Life On The B Side

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

Missing My Boys – and – A 504 At Work August 7, 2017

Filed under: ADHD,Autism,Family,Special Needs Kids — The B Side @ 1:04 pm
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On Friday, we stayed up until after 2 am catching up with friends – While their two sons slept in our two sons beds.  It was nice – But I miss my boys.

We spent our Saturday night hanging out with friends and family at a 50th wedding anniversary celebration.  We had a great time – But I miss my boys.

Now, it’s Monday – And I’m on my lunch break – And it’s raining  – So I’m at my desk – Eating peanut butter straight out of a jar – And the boys have been with their Dad for 2 weeks – And the kids being gone does make it easier to focus on things such as packing and moving – But I miss their laughter and the feel of their skin and their stories – So my brain wanders back to a time, 5 years ago, when ….

 

~*~

 

I’m sitting at my desk and my cell phone rings.  It’s not a number that I recognize but it has the same area code as where we live.

Hello.

Hi Mrs C.  This is Ace’s teacher calling to tell you that he’s having a very good day today.  I have you on speaker.  The entire class can hear you.

25, six year olds kids shout out … Hi Mrs C.  There is lots of giggling.

I laugh … Oh!  Wow.  Well, this is a great phone call to get.

I just wanted you to know that he’s been sitting quietly and paying attention and he and his partner have done a great job with their project we’ve been working on.

I say how proud I am of him and that I am very happy to get this news.

He sounds a little nervous as he chimes in to tell me that he is being good and to tell me about his project.

I don’t want to say anything too cheesy so I just say I love him and I am very proud of him and that he should keep it up.

The call ends with a chorus of goodbyes and I hang up – Smiling.

 

~*~

 

It was towards the end of first grade and Ace had fairly recently been diagnosed with ADHD.  His 504 plan was brand new and as a part of the plan, his teachers were supposed to give him positive reinforcement.  That phone call was them wasting no time in following the plan.  It was the first such phone call I had ever gotten.  I loved it.

In speaking with his teacher on the last day she told me that in that last month of school, she had gone on to make those phone calls to other parents as well.  She did it partly because she didn’t want the other kids to feel like Ace was getting special treatment and partly because it was just nice.

For us, it had been a rough journey getting to the point where my boy got a diagnosis and where a plan was implemented – But I was happy to know that other kids were benefiting from it as well in some small way.  It made me feel good to know that other parents got to share in the sweetness that was that phone call.   It can make all the difference when you are at work – On a Monday – And it’s raining – And your lunch is peanut butter straight out of a jar.

 

 

 

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What Our 504 Looks Like September 19, 2012

OK, I actually have 2 posts ready to publish today but I only like doing one per day.  I’m choosing to post today about Ace’s 504 plan and then I’ll post tomorrow about the other thing.  When you read it tomorrow though, just remember that what happened didn’t happen tonight, it happened last night which will be the night before last by the time you read it tomorrow.  Make sense?  🙂

 

Todays Post

This morning CC and I met with Ace’s 2 teachers, the schools Special Education Coordinator and the schools Occupational Therapist to come up with a 504 plan for his ADHD.  I will say that academically Ace is well on target and in some areas he’s above grade level.  We are mostly concerned with his ability to stay focused for an extended period of time and to be aware of his body and his environment.  The concern is that as the school work gets harder, the issues he is having now will eventually impact his work, so we need to do something to help him learn how to control it.

 

(By the way, the schools SpEd Coor used to come to our house and do OT with Jay for a year before he turned 3 so we know her and she knows us.  Also, the schools OT, also works at the place that Jay currently goes for OT so we know her and she knows us.  It may not have made a difference, but I think that familiarity helped to make the meeting go very smoothly)

 

Continuing …

Basically, I am happy with the end result of the meeting.  So far this school year Ace has been doing well but I believe that’s in large part due to his teachers giving accommodations because they choose to even though they didn’t have to.  We now have it all in writing for every year going forward and every teacher has to follow the same guidelines.  Of course we will modify the plan as his needs change.

I wasn’t going to even blog about the meeting this morning since it all went so well and I didn’t think there was much else to say about it.  Then I remembered back in January (or there abouts) I read a blog post in which the mom shared – with pictures included – all the accommodations that her son was getting in his classroom.

