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    #139854 - 10/07/12 09:44 AM advocate VS pushy parent.... "rant"
    cc6 Offline
    Member

    Registered: 09/30/12
    Posts: 153
    my ds6 (turns 6this wk) is in kinder, but accepted into the school thru their SAS program (an advanced program set up for gifted/advanced kids, where they are clustered in class and the curric is differentiated for them)

    i'd like to think of myself as being my son's "advocate", i want to be a team player, i want to be able to see these folks at school and feel a genuine warmth for them and know they are helping my child to succeed. i believe yes, you attract more bees with honey smile

    and the beginning of the year did start like that...
    however, i quickly learned that there is in fact NO SAS program taking place in this school. ((interesting is that they get EXTRA FUNDING $$ for being SAS! guess what i am thinking about doing?))

    i waited. i thought, give the teacher a couple weeks to get oriented with kids. still nothing. meantime the newness of new school/routines/kids has worn off and my ds is completely bored with school. he doesn't want to go.

    he is starting to tell teacher he is bored, the work is babyish etc, (hey she asks him!) and i am giving my ds lectures on "respect" & what it means etc,
    and he comes home other day- "why do you want me to show my teacher respect when she doesn't respect me?" i ask what he means? he replies, "everything is just so babyish. i just want to learn one new thing. she doesn't have any time for me, she is too busy teaching the kids what the letter A sound is"

    my plan of attack was simple. i began a nice rapport with the teacher. she knew he was SAS. i mostly observed those 2wks. then i mentioned some concerns to teacher, asking what her suggestions /thoughts were, asking what could i do, inquiring when they might start differentiating in re to read/math. at first she said soon, then finally i was told NOT happening. but teacher was giving my ds more work (read busywork) "to challenge him". so i just waited. finally at wk #6,after discussing w/ teacher, i go to principal.

    i thought we had agreed on a plan to help him feel successful in at least one area- reading. i thought let's get this going, and work towards math! but.... it has been another 2wks.
    and what i rec'd from principal???

    lipservice. served with a smile!!!

    wk #9 begins tomorrow.
    now i am done.

    i am going to take my son to school and make appt with principal.
    i am going to flatout call her out. and
    in as nice a way as i can,
    i am going to let her know that if i do not see immediate action,
    i am taking this above her to the superintendent, because i am CONCERNED about not only my child- but the entire student body- because WHAT is the school doing with the SAS $$$, if not applying it towards programs for the SAS kids???

    i am my son's advocate, i have tried the best approach i know how, and (or maybe but?) by being a nice person, they have bluffed and fluffed me and 2months have gone by and my son is developing a defeated attitude, and is stagnant in his learning...

    so i feel i tried. now i will be the hardnosed advocate, and if by being that- i come across as pushy parent? too bad.
    i really don't care. i feel i tried...
    now i want to see some action. some type of positive change in the right direction.

    *i should add, my son also has (very high functioning as in no one would even question that he has anything going on) autism. nobody knows it (aside from school staff), he has come a long way, even as i continue to want to work on social- there is no denying his intelligience, and THIS is why i wanted him in SAS kinder. he will get to continue to work on his SOCIAL skills- but he will also satisfy his need to learn new things smile

    win/win right? except again, i have seen no SAS at all.
    it is begin of 3rd month into schl year- they are working on alphabet and ONLY 2 letters for sounds- A and M. they also worked on learning 5 simple sight words. (the entire kinder sight word list- my son has known since age 3). they worked on counting up to/recognizing #1-5.

    my child is NOT the only one who knows more, i have approached other parents, whose kids are also advanced, mostly little girls, but they say they are okay with it because their dtrs loving school etc friends etc- which i totally get- girls are VERY social. that is huge for them... only 2 are bored with the learning part, but parents say they like the kids so much that they don't mind if it is boring... when i told one parent, that my child was underchallenged, a mom of a young boy said- my son is OVERchallenged and they won't differentiate for him! turns out this little boy, who is JUST turning 5 in nov. also has autism.

