Friday, November 17, 2006

Conferences

So I finally made it into the classroom with my old friend anxiety, my empty stomach, and my husband for a guest appearance. Our 2nd grade Conference day finally arrived! 1:45pm seemed like forever to come. Mrs. P got right to it by showing us Leo's journal - answering the question about Self Control. I noticed right away she gave us no eye contact. No eye contact. Of course this made me nervous as hell. Later, I realized it's her personality - maybe she's bit shy. Maybe she's been beaten down by parents over the years. Who knows.

She had asked the kids the question "What do you think your parents will hear about you during your conference? My first thought was how this could be a bit stressful for the kids, making report cards more important than they should be when they are only in 2nd grade. Bluch!

Leo's response was something like 'I think I am a good student, that I like math and reading a lot, but that I need more self controll'. Mispelling included, just like his mom, ha ha. I'm so proud! It turns out that Self Control with Leo is "blurting out" comments due to excitement about a topic. More than the average kid in class. So that's my answer. Mrs. P has to "remind him" to keep his thoughts in his mind. He doesn't finish her sentences or answer questions when not called upon like last year in 1st grade. In my eyes, it's a significant improvement.

To my relief Mrs. P gets Leo, but doesn't "get" him, just yet anyway. I know it's been only 3 months. As you may know or not know about me, I'm quite a linnear thinker, and to me, people (parents and educators in particular) are either natural behaviorists or not. Does one see cause and effect effortlessly and naturally? Does one see where the root of a behavior comes from?

Mrs. P is not a natural (more on this when I write about another topic - the other ASD kids in 2nd grade...) She sees the surface and addresses just that. Kind of like a pediatrician now that I think of it. Treating symptoms rather than the cause. As a teacher friend pointed out, you can't teach someone how to be a good teacher, you either "have it" or you don't.

I am happy that Self Control isn't debilitating for Leo in 2nd grade. It's not keeping him from learning. It may be a slightly irritating to others, but hey, a far cry from what it could be. I'm happy that Leo is aware of his issue, is not embarrassed by it, and doesn't keep him from having a fairly "normal" day as a 2nd grader.

Question 2; Leo's writing is mediocre. Specifically "Writes with elaboration and includes details" got himself a "Some progress noted". How did he go from being one of the best writers last year to just mediocre? Not that I'm surprised. I was surprised last year that he did so well in this famed "imagination" category for ASD. I realized that Mrs. P gives more open writing assignments, and last year's teacher gave more structure and prompts. Actually, Mrs. P let us read one story about Leo's experience on a beach. It was so good! I then realized it was good because she referenced using their senses. Duh, lady!

Mrs. P.said she dislikes the more structured style of teaching writing. She thinks 2nd grade is about getting them more comfortable about writing, and that it's a review year - gearing up for 3rd grade, the CT Mastery Test, and so on. This isn't my area of expertise at all - 2nd grade curriculum, but my instinct tells me that, at 7 and 8 years old, wouldn't providing some structure help build comfort in writing? Maybe one of my writer readers can answer that question for me.

All in all, she said he's a nice boy, compliant and respectful. My husband asked how he was with social interactions (I was too freaked to ask). She said she thought he was fine, that she doesn't get much opportunity for observation since they shortened recess. She doesn't see them at the specials or lunch - she picks them up and drops them off so she can have her 20 minutes of peace. Boy am I happy that I did all that volunteering last year - I was there 2 times a week for recess, lunch, and library time. I got such a good feel about the social groups and dynamics, and how everyone was doing. And it was very educational to see what 2nd graders are like, and that Leo is just one of them - just eating a GFCF lunch!

I didn't get a chance to process what had happened - that yet another year was turning out well, that our issues are manageable and not problematic. That Leo and his teacher are happy. I didn't get an opportunity to say how her lack of enthusiasm isn't good for Leo. We ran out of time, and I decided to not make an issue of it - I saw it's her personality. She's just not a dynamic person. She "phones in", as a fellow parent said.

My husband said he'll have more teachers like this than not, and he has to get used to someone like that, that's not going to be a cheerleader like last years teacher or us, or his former team. We realized again, after combing thru the curriculum with Mrs. P, that the 2nd grade program is fantastic - all 4 teachers basically do the same thing. The school is fantastic, and he's happy knowing just about everyone there. Not to sound like an optimist or anything! So we'll see how it goes - I may say something later.

We rushed out of there down the hall to the Kindergarten room to meet Sydney's teacher. We had only about 10 minutes left. Again, boy king is the priority. She showed us an empty index card, and said "See, I have nothing to say. No problems at all!". She then went on to say how she's a wonderful student and person. She's enthusiastic, enjoys all aspects of school. A good girl. I got teary when I heard that, but I think I was beginning to feel relief from Leo's meeting. Sydney's teacher also brought up the fact that she and Leo are so connected. It's rare, she said. They love seeing each other during the day, passing each other. Waving hi, giving hi-fives. Sydney always tells her teacher "I saw my brother! I saw my brother!". Her teacher knows Leo. She didn't have him, but knows him since the kindergarten classes have recess together. And of course, she is in the dark about his past. I feel so lucky they have each other.

2 comments:

Laura said...

That's great news on the conferences! Thanks for visiting my blog and the nice comments! We have our older ASD son's conference on Tuesday, and I'm dreading it. But, unlike Leo, Hutton is doing very badly at school this year. It's his first year of Kindergarten, and he's young (just turned 5 in August) and really doesn't like doing all the sitting around and working that it requires. His teacher has already told me she doesn't think Hutton should be in her class, but the problem is, there's nowhere else for him to go! He can't go back to preschool, and the contained class kindergarten, which has enough aides to help all the kids, is all non-verbal kids, so Hutton wouldn't have enough stimulus there. So frustrating! And his report card, which we'll discuss at the conference, I'm sure, was all C's -- for Concerned, not the mediocre, middle of the road C from high school. :'/ I know we'll end up having him repeat KG next year, but I just feel like we're spinning our wheels this year. Hutton loves going to KG, though, and talks about his classmates a lot, so he's getting something out of it, even if the teacher doesn't think so! Sorry for the long ramble!

Do you mind emailing me and telling me about what you've done with Leo, bio-med and therapy-wise? I saw the GFCF mention. It's always inspiring to read and hear about kids who've recovered! Oh, my email is laura @ huttonsplace.com (minus spaces, of course!) Thanks!

Ashley loves Leo said...

Hi Laura. I'd be happy to chat. My main website is http://www.hiddenrecovery.com. It's got the details of our intervention. But like many including you, it involved ABA, the diet, chelation, supplements, and many other therapies from both the biomedical and therapeutic sides. I'll email you.