I thought it was a great idea and from reading the comments, it was certainly very helpful to a lot of people. That link is no longer available but my bloggy friend Karen wrote about what her sons gets (or doesn’t get) after reading that post so I’ll link to her post HERE.

In case, any of this is helpful to another family who has a 1st grader with ADHD, here are the accommodations that Ace gets.

 

Preferential Seating – He is seated in the front row of the class (and not next to his best friend).

Extra Time – He gets extra time to complete his work.  This includes during test taking and evaluations.  The amount of extra time is at the teachers discretion.

Visual Prompts/Reminders – Pictures will be taped to his desk showing various desired behaviours.  (A boy sitting with hands on his lap or someone speaking into a microphone etc).  That way he will have constant access to see the pictures and also, his teacher can walk by and discreetly tap on a picture to remind him of what he’s doing or what he should be doing.

Praise and/or Rewards – When he behaves appropriately he will be told that he is doing a good job.  He will get hand stamps, stickers, hi-fives or a note to bring home.

Recess – Recess cannot be taken away as a means of discipline.  He can get time-outs during recess of up to 3 minutes per infraction.

Visual Schedule – His teacher will provide him with a visual schedule of the day and will verbally let him know what’s next before each task is completed.

Timer – Ace will have access to a timing apparatus so he can track how long he’s expected to stay on a task.  This can be in the form of a wall clock, a stop-watch, an hour-glass etc.

OT – He will be pulled out of his regular class for 1/2 hr each week for group occupational therapy in which they will work on social skills and body awareness.  In addition, the Occupational Therapist will try using a “ball” on Ace’s chair for him to sit on and see if it helps to keep him focused.  If it helps, it will be added to his 504 plan permanently.

Small Steps – His work, especially tests, will be broken into small, (non-overwhelming) chunks – eg If there’s a test with 10 questions, he will be given the questions, 2 at a time by the teacher or in a booklet with only 1 or 2 questions on each page.

Frequent Verbal Reminders – As he’s working, his teacher will remind him of the next step if she’s given the class a task that has multiple steps.

Small Groups – Ace responds well to one-on-one teaching but since that’s not possible in a classroom of 25 children and only 2 teachers; whenever the class breaks into groups for activities, he will be put in as small a group as possible.  (eg for reading time)

 

First Grade Anxiety and Excitement September 4, 2012

Filed under: Life on the Jay train — The B Side @ 12:02 pm
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I spent most of the morning on the verge of tears.  Shocking I know.  lol.  Today was the first day of school for Ace.  He’s in 1st grade now.  Inside of me, there’s a mixture of anxiety and excitement.  Anxiety because so far school hasn’t been Ace’s favourite place.  His self-esteem took a beating last year and I’ve worked very hard to work him through his own anxiety at going back.  Excitement because the first day of anything means a new chance to make things better.  I’m sure he will learn a lot and make new friends.

I was on the verge of tears because my baby’s growing up so fast.  Too fast.  He had a birthday yesterday.  He’s 6 years old.  It really started to hit me that he’s a big boy now when I was going through the final preparations last night and packing up all his stuff and I realized that in all the notes and supply lists, there was no request for us to send him to school with an extra set of clothes.  It continued when we got to school this morning and I saw that no longer were there colour coordinated areas and circular desks for groups of kids.  Each student has their own desk which faces towards the front of the class.  There were actual text books on each desk and the parents were pretty much kicked out of the classroom as soon as we dropped off the supplies.  Last year there was a little mixing and mingling and the teacher gave the parents a quick run down of what the kids would be learning that year and there were pictures and hugs and kisses.  Some students were crying and some parents were trying to hide the fact that they were crying.  This year the kids were like old pros.

 

Before we left home, we got some really good pictures of me with Ace and Jay as well as CC with Ace and Jay.  (Side note:  It’s time we got a camera with a timer.  We need some pictures with all 4 of us together)

Tomorrow there will be more pictures to celebrate Jay’s 1st day back.  I don’t expect there will be much to talk/blog about as he’s in the same class with the same teacher as last year and all his therapies etc are in place.  (Another side note:  Next year this time I will be a MESS since Jay will most likely be in a new school and will definitely have all new people working with him.  Consider yourself warned.)

