Friday, December 24, 2010

When God Created Special Ed Teachers...

I have read many times the story of the angel asking God about the many attributes he gave to mothers. Stealing the idea, this is the conversation I believe God had with the angel when he created the Special Ed teacher.

"God you've taken a lot of time with this one. Why has it taken you so long to create her? What is it that makes this one so special?"

"Oh Angel, THIS one must be perfect! She will tend to my extra special children. She will be a Special Education teacher."

"God, you've already created the teacher. Do you really have to make another? How is this one different?"

"Angel, this is the person who will teach the children my other teachers believe are unteachable. She will have a voice sincere, gentle and loving that still commands the respect and love of her students. Her smile will be genuine and light up a room."

"But God, you have already made that person I have seen her myself."

 "Yes dear one, but this one will have an endless amount of patience for repeating lessons and teaching social skills. She will maintain order in what others see as a chaotic environment. She will be screamed at yet never lose her temper. She will help my children conquer their fears and learn self dependence."

"Angel, this one will be one of my finest works ever! She will understand why a child is upset when the rest of the world sees only bad behavior. She will have a never ending supply of positive words, hugs and creative solutions to the problems my extra special children encounter."

"God, is that why you have made her heart so large? So that she can do all these things with love?"

"Yes Angel, but she will do SO much more! She will listen to the parents of the children she teaches as they cry, talk them through their frustrations and fears and be one a parent trusts completely with their child. You see Angel, these parents know they have been blessed with the gift of an extra special child and they do not trust others to care for them easily."

"Heavenly Father, are you sure you want to expect so much from one teacher? It seems like her life will be difficult and demanding - well beyond the normal difficult and demanding, actually."

"Yes my Angel, but I have given her FAITH and STRENGTH in huge quantities. She is by far one of my most resilient and tough creations. She will stand up and fight for her students with a boundless amount of determination and ferocity. She will advocate for 'her' children with every breath, sometimes in a room where no one else will join her in the fight. She will believe in each child's unique ability to succeed, and most importantly, she will teach THEM to believe in their ability to succeed!"

"WOW! You've outdone yourself this time God! What a miraculous creature!"

"Dearest Angel, do you not see yourself in my creation?"

"What? I don't understand...."

"Angel, her most important feature is her HEART. I have given her an angel's heart."

THANK YOU to every teacher, aide and therapist who teaches my children, mentors and guides me and has become a friend I cherish. When God created you he broke the mold :)

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Hammer's Gonna' Fall....

It has been a VERY bad week for my 6th grader with autism. Three days out of school suspension, a not so great day his first day back and more emails and phone conversations with school staff than I care to recall (the ones I LIKE talking to know who they are, so don't be offended!) By this morning my last nerve was frayed, my patience had run dry and I was far beyond frustrated - I swore that if he had another bad day today, I was checking myself into the Rubber Ramada for an extended stay. (God bless the teacher's aide who quickly got my 5 yr old in meltdown mode out of the car and into school this morning. She saved my sanity and possibly his psyche...)

Those of you who know me know that I am a firm supporter of consequences for bad choices, whether those choices are made by one of my neurotypical kiddos or my ASD kiddos. There are consequences at home for poor choices made at school. My children don't get a pass because they have autism.

That being said, DON'T expect my support when you are an ignorant, uninformed blockhead. I've traveled the road of teachers and administrators who would rather label my child as 'emotionally disturbed' than put the effort into teaching my child who has an autism spectrum disorder, and I won't go there again. I am a stronger mother and advocate than I was 3 years ago. I WILL NOT allow educators who are too lazy or inept to follow IEP and BIP goals to run roughshod over him. And I most certainly WILL NOT allow my child's autism diagnosis to be disregarded by educators who have far less knowledge of ASD's and how to work with children on the spectrum than the clinicians, specialists and doctors who diagnosed him.

Ladies and gentleman, THE HAMMER'S GONNA FALL. There will be NO MORE "diagnosis" made by educators who spend maybe 5 hours a week with my son. Do you seriously believe that you are qualified to say that his behavioral issues are manipulative, and not a manifestation of ASD symptoms and characteristics?! NEWS FLASH - If you were qualified to make that kind of judgement call we'd call you doctor or specialist.

Tonight I'm going to give you a free lesson in vocabulary and ASD characteristics. You'll want to take notes, even memorize this information, because this is the last time I'm going to explain it to you. Believe me when I tell you without an ounce of hesitation that you DO NOT want to start a battle with me and YOU WILL do what is best for my child, implementing all of the IEP directives, BIP plans and proven behavioral strategies provided to you by staff that is trained and knowledgeable about working with ASD students.

Requirements for successful manipulation - According to Simon, successful psychological manipulation primarily involves:

1.manipulator concealing aggressive intentions and behaviors.

2.manipulator knowing the psychological vulnerabilities of the victim to determine what tactics are likely to be the most effective.

3.manipulator having a sufficient level of ruthlessness to have no qualms about causing harm to the victim if necessary.

Consequently the manipulation is likely to be covert

First, my child doesn't have the ability to recognize psychological vulnerabilities in a person. He can't even accurately read facial expressions and tone of voice many times! Yes, my child can be aggressive; his aggression is triggered by his inability to self regulate when overstimulated, his inability to rapid recall coping strategies and his inability to accurately put what he is feeling into words at times. I wish you could trade places with him for one day - maybe then you would understand how seeing the world in only rigid, black and white terms causes extreme anxiety. There are no shades of gray for him, there is right and wrong, there is no middle ground. He lives in a world of specifics, a world where comfort and peace come only when he can be sure of every tiny facet of the rule. The unexpected is frightening and overwhelming, it throws him into a state of anxiety and irritation. See how this differs from being manipulative?

My child has autism. He knows it, I know it, and now you know it, too. Given the proper support and guidance, my child is a wonderful addition to your classroom - and I am a wonderful partner in his education. Refuse to listen to the specialists and implement the strategies they recommend, and I will be your biggest nightmare. This mama bear doesn't back down anymore....