Fun With Autism: Part XVIII

Yesterday was our annual foray into parent-teacher conferences. Usually these don’t stress me out- I know my kids aren’t perfect, I don’t expect perfection, and I have my hands on the pulse of their lives enough to know how they’re doing. We go so I can see what they’ve made and they can show me what they’re excited about. I had them scheduled back to back to back. In what I assumed was brilliance, Bean was first, then Jeffrey and wrapping up with Abby.

I know what you’re thinking- but Bean’s went well. He’s made some terrific gains socially, which has always been the stumbling block, and his coping skills are gaining. He’s acing math and science, and while reading is still very difficult for him (might always be) he’s doing well. He even demonstrates, with help from his teacher, that he can now tie his shoes himself. A benchmark of a day for him.

We bid his teacher adios, and make our way to Jeff’s classroom. Sitting on the too-small chairs around the circular table, Jeffrey’s new teacher begins to tell me how he’s doing. But in the background, I cannot help but hear Bean starting to grunt and honk softly, as he attempts to try and tie his shoes. It’s escalating, as he becomes frustrated. He knows he can do it, but without his teacher’s prompts, he is unable to make his fingers go int he right order to make the sweet little taut bow. I am trying to pay attention to Jeffrey’s teacher, but I know if I don’t nip this in the bud, he’s going to start honking loudly.

The teacher tells me it’s important to focus on Jeffrey, that she’s had autistic kids in her class before, and she continues to talk. I can see Bean getting more and more riled, and mercifully, his OT pops in the room and offers to take him to her office while I finish my conference with Jeffrey. I feel like there are shards of glass in my mouth as I sit in silence.

The teacher asks me to leave her with just Jeffrey for a moment, and while this seems odd, I know I have to find Bean. He is in the OT’s therapy room, in a swivel chair, holding a therapy ball, but is still clearly distressed and vocalizing. When I inform him its time for us to go get Abby, he freaks out, throws the ball, and runs from the room honking and screaming. (all because I didn’t stop it when I had the chance)

In a nutshell: I missed Abby’s conference, a teacher reminded me that my other children need my attention too (really? really?!) and it took the principal, another male teacher, the OT and me to finally restrain and carry Bean to the car, wailing and screaming and kicking and clawing the whole way.

As pissed as the other teacher made me, the OT has my thanks in equal measure. She noted how long its been since Bean had an episode like this, and she called both Jeffrey and Abby in for a session with her so they could talk about how they felt and how having a brother with autism effects them and their family. Bean spent the day working with her, and his regular-ed teacher welcomed him back in the classroom with a smile.

How many ways can I succeed and fail in one day? I guess it depends on where you’re standing.

7 thoughts on “Fun With Autism: Part XVIII

  1. The fact that you’re still here, still trying, worrying about each of your children (yes, you do! They know you love them!), you deserve more credit than that teacher gave you. Trust your gut with your kids…
    Love you, K

  2. Man, the world can hardly wait for you to finish school and start fixing these crazy misunderstandings! What seems so completely obvious to a parent of a special needs kid is utterly lost on professionals who just. don’t. get. it.
    May God bless you as you continue to show up every day, willing to do the dirty work in the trenches while others watch, point and stare.

  3. Perhaps OT needs to call Jeffery’s teacher in for an all-day inservice about autism and reality? OT sounds like an angel among us.

    I have loved most of my children’s teachers. The only one we had difficulty with was the one who did not (or would not attempt to) understand the needs of a child with dyslexia, dysgraphia, and (C)APD, and who underestimated the capabilities of the mama juggling his needs along with another child who had Down syndrome. Thank heavens for the resource, extended resource, and SLP who did understand that year.

    You spend time with your children. You know their needs better than any teacher. I’m curious about what that teacher said to Jeffery during their private conference? Has he said anything?

    • What I don’t understand is how one can become a working teacher without an understanding of these things…dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalculia and have some compassion for these kids. Teachers like Jeffrey’s need training..which they should have gotten during their credentialing period.

  4. I too am wondering what that teacher needed to talk to Jeffery alone for? I also think that teacher needs some sort of training or some time with the OT to get her head on straight! Like you don’t know or wouldn’t love to be able to give your children equal time and attention? Even for parents whose children don’t have special needs, that is a feat at best! You are an amazing mom and Abbey and Jeffery love and admire you, I can just see it. Don’t let that one teacher make you feel like anything less than the loving mom you are.

  5. Ugh. I hate those kinds of situations. I have decided to start thinking of them as reminders to me that usually, I know what I’m doing. This happened to me with an ABA not too long ago. I got intimidated and didn’t cut something off before it escalated when I knew better. It turned into an all day thing.

    The teacher may have meant well– but she only gets a snapshot. You have the whole picture. Her point was that Jeff needs you to focus on him too ( and, please… Like you don’t know that). How much attention did he abd Abby get while Bean was being restrained ( I hate when it gets to that even though i know we need to do it. It makes everyone upset). a stitch in time, an ounce of prevention, etc. I am trying to use those situations to teach ME that I need to say “you know what? I know what I’m doing, excuse me”.
    Good job mamma. You got two conferences done. That is something 🙂

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