Tuesday, January 24, 2012

School update for a kid with Autism

Caleb has had a rough year this year. This year, my oldest child is in the 3rd grade, mainstreamed into a "normal" class. While he is high functioning, and has a definite group of strong skills, he has a list of quirky characteristics and several areas in need of improvement.

At the beginning of the year, he started out in a homeroom class with a teacher he was familiar with and would only be transitioning between that class and one other. Then, a couple of weeks in, the class was dissolved due to low enrollment numbers in the 3rd grade. He was then grouped into one of the three remaining classes to rotate between all three teachers every day. I also started working at the beginning of school as well, which proved to be the straw that broke the camel's back.

It was frightening and maddening to realize that the regulation we had worked so hard for was slipping through our fingers. Caleb was crying every day, his grades were dropping, his coping skills were nil, he was up all night and I was done. I quit my job, got him started in equine therapy, and started a fairly strict routine at home. He is still not where he was, but at least he is functioning better.

So here is what we are dealing with now:
  • inconsistent grades, some high but low in reading
  • problem solving skills are nil
  • he cannot read a word problem and figure it out
  • he still cannot find the main idea of a passage
  • he is failing his benchmark tests
  • homework is a disaster
  • he is inattentive
  • he is "in his own bubble"
  • he is not focus
  • he is not following spoken directions
  • he is not completing his work
He is also getting conduct marks every day...no joke, every day. Many times 3-4 a day for the last 5 things on the list. This is the problem I have with that. First of all, he should not be penalized for symptoms of his disorder. These are all symptoms of his disorder that he cannot help. We don't even know to what extent he will ever be able to do those things. I am hopeful.

Second of all, at this point in the year, he should be getting less marks, and he is getting more! He comes home very upset because he got marks but often cannot tell me why or in what situation he got them for. Then he is in a bad mood. It is one thing for a typical child to be in a bad mood, but anyone that knows anything about Autism knows that a symptom of this disorder is that one small thing can ruin their day and they are incapable of overcoming it. Classic symptom. Once he gets one mark...it is all downhill from there.

Third of all, this system is not working for him. The purpose of a system like this is to eliminate the undesirable behavior. But this is just not working for Caleb. For me, as a child in school...this would have worked for. I am a people pleaser and would be devastated to get marks. But not Caleb. He has no way of getting attentive, and focused, and out of his bubble.

I have had a conference with all of his teachers, and while I understand the need for him to be engaged and attentive to learn new concepts, it is not a skill he possesses. There has to be another method, or incentive that would help him. I mean, engagement is not his thing. If it was his thing, he wouldn't have Autism.

So I am struggling to find a way to help his teachers help him. We are all in it for the same reason. We all want him to learn and be successful. He is definitely going to need some new accommodations to help him get through this year and years after that. I am definitely concerned that at some point, I may have to homeschool him and I really, really don't want to. Not because I don't have faith in our school system...exactly the opposite, but because he has special needs and they have to be addressed in his learning style.

Oh boy....advocacy is challenging!

1 comment:

  1. Maybe a gluten, casein free diet would help your son. It seems to be helping my grandson who also has autism.