Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Stimey's Blog of Sorta Hilarious and Sorta Horrifying Things That Are Happening in Kindergarten These Days

Jack's escape at recess today wasn't the only noteworthy thing that happened to him at school, but I'll start there.

It was right around noon when the phone rang. The caller ID said "MONTGOMERY CNTY" and I could see from the number (having been called from this number before) that it was the principal at Jack's school. Because Sam was home sick today, I knew it was about Jack.

I mean, I knew anyway, but...

The principal laughed at my suspicious tone and told me everything was fine. I heard Jack in the background. Then the principal laid the hammer down.

The whole thing is kind of lost in a haze of it-just-gets-worse-and-worse, but here are the facts as I pieced them together from that phone call, chatting with the aide after school, and reading the communication notebook:

1. Jack snuck away from the aide at recess, but she caught him.

2. Jack snuck away again from the aide at recess, who had to abandon the other three children under her care to retrieve him.

3. Jack ran up a ramp to the portable classrooms.

4. Jack burst into a 5th grade class.

5. The 5th graders ratted Jack out to the aide.

6. When asked by his relieved aide what he was doing, Jack said, "Hiding."

Well, all right then.

Both the aide and the principal keep telling me over and over again that they really like Jack. I think they're aware that I'm about three steps away from losing my shit entirely.

And, there is the possibility that, in fact, they really do like Jack. Frankly, I think the principal may have spent more time with Jack in the past five days than I spent with my elementary school principal in six years of schooling. So I guess he's had some time to get to know him. And Jack is a likable little dude.

On the plus side, this morning Jack tried to help one of the kids in his class who was crying because he missed his mom. Apparently the kid was sad, so Jack tried to make him feel better by sharing the ice pack he was using—the ice pack the teachers gave to Jack after he tried to staple his hand this morning.

Silver linings, right?

But here's something good: last year when Sam started kindergarten, I felt like I had no idea what happened while he was at school. He would come home and refuse to answer my questions about what he did and all I'd be able to pull out of him was that they had Oreos for snack.

Turns out that if you have a special education kid, you get a communication notebook that gets sent home each day. In such a book, you'll get information like, "Your son tried to staple his hand but then used his first aid supplies to try to cheer up a classmate."

Or, "Jack put a push pin in his mouth."

Or, "Jack kept leaning back in his chair and tipping over."

Or...well, you get the point.

There are also some lovely things in there about Jack, because he is, in fact, a lovely child. But he is a lovely child that clearly needs more support than he is getting. In fact, the entire staff at his school seems to be trying to lobby the county for more services for him. (I believe the communication notebook is part of that lobbying effort. Hence the detailed reports of What Has Gone Wrong.) Maybe I'm naive, but until shown otherwise, I will remain vigilant, yet trust in their help. They seem like good people.

I'm feeling a little vindicated that I was right about Jack needing a lot of support. I'm so heart-wrenchingly sorry that Jack is having a hard time, but guess what?

I fucking told them so.

Laugh or cry, people. Laugh or cry.


  1. Ack. That's a lot in one day...maybe Jack was just having a bad day, and tomorrow will be better. I hope so--I'll be thinking of you all!

  2. Oh dear God! This post gave me the heebie jeebies as I think about how Nik would be. He's a total eloper! Made it into the middle school from his school last year (pre-withdrawl). It's connected by a loooong hallway w/automatic doors.(Have I mentioned a time or two or five hundred how much Nik luuuuuvvvvs doors??) They opened and, well, off he went!

    I'd say it's a good bet they are rying to lay a paper trail to support the request for funding for more support for Jack. Coz otherwise, they're just making you crazy!

  3. Your boy certainly is a handful!!!!

    My SIL is in AA county, and they had the same notebook for the special prek that he went to through the state. I don't know if they're going to do it in K, though. There was a special person that they talked to about getting extra assistance for Brandon, though, and I think it was a state ed person, when the county tried to say that he HAD to go to K last year rather than repeat prek (which, in his case, was clearly required). I'll ask her who it was and let you know, maybe it would help. Although the school he was at was good, in the end it was her and her husband's hard work that got the extra help, not the school's.

  4. Yes, get them to keep details. Jack needs a one-on-one aide for the time being, and the school is going to have to convince people up the line that the money needs to be spent on one. Highlighting safety issues is one way to lobby.

    Keep eyes and ears open for hints that you should call an IEP meeting, if they don't call one in the next few weeks.

    Do keep in mind that it may take up to nine weeks of records and incidents to be safely able to ask for additional service. Or you might be in a good enough school that it will take a lot less.

    Wish we still had a notebook. They only do that here for preschool and for the completely non-verbal kids. :P I'm expected to keep up email correspondence (which is spotty). Fortunately, my speech therapist couldn't move Joey's slot, so I will see the aide once a week for an update.

    Sending lots of ***hugs*** for you and your Jack!