    one other thing. i have access to lausd CA treasures program. it is their reading/language arts program. there is not one thing NEW in the kinder curric that my son will learn.
    and just for fun-
    yesterday he read EVERY reader in their 1st grade treasures progam Unit #1 (it is divided into 6 UNITS for the year). answering the comprehension questions correctly. yes. 1unit in 1 afternoon. how is it possible? because he is reading above that level. so he whizzed thru the books. he was having FUN!

    and even though he is advanced in reading/math- he is mostly self taught, i haven't "worked" with him, in the sense of sitting down purposely teaching him, except by always reading to him, answering his Qs and playing games with him, he tends to choose to play the learning type games, and just encouraging his crazy zany self-- he has the most amazing sense of humor and thinks at times he is a comedian hahaa as well as a very active huge imagination- he is always "inventing" new things/games...
    so, there are some pockets of stuff he doesn't know like time & money.
    more reasons i wanted him in the SAS kindergarten!!

    **his teacher was happy to point out that he needs to work on his handwriting- he doesn't always push with enough pressure, he sometimes writes mirror images for the letters, he doesn't stay in the 3 lines perfectly-i said, yes, this can improve, but right now, this may be what you get- his fine motor skills not the best, (some is age, some is lingering fine motor skill deficit- specifically the intrinsic muscles of his hand-palm), he will most likely never have terrific handwriting, he won't be a surgeon. and his hand gets very tired fairly quickly, but he is always trying and that is GOLDEN in my book,
    i also pointed out that he is writing in complete sentences (mostly) with capital and punctuation. she said he misspells words. i say- whose teaching him? no one! he is spelling phonetically. (ie anyone== newon OR together== to gether (as 2words) smile
    ((the teacher blinked at me))

    she also offers no comments regarding the fact that he seems to be gifted in visual arts- specifically painting with acrylics!!! his work blows away adult artists considering his age and no training.

    and yes, i overheard this teacher going on and on about an older grade girls drawing. so i peeked at it. it was good, better than some others, but didn't stand out as being amazing.

    *i realized then that she is just possibly- totally disregarding/overlooking my son. he's right in front of her 5d/wk, and i realized she has never said anything positive about what he is doing- just points out his flaws like the handwriting or complaining of being bored.

    *sigh*


    YES i think that turned into a rant.
    but i feel SO MUCH BETTER!
    so thanks for "listening"
    and
    any comments about my plan to approach the principal in this manner?
    _________________________
    One can never consent to creep when
    one feels an impulse to soar!
    ~Helen Keller


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    #139861 - 10/07/12 11:01 AM Re: advocate VS pushy parent.... "rant" [Re: cc6]
    HowlerKarma Offline
    Member

    Registered: 02/05/11
    Posts: 5181
    I'd make a written set of talking points-- an outline of how YOU would prefer the meeting to go, in terms of what MUST be addressed, and what you'd LIKE to have addressed.

    Then go back through it, placing yourself in the position of the classroom teacher, and edit anything that seems inflammatory in any way, shape or form.

    Stick to factual statements-- or at least very bland/uncharged language in subjective statements. Use third-person narrative statements wherever possible, as those are less threatening/emotionally charged than I/you/they statements are.

    Write your talking points as though you were writing them for a friend's child rather than your own, if you can.

    Go into your meeting while holding on to your attitude that this MUST just be a misunderstanding... because of course the school wants to help your child. (And really-- while opinions may vary on the details, that much probably IS actually true... if you find yourself becoming emotional during the meeting, focus on taking notes for a minute and remind yourself of that fact.)

    You're the expert on your child, they are the experts on their school. Your child needs both to be brought to bear on the situation if he is to succeed. smile

    Good luck!
    _________________________
    Schrödinger's cat walks into a bar. And doesn't.

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    #139865 - 10/07/12 11:26 AM Re: advocate VS pushy parent.... "rant" [Re: cc6]
    ABQMom Offline
    Member

    Registered: 08/25/10
    Posts: 868
    ... and it is only Kindergarten. Ready for 12 more years?

