Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Dear Noah.........mixed emotions......and emotion overload.....

Yesterday when I picked you up from school you came out looking like you had a very emotional day. You looked pale, dark eyed and wiped out. Before I could even ask you how your day went you said to me "Today was the worst day ever for the entire class!" You started to cry. When I asked you what happened you said the entire class had gone into science so loud and it really bothered you. The NOISY environment was difficult for you to handle....and there was tension in the air as the inclusive teacher had given a countdown to the students to be quiet. Apparently the students did not listen. Their punishment was to lose 5 minutes of their recess time today where they apparently stand against a wall for 5 minutes. I could think of so many more "constructive" punishments than that loss of 5 minutes. BUT regardless.......you were upset. I asked you why you were upset about all this if you were not to lose your 5 minutes in your recess as you apparently were not participating in the loud noises...etc. You said you did not know other than the loud SOUNDS and all the stress in the environment were hard for you to handle.

In science class they are having you kids being in fruits and veggies to cut open with plastic knives to look at the seeds and then you kids can taste or EAT the fruit if you want. You were upset because the inclusive teacher and parapro were coaxing you repeatedly to eat or taste the fruit. You told the inclusive teacher you could only eat THIN slices of apples and she was only able to cut THICK slices with a plastic knife. You said this made you sad as everyone else around you was eating and you could not. The parapro tried over and over to get you to taste a banana. You told her verbally you only eat baby food bananas (a texture thing) and asked her to m mash it up (as your after hours school group leader did that one week and you were able to try it). BUT for some reason all the parapro in class did was peel the banana and make you take a bite. You cried again telling me this in the car.

YOU then tried to cut the apple slice thinner with the plastic knife and cut your finger. You apparently had a mini-meltdown you said when the teachers kept pushing you to eat or taste this fruit.

WHAT really got me however was when you told me when your class went to the library you decided at some point you were going to SLEEP during that time. Apparently you told the librarian you were going to sleep and you told me she said "hum." NOTHING was said or done and you LAID DOWN ON THE FLOOR in the library and YOU DID fall asleep. NO one saw you.......no one noticed.....no one said anything to you until 2 boys in your class woke you up before going back to class. When I asked about the inclusive teacher or parapro and where they were....you said NO teacher is there with you except the library teacher...and she was busy checking out books. The parapro and inclusive teacher do NOT go with the class to Music, Art, Gym or the library. ALL more social type classes too where I can see they might be needed.

Needless to say this does not make me feel any more comfortable about keeping you in a public school setting. Well at least this public school setting. I had a meeting with my former social worker who is offering HUGE support to me in resources and guidance and she said this school you are in is the WORST as far as getting them receptive to working with her let alone the parents. The teachers are of the mindset you have to do what all the other kids do no matter if you have any special needs of any sort at all ......She told me next year fifth grade would be good if you were still in public school as that teacher was fabulous with her kids........but would you get that teacher? Then in sixth grade the teachers and staff are again lousy where they even tried denying one child their wiggle seat cushion as they expected that child to SIT STILL like the rest of the class even if they did need the wiggle seat just to be able to tolerate being in the classroom. Talk about IGNORANCE.

I am furious. I am sick to death of staff being UNeducated and UNwilling to become more educated to make their lives and YOUR life at school smoother and easier for all parties involved. I sent an email which provided GREAT supports and helpful hints for teachers with autistic children in their classroom and practically BEGGED them to read it...to at least pick out things that would be helpful to them to use within the classroom. I still cannot believe this school as many others....do NOT make autism education a MANDATORY course if they are going to work with autistic children within their classroom.

You cried a lot on the way home. We were emotionally drained and emotionally exhausted which turns you into a walking zombie. Today you are staying home as you need the break and time to recover. I am so ready to yank you from the school. EVEN the parent-advocate will not return my call or email. The teachers do not communicate with me when I ask them questions via email as I was instructed.

The principal does to a point.....here is my latest email to her this morning:

Noah came home yesterday Monday October 27, and was very upset. He said it was the worst day ever for the ENTIRE class. Mrs. _____ did not tell me anything. ALL communication about his day has ceased with me since Mrs. _____ no longer brings Noah out at the end of the day. SO I can only go now on what Noah tells me...how he perceives things.....etc. I have no way to reinforce any issues the school may want to address with Noah here at home as I would not even be aware of those issues. I cannot verify anything. When I email and asked a teacher last week why Noah was moved to the red zone I got no reply. I am sorry but I cannot tolerate this as there has to be a line of communication open.

