense. These goals are written into her IEP, and if not met I will have the right to pursue private options at the school’s expense. This may become a reality if I am not satisfied with her progress.

As I have mentioned before, getting services for Alex in a rural school district has been a battle. I was even told it was too late to change her speech patterns and pointless to give her more speech time. Needless to say, that did not go over too well. She currently gets 45 -60 minutes a week, a huge cut back from the 120 minutes she was receiving in IL, but more than the 30 minutes every other week that was proposed.

Back to Alex’s victory. Alex has been included (or mainstreamed as people like to say) in two classes this year; geography and science. She also took weight training, but I think that had more to do with the teacher (a man) than the curriculum, She also got an A in weight training, but it is the one in geography that has made her burst with pride.

Alex’s class schedule had her in science and geography beginning in September. Alex did not like to go to these classes in the fall, and her resource (special ed) teacher was fighting with her daily. I kept getting reports about her obstinacy, and uncooperative behavior. Her teacher had given up and was keeping her in the resource room, and she was regressing. I was not made aware of this until half way through the fall semester.

I believe there is always a reason Alex acts out, and a simple “why” can resolve a lot of issues. We were able to uncover that Alex was expected to go to geography without any support, sit in a classroom without any support, do assignments without any support and participate without any support. The geography teacher was unhappy, Alex was unhappy and I was unhappy.

I must admit, I believe all my kids are geniuses, (I am blinded by love) including Alex, but even I know she will not succeed in a classroom full of “regular” 16 year olds without support. She is smart enough to know the material is moving too fast for her, the reading is difficult and she is missing the concepts. When this happens in Alex’s life she withdrawals and becomes obstinate.

As discussed earlier, I insisted on a “team” pow wow. Both of the regular ed teachers came to the meeting and mentioned Alex’s lack of support in the classroom. They both liked her inclusion in their classrooms and even had suggestions of curriculum modifications to help Alex. Both asked for assistance in the classroom and to reinforce the class lessons in the resource room. Silly me, this is what I had thought was happening. Lesson for me, never ever think that my vision of Alex’s education is being implemented, without school confirmation.

Since that meeting Alex has had support in the classroom. Chapters of the geography book have been xeroxed for Alex and she has gone over the pages in the resource room. Particular sections have been reinforced; last week she was working on weather maps, and prepared a poster board with different weather patterns around the country. She presented her project to the class, and felt part of the group. Her teacher has reported in on the weekly e-mail communications and progress was made.

Alex may not have learned all the material the other sophomores learned in geography class, but she learned a lot. She understands maps, geographical theories, weather patterns and the world. She has been checking the weather on the computer every day and to this point in our spring, has been informing me of the rain we are going to have again. Maybe soon she will be able to say sunny and warm.

Alex worked hard, and did her homework every night (despite the lure of the Disney channel). Her aide helped her in the resource room and Alex took pride in her work. She deserved that A just as much as any student in that classroom. She is proud of her work and I am proud of her. Another fine parenting moment!


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