Posted by: Kaiaroon | June 16, 2009

Awkward!

The IEP meeting was this morning at 8 a.m.

Movie Boy, much to his unbridled delight (ha) came with me. School doesn’t start until 9, so I thought this would be a good time for him to get acquainted with the process. He was thrilled by the idea, truly. You can only imagine. At 8:30, I caught him looking at the clock, and I asked him if he’d like to go, and before I could get the words out he had, in one smooth motion, pushed his chair out, grabbed his 30-lb backpack, hoisted it to his back, opened the door and flew through it with a rush of blowing papers (reminiscent of the Road Runner being chased by Wile E. Coyote) trailing behind him.

In his defense, this is generally my same feeling while sitting at IEP meetings, but I don’t move that fast now in my 40s.

What is it they say? You don’t have to run faster than the bear chasing you, you just have to run faster than your friend? Yea. He left me in the dust.

In all seriousness, having him at the meeting was a positive. First, I think its important that he start transitioning into the decision-making process. And knowing how stressful said decision-making process is, its going to take a few years of desensitizing to pull that off successfully. Plus, we can talk all we want about communication deficits, but having a brooding tween sitting there tongue-tied and avoiding all eye contact was a picture worth a thousand words. Asking him to explain some of the bullying he’s endured, and having him speak in the first person (versus me doing the “Movie Boy said…. ” thing) was invaluable.

I called him after school to ask him what he thought.

“AWKWARD!”

That was his answer. I laughed and asked him what he meant by that, and he said, “Mom. It was my teachers and my parents all in the same room together. AWKWARD!”

In his world, we exist in two separate universes. In my world, I feel that way too, really.

In the meantime, the meeting was productive yet ridiculously nutty.

In response to last week’s incident in the bathroom, his case manager pulled a security video (unbenknowst to me) and reviewed it. She reported to me in today’s meeting that instead of “no adults” in the area as Movie Boy reported, she “counted 11 adults in the video.”

This tidbit was thrown out there to emphasize that Movie Boy failed to ask the adults in his environment for help. I was supposed to gasp in awe at this revelation and suddenly understand that its not the school that’s not doing their job, but Movie Boy who is not doing his.

My response?

“If there were 11 adults in proximity, why didn’t any of them help Movie Boy? Why does any child feel empowered to block a bathroom door and slam a child against a wall with so many adults around?”

I also threw out there that none of us should be surprised the Movie Boy didn’t ask anyone for help, because his IEP states clearly that he doesn’t initiate communication with adults with whom he has no established repoire, AND we have specific objectives to help him learn to ask for help. So instead of clearing the school of responsibility, their little video summary only served to emphasize how they are NOT helping him to meet his goals.

I think I was less mad at them when I imagined that there were no adults in the area. But 11 adults and all this going on? For real?

I also asked if the child had, as Movie Boy had reported, blocked the door to the bathroom. The reply, “Yes. But only for a minute.” I guess its not as much of a crime if you do it for less of a duration.

The Guidance Counselor thought she’s take the time for a “teachable moment” and so started a monologue aimed at Movie Boy about the how he should take more responsibility for advocating for himself by taking note of all the various people in his environment — like what adults were around and where.Which I found insulting and ineffective (since his IEP specifically states that verbal instruction, especially in stressful situations… like how about IEP meetings?…. is ineffective), but I’m sure Movie Boy just heard the Peanut’s teachers saying “wah wah wah wah” so I think he was okay. I stopped her rambling and corrected her — pointing out that a lack of situational awareness is a hallmark characteristic of his disability, to which she tried to recover by saying, “BUT… he can be taught to be more aware.”

To that, I replied, “I’m sure he can be. By all means, please do.”

At about this time, the incessent giggling and eye-rolling from the Assistant Principal got really annoying. And so I said, “is something funny?”

She replied, quite annoyed, “no, nothing is funny at all.” I think this was meant to make me feel like I was wasting her time.

I said, “I’m glad we agree. Because I do not think my child’s safety is a laughable matter. And more than ever, I realize that his feeling that his concerns are not being acknowledged are valid. I sit in this room with real concerns about my child’s safety and get laughed at and told that he should be more responsible than 11 adults? Craziness.”

In the end, we added an accommodation to have an escort with him during transitions. He will also have a pass to go to the clinic. We beefed up a couple of objectives.

I gathered all my self-restraint and thanked everyone for being at the meeting, and told them I would review the papers and get back to them ASAP. At this, the Special Education Coordinator started arguing with me — I had already had time to review the papers! We had only made a few changes! I needed to sign the documents now!

Which only convinced me that I certainly would not sign them at that moment. Because with that kind of pressure, it felt like they were trying to put one over on me. Not sure what that was about, but my policy (long-standing) is that I never, ever sign anything at the table.What do they expect to implement in the final three days of school anyhow? No one needs anything signed until August, earliest.

The meeting was done at 9:00 a.m. We packed a lot of dysfunction into one hour, don’t you think?

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Responses

  1. What is it with the school administrators and the damn video tape? Any time I ever contacted anyone about any bullying issues with Nigel, they always had to “review the tape” before taking any action. Because my son and I obviously think it’s fun to make up stories about him being bullied. And I have nothing better to do than to talk myself blue trying to get it resolved.

    I love how you handled things at the meeting. I’ve experienced that same laughing and eye-rolling at IEP meetings – once by a principal even. I’ve always wished I’d had the strength at the time to confront it the way you did. I’m stronger now than I was, at least. Some teachers did it at a meeting a year ago, and I let them know that I found it completely unacceptable. Thanks for reminding me to be strong!

  2. Jesus. How they could think having 11 adults nearby made the incident OK, and Movie Boy’s fault, is beyond me. And the guidance counselor? Seriously, it’s as if no one there really has a clue what autism is. I find that too, quite a bit, although thankfully for much less serious issues than the bullying. But still, it’s like talking to a wall sometimes.

    I’m glad the outcome was acceptable and in only an hour!! Good for you! 🙂

  3. Every one of those 11 adults and every adult on the school team needs an FBA.

  4. I don’t know how you restrained yourself from giving the giggling AP an atomic wedgie.

  5. 11 adults! That’s just – well I was going to type “unbelievable” but then I started to remember when the kids would throw rocks at me at school and how many adults knew about it and did nothing, so, “unbelievable” doesn’t really apply, but goddamn.

    Hey kat, I really appreciate your blog. I have learned a lot from reading about your experiences — thank you.

  6. “If there were 11 adults in proximity, why didn’t any of them help Movie Boy? Why does any child feel empowered to block a bathroom door and slam a child against a wall with so many adults around?”

    Jesus H Christ!

    I think I might have asked for their names while I was at it, and written them all into the blog post. But that’s me, and I’m a redneck.

    (Next time, consider naming names. That’s the only thing these scumbags understand.)

    Which only convinced me that I certainly would not sign them at that moment. Because with that kind of pressure, it felt like they were trying to put one over on me.

    Good for you!

    “I need to blog about this first, and check with my nationwide support network. Oh, and how do you spell your name again? Write it down, your full name, middle name too! I mean, just think… this will follow you throughout your career and we certainly do want the spelling to be correct!” (big southern smile)

    Let them sweat a little bit. Let them know you are not all alone in this and you have support and they are being OBSERVED.

    Jackasses.


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