Monday, January 25, 2010

Grateful for our school team

Akila had her re-entry meeting at school this morning, which was not really a re-entry, but an IEP review kind of a meeting. I had several things that I wanted to bring up, and I didn't have to. The school staff brought up all the issues I was thinking about. This is a true sign of an excellent team that is working hard to try to help Akila to be successful.

One very awkward item (at least awkward for me), was when we talked about homework. I absolutely hate messing with Akila on homework, it is a huge battle. Her teacher and para were coming up with some great strategies to make up some worksheets specifically for Akila in math, and I jumped in and brought up the honest to goodness fact, that Akila is not capable of doing homework on weeknights. She is so volatile, and out of control, that I could spend the entire 4 hours afterschool fighting with her to do homework.

Sundays we don't get home from church until the meds are pretty close to worn off, leaving Saturday mornings. Well, we are maybe actually at home around 50%of Saturdays, and to spend these precious hours when she is most enjoyable, doing homework, does not make sense to me. Michael and I spend so much time with Akila, just trying to keep her occupied and calmed down, that if we had to spend an hour or two every day with her on homework, our other kids would get nothing from us.

So we decided to put "no homework" in her IEP, and I am so relieved. I am so relieved. We really haven't been doing homework, but even the little bit that comes home, can cause major stress. Some mornings, as she is leaving for school, she will meltdown because her homework is not finished. I tell her it is fine, but she rages about it anyway.

We also talked about some kind of wording in her IEP for different consequences for certain behavioral issues, instead of suspension. I of course love this idea. When I worked in the Bloomington Schools, I was on a team of teachers and administrators and we developed a program called PAUSE which stood for Placing Accountability Upon a Student's Education. When a secondary student was suspended, instead of getting a day off at home, they came to the youth center that I ran, and we had hired a social worker, a special ed teacher, and a paraprofessional, to work with the students. The school teachers would email the PAUSE staff with their homework and they would try to get caught up. So the teacher worked with them on the academic catch up stuff (as typically students who are being suspended are behind academically), the social worker would lead some group time and try to get to some of the root causes of the suspension, and the para would assist with various things. It was a great program, I'm not sure if it is still there- budget cuts love programs like that.

The thing that really bummed me out, was that I learned that Akila has started to be really rude to her Aide- calling her names, telling her to shut up, swearing under her breathe at her, etc. This was sad to hear, but not shocking. I have always told her IEP team, that when a behavior starts at home, it usually follows at school within 6-12 months. She is out of control at home, calling names, swearing, etc. But it made me sad. Her para is absolutely amazing with Akila, and I would hate to lose her. I will have to let her know that Akila only acts like that with people she really loves and feels close with, if that is any consolation.


FAScinated said...

What a blessing it is to have a great team working together for these kids! I agree 100% with having "no homework" in the IEP. Our families have enough to struggle with at the end of the day, we don't need a math worksheet to push it all over the edge. Great work, team! ~Kari

AKBrady said...

I am so glad and feel your relief, even from up here in Alaska! Homework is the great elephant in the room. Ditch it, I say, for peaceful evenings! Well done, everybody.