For 2018

"Life is lived forward, but understood backward. It is not until we are down the road and we stand on the mountain looking back through the valley that we can appreciate the terrain God has allowed us to scale.” Jill Savage

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A day in the life of special needs - Chatty's venting . . . part one

Flowers are Red
by Harry Chapin

The little boy went first day of school
He got some crayons and started to draw
He put colors all over the paper
For colors was what he saw
And the teacher said.. What you doin' young man
I'm paintin' flowers he said
She said... It's not the time for art young man
And anyway flowers are green and red
There's a time for everything young man
And a way it should be done
You've got to show concern for everyone else
For you're not the only one

And she said...
Flowers are red young man
Green leaves are green
There's no need to see flowers any other way
Than they way they always have been seen

But the little boy said...
There are so many colors in the rainbow
So many colors in the morning sun
So many colors in the flower and I see every one

Well the teacher said.. You're sassy
There's ways that things should be
And you'll paint flowers the way they are
So repeat after me.....

And she said...
Flowers are red young man
Green leaves are green
There's no need to see flowers any other way
Than they way they always have been seen

But the little boy said...
There are so many colors in the rainbow
So many colors in the morning sun
So many colors in the flower and I see every one

The teacher put him in a corner
She said.. It's for your own good..
And you won't come out 'til you get it right
And are responding like you should
Well finally he got lonely
Frightened thoughts filled his head
And he went up to the teacher
And this is what he said.. and he said

Flowers are red, green leaves are green
There's no need to see flowers any other way
Than the way they always have been seen

Time went by like it always does
And they moved to another town
And the little boy went to another school
And this is what he found
The teacher there was smilin'
She said...Painting should be fun
And there are so many colors in a flower
So let's use every one

But that little boy painted flowers
In neat rows of green and red
And when the teacher asked him why
This is what he said.. and he said

Flowers are red, green leaves are green
There's no need to see flowers any other way
Than the way they always have been seen.

Layout, design, images, and user-contributed text are © Copyright 1996-2009 The Harry Chapin Archive.

A friend of mine reminded me of this song when I was talking to him about my grandson.

I don't think Harry Chapin was writing about special needs like I think about special needs, but it is about 'special' 'needs' we all have.

That is to be thought of as an individual - with rights - to be who God made them to be - and to be accepted. Hard for us to do at any age.

Long blog today - I know, but it's what's in my heart. Grab a cup of coffee or you can move on - it's okay.

My grandson started 3rd grade this year. It is a critical year because it is a pass fail year. If he doesn't pass 'the test' he doesn't go to 4th grade. Now add his ADHS (focus), SPD (feelings), and dyslexia (spelling and reading) shake it up and what do you get?

His principal is pretty good - we never ask for a specific teacher - just one that thinks - thinks out of the box. That's what he needs. Not a closed minded in the box thinker. Which for some is just what they need. But GS is an out of the box thinker - he needs a teacher who is out of the box too - because they can understand that his behavior is not bad - it's not done on purpose - it's not personal - he's just out of the box - and who better to understand that then an out of the 'boxer' themselves?

His teacher this year was fabulous - one of the best he's had - although all have been great. One problem - she was pregnant. We thought she was going to be out six weeks in January and be back for 'the test' at the end of the year - at least that is what we were told. We figured the GS could take any replacement for 6 weeks.

Well, guess what? She is not coming back! Got a new (not new to teaching) teacher. We met with his old teacher who was leaving and his new one that was coming in December. We talked about the GS - his teacher that was leaving just adored him and thought nothing of him, but the best. She motivated him all year to do his personal best. She used positive discipline. His new teacher sat there and I could read her 'little closed' mind. "This is all a bunch of bunk and when I get in there -he's mine, the class is mine, and I'll do what I want to do. I DON'T HAVE TO LISTEN!"

I could see it. She looked sad, battered, washed up, and old (sorry,but she did). I sensed she had just gone through some tragedy right before taking this supply position - possible a divorce? She just didn't seem to have any oomph. GS needs oomph! Our hearts sank, but we aren't quitters and we try very, very hard. And so we did.

First of all she ended up to be a screamer (bad on the senses). She uses punitive discipline techniques (feelings of self esteem). I feel she took a disliking to the GS because we had come in and discussed what he was like and what he needed in advance and it was not her way. She doesn't like to be told or informed of what to do maybe? More set in her ways - like in a rigid box.

We had told her that recess is like medicine to the GS. He needs it to survive in school. She doesn't believe in recess. And any fun should not happen at school, but on the weekends. She told me that. We kept complaining about recess because it's a policy to have recess. Finally when the weather turned nicer - they had recess - well almost everyone did - a lot of times my GS didn't because he wasn't 'focusing' on her (he has ADHD and we gave her a signal to use with him which she never even tried). And then guess what - HIS recess got taken away. He'd drop his book - his recess was taken away. Other had computer gadgets not allowed in school and she looked away. GS had a stick in his hand at recess, she told him to drop it, she turned to say something to another student, and got back to the GS and honestly he had not dropped it yet, but was in process. She wrote a note home about how terrible he was and how disrespecting he was to her he was and she wanted him to write a note and took recess away.