The reason for my email is this. Noah was telling me it was the class' worst day ever. He said the entire class was very loud and noisy and they were given a count down to be quiet and they failed so they were to lose 5 minutes of their recess today (Tuesday). Noah was apparently very disturbed by the LOUD environment...as he was crying telling me all this and when I asked him why he was so upset if he was not the one getting into trouble he said he did not know.....but the sounds in the room bothered him....the tension .etc.
ALSO this was in science class and they are doing a project this week involving cutting open fruits and veggies to examine seeds and then they could taste or eat the fruits. Noah was pressured (HE said - he felt) multiple times to "just try it!" for an apple and banana. Now with Noah's sensory issues TEXTURE is HUGE for him. He told Mrs. _____ when she tried giving him a THICK apple slice he could only eat THIN slices which is true as he only recently started tasting small apple slices but they have to be thin! She told him that was the only way she could cut it and I tried explaining to him that with a plastic knife she indeed could probably NOT cut it any thinner than she did. BUT he said he felt sad because everyone else was eating something BUT him...and he cried again. I guess Mrs. _____ then tried to get him to eat a banana.....he said she just peeled it. He said she continued to try to get him to eat the banana even after he had TOLD her verbally he only ate baby food bananas (again a texture thing) but if she could MASH it up he could try it (as _____ at the after school program just tried with him 2 weeks ago and this method worked as he was able to eat a tiny bite of it). BUT Mrs. _____ could not mash it up and he got upset and he told me he had a mini-meltdown.......because they kept trying to get him to eat the fruit he would not normally eat......or be able to..etc. He said he did finally taste a piece...tiny piece of the banana slice.....but he cried all over again telling me this and I guess maybe in class but I have no clue as I was not told anything from anyone at school.

BUT I think even the biggest thing was last night when Noah told me during library time he SLEPT. He said he walked in and at some point even told the teacher at the desk in the library (He said it was a Mrs. _____ ?) he was going to SLEEP during library time and she said "hum" and then he apparently did go LIE ON THE FLOOR and FELL ASLEEP he said for more than 10 minutes. Two of his peers (_____ and _____ ?) had to wake him up in time to go back to class. He was not even sitting in a chair but was on the floor.
I asked him if a teacher checked on him or asked him if he was okay......he said NO. I asked him if anyone was saying anything to him at all and he said no. I asked if Mrs. _____ the inclusive teacher or the parapro were there and he said NO. He said they DO NOT go with the class to Art. Music, Gym or the library.etc.

THIS troubles me immensely. WHAT if Noah had passed out or fainted as his cardiologist said could happen if his heart condition worsened? NO ONE even checked on him during that time in the library let alone told him to get up and please sit in a chair like everyone else that it was a time to read and not sleep, or if he were that tired to go to the nurse's room or call the parent and go home.etc. I cannot express in words how troubling all this is to me.

I asked him if he was sure he was actually asleep and not just like pretending to sleep. He said no. He said he felt refreshed when awakened and he even did a NICE BIG STRETCH (which he still talks about this morning!)

Needless to say Noah had so much stress in the classroom yesterday and was so emotionally overloaded by the time I picked him up.......from the science room events ....that he was very much an emotional mess and emotionally drained. Hence his absence from school today.

Noah has missed more school this year due to being over-taxed in this type of manner than he did during the entire year last year.

Again I have to seriously contemplate if this is all in his "best" interest as I have serious doubts.

I have no way to PROVE any of this to you as no one from the school told me anything......although Noah does not lie to me. He would have no reason to make this sort of story up and in fact I don't think he has ever made up any story. He even said he had a "good stretch" after the 2 boys finally got him awake. If there was no aide in the library or no other teacher but the library teacher and she was busy checking out books (which Noah said she was doing when they walked into the library)...I don't know how the kids can be monitored in any way....or at least someone like Noah to make sure they are doing what they are supposed to do. Everyone keeps forgetting that Noah has to have continual prompts to be reminded of what to do ....he cannot just be expected to do what everyone else does without prompts. I wish he could but it still does not work that way for him.

I have many concerns at this point and these issues yesterday did nothing but add more concerns for me to think about and then address in some fashion.

Can you please investigate the library incident or at least make sure that never happens again? IF Noah is so tired he falls asleep in class or something I should be called and he should come home.

Last year this did happen a couple of times and he they did call me and he did come home...but someone has to actually NOTICE he is there and asleep in order for that process to actually work.
I apologize if this comes off as with an attitude.....but it is very difficult for me to not have one at this point though I am trying to remain optimistic and open.


AND this is her response which I just got........
Noah was not sleeping yesterday from 10:45-11:20 a.m. during media center time. Mrs. _____ does not recall him saying he was going to lie down and sleep. He did ask her to help him find Box Car Children Books. He looked at the books, but did not check them out. He checked out 2 other books approximately 20 minutes later. He was lying on the floor while other students were also on the floor reading. One student made the statement, "Noah looks like he is sleeping." Mrs. _____ then said his name and he said "What?" and did a big stretch and smile. The children were not unattended at anytime and Mrs. _____ remarked that she thought he was playing 'possum. Normally he is permitted (as are the other students) to choose to sit at a table or lie on the carpet and read quietly.

