Life On The B Side

Taking all that life throws at us one moment at a time

It Happened Again … aka … I Need Ideas February 1, 2012

If you’ve been here since December then you know THIS already.  If you’ve been here since October, then you know THIS also.

If you’re new or just hadn’t read those posts, please do so.  You’ll totally get where I’m coming from with the below if you do.  Thanks.

 

Yesterday was the end of the 2nd term.  I spent the past week being nervous about the meeting with Ace’s teacher.  Along with the standard, “Tuesday and Wednesday will be half days and the teachers will meet with parents to hand out report cards” letter, I also got a “Ms L, the school Vice Principal would like to meet with you to discuss Ace’s progress” letter.

Holy Crap!

Do teachers know what letters like that do to parents?  Or am I the only one who immediately freaks out when I read things like that?  Just like I had done before (links above), I did my research.  The difference is that this time, instead of googling (which I still LOVE), I spoke to other parents and I read more blogs that addressed this issue and by divine intervention I found THIS.  I bookmarked it.  I thought to myself, “this will be great in December when I’m preparing for Jay’s next IEP meeting“.  Please read it.  It talks about special accommodations that are made for children to help them get through the school day.

What I didn’t count on was how helpful it would be in Ace’s parent/teacher meeting yesterday.

Once again, the conversation that I had prepped myself for didn’t happen.  I was so sure that his teacher and the school VP were going to recommend that he repeat kindergarten.  They had said it was a possibility at the end of term 1 when he failed math.  Instead, Ms. M said he is doing very well academically.  He has improved drastically, particularly in math and reading and has gone from being the equivalent of a failing/C student to a solid B student in all subjects.  He still is a little sloppy with his hand writing but even that has improved over last term.  The issue they have with him is that he is fidgety.  He simply is unable to sit still in class.  He always is moving, or touching something or humming to himself.  He does things to calm himself or provide himself with comfort.  Sometimes, he traces his name tag that’s on his desk with his finger.  When he’s standing or sitting next to the teacher he wants to rub her arm.  In special ed circles, we would say he “stims”.

They told me all the tricks that they have tried with him so far.

(Are you ready to be impressed?)

 

His teacher actually brought her personal i-pad from her house and downloaded shows that she knows Ace likes and uses it to bribe him.  Yup, she tells him that if he sits still for 20 minutes during story/listening time, he will get i-pad time during recess.

They have given him his own special “magic carpet” rug to sit on.

1 of his teachers got him a Thomas the train hat because he had a full week of being “good”.  (I don’t usually like to throw around words like good and bad but it’s serving the purpose here).

They have made him the official class helper so he’s in charge of handing out papers and picking up crayons etc just so that he can get up and move around during the class.

They have given him a special eraser to (inconspicuously) play with while they are teaching so he’s not singing to himself or rolling around on the floor.

They asked me if it was OK for them to discuss him with the schools special ed coordinator to get more ideas even though he’s not a special ed kid.

They asked me if I had any tricks that we’ve used at home that they may try because they are willing to do what it takes to help him be an all round success in the classroom.

 

When I said on facebook last night that good teachers are a gem … that just doesn’t do them justice.  I’m totally impressed with and blown away by their dedication to my son and I’m sure all the kids in the class.  I had no idea they were doing those things to help my Ace.

 

Based on the posts I read from Solodialogue/Four Sea Stars and the other moms, I suggested the velcro on the bottom of the desk and the disco ball seat and chewlery.  His teachers were excited to hear those and definitely open to the ideas.

They’re gems I tell ya!

 

Now this is where I really need YOUR help!

Besides his “ants in the pants” antics, the other big issue is his poor eye contact.  We have no idea how to improve that.  His teacher said they often bend down to his eye level when talking to him but that’s all they’ve got and it’s not working.  His eyes wander and he looks at everything except the person speaking to him.  He seems to be physically uncomfortable during the brief moments that they do get him to look at them.

If you guys have ever heard of or tried anything that will improve eye contact, PLEASE let me know.  I’m willing to try and I am fortunate enough to have teachers in my sons life who are also willing to try just about anything.

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10 Responses to “It Happened Again … aka … I Need Ideas”

  1. solodialogue Says:

    Hooray for good teachers! So glad the meme helped you!! That’s what it is all about. Your post really strikes home with me because of what I posted Monday and Tuesday this week about my son being “out of focus”. We just a couple days ago, had him evaluated for ADHD. He sounds just like your little boy.

    As for the eye contact, we have the same issue all the time. Our ABA team has worked programs for eye contact with some slight success but my son is still at less than 50% responsive eye contact wise. I’ve heard that it can actually be painful for our kids. Our speech therapist (private not school) gets good response to tellin my son “eyes” up. Overall though, it’s still a struggle. Maybe that will change as they get older.

