Friday, September 28, 2012

Mama vs School... Is it time??

When do you think it is time to blow the whistle on the school when they are not following an IEP?  I understand that it is illegal not to follow the IEP; but at what point do you really pull the 'you're not in compliance with this legal document' card?  Advice, opinions, and thoughts are greatly appreciated.

I found out yesterday, through casual conversation with Sadie's aide, that there are a few issues with this year's schedule.  First, I have to say that Sadie has the BEST aide on the planet.  She is wonderful, kind, works hard, and takes the extra steps to help Sadie with inclusion.  Her aide is going to school to become a teacher and you can tell that she loves to teach and really cares about the kids: especially Sadie.  Also, the reason Sadie has an aide is because she is a runner.  The school is an open campus and there have been two different times she ran into the parking lot (and once more she was released by a teacher and she wandered around trying to find me in the parking lot).  This parking lot is located next to a very busy street. 

So here's the scoop:

1) Her aide does not stay with her during lunch (because this is her break time) and there have been two 4th graders assigned to walk Sadie from the lunch area to the playground. Nobody is assigned to making sure she stays on the playground and doesn't run off.

2) Her aide drops her off for resource then goes back into the general ed. classroom to help the teacher out.   (My thought is this would be a great time for her aide to see how to modify her work and follow through with what she is learning on her level)

3) Her teacher does not modify her work- the aide does. 

4) Because of the mix of children in the school this year, Sadie does not go to Math 5 times a week for 30 minutes a day as stated in her IEP.  She only goes 3 times a week- which means she is shorted 60 mins a week or 36 hours a year.  Considering the fact that she is already behind and it takes her longer to learn, this seems like a huge disservice. 

I was able to briefly talk to the resource teacher to ask her what was best for Sadie, but she seemed worried about making sure the IEP was honored and said that she may have to put Sadie in class with older kids when higher math is being taught.  Sadie is really enjoying and thriving in school this year and I would hate to enforce the IEP just to put her in a class where it stresses her out because the material is beyond her level and the kids are too old.

Please... any thoughts?  I am not a complainer; but I feel like 36 hours less of math is huge!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

A Harsh Reality.. In My Opinion

I've been letting this next post kinda marinate for a week now.  I know I have strong feelings about the topic... I just hope I am able to express my thoughts keeping the big picture in mind and that those reading will not get caught up in being politically correct.  Maybe, just let what you read sit with you for awhile before becoming offended or angry :)  If  you feel differently, I would love to hear your thoughts too.

I've always had this thing about trying to make sure Sadie looked 'cute'.  I have three older girls, so pretty dresses, cute hair styles, fashionable outfits is no new thing around the Teague home.  But, with Sadie... I have found myself a bit more controlling about it.  That doesn't mean I always succeed- especially those days I am literally sitting on Sadie's back and brushing her hair like a bad round of WWF.  There has been the not so cute bangs, the very short bangs, the too short and tight shirts that caressed her Buddha belly, and the jeans that either a) are too short or b) are too big causing her to have a bad case of 'plumber butt'; but overall she leaves looking clean and cute.

I'm no fool!  I know this is a case of pride and in the grand scheme of things is very worldly and her outfit will make her no better of a person.  I've tried to loosen up- really I have.  I know exactly why Sadie looking 'cute' is important to me.  You know why too... Chances are you probably won't say it out loud.  That would be awful and shallow.

Now, let's go back a week.  I'm sitting in the first class of the school year at the Learning Program through our local Down Syndrome Association.  The topic (not word for word) was basically 'How to have a successful relationship with your child's school'.  To say I was overwhelmed with all the information being pelted in our direction would be an understatement.  I made a few notes under the 'if I ever get super powers' category.  Great ideas, support, and action plans for being that approachable and easy to work with mama.  Then, like it was an after thought, the presenter says something like 'You always want  your kids to look good.  Don't think you can always shop at target.  Go buy the nice surf shirt- Heck, I spend more money on his clothes than I do mine.  If you think people want to work with someone who is not nicely groomed... think again.  Sometimes I see a child and think- that would look dorky on a kid without Down Syndrome.  Please don't wear that!'

Your probably thinking... wow, lady- harsh!  Because that is the PC thing to do.  The 'everyone is a child of God and we are all beautiful in the inside' thing to do.  I wish that was what I was thinking; but it wasn't.  I was like, "Amen sister!  I am a believer."  Yeah, I'm embarrassed.  I like to think 'I don't judge a book by it's cover'.  I like to think I look in the inside and embrace a person's soul.  Why then, do I feel so strongly about my Sadie 'looking cute'?

BECAUSE.... that's why.  Because, people do like working with nice looking people.  Because, kids like to have friends that look cool.  Because, I don't want shallow people to only see DS when they see my Sadie... BECAUSE she is so much more!  Because, no matter what I believe about everyone being a child of God and everyone being equal in His eyes... THE WORLD DOESN'T WORK THAT WAY!

Just yesterday, I was picking up Sadie from a church activity.  A friend I have known all of Sadie's life was sharing some observations she had while teaching the girls how to exercise.  Basically she said Sadie is so cute (over and over) and then shared with me that  her son and daughter-in-law (in her late 30's) have not had a child yet.  Because of her age she has a higher risk for having a child with DS.  She then said after watching Sadie (and  other Down's kids- her words don't slam me) she sees how easy going and loving they are (haha, easy going- what?).  Then she said, "it wouldn't be so bad.  It would be nice.  Not that I would ever wish for it; but it would be good if it happened".  Before you get all DS advocate on her- she was honest, loving, and she has not made the journey we have... so I took it as a compliment; because I truly believe that is where it was coming from.  Anyway, until yesterday because she had never worked directly with her... all she knew of Sadie was how cute she was dressed on Sunday, how cute she looked singing infront of the congregation, and how much we adored her.

I think my daughter shared a good example of what I am trying to say.  She had a friend in school who had a deformed hand.  My daughter is no stranger to accepting others and how the differences in others do not define who they are. However, a couple of weeks ago she said, 'Mom, she is so cool.  For the longest time all I could think about was her hand.  Now that I know her... I hardly remember her hand.' 

I wish everyone knew my Sadie for who she really is.  She is funny, smart, stubborn, kind, loving, crazy, and compassionate.  Unfortunately, that is not who a majority of the world sees when they first meet her.  Too many see Down Syndrome.  Until they can peel the layers and get to know the real Sadie... I'm going to play the game and dress her cute!