As for the incident in science, he had already indicated to the class, "I won't be here tomorrow because the whole class owes recess." The staff did encourage Noah to try the apples and banana, but he was not pressured or made to do so. He did cry (but remember how he reacted when I offered him gum that day?). Mrs. _____ did try to cut the apple into pieces for him, but she is only permitted to have a plastic knife. Apparently he misunderstood and thought he was going to have to eat a whole apple even though this was explained to him. This clearly was not the case as one apple was shared between many children. He was afraid the avocado would squirt him (has he had a bad experience with avocados before?). Mrs. _____ and Mrs. _____ both tried to talk with him and soothe him and let him know there was nothing of which to be afraid.

This next statement is not meant to sound "attitude-y" either (so please keep that in mind), but the staff does not feel that you believe what they tell you when they communicate the happenings of the day with you. It appears to them that you take Noah at his word and thus how he perceived the situation. Furthermore, the staff seems to think a negative spin is put on all their actions and perhaps that is the reason Noah has had less respect for staff this year. Again, I am being forthright on what they think, I am not trying to be harsh with you.

and MY response back just now.......

Well as I said in the prior email I had nothing to go on but how Noah perceived things as no one explained anything else to me about the day's events. NOT one word was said. I don't understand how the staff cannot understand all these mis-communications, people getting upset, etc, could be avoided if they would just keep the lines of communication open.

I never said the children were unattended. I said the librarian/teacher was busy checking books out for other kids and the parapro and inclusive teacher were not present. Again that is what I had been told by NOAH. I think it UNSAFE and UNWISE for any teacher to assume any child is playing possum and I personally think at least a parapro should be present in any class that has a lot of social activity where apparently they presently do not go such as Music, Art, library or Gym.

I have a negative SPIN on teachers or their actions or lack thereof because the school and staff this year make everything such a big secret. They are not willing to tell me things up front. I have to resort to these types of emails to get any line of communication open. I was not aware Noah said he would miss today because of recess issues......etc....I need to know these things. I need to know what happened from a teacher's viewpoint IN the science room. This allows me to work through those issues here at home with Noah. This could have allowed me to reinforce issues they were trying to enforce with him during school.

YES I am ONLY hearing NOAH's side of everything as I expressed in my prior email. It is based on how HE perceives things happening in his world around him. ...or to him. Sometimes the teachers think he is LYING about things or telling me false information...but it is how he PERCEIVES it. He needs redirection in the perception. IF I am not being provided any other explanation for daily events I am also left no choice but to perceive events as Noah does because that is the only information I am being provided.

We need to work out some sort of effective communication of daily events.
If a teacher had come to me and told me yesterday when they brought Noah to me what had happened in the science room...no email would have been necessary.

I did not keep Noah home today because of any recess issues. I was not even aware until you told me this that he had said anything in class about it. I am keeping him home today because he cried numerous times before he even got into our car last night. Cried numerous times on the way home....was very very emotionally drained which in eventually turns him into a walking zombie. WHICH it did. It is like his life force and eagerness to even be alive is sucked right out of him. I would never let him return the next day to be subjected to more stressors as he needs time to recover when he is that bad.

Noah does a good job at holding in a lot of this around others...but because he holds it in...and is expected to hold it all in during the daytime in school......it incapacitates him later here at home.

Noah is no longer recognizable on some days as the same child I sent to school that morning. This is not acceptable. This cannot possibly be the "best" of scenarios for Noah.

Thank you for taking the time to e-mail me and let me know what the teachers had to say happened during the day.

And so our world spins.......though right now I am not sure of the direction...but I just wanna get off the school versus Noah ride when I was told we were all to be on the same team.

I am trying to get along and be open to the "teachers" and yet I get an email BACK like this one from the PRINCIPAL........it is like he said / she said 5-year-old crap and I am sick to death of it. I am tired of the condescending attitude as above.

I love you Noah..... very much......but I am about ready to yell ENOUGH of this school crap already. I really don't think it is worth it......


Bobbi said...

My goodness, that sounds so hard. Poor guy. What a rough day. I can so relate to you and I am so afraid of putting my son in regular school for these reasons. The school doesn't understand that this is our life and our lives revolve around our kids and how they feel. I hope you find a solution for this soon and that things get easier. ((hugs))

kristi said...

My goodness, Melinda. I am so sorry that Noah is having such a tough time. Frankly, I think he is a wonderful communicator! TC hardly ever tells me about his day. I have to have communication from his teacher or I would be so stressed out!

Anonymous said...

school will get harder each year-more is demanded of the kids and guys like noah will have a harder and harder time. it is not a ll "love and kindergarten" any more. maybe you should pull him-or try a different school. he is so smart and all of this other stuff is masking it. you also have to step back a little and not expect the teachers to give you the details of every minute of every day. if you feel that you are not getting what you BOTH need, take him out. it IS a public school, and they really can only do so much. is it fair? HELL NO!!! but it is the truth. your special guy needs a special place. he deserves better to help him THRIVE!!!!

Melinda said...

yep anon I agree....and if you read my next post you will see I have decided to enroll him in the Ohio Virtual Academy.....in combination with homeschooling if needed

Anonymous said...

GOOD FOR YOU!!! I have been thinking about Noah all day...

I am sorry, but F them.