Saturday, September 10, 2011

What Do You Do When A Special Ed Teacher Tells You "I Can't Teach Your Child."

Back in May, I wrote this post about The Boy's acceptance to the ASD Horizon program.
The Boy's 1st day of Kindergarten

Well Thursday was The Boy's first day of kindergarten.  It didn't go so well.  According to the teacher, The Boy poked himself in the eye with a crayon - TWICE.  According to the teacher, he banged his head on the table.  And scratched the assistant then tried to bite her. (I'm going to get back to the bite thing.)  These are not typical behaviors for The Boy.  He's not aggressive and while he has no sense of danger or body awareness, he is not self injurious.

But if you want to laugh.  And I have to laugh (through my tears) about this one - the teacher said, "He didn't want to make friends with the other kids." 

(Um...yeah.  Let that one sink in.)    

In The Boy's  defense, he was at his last school for 3 years.  And if you know anything about autism, you know - routine and consistency are crucial.  And I knew that the transition would be difficult for all of us.  I left that first half day of kindergarten, feeling unsure about my decision but still hopeful.

On the 2nd half day of kindergarten, I put The Boy on the bus and he went on willingly.  Because I'm a stalker mom, I went to the school and waited for the bus.  I wanted to see for myself how this school handled busing.  It went smoothly. 

I did the same thing in the afternoon. Showed up to the school a few minutes before busing to make sure all was okay.  The Boy went on the bus willingly.  I asked the teacher, if the second day was better.  Her response: 

I don't think I can teach him.
How is he going to learn if he can't sit still?
We'll give it a few more days but we may need to reconvene.  For now he's here on a probationary period. 

Wait - what?  Days?  Probation?  What about "I'm going to talk to the BCBA consultant." or "What methods have worked in the past?"  Nope.  After 2 half days of kindergarten, she was giving up on my kid.  

I wonder if that teacher knows how damaging and how devastating her words were to me.  How often I've replayed those lines in mind since she's said them.  How I feel like I've failed.  Or how heartbroken I am.  
How do you give up after just 2 half days?  How does a special education tell a parent their child is unteachable?  When there are have been so people in our lives for the last three years,  who have worked with us and with The Boy.  
If a teacher feels that way about my child, do I even want him there?   What if the alternatives are no better?

I couldn't even hold it in until I got home.  I cried the whole way home on the 6 train.  Willing the train to go faster because I needed to meet the bus in front of our building.   I slumped down, and cried - shoulders shaking, sniffling sobs.  With my big sunglasses, I must have looked like a battered woman.  And in a way I was, her words were like a knife in my stomach.  I don' think I've felt so  defeated.  Of course I didn't make it.  I got a call from the bus driver while stuck between stops.  And when I got off my stop - I had to run all the way to our building.  Which was interesting because I'm not in the best physical shape.

And when I reached for The Boy's hand, I noticed 2 stickers pressed in his palms.  They were the stickers I had given him that morning, to fidget with while on the bus.  Was he simply ignored?  Did they even try to engage him?  There are only 5 children in the class (including The Boy) and 3 adults.  I am at a complete loss. 

Monday is The Boy's first full day.  And I have knots in my stomach. I'm trying to breathe.  I'm trying to take it 10 minutes at a time.  I'm trying to get my mind and my game plan together.  Because I still have hope.  Maybe not in the school or in this teacher.  But in The Boy.  And I will never give up. 

*About the biting.  The Boy is a highly sensory seeking child.  He craves deep pressure particularly to the cheek/jaw area.  When frustrated he will press his fist into his cheek - usually his mouth will be partially open.  We give him gum to help redirect the behavior.  But if someone is holding his hand, he will use their hand to apply the pressure.  I could see where someone would think he was going to bite but he won't.  I wrote the teacher this in a letter and left it in his folder.  I sent a box of gum in his book bag too.  Both came back on Friday.  The box of gum unopened and the letter untouched. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

AutismWonderland - written by Lisa Quinones-Fontanez - is a personal blog chronicling a NYC family's journey with autism, while also sharing local resources for children/families with special needs.