    You've already received good advice, but here are a couple more thought:

    Put your requests/concerns in writing. The school gave me grief about not testing my oldest until I gave them a letter. That started the legal clock ticking, and they knew it.

    Stay polite but firm. If you don't lose it, they'll take you more seriously. Lose it here... we all get it and have been there!
    _________________________
    ~Lisa
    http://www.lisaabeyta.wordpress.com/

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    #139868 - 10/07/12 12:42 PM Re: advocate VS pushy parent.... "rant" [Re: cc6]
    DeeDee Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/16/10
    Posts: 2498
    Originally Posted By: cc6
    he is starting to tell teacher he is bored, the work is babyish etc, (hey she asks him!) and i am giving my ds lectures on "respect" & what it means etc,
    and he comes home other day- "why do you want me to show my teacher respect when she doesn't respect me?" i ask what he means? he replies, "everything is just so babyish. i just want to learn one new thing. she doesn't have any time for me, she is too busy teaching the kids what the letter A sound is"


    What I am about to say in no way addresses the need for differentiation, but what you say here brings up an important point.

    It is a common issue with kids with autism that they do not recognize the social hierarchy-- that is, that they have to respect teachers more than the teachers have to respect them. What your DS is saying here indicates to me that he may not relate well to teachers even with acceleration, if this issue isn't addressed.

    We had to work very hard to get our DS with autism to understand that the relationship is asymmetrical-- he has to act respectful whether he respects the teacher or not.

    Originally Posted By: cc6

    *i realized then that she is just possibly- totally disregarding/overlooking my son. he's right in front of her 5d/wk, and i realized she has never said anything positive about what he is doing- just points out his flaws like the handwriting or complaining of being bored.


    There is usually very little room for differentiation in kindergarten. It is good when alternative reading can be provided (and simple to do), but in-class math work is very hard to differentiate at this early stage.

    Teachers *do* notice deficits-- they are tasked with bringing everyone up to the minimum. And I would not ignore fine motor, but use her comments instead to push for school to remediate that.

    You should also be aware that when a child with autism says he is "bored" that can mean really "bored" or it can mean "I hate this task and I won't work on it because it's not mastered yet" or it can mean both of these. Just as you are asking your school to address your DS's academic needs, you should also be asking them for help in getting him to adapt to school with a positive attitude and good participation skills. It's unlikely that these things will magically fall into place even when he is placed correctly for his academic skills.

    DeeDee

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    #139871 - 10/07/12 02:34 PM Re: advocate VS pushy parent.... "rant" [Re: cc6]
    Pemberley Offline
    Member

    Registered: 08/07/11
    Posts: 739
    Originally Posted By: cc6
    i'd like to think of myself as being my son's "advocate", i want to be a team player, i want to be able to see these folks at school and feel a genuine warmth for them and know they are helping my child to succeed. i believe yes, you attract more bees with honey smile

    ...

    now i am done.

    ...

    i am going to take my son to school and make appt with principal.
    i am going to flatout call her out. and
    in as nice a way as i can,
    i am going to let her know that if i do not see immediate action,
    i am taking this above her to the superintendent, because i am CONCERNED about not only my child- but the entire student body- because WHAT is the school doing with the SAS $$$, if not applying it towards programs for the SAS kids???

    so i feel i tried. now i will be the hardnosed advocate, and if by being that- i come across as pushy parent? too bad.
    i really don't care. i feel i tried...
    now i want to see some action. some type of positive change in the right direction.

    any comments about my plan to approach the principal in this manner?


    Speaking as someone who went from a cooperative, friendly, practically dripping with honey relationship with DD's school to a combative, angry one I would suggest that you take a deep breathe and reconsider your plan to approach the principal this way. You do not want to get combative if it is not necessary.

    I did not choose to make our relationship confrontational - in our case it was hoisted upon me by a principal who made a series of decisions that really, REALLY negatively impacted my DD. I had to get combative - I don't think you do. Yes you have a right to be frustrated but you want to be smart about how you handle this. Going in to the principal's office, guns blazing, during the very beginning of kindergarten will not set you up for a productive relationship moving forward.

