March 19, 2011

A growth spurt?

I have written in the past about mountains, valleys and plateaus, or the way Alex learns. I think this is very common in kids with down syndrome. Just when I think Alex will never master a new skill, she does. Alex does everything on Alex time, but she always does EVERYTHING, the only difference; Alex is delayed, she is not unable to learn. I have complete faith in Alex, but sometimes she is not in the right environment or does not have the right support to learn, so we adjust.

Despite an awful basketball season, a broken foot, a new aide (this happens way too much) and a humiliating quasi bullying experience, Alex has adjusted and excelled in the last month. Enclosed are some comments from her most recent updates:

School Counselor:

I've noticed a positive change in Alex the past two weeks. She is smiling more and seems to have an easier time expressing her feelings. Last week, we focused mostly on choosing classes for senior year. Alex requested the following classes for next year: Fundamentals of American Democracy, Basic Math 2, Writing for High School Success, Anatomy/Ecology, Speech/Drama, Digital Imaging, Art 1, Daily Living Skills

I agree, I have been noticing that Alex is happier. She's been enjoying Mr. D's class; had a chance to plant some seeds and follow up with the growing. When I ask her to do something, she does it. AND WHEN I ASK HER QUESTIONS, SHE ANSWERS BACK!!! Tomorrow she will have a vocabulary quiz for Mr. H's class, and I noticed that she's getting ready for it. She is very organized.

Speech Therapist:
Alex and I were able to meet twice this week. During our first session, we continued with the play and worked on social situations that we are going to include into the play and during the second session, we worked on grammar activities.

Upon the transition, and having to relay the message to Mr. D, I did notice that when she spotted him in the hallway speaking to another teacher, she slightly interrupted their conversation. At that point. I stressed the importance of patience and waiting until he recognized her needs and made eye-contact with her before communicating her needs to him, especially when he was already engaged in a conversation.

We are in the drafting phase of the play. I am always surprised at her creativity during this process. She was given a hard copy to take home and generate ideas. She is always excited to contribute creative output towards this project. She was able to respond appropriately to questions that arose regarding social problem solving situations. She was very energetic and focused during this session. The second session, during her Tuesday study hall consisted of writing sentences with proper subject-verb agreement. Before the session began, she was able to communicate with Mr. M of having to leave for speech. She then voiced her concern of what to do with her school materials. As she would be going across the hall for her next period after speech, with assistance and prompting, she was able to go speak to Mr. H about leaving her things in his class during speech. At first, she was hesitant, but with guided direction, she was able to decrease her anxiety about asking and interrupting him. I am proud of her for this because out of politeness, she did not want to interrupt him, and exhibited anxious feelings about doing it and after she did, there was a sense of relief and accomplishment. She constructed great sentences that were accurate, involving correct subject-verb agreement. After completion of the sentences, we then discussed ways to increase the complexity, by adding more detail. She complied and contributed with enthusiasm. I was very proud of her during both sessions this week, but mostly because she was able to communicate to me that she was very tired on Tuesday and then resolved the issue with strategies to be more focused down the road. Turning that Yellow light to a Green !!!! GO Alex!!!!

I did take a moment to talk to T and he and I came up with the idea to have a folder designated and to be left in her study hall class. It will consist of writing worksheets that she will be able to complete on her own and during down times during study hall when she does not have any other projects she is doing. We thought this would be a good back-up that is structured and that would allow her to have her individual creativity supported, as well as an opportunity to support her current goals.

I am also very proud of her in how she is dealing with her leg/cast situation and continuing to support the team, with the team mentality taking priority. That is a difficult thing to do, but yet she has handled it with grace and maturity, and overall has vocalized the "team" approach.

And finally in regards to the facebook issue which I did not feel was addressed properly, I got the following response:
Study Hall Teacher:
Alex has not been on Facebook for the past several weeks in study hall. She can't use my computer unless she is working on a project and she has not been working on a project that needs a computer for quite some time. I've asked her to keep her cell phone turned off when she comes into the room to stop the text messaging and she has complied.

Granted I had to go above heads to get this response. As I have said many many times, I do not believe Alex's team acts out of malice, merely ignorance. The look on the faces of the Asst. Superintendent of Special Education and Director of Special Education when I mentioned Alex had taken to instant messaging me during school hours confirmed this. Horrified would be an understatement, guess they know the law.
Sometimes I feel like I am in a soap opera...really all I want is my daughter to excel and become the best she can be...really in truly!

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