Friday, August 28, 2015

One lone boy sitting in the hallway...

 If I were a betting person, I would have bet that the first call from school administration, in the 2015-2016 school year, would jingle my phone on or between days 7 to 9.

Glad I do not bet.  Two and a half days into the new school year the administration from the high school called to discuss their concerns and schedule a meeting regarding those concerns with us.  For not the dwarf that we would have anticipated being in trouble, but regarding Happy.

"Happy?!!?" I mutter in astonishment.  Wow, that is a surprise.  "What has he done?" As my mind imagines all the possible scenarios.   I am thinking maybe he pulled the fire alarm, or got lost in the maze of hallways and was late for class, or even that he just wanted to be part of another class and went there instead of his assigned class.

None of the above.  He staged a sit out.  A peaceful, passive aggressive, for one, sit out.  A lone boy, sitting outside his classroom in the hallway.  He refused to go to class. He refused to talk to the teacher.  He refused to make eye contact with anyone. On the first day of the sit out, after about two hours he asked to speak to the assistant principal.

The second day more of the same.

On the third day, half way through the morning I get the call.  

They want to know if I have any idea what the problem is.  NO!  Each day after school, Happy was "happy" to tell me he had a great day.   How would I know what the problem is.  If there was a problem the first two days of school and it is carrying over to the third day, why are they just now calling me is my question.  Clearly, I could have driven over in the first ten minutes of the first day's protest and fixed this...

Upon his arrival home at the end of day 3, we have a chat, Happy and I.  It seems, according to him, that he is upset because the teacher is making them repeat work from the end of last year.  His words, not mine, "It makes me feel like a stupid retard." I look at him with an amused and puzzled look on my face.  Rolling around in my mind his statement.  A statement about him remembering something that he did over three months ago? The boy can't remember what he did yesterday for heavens sake.

So I explain to him that in this situation all the students are doing work from last year.  It is a way for the teacher to figure out which of her students retained information from the year before, gauge where her new students were in their learning currently, so that she can make a plan for the new year.
I also kindly explained that his placement in this classroom was a gift.  The classroom he started in was very restrictive, with many students that had no verbal skills at all, and that if he was not able to turn around his behaviors, he would have to go back to that classroom.  Well no, that is not what he desires.  I suppose if I were to read the look on his face when I explained what the consequences would be if he kept up his protesting, that he did not for one second consider that his actions would require the school to take action and institute a consequence for his behavior.

As the story unfolds, and I have a chance to speak to the teacher, I hear that many measures were taken to help Happy be successful in the classroom. Because he is a returning student to the program they made him a mentor to a younger student. (Happy LOVES to tell others what to do)  Moreover, he loves to be helpful and have a role of importance, yet even in that he was unable to manage and over come his feelings of anxiety, anger and frustration.  Clearly he was not even able or willing to use his words to discuss this with the staff.    In further conversation with the teacher we believe that we "figured" out the problem.

It seems Happy is not so abnormal at all!  His pride over rode his good judgement.  What my gut as his momma is telling me, is that Happy really had no idea what skills and assignments they did the end of last year. However there was a student or two in the room with better memory than Happy and they were giving the teacher fits about "having to review" and grumbling things out loud like, " we did this last year" , "why do we have to do this again," so Happy, in his quest to be like the rest, jumped into the grumbling.  However, when the work needed done, he had no idea what to do, and was unable to complete the task.  Insert pride here.  Insert inability to communicate well here.  Insert self perceived embarrassment here.   Mix it all together, and you get one anxious, frustrated boy, sitting alone in the hallway, silently stewing.

Oh the joys of parenting special needs kids.  I informed the school that yes I would come to the meeting and yes this was concerning to us as well.  Additionally I explained to them, that they really do not have to go this alone with Happy.   I am more than willing to drive the three miles anytime during the day for a mom-vention, which should be able to put the dwarf back on course, ASAP without the waste of administration's time and energy.   In the meantime we are looking into options here for him so that he can be more successful. Academically he is just not interested or able (he has not made gains in his learning since he plateaued at the second grade learning level 5 years ago) and unless it is in his wheel house of interests, and hands on, forget him retaining information.

So we press on.   He is almost an adult in the eyes of the state, and our goal as always is to have him set up for success at the most appropriate level for him.  We will be meeting with the Easter Seals organization next week to see if we can find a new program for him that is highly supervised and hands on so that he can continue his education without feeling the need to stage a protest.

You really can't make this stuff up!  2 1/2 days into the new school year is a record in the kingdom for sure!   -

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