    My suggestion is to go ahead and make an appointment with the principal. Use this opportunity to ask questions. Do not make demands. Do not threaten. You certainly don't want to present going to the superintendent as a threat - do it my way or I will make trouble for you. This principal has played this game before - you probably have not. There was another post recently from a parent who was kicked out of their principal's office. That will put you in a hole you will have to dig your way out of. You need to stay calm!

    Once I realized my DD's situation was spinning out of control I had to make sure that my response was v-e-r-y measured. I was angry - really, really angry - but I had to stay calm in my dealings with the school. I hired a consultant who went to the Director of Special Services. We had several meetings with the DSS and bit by bit it became clear to him that my concerns were legitimate. He stepped in and basically marginalized the principal. Once DSS decided to leave the district the principal seized the opportunity to retaliate for going above her head. She behaved AMAZINGLY badly and put the district in a very bad position. As angry and upset as I was I HAD to remain calm. Bit by bit consultant and I chipped away again until we had several influential people on our side. Now we are back to having a cordial relationship with people at the school but the principal is seen in a very negative light and everyone is bending over backwards to try to meet DD's needs. This would never have been possible if I had gone off half-cocked threatening the principal, demanding immediate action or accusing her of misappropriating funds.

    So your concerns may be legitimate. You don't want to handle the situation in a way that makes that point irrelevant though. Make sure you know exactly what you are asking for and why your DS needs it. Be sure you can be crystal clear on these things before you approach the principal. Good luck.

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    #139879 - 10/07/12 08:21 PM Re: advocate VS pushy parent.... "rant" [Re: cc6]
    cc6 Offline
    Member

    Registered: 09/30/12
    Posts: 153
    holy moly.
    this was FANTASTIC ADVICE from all! i mean this sincerely. and i realize that (who said 1/2 cocked- they hit it right on!) i really need to calm down BEFORE i make my next move.
    first, i need to get myself back into a positive place!
    and then i need to focus (as if this was an IEP) and go in completely prepared for different types of scenarios, have my notes at hand, and just be in a place/state of mind- where i will remain calm. and where i can be more objective. stating clear and concise facts and not come across demanding or even as needy.

    after reading your replies, i re-read my post and realized i am completely out of whack, i am full of negativity... for me, this is a very UNproductive state to be in! so i am going to clear my mind of ALL of this for the next week! i am going to have a terrific next wkd- and then on monday, i am going to regroup and make an appt with the principal for later in the week. and discuss this all in a calm and rational manner smile
    that's my goal in that respect.

    oh speaking of respect- yes deedee good points, i agree with you, in this particular instance (when he is saying bored) he truly is. he is at a much higher level than what the teacher is teaching, in just about all subjects....i wish it was the other. that i would be more willing to accept- i would work to change it, but it would be his issue not teachers. the teacher knows the level he is at, SAS was supposed to be the fix for that. there is NO SAS taking place. simple as that.

    but one point to add here is that yes, i keep saying he has some social awkwardness as i call it, he is honest to a fault. he is very empathetic. he is typically very respectful of others including other kids, but YES he does demand respect back. *i will add that i feel very strongly that ALL people no matter who they are deserve respect to some degree and i do feel that the teacher should be respectful of the students, and i have taught my son to be respectful but also that he should demand respect from others as well ie depend on situation but generally, it is rude if friends eat candy in front of just one other child and do not offer to share, you might call this being polite, but i also call it being respectful of another childs feelings.
    ie he would never reach over and touch someone elses food at lunch, and he expects others to treat him the same, he was just about beside himself when a fellow student (a friend) reached over and touched his cookie- he was very upset and refused to eat it because of possible germs because he knew his friend never washes his handds (truth- parents working on that!) and he didn't get why his friend would do that when again he himself never would because he knew it wasn't right.....
    and yes, this simple incident at lunch time ruined the rest of his whole day== he wasn't able to get over it.

