Friday, May 16, 2008

Working With The School

After about two years of intense ABA therapy at home, I decided to start Connor in public school. This was a tough decision since I knew autism was so knew and the teachers were not trained at all in ABA or similar teaching therapies to help Connor. I knew I needed to start working with socialization and the only place I could get that was at school. Because I had a little baby at home, I couldn't go with Connor to school everyday. Instead, I hired a BCBA (board certified behavioral analysis) to go to the school and train his teacher and his para professional. I had no idea at the time how hard this area of his life was going to be.

Since Connor started school, I have learned many great lessons, most of which I learned after the fact. I now know to have a meeting at the beginning of the year with Connor's entire staff of teachers, paras, and specialist teachers. When I first suggested this, (insisted is more accurate) the teachers fought me. They insisted they never all meet at one meeting and they weren't about to change things for my child. I explained to the principal and the rest of the staff that I wasn't asking their permission and that we were all on the same team. They begrudgingly met with me all together. I described to the staff how Connor had regressed at fifteen months old. I showed pictures of Connor before the regression, during the regression, and after starting biomedical treatment. I showed some of his tests results indicating toxic amounts of metals. I described his OCD and how bad it was. I described how I used ABA to teach Connor. I asked for their help with food and making sure he never touched gluten or casein either in food or art supplies. After the meeting the entire staff told me how much they appreciated being included in the meeting and how nice it was to understand more about a student with special needs. I wanted them to understand that I was recovering Connor and that I was going to need their help to make it happen. Connor can be difficult because of his OCD and his inability to articulate what he is wanting clearly. He can have anger issues and lash out. If the staff doesn't understand why it is happening, then they might misinterpret the situation. I need everyone to be on his side and help make school a success for him.

Connor is now at the end of second grade. When I first started Connor on biomedical and diet, I really believed Connor would be recovered by kindergarten. I had no idea the depths of autism or how much a child needs to know. I underestimated the subtleties of communication and relationships. School is still a roller coaster at this point. He might go months with no issues and then have a week of behaviors daily. I hold my breath when the phone rings wondering if it is going to be the school saying he had an issue and I need to get over there immediately to tend to him.

Connor is learning about peers more everyday. He is learning that just because someone tells him to squirt a girl in the head with juice doesn't mean he should. Unfortunately he is learning most things the hard way. The lesson I take from such times is that he is interested in peers. He wants to make them laugh. He wants them to like him. I love that he is aware, the rest will come with time.

School is going to always be tough for me. I want more out of teachers and administrators and even students. I want Connor to never be teased or made fun of, but that is not reality for anyone, is it? Everyday I question whether Connor should continue in an institution that isn't set up for special and gifted kids like him. Should I continue to try to fit a round peg in a square hole?

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