A Matter of Perspective

I went last night to the parent meeting I discussed in my previous post.  I went with low expectations but was still very disappointed to find the only other attendee besides myself was the most angry parent in the group.  I knew right then that there would be no mutual support offered or accepted, no positive conversation about what we can do to better support our kids.  But I realized I was making assumptions and reminded myself that if I want things to be different I need to contribute to change so I sat down intending to make the best of things.

The autism coach working with the schools holds these meetings to address issues we may be having at home.  It’s to make sure the childs entire life is being looked at and addressed.  It’s to help with such issues as eating, sleeping, meltdown management, behavior in public settings, etc.  It’s a great way to round out what is going on at school and a way to make the interventions consistent across the board.  The point is not to complain about the school because he’s already working closely with the teachers and staff to help them learn new techniques and to implement those techniques consistently. 

But that isn’t how the discussion goes.  The angry parent complains that the school isn’t listening to this, they’re not doing that, etc.  She may not be wrong, but her perspective is completely one-sided, as if her son is ready and waiting for instruction but they refuse to give it.  In one instance, the intervention she wanted for her son and blamed the school for not providing was completely rejected by her son and the autism coach had witnessed that refusal first-hand.

My point in talking about this is not to vent about the angry parent, but to talk about mutual responsibility.  All of us fight every day for our children because we want the very best for them.  And there are most certainly times when the schools are taking the easy way out, meeting the bare minimum of their legal obligations.  But I also believe that as parents, we need to acknowledge the reality that our children play a vital role in their own education.  There are times when we need to hold them accountable just as we hold the school staff accountable.

For example, right now G is refusing to do any work he feels is boring.  Which is about 85% of his day.  We met with his teachers and went over strategies to try, we got him an extra hour of resource time where he can take the work for one-on-one help, he has an adult scribe for him whenever the point of the assignment is to convey information rather than handwriting or he can answer orally.  But a large part of the solution is for G to understand his role as a student.  Therefore whatever he refuses to finish gets sent home to make sure his refusal isn’t a successful way to escape what he doesn’t want to do.  While I understand G’s frustration with his work, I don’t blame his teacher for the assignments being stupid or too much for him.  (however, handwriting assignments can be too much for him and we push back there)  I’d like the school to focus a little more on keyboarding than handwriting, but I realize that G finds typing practice just as boring as any other rote assignment and has started refusing to comply in this aspect as well. 

When developing a working relationship with our kids teachers, the thing to remember is that people don’t go into education because they hate children and want to wreck as many young lives a possible.  Navigating the special-ed system can be so frustrating that it feels that way at times, and there are situations where the staff is so burned out that they don’t give our kids the focus and energy that they deserve.  But it isn’t always the case.  Sometimes educators are trying their best but don’t fully understand autism or don’t know what else to try.  Sometimes they’re trying all the recommended  interventions but our particular child isn’t responding.  That’s when we need to work as a group to help them understand our individual child better and help brainstorm ideas.  And sometimes, that means we need to take a hard look at our own child and really acknowledge their level of contribution.  We’re a team.  And the blame-game has never solved any problem.

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Published in: on January 12, 2011 at 11:17 am  Leave a Comment  

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