Wordy Wednesday: I’ve Got Some Complaining To Do

Okay, so I’m a little irrate right now, but I’m going to try to maintain my cool and keep it reasonable and rational.  I am probably writing about this too soon after the fact which has a way of biting me in the arse and I figure I should get this out here in my safe place before I go full-on grouchy mom and talk to school officials.

*If you, my dear trusted readers, feel that I am making a big deal out of nothing, just let me know and I will honestly take what you say into consideration.  Many of you, my fellow bloggy parents especially, have dealt with these school issues and I seek your advice if you have any to offer.

I mentioned on Joel’s first day of school that he has a new paraprofessional working with him on a daily basis.  While it has taken me time to adjust to this new person (I really loved the woman who worked with him last year), I have tried to embrace her and treat her the same way I always treated Joel’s previous PP which is with the respect that I feel she deserves.  Despite my efforts to be friendly and open, I have felt that maybe (and this is the irrational part, so bear with me) she doesn’t like me so very much.  There.  I said it.  I’ve had people not like me throughout the course of my life for whatever reason and I have learned to trust my instincts.  I’ve tried to ignore those feelings with her and rationalize that maybe she and I are just very different on a personality level and we clash, or whatever.  The point is, and yes, I’m going to get to one, she is a significant player in Joel’s day and her attitude about things can positively and/or negatively affect how his day goes.

For example, last week there was a stomach issue that blazed through a few members of my household which caused some stress and behavioral changes for those who were affected.  Joel was one of them.  Because of this, we were about a minute or two late for school a couple of days, why? because Joel was fighting getting into his car seat.  Now, I know he has to be there at a certain time.  His dad knows this.  But, explaining this to him is where I am having difficulty because of the communication issues.

One of the mornings we were literally a couple of minutes late, the paraprofessional informed me that if we were not there before the bell rang at 8:45, we would have to drive up to the front of the school to drop him off.  I told her that it would not be an issue and busted my butt the rest of the week to make sure he would be there on time, which we were.

This morning, I pulled up to the school at precisely 8:42.  I know this because I was watching the clock like a crazy person because I did not want him to be late.  She was not there.  I waited for about a minute, not wanting to get Joel out of the car seat in case I had to put him back in, thus causing a meltdown just to drive back up to the front of the building and get him out again.  I got out of the car and walked up to the door and peered in through the window to see if I could see her in case she was just running late.  The hallway was empty.  I got back into the car and drove up to the front all the while talking to Joel in the hopes that he would understand me when I said, “Don’t freak out.  We are going to school.  We just have to go in a different door.”  Luckily, he didn’t meltdown.  What he did do was take off his shoes.  So, once I parked up front, I had to put his shoes back on and get him out of the seat.  The second his feet hit the ground, he went running.  I just barely was able to grab his hand and lead him, struggling into the building where his paraprofessional was standing in the office.  Joel ran past her and into the principal’s office where a meeting was taking place.

His paraprofessional picked him up.  He struggled to get out of her arms, which is unusual because when we drop him off at his usual location, he jumps into her arms.  But, now we were in a different environment and he wanted to explore.  So much for the importance of his usual routine.

I explained to her as politely as I could how even this very slight change threw him off, how he took off his shoes in the car and tried to run across the parking lot.  I then asked her just precisely when the bell actually does ring.  She said it rings at 8:45 a.m.  I informed her that I was there before then.  So, what time do I REALLY need to be there to avoid the craziness that this has caused?  She said 8:40 would be a better time.

**Insert mental scream**  Then why didn’t you say 8:40 a.m. last week!  We are literally talking about a two or three minute period!!

I did not say this, of course.  I took a deep breath, said goodbye to my son and walked out to my car.  If you want to get a point across to me, then treat me like an adult, but don’t try to manipulate me in such a way where it affects my son more than it affects me.  I went to my first class of the day and was barely able to concentrate because I was mentally writing this post and also mapping out how we were going to deal with this and also whether or not I might be wrong about something.

Husband and I have talked about the issue and we have decided that he will text message one of the counselors that we trust and stay in contact with during the day and let her know about our concerns for Joel and this somewhat arbitrarily strict adherence to the tardiness policy.  I understand the importance of being on time, but I highly doubt this particular person truly understands the dynamics involved in getting a child like Joel ready for school in the morning.  Yes, he loves school, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t going to one morning not allow me to put a shirt on him or comb his hair or brush his teeth.  Not to mention, the extremely aggravating fight we have been having with him lately about getting into his car seat, which Tardy policy or not, I am not going to put him in the car and drive with him unbuckled.  Forcing him or rushing him to comply only exacerbates the problem.

