Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Precious little things......

Andrew has had a difficult first week of school.  Sleep issues beginning again and anxiety due to the change of going back to school.  He is now chewing and biting the inside of his lips and jaw to the point of bleeding and swelling.  Visited the neurology yesterday for a routine visit.  This seems to be our primary source of care lately.  I hear the words echo again that we have previously heard this summer from two of his other doctors.  Andrew has no medical basis for his lack of progress and regression other than lack of appropriate supports and services.  He isn't taking any medications nor does he have a medical condition to warrant the lack of development.  We have been advised that if he continues with the same level of inappropriate supports and services that this path of development is more than likely to continue.  This is what happens when you have a child with autism and they don't receive appropriate supports and services.  The most important years in a child with autism is between the ages of 3-5.  This time of development can make or break their future.  I am heartbroken, saddened, and angry all at the same time.  Our local school district has failed Andrew.  He has been in the school system for 2 years and due to inappropriate interventions he has regressed in some areas and made no progress or very minimal progress in others.  It is time that they abide by the Federal laws and provide scientifically proven interventions for him according to the law. 

The precious little things that are now gone....
At the time Andrew entered school in 2010 he was making very good eye contact and would smile immediately.  He would look until others looked at him and give a beautiful smile.  Now there are many times he doesn't respond when others are attempting to get his attention.  Many times if he does make eye contact it's through a quick glance.  There were times when he use to just stare into my eyes.  How I miss that so much!  Andrew has never been able to pucker his lips for anything, not even a kiss.  However, he had his own way of giving a kiss.  He would lean towards me and put his lips against mine.  He had even began doing this without being prompted.  He would many times look and give the biggest smile after a kiss.  It was so precious!  I'm longing for the kisses to come back!  Andrew could sign for 'more' before he began school.  It started with modeling it for him and he would reciprocate.  Then he would sign 'more' when prompted.  Later, there were times he would do it when he brought his cup for more milk without being asked.  I can no longer get him to sign 'more'.  He will try a partial clap at times.  Before, the sign was more pronounced.  I remember we use to ask him if he wanted to go 'night, night'.  He would reply with shaking his head and saying, "na, na" over and over for 'no'.  It was so cute!  He would even get loud at times.  Now, he no longer responds.  Andrew had began telling others 'bye' by saying it without the 'b' sound on command and at times without.  Now there are times we can't get him to say it even with a prompt.  I miss these precious things that were once there and are now gone. These are just a few of the precious little things I miss from my sweet Andrew.  To watch him regress into his own world has been so heartbreaking.  I wish I knew two years ago what I know now.  I don't think that the local school district or the previous teachers realize what they've done.  The school district is about to find out!

However, there is still hope.  Even though he is approaching 5 in September, he can still make tremendous progress with the appropriate supports and services.  According to the latest research there may be permanent damage that can't be undone, but he can still make tremendous gains.  Through my determination I will go to whatever length possible to get him the appropriate services he needs to make progress.  I will not give up! 

I have shed many tears and lost hours of sleep over what has taken place.  Many days I get tired of having to fight a system that doesn't believe in abiding by laws that are meant to protect those with special needs, such as Andrew.  I will continue to be his voice and never stop fighting for him.  Our children with special needs deserve the same opportunities to learn and grow just as much as any other child. 

My hope is that all those with special needs children (and those with family members or a friend with special needs children) will come together and fight the system that isn't providing according to the law.  We have to take a stand to make a difference for our children and others to follow in the future!      

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Educator or Bully

This is an article I found that every teacher should be required to read and be reminded of constantly.  With Andrew beginning a new school year this week and hearing the way some have chosen to speak to the students breaks my heart.  If you are a teacher please read.  If you are a parent please read and pass along to others.  If you are concerned for our children please pass along, especially to those that work with children.  The previous school Andrew was attending the teachers did everything this article says a bully does and did none of the things a teacher does.  His current school administrator will be receiving a copy of this article.  Every district should use this in training their staff on bullying and let them know it will not be tolerated.

Don't Bully Your Students
By: Linda Starr

A Connecticut school administrator, commenting on his districts decision to include teacher behavior in its anti-bullying policy, complained that it would be difficult to distinguish between bullying behavior and classroom management strategies. What about you? Can you tell the difference between behavior management and bullying?

Are you a bully? Two school districts in Connecticut think you could be. Avon and Hartford, Connecticut, may have been the first districts in the nation to include teacher behavior in their anti-bullying policies. One Hartford administrator, however, expressed doubt about that inclusion, claiming it would be hard to distinguish between bullying behavior and classroom management strategies. I beg to differ!

Classroom management is the practices and procedures that allow teachers to teach and students to learn.  Bullying, according to is the practice of being habitually cruel or overbearing, especially to smaller or weaker people.
In other words, those who can, manage their classrooms. Those who cant, manage their students. The former are educators; the latter are bullies. And, believe me, you can tell the difference!

Educators let students know they care.
Bullies let students know who's boss.

Educators teach self-control.
Bullies exert their own control.

Educators set ironclad expectations.
Bullies rule with whims of steel.

Educators diffuse minor disruptions with humor.
Bullies use sarcasm to turn disruptions into confrontations.

Educators privately counsel chronic discipline problems.
Bullies publicly humiliate chronic misbehavers.

Educators are judicious
Bullies are judgmental.

Educators, aware of the power they wield over their students, choose their words and actions carefully.
Bullies wield their power recklessly, frequently resorting to anger and/or intimidation.

Educators help all students feel successful.
Bullies punish students for being unsuccessful.

Educators address misbehavior.
Bullies attack the character of the misbehavers.

Educators see each student's uniqueness.
Bullies compare children to one another.

Educators treat all students with respect.
Bullies make it clear that not all students deserve respect.

Educators highlight good behavior.
Bullies make examples of poor behavior.

Educators are proactive; they create classroom environments that minimize student misbehavior.
Bullies are reactive; they blame students for the lack of order in their classrooms.

Educators educate.
Bullies humiliate.

Educators exude confidence in their ability to maintain order in their classrooms.
Bullies barely conceal their terror of losing control.

Are you a bully?