Saturday, February 28, 2009

DJ Kirby Inspired Me Today!

Ah poor Casey! I wish there was a special school for Autie and Aspie kids to go to so they could interact in their own ways. I know I sure wish I could have gone to one as a child. This mainstream schooling is nonsense. xo-comment from DJ Kirby

Thank you Ms. DJ Kirby! Her comment really made me think this morning when I read it. She left it on my last entry concerning Casey's problems and impending solutions to said problems. Her comment really puts things in perspective for me. I actually feel better about "going backward" so to speak, and it sorta wipes away my feelings that we failed in this whole endeavor. Again, thanks!!

I got two calls from the special ed. administrator yesterday, concerning their ideas on how to work with Casey's schedule to allow him to go back in to the AI room (Autistically Impaired-ugh, really need a better title) permanently, but still allow him some times during the week in which he could be with the other class during periods where he did well with them (ie, gym). Long story short, I really approved of all their ideas and it appears a successul plan is underway. (She says letting out a sigh of relief.) I made a huge point of saying he no longer goes by that stupid discipline plan when he's with the other class, and he will never again lose lunch and recess with friends. The administrator heartily agreed.

Yesterday was his first day back to the norm somewhat. He came home a happy camper, and I recieved an email from his teacher titled "Woo Hoo!":

Hi Bonnie,

Just wanted you to know Casey had an awesome day all day and completely deserves the computer at home. He was happy all day long, focused, worked hard, a bit hyper verbally, but not in a stressed way, just excited way. We had Brain Gym with Mr. Z. today who is bald and Casey said to him, "Well, I guess you don't have to brush your hair!" He took it very well and it was fun.

This morning I was walking in the hall after talking with Casey about how he would be in our room all the time now except for Gym and I said to him in the hall that I was so glad he was in school today. He said, ever so softly, "Me too, Mrs. M.. It makes me feel very special." My heart!!! Totally made my weekend.

Hope you have a great weekend and a good trip. Take care,

Ahhhhh, something good for a change. Dare I say things may be looking up?! I am sure there will be more to report......

Back to DJ Kirby's comment for a minute. For awhile, I was really into the whole concept of inclusion, mainstreaming, etc.. He did it last year somewhat successfully, however you define that. But this year, when he started going to Social Studies and Science, the work was extremely difficult. He was sent home study guides that he basically memorized with no real concept of what he was memorizing. From all reports, the classes had become mostly lecture, and note taking oriented, which his para did for him since he was usually just trying to keep it together to behave properly.

The kids in that classroom never contacted us to have Casey come to a birthday party, or a slumber party, last year either. Granted, he wasn't a fixture in the classroom all day. And I doubt if I had him fully included he would have been either, probably spending a great deal of his day in a resource room.

But, say what you will about his AI classroom. Sure, the kids aren't overly verbal and there are only three. They usually are in their own world somewhat, but in some ways, I believe there is a commonality among kids with Autism, just as there is with children who love hockey, or kids who love Legos. I have to wonder, especially as they get older, that despite all their overt lack of social skills and social resiprocity, if they might find comfort in being with like beings, as DJ said in her comment?

Of course kids with Autism need to be exposed to children who speak and interact, and who behave somewhat properly. However, I don't think sitting in a classroom hearing a teacher spout off information that you're barely taking in is any kind of good social situation, especially when there are 30 kids around you. You have major sensory issues, and these 30 people whose faces you may not even really "see"are whispering, cracking their knuckles, tapping their pens on their desks, coughing, the flourescent lights are buzzing, a fan maybe blowing. And all this may be magnified 100 x's over, depending upon your sensory issue or issues. SENSORY OVERLOAD! No, this can't possibly be beneficial for most kids with Autism, in my opinion.

Bring one or two "typies" into a smaller room, set up social situations. Allow them to play a game, to practice proper social interaction, take turns reading, etc. This is hopefully what's going to happen for Casey and his fellow AI classmates.

And in the meantime, allow them to do their work, to learn what they can learn, the way they can learn it in a small room, with a few kids like themselves, somewhat on the same behavior and developemental level, with staff who knows about Autism. Let them learn at their own pace, and in ways that are of interest to them, not the general populous.

Sorry this is so long but I feel strongly about all this. In a perfect world it could all make sense I think. In a perfect world.......


claire p said...

Oh I hope you get Casey into the AI class. It sounds like the ARB that Jamie goes to. It's a special class within the mainstream school. There are about ten children and they each have a 1to1.
They only do what they can do, taliored to each child. Jamie loves it and I'm sure Casey will to. Good luck with it all xx.

DJ Kirkby said...

Awww now see? That AI class is much better. Now if only I could get a job where I only have to deal with one person at a time I might actually live to see old age. As it is the stress of work is all a bit much though not as bad as losing my house by not being able to pay the bills. Oh and my surname is KIRKBY. xo

Cale said...

I loved my autistic class in elementary school. (It was called Gifted/LD at the time), but most of the kids went on to get Aspie or PDD-NOS diagnoses so...
The class was geared to our interests (each year we completed one long-term project on our special interest which was presented to the parents on "Expert Night", and abilities (In addition to working on classwork, we spent a great deal of time on how to behave in a group and how to socialize, etc.)
It was very comforting to not be the only individual with this blend in a classroom, but rather to be with kids from all over the district who needed this sort of attention. I just wish it had lasted longer than four years!

Rebecca said...

I love love love that email the teacher sent home! The comment about the bald-headed visitor is priceless, and a small moment that you otherwise never would have known about. How nice of her to share it with you! And then the story about the hallway whispers. Holy just takes your breath away, doesn't it? Yea for Casey!

therextras said...

Your posts show better than any I've read - the philosophical clash between special education and inclusion.

Wanting to be like everyone else might have to be foresaken while learning to be like everyone else differently and in a different setting.

Inclusion does not necessarily make one feel included, nor give a child the necessary supports for learning.

First time I noticed the second k in DJ's name. Must be one of those visual perceptual things.


Mama Mara said...

This is all such wonderful news! What a wonderful victory for your son and an inspiration to us all. It makes me feel very special to have been among those lucky enough to find your blog.