  2. Tanisia M. Says:

    I pray that your children always find their way into classrooms with teachers that are that supportive and caring! unfortunately, I don’t have any babies yet..:( so I don’t have any ideas on getting Ace to make eye contact. But I’ll do what I do best…Pray!!!!!

    P.S. The only thing that came to mind with the “Stare Contest.” When my brothers and I were little we would stare at each other in the eyes to see who could go the longest without blinking. We would always bust out laughing. Sorry, that’s I got…LOL

    • I’m gonna try the staring contest. Seems so simple that I should’ve thought of it but this is why I write … so people like you can tell me the obvious things that I miss 🙂 . If bribery can work to get him to sit still for a story then making it into a game may work to get him to look people in the eye when they’re talking to him. Thanks for the suggestion!

  3. quirkyandlaughing Says:

    Hooray! It sounds like you have FABULOUS teachers on your side!

    As for eye contact, I think it’s best to approach that as a very looooong term goal. I’m 36 and struggle with it. It confuses me. I pretty much have two choices: make eye contact and hear nothing the person is saying, or stare at their mouth and hear everything.

    A good band-aid fix for any kid (NT or Aspie) is a sticker charts. We do this with my son – eye contact is one of his sticker chart columns & after he gets so many stickers, he gets a prize. We remind him of this when her orders his own food at restaurants, or buys his own stuff at the store. We basically have him speaking with store employees as often as possible. Sustained eye contact is hard for some people – this is a good start.

    The Have You Filled Your Bucket Today book provides a concrete idea for why it’s important to treat people with respect. I can’t remember if eye contact is listed as a bucket-filler in the text, but we speak about it in this context at home & it’s helpful. Because I didn’t know I had Asperger’s for so long, I couldn’t understand why eye contact was such a big deal for some people. When I thought of it in the context of this book, a light bulb went off and it was much easier for me to remind myself later.

    Also, I have a lot of Aspie-related medical issues and when they flare up, my eye contact gets worse. When I start detaching, I know I have to address my health. Not sure if that applies here or not.

    Good luck!

    • quirkyandlaughing Says:

      I just realized how many typos my reply has – sorry!

      • I don’t mind typos at all. I LOVE LOVE LOVE your comment. Thank you! It’s so great to hear from someone who actually has the same struggle. I spend a lot of time “assuming” what my kids are going through or feeling. I’ll try the sticker chart. He does like getting rewarded for things.

  4. wow are we on the same wave length. I just heard the same thing this week about my guy (i’ve got a post on it all queued up to run tomorrow) not enough eye contact/ it’s physically painful for him. So I too was scouring the blogosphere for thoughts yesterday. You can read this post and comments http://inneraspie.blogspot.com/2011/10/different-perspectives-eye-contact.html I found it helpful in our case but since Ace is not ASD the reasons could be totally different so maybe not so helpful. I guess my thought would be is he learning/listening/retaining when he is not looking? I know for myself i am extremely shy and sometimes eye contact with people I don’t know well can make me nervous and I lose my train of thought so it can be easier for me not to make eye contact if I really need to say something important. I will be curious to hear what you discover.

  5. Nina Says:

    Please be very sure to use any sticker charts / rewards to ONLY reinforce behaviours you really want to increase. They will start losing value in the child’s mind surprisingly soon.

    I am just wondering what is the value in making an eye contact? (I know it is a social “norm”, but apart from that?) Why cannot the child let the teacher know in some other way that he has heard and understood (by nodding his head or by touching his ear)? A very good advice is the one where the writer suggests the “eyes up” – just because it may make it easier for the child to obey (and, you can tell your son to look at the teacher’s hair – that should be close enough. Or, you can put a small sticker to your own face and practice with your son, asking him to look at it when you talk to him). To me that seems like a secondary goal, though, learning should be the first one, and following directions.

    Suggest the teacher to bend down next to your son instead of in front of him, looking to same direction with him. That will most likely be the best way of communicating with him at school (according to my experiences in different classrooms).

    • Hi Nina. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I agree that maybe eye-contact in and of itself may not be the biggest deal but it’s not just the eye contact. When people talk to him, he isn’t just looking down or off to the side. He actively fidgets and spins around and touches things or interrupts with a comment that has nothing to do with the current conversation and at times will actually walk away. There is no sustained stillness/attention at all. So maybe if we can get him to stand and actually look at (or in the direction of) the person who is talking to him, he will not be as inclined to do other things.

  6. […] and I have been to multiple meetings with his school – the 1st one was way back in September – about what they (we) can do to help him.  So […]


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