Like I said, I would highly appreciate and value any words of wisdom or advice.  And, of course, I will keep you all posted as to how this all pans out.

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6 Comments

  1. If I remember correctly, you do not have an ABA program. Morning routine including getting ready for school is one of the issues our ABA staff addresses. I don’t really know the role of your “paraprofessional” in Joel’s case and I’m sure definitions vary from place to place.

    If it was me, I would ask for some assistance from the school. First, ask for the job description for the paraprofessional who is now assigned to Joel. Read it. Google, if you must, but look for information concerning what right you have to assistance with getting Joel ready for school in the morning.

    Everything in your child’s life is intertwined. Just because he is not on school property when he is getting ready does not mean that his ability to get ready will not affect his school performance. If there was anything I would label important, it is how he transitions from home to school. That connection should entitle you to some assistance. Request it. If they deny it, then document every single behavior associated with that transition. The paraprofessional’s attitude is just the tip of the iceberg (and you should not have to explain yourself or try to excuse what’s occurring – what is occurring is part of his disability for goodness sakes and her attitude as you state, indicates she does not get it).

    If the school refuses to provide an aide for transition time, then look for what is available out there yourself. Don’t consider the cost or having to come out of pocket – this is just research right now. If you find a program that appears to be perfect for Joel’s transition needs (and with the store shopping story and this – I can see that, much like Tootles used to, Joel has difficulty with lots of different transitions). Once you find it, let that person who runs the program you want advise you what funding sources are available. That person is the expert in that area and may know of funding sources you don’t. Then, go back to the school, info in hand and demand that program for an appropriate education for your child.

    That is my suggestion. xoxo

    Reply
  2. I always appreciate Karen’s insightful comments – I learn so much!

    I have yet to deal with school/PP/etc so I don’t have much sage advice. I will say that our feelings about how others view us is usually on par. It adds yet another layer to this delicate balance between school, home and everything else in between. Continue to communicate and be direct with PP. Hang in. I hope the day picks up for you and Joel. {{hugs}}

    Reply
  3. No real words of wisdom here — more hugs and me raising my hand to say we are dealing with this as well.

    New school, aides are not available classroom hours so I can’t meet up a little early with them before school (forget a drop-off). After school, if I am 1 minute late (and I have been twice since school started) he’s in the office and the principal wants to talk with me about how he can’t be in the office. I certainly hear about if I am not on time for drop-offs or pickups, yet his 1-on-1 aide has been 5 minutes late into the classroom (more often than not) and walks him out before the afternoon bell because she has bus duty again.

    Taking deep breaths. I am trying to formulate what I want for our son that doesn’t sound like a gauntlet being thrown down. Trust your gut, and work for what your son needs. Make sure it goes in his IEP about drop-offs. And document what is going on. Good luck, and I am rooting for you.

    Reply
  4. I’m sorry but I do think that you’re blowing things a little out of proportion here.

    I understand exactly where you’re coming from. We’ve struggled with replacement special needs teachers (it took us about 3 years to realise that she wasn’t being cold and unfriendly, she was just very very insecure in her new role) and we’ve struggled with those crazy school rules.

    I don’t think that your PP is deliberately confusing things for you. Chances are, this is all a bit new to her (or perhaps your specific experiences are new to her). You’ll find that she still has Joel’s best interests at heart even if she’s not experienced enough with his specific needs to be doing everything perfectly.

    You’ve got years of experience with Joel’s needs and issues and sometimes it’s hard to see how an outsider may not understand. Believe me though, it takes about two years before a a special needs teacher is able to fully anticipate the needs, anxieties, motivations and point of view of their pupils and their family. This is especially true for younger teachers who don’t have a wealth of experience to fall back on.

    Reply
    • Thank you for your honesty and I can admit I did write this post when I was a bit irritated. We did work things out with the school and when we went to pick him up in the afternoon, she was extremely polite and jovial. I just needed to vent and get my head together here. There was a time in my life when I worked with children in a childcare center as a teacher and then later as an administrator. Part of my job was dealing with parents and there were times when we didn’t always see eye-to-eye. I try to always remember my previous experience when I interact with my childrens’ teachers. Thanks for the comment :)

      Reply
  1. Wordy Wednesday: Part 2 Resolution « unlocking doors

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