Category Archives: Advocacy
You know that whole sink or swim thing? Well, we couldn’t stand by any longer and watch them let our 2E daughter drown. Lily was attending a middle school we’ll just call CYA Academy. The turning point was an IEP meeting in which the teachers and staff took turns explaining to a crowded room why Lily’s poor grades were her own fault. If she would study harder and turn in her work, she wouldn’t have D’s & F’s. Lily shrank in her chair, her head bowed, humiliated. I felt sick to my stomach.
After the meeting, our advocate admitted this school was a lost cause. They had no intention of really helping her… it was time to find another swimming pool, so we packed up our pool toys and left.
After much searching, we found another pool, one that really seems to understand twice-exceptional students, and so far, Lily is floating along just fine. In fact, more than fine, she’s swimming a flippin’ 400IM with the weight of her learning challenges still strapped to her.
Funny how that happens when you find a pool that welcomes all learners and lifeguards who want to save lives and have the skills & strategies to pull it off. Lily knows that at her new school the teachers are there to support her when she gets tired or feels weak, but they’re also there to encourage her to swim as far and as fast as she can.
After just 4 weeks at her new school, the transition IEP meeting was like visiting Opposite Land. Lily smiled, participated, giggled and added her suggestions and thoughts. She could see that her teachers and the staff liked her, enjoyed her personality and ‘got’ her. Every concern was met with agreeable and thoughtful discussion. It was a partnership, everyone working together to try to help her succeed. It was so weird, but wonderful!
What would you do if you saw a child drowning? Jump in and save her? Call for extra help? Toss her a life preserver at least?
Or would you stand on the pool deck and shout to the child, “YOU’RE OLD ENOUGH– YOU SHOULD KNOW HOW TO SWIM BY NOW! IF YOU WOULD JUST KICK YOUR LEGS AND MOVE YOUR ARMS, YOU COULD SWIM TO SAFETY!”
What if you were told that the child whose head is starting to dip dangerously below the surface, had something wrong with her that prevented her from learning to swim as quickly as other children her age? The support of a life jacket could help her stay afloat long enough for an experienced adult to teach her to swim.
But at this pool, the use of life jackets or any other flotation device is discouraged. In fact, this pool would prefer that only children who can swim well jump into the water. They hope that the kids who need help swimming find a different pool somewhere else.
The drowning child, who is actually a very good athlete, is using all her strength to keep from sinking, but she becomes more and more distressed as she grows tired of the effort it takes to stay above water.
When her worried parent sees the situation and tries to alert the lifeguards, the guards don’t seem alarmed that the child is drowning. In fact, they point out to the mother, “See, if only your child would learn to swim. We told her she should learn how to swim. If she would just try harder she could save herself.” They shrug. “She must not want to save herself.”
The more the mother urges the lifeguards to help, the more reluctant they are to rescue the child. Finally, fed up with the insistent mother and the lazy child, the lifeguards turn their backs, knowing that they’ve done everything they could.
End of summer is approaching. Dread. The hummingbirds will leave and the school buses will arrive, and this year we have to pay for them… 100 bucks per student to ride the bus.
The sight of school supplies piling up in the stores makes my tummy feel yucky. We have exactly 3 weeks.
Can you say, umm… The Gates of Hell?
(How handy that WT took 4000 pictures of this sculpture, before I beat him to death with a baguette.)
Guess what? Funny thing… Rodin wasn’t exactly big on school himself and not everyone ‘got’ him. Some of his most famous work was criticized and rejected because Rodin’s style and themes weren’t traditional. Sound familiar?
Anyway, soon we’ll be meeting with Lily’s team at school to talk about our plan to support her executive function deficits and teach Lily more organizational skills.
I feel like I’m cramming for an exam. I read for pleasure on the plane to Paris. I just couldn’t bring myself to think about the start of school yet. But now, I need to get down to some serious research.
I have a few books about organization I’ve started reading in preparation. I’m looking for some really practical, concrete suggestions & tips that will get us from home to school and back every day.
I’m not sure I can make it through another school year like last year. But I feel that, because of our mediation with the school district at the end of last year, we’re finally going to have some specific supports in place to make 7th grade easier on all of us.
1 week to go and I will be free! (temporarily)— free from the work it takes to get Lily through school every day. Her ADHD & difficulties with Executive Function have made her first year of middle school extremely difficult for her and for me. The organizational demands of 6th grade have been overwhelming for her and I’ve been acting as her Executive Function support and scaffolding all year.
At least for the next couple of months… I’ll be free from the torture of nagging Lily to get ready for school. Getting her out of the house–on time—every day is a major feat. So, at least for the summer… no reminding, over and over again. No fighting. No frustration. No yelling. No tears. And that’s just the morning.
I won’t have to try to figure out every night what homework she has to do, when it’s due, if she’s done it and/or if she’s turned it in. I won’t have to check the Parent Portal to find out what assignments she has missing. No hurrying through dinner and showers to try to get Lily settled down enough to fall asleep at a decent hour. We can enjoy summer evenings on our porch, watching the sun set behind the mountains, while the kids goof around and I guzzle a box of wine. GUZZLE-to drink especially liquor greedily, continually, or habitually
This has been the hardest school year for me since Lily started Kindergarten. The extreme effort it takes to try to keep this ADHD/2E kid caught up on her assignments seems to be never ending and exhausting.
Lily is tired too. She desperately needs time to just play and explore and exercise, after being cooped up at school, forced into a rigid environment that emphasizes her weaknesses, instead of her strengths.