Thursday, 9 November 2017

A Study In Contrasts: Schools

Yesterday, I had a long sit down meeting with Nathan's teacher.  He's been showing signs of depression at school as well as at home.  She showed me an art project that he's been working on.  He's torn it up and thrown it in the garbage twice, and she's rescued it.  He's been doing similar things at home.

We talked about strategies that I've begun using at home: getting him to journal his feelings, and then doing a "truth check" to identify the lies that depression tells us, followed by verbalizing the actual truth.  I've also been trying to build in an automatic pause when he has a destructive impulse, so I suggested he have access to a folder where he can put his projects if he wants to destroy them, but then he has to wait 24 hours.

She was very kind and compassionate.  She listened and made notes and when I brought up something that surprised her, she asked questions.  (She had talked about how inclusivity was a big part of this year's curriculum and I pointed out that sometimes those campaigns can make children with disabilities or challenges feel more isolated.  Kids want to be the hero, not always the one needing to be rescued.)

Yesterday, I also got a note from Alex's school about my request for a meeting to discuss the IEP.  Mainly how they would like to squish it in to a 30 minute parent-teacher interview, which I don't think will be enough time.  (And I discovered that policy discourages third parties from attending parent-teacher interviews, so it would be a challenge to include our education advocate.)  They've been fairly good in the past about having meetings, but often the message has been: wait until the IEP is in and then we can make any necessary changes.  Now the IEP is in and I can't help but see this as reluctance.

Both boys are undergoing some fairly serious issues.  With Nathan's teacher, I feel confident that her focus is on figuring out what Nathan needs and forget the bureaucracy.  With Alex, I'm not sure what's going on.  I've done my best to be as supportive and transparent as possible and I still keep running up against this resistance.  There is something I'm not seeing, some problem which underlies everything but which is either taken for granted or hasn't been identified, but it's undercutting our efforts.

I wish I knew because I have a lot of respect for his teacher and the staff at the school, especially the learning support teacher who has been coordinating everything.  I get the feeling that they genuinely want Alex to be successful and care about his well-being.  It's frustrating because he's capable of so much and we've worked so hard to get him where he is and since September 2016, it's like we've been having to fight to keep those gains from being eroded instead of being able to put our efforts behind him moving forward.

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