Now he has been in school 4 years - he has never ever been cahrged in any way, shape, or form 'disrespected' a teacher. His processing is slower - he has neurological issues and developmental delays. Wouldn't most teachers just say again, put it down? It was not personal and not meant disrespectful. Not everything is a personal attack on this woman. I have one set of special needs I'm working on - she needs to get her set of issues fixed.

We had a conference with her and his individual testing had gone down with her. When she conferenced with us - apparently other parents must have complained, because she actually cried that she was a good teacher! She also cried to the principal that when the old teacher came in to say goodbye the kids liked her better. Dah - wouldn't that be normal?

He cries at night because he is afraid of failing 'the test' which he never really even talked about before her coming. I think she just says - no play - test - no bathroom - test - eat snack quick - test, test, test, test . . . I know she is under pressure to have the kids pass - but she is passing on the pressure. Don't we all take tests better if we are not stressed? Let her be stressed, not the 8 year olds.

With dyslexia he is a terrible speller - but he's not dumb - he just doesn't spell with ease. We have him in tutoring - the good news is that he spells well enough that when the spelling tests stop in 6th grade and he can use the computer's spell check, he'll be fine. Still, we're trying, he fails one test and asks him in front of the class if he studied (knowing how hard we work with him and tutored) and writes it again on his test paper. The test papers he does better on - no comments.

He was getting to the point of why try nothing I do is good enough. He had not missed one sick day all year and in January and February has missed six and has been sick as a dog. He has oral eating issues with his sensory and is down to skin and bones. His asthma has started back up.

We talked to her and talked to here and talked. The more we talked the more determined she was to punish the GS for any and everything. His self esteem was plummeting.

So we talked to the principal and told her our concerns. As we were in our conference and his teacher knew we were there - guess what - she took his recess away for dropping his book in class andnot knowing the place. That said to me - I don't care that you are there.

We brought in with us our advocate for the GS - and God was with us. He is being moved to a new classroom today. I walked him in school. She is young - looks just like his mom. Was waiting at the door for him. Said, "Hey bud, we're waiting for you."

Just wanted you to know that special needs is not for whimps. We go through so much pain and struggling because our loved ones are. And every day it is something. It is like having five kids at once. And you love them so much. And today we were lucky and blessed. But know that sometimes we don't get this blessed and lucky. And then you have to start dealing with self esteem issues.

Tomorrow - our trip to the dentist. Three people suggested I write about the issues. So here it is. Friday will be fun though.


Deb said...

Oh my goodness...I will send prayers for you and your GS. Having dealt with learning disabilities with my own son, it was frustrating to say the least.
Is it possible to change schools to find a better program for him?
Many people with dyslexia often are high functioning.

Marjorie (Molly) Smith said...

Oh how close to home this hits. We are going through the same thing right now...We don't know what set Rissa off, she still has the same teacher and she does try to work with her, sometimes.
Hope things work out with the new teacher.

Cheri said...

God bless you for sticking with this issue and not just throwing your hands up.

Together We Save said...

School is the hardest place in the world for kids. I am so glad he is getting a chance with a new teacher. So sad those other children are still stuck with the old box lady. He is so lucky to have you in his corner. Praying things will improve.

Susan said...

Oh, Sandie. To me, a strong child advocate, today's post is a heartbreaker. Thank the LORD you got GS into another classroom. THANK THE LORD. Imagine the little kids, particularly ones in foster care, who have no one to advocate for them. They must perish. Oh, if ONLY that teacher would retire. She'd be doing herself and everyone else a favor. But then there would be two more to take her place. School is like in the mold or out you go. Sad but true. Thanks for the post. Have a good rest of the day! Sincerely, Susan

Angela said...

Hey Sandie!

I knew he was having problems with the new old teacher but not that bad! Praise the Lord the Principal finally stepped in and did something but you know nothing would have been done if you didn't keep standing up for him! You are the best grand mother a child could ever have! He is blessed to have you on his side!

I hope all goes well today with the new teacher!


Linda said...

Sandie my dear friend. I am so proud of you and for your continued struggle to put DS in the best place for him to learn. He is very special in so many ways and with your help and God's he will survive bad teachers. Thank goodness things are looking up. Let me now how it goes.

ClassyChassy said...

If anyone out there is reading your post about this and needs to hear, I pray their ears are opened as well as their minds and hearts. This was a very revealing post today, and someone needs to stand up for these kids! YOu are a wonderful grammy!

Anonymous said...

Personally, it doesn't matter if a kid has extra needs or child should have to endure a teacher like that!

Anonymous said...

Personally it doesn't matter if a kid has issues or not. No child should have endure with a teacher like that.

Knitty said...

I realize that it is important to have some way to gauge if a student is learning the building blocks presented in one grade before advancing to the next, and that pressure is on the teachers to move as many as 30 very different students along that educational path, but the emphasis on testing for the sake of the school's status (both educational and financial) is so wrong.

It seems to me that having state mandated testing on such and such a day does a disservice to the entire classroom who might benefit from testing on another date. Not for the purpose of cramming for the test, but perhaps something extraordinarily wonderful or tragically sad has had the attention of the entire class.