 

OK … So I don’t mean to end this on a downer but I can’t help but be a little annoyed at some stuff already with Ace’s school.  Well … not some stuff.  Just one thing for now.  I’ve been trying to get together with the school since June to put together a 504 plan for Ace.  (If you’re new here, Ace has ADHD).  So yeah, since JUNE.  I tried several times to set up a meeting.  I figured it would be in everyone’s best interest to have things in place for the beginning of the school year instead of trying to adjust once things had already started.  The VP of the school finally got back to me letting me know that she had gotten the report from the doctor and had spoken to the Special Ed coordinator but they would not be able to accommodate a meeting until probably the 2nd week of school.  Are you freaking kidding me?!?!

I didn’t make too much of a big deal about it.  I figured that wasn’t so bad and I had to pick my battles.  The thing that got me annoyed though was that when I got to Ace’s class this morning I saw that the seats had all been pre-assigned and my son – the one who gets distracted easily and needs constant reminding to be quiet and who will take any opportunity he gets to be silly – was assigned a seat as far away from the teacher as possible.  That tells me that they may have gotten the report from the doctor and the VP may have spoken to the Spec Ed Coordinator but they had not had any conversation with Aces teacher.

(Last side note:  I have yet to receive the letter from the school with the scheduled 504 meeting date/time.  I will follow up AGAIN on Friday).

 

That is not acceptable to me.

 

Scheduled parent teacher conferences won’t start for another 2 – 3 weeks.   That will be 2 very long weeks if Aces teacher doesn’t have an understanding of how my sons brain works.

 

I’m going home tonight to pen a letter to Ace’s teacher letting her know what’s going on and asking her to move him closer to the front of the class.  I will also let her know what tools/tricks we have found that help to keep him focused and his behaviour manageable.

 

When I left his classroom this morning Ace was in a good mood.  He seemed happy to be back at school and he seemed pleased with the teachers he got.  For now that’s an A+ in my book.  I really hope my anxiety and annoyance are unjustified.

 

Here we go 1st grade!

 

Diagnosis Day May 22, 2012

It’s a rainy day here in New Jersey.  I’m on edge.  I’ve been on edge for 5 days.  I’m trying to act like I’m not.  I make breakfast and I get dressed.  I smile and I fight to keep my voice even.  I don’t want CC or Ace to know that it feels like they’re hosting the Olympics in my stomach.

 

We walk down the stairs and I look at him.  Ace.  He looks so small.

Why does he look smaller today than on any other day?

 

I wonder to myself “why do my babies have to go through so much?”  He should be at school right now.  Learning fun things like how caterpillars turn into butterflies.  Instead, he’s on his way to see a Pediatric Neurologist.  He wasn’t supposed to go until July but due to a last minute cancellation and a conveniently timed phone call on my part, he got bumped up.

 

We’re sitting in the waiting room.  Ace, CC and myself.

I keep looking at Ace.  He has freshly cut toe nails.  He’s wearing a batman shirt and he’s playing with his transformers toy.  He’s happy … until he gets antsy.  We’ve been waiting for a while.  There’s paperwork business to take care of.

He wants a snack.  He wants juice.  He wants to know why they are taking so long.  He wants to go home.  He wants to know where the doctor is.  He tells me that he loves me.  He says he’s cold. (It’s not cold).  He wants more snacks and more juice. He asks to play with an old, washed out puzzle toy in the waiting room.  He fingers my earrings.  CC takes him to the bathroom.  He says he needs to tell me something and when I ask what it is he draws a blank.

I remember him telling me the night before that he feels sad when he is asked to be quiet and that talking makes him happy.

 

Two other families are in the waiting room with their sons.  It makes me sad.  I can’t stop wondering what brings those other boys here.  I know whatever it is, I would wish away if I could.  No-one wants to have to bring their child to see a Developmental Pediatrician or a Neurologist.

 

Then I hear a mom on the phone.  She’s arguing with someone.  She says … “I need to make sure this never happens again.  I need to understand why security was called instead of the child study team.”

Something catches in my throat.

OMG!

Her poor child.  What is that child dealing with?  It’s just not fair.

I count our blessings because we don’t have violent outbursts in our home.  My children don’t attack us or try to hurt themselves.

 

Then they tell us that it’s our turn to go see the doctor.

 

 

 

Long story short ……… Ace has been diagnosed with ADHD.  He hasn’t been prescribed any medication, so it’s business as usual at home and a 504 plan will be put in place for him at school.

Lord, please let it help!

 

That’s all I know for now.  We will take it one day at a time and see where this road leads us.

 

I force myself to exhale.