Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Prepping for School

LORD do I need school to start! Structure Structure STRUCTURE!!!!!! Soon enough, though. I still haven't bought uniform pants and gym pants for SmallBoy (or not-so-SmallBoy). I have, however, begun the readjustment. We're beginning to gradually reduce bedtime, getting into late afternoon and evening rituals, doing "Monday & Thursday Room Maintenance," to avoid a big clean up when his room gets trashed, moved his desk so he has a quiet homework spot in his room, finding the old art smock, gathering old uniform shirts, etc...

Equally important is prepping the teachers. The kids go to a small-ish private school (500+ students PK3 - 8), so everyone is pretty familiar with each other, teachers with students & siblings, families and their stories and so on. Last year I met with SmallBoy's teachers at Back To School night in September and again at Conferences in November. In September, I gave all of his teachers a copy of a hand out I found on the O.A.S.I.S. site, called the Asperger's Guide for Teachers. I had modified it to personalize it to SmallBoy, and gave it to every teacher who would interact with him for the school year. Additionally I gave them a copy of something that we had written, to help SmallBoy's classmates understand him a little better - (credit due to Marti & Child) - that perhaps THEY could read ahead of time to get a better grip on the world that is my dear SmallBoy. I prefaced it with this's already sent, so hopefully I didn't overload them. Let me know what you think:
Dear Phenomenal Teachers:

Let me begin by saying how absolutely delighted we are that you will both be guiding and instructing our youngest, after doing such a wonderful job with LargeBoy & Girl. I am certain that you are both relatively familiar with SmallBoy at this point, but I thought that, perhaps, I could aid your year by providing you with a little more insight into the world that is SmallBoy.

I have enclosed two copies of The Asperger’s Syndrome Guide for Teachers, one for each of you. All of the other teachers with whom SmallBoy will interact received copies of this last year and it has proven helpful. This is a very general guide to what to expect from SmallBoy. Some things you’ll experience, others, not at all. There are some behaviors and needs that SmallBoy no longer exhibits, due to his age and maturity level.

We are undergoing occupational therapy, through (a center owned by another school parent), and are seeing tremendous gains, which we expect will continue to be successful with SmallBoy’s growth and education. While in this program, we are also doing Therapeutic Listening. Every two weeks we work with a new CD that pinpoints different aspects of the Asperger’s and Sensory Integration. Additionally, we are seeing a therapist to help him deal with his questions about why he is different from other children, how he can develop coping skills for his frustrations, deal with family issues, etc….

Academically, SmallBoy does very well. Where he needs help is remembering to do homework, remembering to bring certain supplies/books home to do his homework, or helping him to understand why he needs to make corrections. My other concern, academically speaking, is that children with Asperger’s typically develop hyperlexia. I work at (Copyrighted Company) and am implementing our (Copyrighted Program) with SmallBoy to help boost his comprehension skills. If you would be able to keep us in the loop as far as what you see with his reading comp as the year progresses, we would be most appreciative.

There are some family issues about which you may or may not be aware. SmallBoy’s father and I divorced in 2002 and have both, since, remarried. SmallBoy’s father & step-mother had a baby in July of 2005. Since the Asperger’s diagnosis, his father has stopped taking SmallBoy for visitation, but continues taking his brother and sister. This has only been happening since we received the diagnosis. You can imagine what this does to SmallBoy. He will take him for a couple of hours every once in a while, but never for an extended period of time, with LargeBoy and Girl. As the weekends approach when his siblings go to their father’s, he sometimes tends to get a little more agitated, but he is unable to pinpoint why, which causes increased frustration for him. When they come home again, all is well. However, when his schedule is thrown by his father taking him for a visit, or for a family party, he is stressed out both on the pick up and the return home ends, and it takes him a couple of days to transition back. You may notice the effects of this from time to time. Those are typically times when he needs to be redirected to focus more frequently than usual or needs more cool off time. (Boy did I leave out a bunch of mean stuff about Ex, but it was for school...)

We are developing many strategies and routines at home that should help him have a very successful year at school. PQ is his best friend and, for some reason, understands SmallBoy much better than any child his age. He is able to help redirect SmallBoy, help him to cool off, and sometimes, able to help get SmallBoy to explain his frustrations. SmallBoy, in turn, is very helpful to PQ, especially when it comes to schoolwork, or inclusion in play. I’m hoping that by having them placed in the same classroom, they will help each other, and you.
One thing that we work on with SmallBoy’s OT, J, is reading where his “engine” is: high, low, or just right. When he’s wound up, excited, frustrated, stressed, bouncing off the walls, his engine is too high. When he’s lackadaisical, slow, apathetic, tired, sad, taking his own sweet time, his engine is too low. We are always aiming for “just right”. He is very familiar with that terminology and will respond to it if used with him.

I have enclosed a copy of the book that SmallBoy and I wrote to help explain SmallBoy and the Asperger’s to the class, at a level they can grasp. A family member and her son, who is SmallBoy’s age, originally wrote it. We modified it and added to it to make it suit our needs. It still needs to be modified to say “fourth grade,” but we would welcome the opportunity to share it with both classes.

If I can be of any further assistance to you before school or before conferences, please do not hesitate to call me. I am always happy to help out. Additionally, I will be attending a seminar on Asperger’s and how to deal with frustrations, anxiety, and social skills, in October and look forward to sharing what knowledge I gain with you.

SmallBoy, like his brother and sister, is one of the most loving, kind, caring individuals that I know. He knows that he has to try a little harder sometimes, than others, but he knows that he has a great support network behind him. We, the MG & PC family, would like to welcome you both as new members of Team SmallBoy – his blog on which he writes about his experiences or frustrations or joys. He hasn’t written in a while, but if you would like to take a peek at it before the semester starts, you can find it at TeamSmallBoy.

Please don’t hesitate to call me at anytime. I hope that we can talk on a regular basis and have ongoing updates on how we all feel SmallBoy is doing, and what we can do, together, to help him succeed. I know that you will love him as much as we do.



TX Runner Girl said...

Great the title. I know the mommy guilt well! :-)

Roni said...

Nice letter. I assume you're ok with the teachers reading this blog, eh? But I think it's sweet that you wrote this letter and hope that the new school year goes awesome for all the kids. And you!

Anonymous said...

Excellent!! What a great and caring mom!! As a teacher and a parent, I appreciate how important this kind of communication is. OK, right...will they be reading the blog? So you can't vent about bad teachers on the blog??

Smallboy is one lucky young man!! Meem