    in regard to him saying actual respect, i did explain why he should give it to her. i did say, even though you may not agree, you need to still show her respect... we then discussed ways to do this and things to not do in class---- we also talked about ways we respect all sorts of people including him just respecting his friends etc. and he did bring up that cookie incident again! ds has an amazing memory.
    so that actually was a good opportunity to discuss all that.

    and actually in regard to these issues, the teacher did say that he seemed to be better the past wk *oh, this was something positive she said! smile she can be a nice person. i realize that perhaps she is getting defensive because she feels like i am somehow saying she is not a good teacher. i believe she is a good teacher, which is why i am so confused as to why she is just not doing what was said would happen in regard to the differentiating etc. but maybe the school is holding her back?

    ok, well, about the next 12years??
    i figure if i get it all sorted out now?
    and we get in our flow? well you know what they say!!
    "the futures so bright! we gotta wear Shhahahaaaaaadddddddes!" -huey lewis smile
    _________________________
    One can never consent to creep when
    one feels an impulse to soar!
    ~Helen Keller


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    #139882 - 10/07/12 11:21 PM Re: advocate VS pushy parent.... "rant" [Re: cc6]
    flower Offline
    Member

    Registered: 05/11/10
    Posts: 281
    I wish it were so simple.. We go from school year to school year at the most...Usually it is semester to semester....We look for the teachers and not the program... I talk to a lot of people, students and kids. Good Luck

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    #139886 - 10/08/12 05:22 AM Re: advocate VS pushy parent.... "rant" [Re: cc6]
    deacongirl Offline
    Member

    Registered: 07/03/10
    Posts: 948
    You have gotten great advice. I would strongly encourage you to get the book From Emotions to Advocacy by Pete Wright. It is very, very helpful.

    "and yes, this simple incident at lunch time ruined the rest of his whole day== he wasn't able to get over it."

    This would concern me. I think there are other parents here who would have better understanding and advice about this kind of situation--but I hope he can get some help because the odds are good that in a school full of kids, similar incidents are likely to happen with frequency. (I would have been annoyed too--but the not being able to get over it part makes me sad for him).

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    #139887 - 10/08/12 05:27 AM Re: advocate VS pushy parent.... "rant" [Re: cc6]
    DeeDee Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/16/10
    Posts: 2498
    Originally Posted By: cc6
    he didn't get why his friend would do that when again he himself never would because he knew it wasn't right.....
    and yes, this simple incident at lunch time ruined the rest of his whole day== he wasn't able to get over it.


    I wouldn't be surprised if the other kid did this on purpose, knowing the kind of reaction your DS would have.

    People with autism have a hard time understanding when rules can be (or are) bent or broken. The book Parenting Your Asperger Child has a chapter on the "rule boy" type. It is worth cultivating flexibility deliberately, because without it these kinds of incidents keep occurring. This can be very stigmatizing as the child gets toward adolescence, and different rules apply to different social circumstances.

    DeeDee

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    #139890 - 10/08/12 05:34 AM Re: advocate VS pushy parent.... "rant" [Re: DeeDee]
    deacongirl Offline
    Member

    Registered: 07/03/10
    Posts: 948
    Originally Posted By: DeeDee
    Originally Posted By: cc6
    he didn't get why his friend would do that when again he himself never would because he knew it wasn't right.....
    and yes, this simple incident at lunch time ruined the rest of his whole day== he wasn't able to get over it.


    I wouldn't be surprised if the other kid did this on purpose, knowing the kind of reaction your DS would have.

    People with autism have a hard time understanding when rules can be (or are) bent or broken. The book Parenting Your Asperger Child has a chapter on the "rule boy" type. It is worth cultivating flexibility deliberately, because without it these kinds of incidents keep occurring. This can be very stigmatizing as the child gets toward adolescence, and different rules apply to different social circumstances.

    DeeDee


    This is exactly what I was thinking (but would not have been able to explain it so clearly).

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