That is a whole classroom example. Taken on the basis of individual needs and the stress level for everyone who cares is greatly increased. :(

I never used to understand why a parent would choose to home school, but this past decade has shown me many reasons that have made me reconsider.

I am glad your GS is in a new classroom with someone who sees beyond his diagnoses.

As adults, my husband and I tackle problems very differently. I was a good student grade wise, he has always been a hands-on I'll-figure-it-out guy. I bet if we were both in your GS's former classroom, Bill would have had recess taken away and I would have been her pet. Flash forward a few decades and wouldn't a teacher like that be surprised to find Bill was a successful business owner with employees who truly respected him!

Hang in there with your dear GS and make sure he uses as many colors of crayons as he wants!

(Sorry I was long winded)

Cheryl Moore said...

Sandie, I'm glad you stood up for your grandson. I think my two youngest kids are ADHD but have never been tested or diognosed. I think I probably was too when I was young. I think it's hard on the teachers and on the kids--especially when the teacher doesnt have the time or patience to deal with so many kids.

But I feel more for the kids. Sure my kids have their bad moments just like any kid, but they are also in no way shape or form stupid and they can be the sweetest kids, too.

And what I dont like is a teacher to call home or send notes saying what a bad kid my child is, or has been in class that day or week and wants me to call her to "talk about it". And then you feel like you have to pacify her and stroke her ego because you want her to be nice to your child.

And another thing I dont like is when the teacher doesnt let the children have snack or makes them sit against the building during recess that day because she's mad because the kids "acted up". I dont think its right to use food as punishment. When I was young sometimes school lunch was the only meal I had all day because there was no food in the cupboards and refrigerator at home.

My son's teacher is very grumpy this week, too, because of the testing...My son's teacher told all the grades to the class. She didnt "reveal which grade went with which student", but she said "The person who made the lowest score plays video games all the time and doesnt read". You know what? That was uncalled for!

I wish my husband made enough money so I could stay home with my kids and home school them.

Chatty Crone said...

I want to thank every one for their positive support.

I think this hits home with a lot of us.

I have always been kind of a fighter for what is right - but some times it does get tiring and then you just have to go on.

My daughter is awesome in this too. I don't want to forget her.

I'm not a hero either - I am just a grandma who cares like everyone else.

And it is true that no child regardless should have to put up with a degrading teacher. Special needs or not.

It's true that testing is getting into the way of really teaching our children.

It's true that if this teacher leaves there might be another one just like her to replace her. And now that the GS is gone - may even pick another target - bullies do that.

We need to be advocates for our children.

And look how many God Winks I recieved today - I thank God for all of you!


That corgi :) said...

I'm glad you got him out of that class, Sandie. That's the first thing I thought. He needs to be moved and sooner than later. I feel for that teacher because of her rigidity, her way or the freeway. Its sad she can't work with people and try to help kids succeed, which is a main goal of going to school. I always think taking away recess is sooooooo punitive. Those kids need a time to get out and run off some steam. It is hard for them to sit still and be attentive for so many hours at their young age. It is such a defeatist mentality to have recess taken away and also to know your teacher is not on your side.

Is it a special test they give them to see if they are ready for fourth grade? I know when my son was in third grade he struggled and the teacher was suggesting we hold him back since fourth grade was a more accountable year. We moved to Montana and they had a policy that all kids get promoted regardless (mainly so the kids wouldn't get teased since there were small schools) so it became a moot issue. However, I often thought it would have been good to give him that extra year since he is not a strong student.

Does your grandson have an IEP?


Buttercup said...

Sandie, this makes me sad to think how tough GS has had it for the last few months, which have got to feel like eternity to a child. So glad that he has a new and kinder teacher. Not sure why some folks just can't be kinder.

Joycee said...

You have a big heart! I can see how much you worry about your family in this post. I just read Ree's account of growing up with her brother who had serious disabilities and it's heartwarming to see at 42 he's overcome them all. Go visit
Together a family is strong!

Anonymous said...

Oh, heavens. What an ordeal GS and you have been through. I wonder what that other teacher's issue really is? It's a shame the kids have to suffer for it.

And congratulations on the new grandbaby to come!


{Bellamere Cottage} said...

Oh Sandie....

I've been here catching up with you and your precious little fella.... and, weeping. I can so relate to this story. I don't understand why teachers expect all the little darlin's to be puppets. They allll think and react differently. We, too, expressed the positive discipline method to our little guy's teacher. In one ear, out the other. We were actually in a meeting with allll of the teachers/aides/ot/pt....about eight of them and one actually said that the little guy wanted to get up to go to the bathroom too often..........WHAT A DUNCE. I nearly jumped out of my chair. He's been diagnosed, for Pete's sake and that's why we were there. My DD is considering a change of schools. We just cannot seem to get anywhere here. They also jump out of their skin because he plays with his shoelaces. WHAT? Oh for heaven's sake. Is there something more important in the stinking classroom?

Hang in there dear one. How wonderful that this precious little guy has so much love and support around him. They need advocates, don't they?

God bless alllll of you.