It's been a few years now, since Genea got her first IEP (Individualized Education Plan for special education) at school. The team met last week to discuss progress and updates. Genea will be going to middle school next year and I can assure you, I shuddered just typing those words.
The good news is- there's lots of good news! The point of the IEP was to give Genea a few extra little things that would help her get through her day. It has been successful. Where she was falling the in the average- below average range, she is now average across the board! She is now equal with her classmates! In ALL her classes!
They adore her, the team at her grade school. In our meeting the room teacher, special ed teacher, OT and someone -else- I- forgot were there. They went on for 10 minutes about how generous she is, kind and helpful. And I agree. It can be odd sometimes, that characteristic of RAD where the child is charming and delightful to everyone outside the home. But I like to think that it's working for her and she's ultimately benefitting from it (certainly far better than having her home behavior at school!). I started to twitch a little when they commented on how happy she is all the time, but again, I like to hope the success and positive responses will carry over.
We discussed how much Genea dislikes writing. It's one area that has not improved. Out of curiosity, I asked if the issue was language processing or fine motor. So, do the words get stuck or jumbled before she can write them or is it that the message from brain to fingers doesn't go smoothly. Lots of hmmms, muttering and looking away. Seems no one had thought about that one. I didn't think it was a big ol' issue but I guess it was.
My instinct when everyone looks so uncomfortable is to 'make it nice'. I want to smile and say, that's ok! Don't worry about it! Then I feel like over talking, about all the aspects of her writing skills, all the things we do at home, etc. One thing I learned a few IEP's ago is to sit still and shut up. Silence takes over the room as everyone starts shuffling papers and examining specks of dust. Mmm hmmm.
The director calls in another teacher, who doesn't know about her writing either. It gets more uncomfortable.
They try to explain, and it was kind of funny watching them try to pass the buck but since most of the team was there, they couldn't exactly point fingers at themselves.
"Seems like the sort of thing we should work on," I finally say. I guess it doesn't matter what the origin of the issue is, but her writing is awful and yet she loves to tell stories. Somehow or another it doesn't get to the paper.
This year Genea's deliberate malfunction has been getting assignments in. She might do half, or none. She might write one thing in her planner for us to sign, then alter it on the bus. She has an aide that comes to her class at the end of the day to ensure she has her materials organized and packed up for home. Genea, my dear Genea, will then remove a few items. Maybe a book gets lost, or an important paper is missing. However. With this level of assistance she has to actually put a specific effort into NOT bringing home what she needs. She has to TRY and it is obvious. So.
The team had come up with a reinforcement plan. If she got 3 of 5 days of assignments in she would get a reward. I listened intently, with eyebrows raised. They wanted to leave her an 'out' because everyone forgets stuff sometimes. Ummmmm, no. They are thinking of ordinary people. Genea has a superhuman memory. I said, if you give Genea 2 chances, I guarantee you she will miss 2 assignments every single week. My suggestion is zero chances.
I was then on the receiving end of the "I- can't -believe -this -parent- can -you" eyeballs being passed around. Argh. Discussions ensued. One teacher finally just asked Genea why she was not getting in her work. She turned red and said "I um, I just don't feel like doing it sometimes". Expressions changed abruptly to "omg- I- can't -believe -this -kid -can -you" and every one decided she would need to get her work in every day.
That was about it. She has some new goals to address writing. Most of everything else is aimed at her extreme hyper- vigilance. She sits in the back of the room so she can monitor everyone for safety while maintaining focus, things like that.
Other than my few little inputs, I try to let school deal with school. It's hard because I feel a compulsion to be involved and a gigantic guilt/shame for hanging back. We are so exceptionally lucky to have had wonderful teachers for Genea in a fantastic school. I think overall most people who teach are good at it (way better than I would be), but she has had some who are great!