A Mind of My Own
Posted by Gail | Filed under Autism
Chapter Eight: Advocating At School (Part 2)
In the five months I home-schooled Malcolm, he grew by leaps and bounds. We worked on vocabulary, pushed his math (we conquered long-multiplication and division along with mixed fractions), ventured into geography and worked on comprehension like mad fiends. He did attend school part-time; at the principal’s suggestion he attended in the afternoon from 1-3 for activities like gym, art, music, drama, specifically for the socialization benefits. It worked well for both Malcolm and myself.
In the summer of that year, our family moved from the city to the country. I hunted around for a school that I found acceptable for my children and then headed off to meet with the principal. Man, what a find. Not only was she open to me as a resource for my child, she had a bias to action that ensured that any suggestion I came to her with was followed up lickety-split. Mary Beth is still one of the best principals I’ve come across not only for her knowledge and expertise but for her heart.
In my initial meeting with her, the conversation focused on Alex. My daughter is a pretty smart girl and I wanted to make sure she’d be adequately challenged. As it turned out, this school was head and tails above city school in terms of dealing with Alex’s needs. But Mary Beth also had plans for Malcolm. She told me she had a terrific Grade Two teacher for me. I had my doubts. After all, no one really understood Asperger’s and I’d already been dissed by a teacher who thought she knew way more than I did about my child. But it wouldn’t have been good form to be unwilling to meet when I was asking this out-of-district principal to take Alex, so I agreed.
When I met Tracy, the Grade Two teacher, I had no idea just what a fabulous resource she’d turn out to be. I’ve had good teachers and I’ve had crappy teachers, but I’ve never had a teacher as willing as Tracy to use me as a resource. She pumped me for information about Malcolm; she asked me where I thought he should sit in her classroom and then put him where I suggested. She took my advice on the daily , shared strategies she was picking up, and communicated in an open and happy way about my son’s successes and challenges. And when Malcolm burned out after the March Break, she agreed with my strategy of cutting back on his week to give him an extra day of rest, and then reported back within a couple weeks that the strategy had been successful; Malcolm was fully engaged and seemed much more attentive in class.