  5. Tough choice--laugh? cry? which should it be? Oh Stimey, wow. This is a lot. A lot to digest and figure out. I think you are right to put trust in the school and believe that they are trying to help. BUT, I also think you need to start researching what you can ask for, what you can expect to get, and how to make it happen.

    In the end, yes, you will have to advocate strongly for what Jack needs. The school can't do it alone. (At least that's never been my experience...)

    Sending hugs, too, because seriously, laughing or crying, you need a hug.

  6. I'm so sorry. You can laugh and cry and still feel helpless. I'm glad that they're at least communicating with you and seem to be on top of the fact that Jack needs more supports. Document these conversations if you can, just so you can have a record if and when another IEP meeting is called. And email me if there's anything I can do! (info, programs, etc.) Sending you a hug.

  7. Both - which I have a hunch you have already done. Hang in there, honey. It will get easier. It has to, right?

    Know that you are in my thoughts. hugs :)

  8. Wow, I'm sorry things aren't going smoothly but I LOVE the fact that Jack's teachers and aides and principal are so amazing. Keeping details of "things gone wrong" will be a good tool in getting more support for Jack. I wish I lived near you because I would totally LOVE to work with Jack and I'd be an aide for him. I think a one-on-one aide for him would be great. At least until he gets accustomed to the new routine of school and class. He could be "hiding" because all of this is new and overwhelming. It's a lot for any kid (of any age) and for Jack it's simply too overwhelming. If there is anything I can do let me know. I don't know much about your school systems but I can find out more stuff about my school system and see if anything I find out can help you and Jack.

  9. Welcome to the mixed blessing that is the communication notebook. TMI, anyone? The thing to keep reminding yourself (and believe me, I do) is that other non-IEP-bearing kindergarteners do stuff like putting foreign objects in their mouths, messing with the stapler, and even making a break for it. But their parents get to live in blissful ignorance.

    I remember my son's K aide, bless her, saying to me, "Look, he's more normal than not." I still have to remind myself not to attribute every glitch and misbehavior to the autism. Some of it is just a function of Boyness.

    Acting, but not overreacting, is the key. It is an ongoing balancing act for me, but (I think) I've gotten better. That being said...Mine go back to school today, and I will probably need a drink by noon.

    Hang tough.

  10. That's just plain sweet that Jack has such empathy for a fellow classmate. The other stuff? Oh dear...hopefully he gets a one-on-one aide soon.

  11. I ditto the thoughts of others that it may have to be you guys who do a lot of the ground work to try to get him extra support (although I am amazed at the work they are doing to get him more help, that (in my experience) doesn't often happen). Calling an IEP meeting (by you) may be necessary. Give me a call if you want to talk about any kinds of key words to use that might help get you services. But hang in there. There are still a lot of positives coming out of all of this.

  12. Yes, I am laughing and crying. And I'm glad you have a sense of humor about it. One day it will be ALL funny. The communication notebook sounds like a good record - our ped. has always said, have someone write EVERYTHING down so you can use it later when you need it. I hope he gets a f/t aide soon.

    PS Your instincts about him are right on! (As usual.)

  13. I'm sure there are plenty of kids without an aide that have run off and tried to hide too. I think he's just trying to figure everything out---there's a whole new world out there for him in kindergarten!! The communication notebook is great.

    I hope Sam is feeling better!

  14. Dang! Well, if you're only going to give those two choices, I pick "laugh". More choices please. ;-)

  15. Yes, both hilarious and horrifying. It really sounds like the school is doing a good job and they want the best for Jack. I hope he gets his one-on-one aide soon!

  16. For this is the point whereI laugh, shake my head, and push onward. You got the right outlook, be villigant, let things play out, collect the data and feel weird that you were right about the level of support but kind wishing that you were wrong. Bubba was an eloper in Kindy, but now only does it occasionally in the community. I don't think he does at school anymore, not that they would tell me... we don't have a relationship like you guys do!

  17. Wow, you sure have a lot going on.

    But that Jack is definitely a cutie pie. Tendency to bolt nonwithstanding.

  18. I can't imagine how hard this is right now. You are handling it beautifully, though. Really, you are. Jack will find his way. xo

  19. Well no-one's going to listen to us, we're just the parents afterall.

    I found it handy having one child 'rat' on the other, although the school are pretty good at keeping me informed and up to date.

    Have you met the aide?

    Best wishes

  20. I don't know whether to laugh or cry. Sounds like its the teachers who are getting the education this week. Hope everything smooths out and feels good soon.

  21. I, too, am really touched by his kindness towards the classmate. And you're right stimey - YOU FUCKING TOLD THEM SO!!! Rock on Mommy intuition, rock on.

  22. Nobody knows your boy better than you!

  23. You so inspire me with your sense of humor during these trying times!

    I needed to hear your take on all this last year when my child was the one escaping from school and having frequent Tete-a-Tete with the principals or nurse.

  24. Laugh and cry, I think.

    I hope you get what he needs.

  25. He could be "hiding" because all of this is new :)


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