Saturday, 4 May 2013

School Is Going Well...

It's time for an update on the school year. 
For those who don't know, Micah started in a community class in a new school this year after not having gone to school for most of the previous school year.  You can find that post here. 
She gets along well with her five other classmates and we have been told she is the centre of their small class "world".  They all look up to her.  She has been to four of their birthday parties and will be having them to hers in June (the actual date is August but everyone goes away then).
Micah is quite comfortable asking questions of her teachers but when she still doesn't understand, it gets harder for her to ask again and again.  The staff is great but they don't always understand the way our autistic minds work and that we need things explained in different ways.  The good thing is they try and are open to trying new ways.
I have a problem with interpreting tone of voice, so knowing whether someone is angry or not is a problem for me especially when I think they are mad at me but they are actually frustrated with a situation and not me.  Micah has this same problem and also takes what the staff say very literally.
This is part of what causes her to be afraid to ask the teacher to explain a problem more than once or twice.
After Christmas we started getting school refusals and although it took awhile, Micah was eventually able to tell us that the class was having to do cursive writing for ten minutes three times a week.  These are all autistic kids who likely all have various hand writing problems due to muscle tone, motor planning, dysgraphia and such. They have laptops or Ipads because of this.  When you have to print or do cursive, it can be tiring and painful after a while and some kids have illegible writing.  The staff really did think they were being helpful in doing these exercises and I'm sure they would be great for a kid who doesn't have these problems.  I can't speak for the other kids, but for Micah it was tiring, frustrating, onerous, and demoralising.  She did not want to be there anymore.
We had a meeting with the purpose of putting a stop to it for Micah.  Somehow the staff talked us into starting at four minutes and working her way up to ten minutes along with a special horse that could sit on her desk while she did the work.
I didn't think this would work.
It didn't and we had to write another note asking for it to stop (in the nice way you have to talk to teachers when you want things done!).
That was fine and then Micah came home and I asked her what she worked on while the others did their cursive. 
She said she worked on printing!
If you can't work on cursive because you have difficulties, it is the same with printing.
Another note was written!
Things went smoothly again until Micah had trouble with a math question.
We found out about that one quicker than the cursive problem, so not as much school was missed.
She had asked the staff a couple times about how to do the math but she still did not understand and because she had to catch up on some other work, she put it off.  I tried to tell her how to do it but she won't listen to me because I am not the teacher.  She must have listened to me when I said I wrote what I thought was wanted when I struggled with those types of questions in school because she told me that she finally just wrote something.  She got it wrong but they did explain again in a way she understood.
Micah started integrating into music/drama, art, and history in February.  She is enjoying those classes.
She has even gone on a couple of field trips with the integrated class and an educational assistant.
Overall this has been a successful year and Micah has made friends in her small class and one or two outside of her class.  She even goes out for recess without support now.
Micah and our 18 year old cat Sarah