11 January 2016

Update on Frodo

He has been transferred- sort of, the vagaries of school bureaucracy are incredible- to another school.  This is just as well, his old school was not doing a thing for him.  Last year, they changed his class' teacher three times, which was not good for him. The one teacher who was willing to help him and wanted to get him some help was the first to go.  After that it got worse until we arrived at the third teacher, who was also his teacher this year, who made it clear she was not going to do anything for him.

In a sense, I suppose she wasn't to blame.  She has thirty small children in her class after the idiotic implementation of full day kindergarten.   She simply did not have time for a kid with special needs, and by God she made that clear to us.  Last year, Frodo would fall asleep in the afternoon.  She couldn't have a sleeping kid in her class.  We mentioned something about how this wouldn't have been an issue a few years earlier with half day, and she seized on that.  Why don't we pick him up at lunch time? Seeing as he is deriving no benefit from the afternoon and all.  then later, she started hinting that we didn't have to wait until lunch, we could pick him up after first recess.  We spent the summer breaking Andrew of his afternoon nap habit.  It made no difference to the teacher. This year, the teacher was still suggesting we pull him out after lunch, or after the first recess, if possible.

We had several meetings to try and get an individual study program going for Frodo, but she was at none of them, only representatives from the school (most notably the vice principal- he's actually decent) and the part of the board designed to deal with special needs children.  The vice principal, who had experience working with special needs kids, made several suggestions for helping him.  He would bring them up with the teacher.  I don't know if he mentioned them to the teacher or not, but if he did, she implemented exactly none of them.  She had thirty students, after all.  The only communications she gave us were complaints about Frodo.

She also had two EA's in the class to help her.  They were the ones who had the most contact with Frodo, and who tried to give him what help they could.  From them we got a very different picture of Frodo.  They were aware that Frodo knew far more than he let on, and that he was actually learning at the school, although, with his issues, he does not learn in the usual ways, and demonstrating his knowledge is likewise odd.

Then, around November, there was an incident.  Frodo was racing back and forth in the class and he collided, apparently head to head, with another student.  We were told the principal now wanted to speak with us.  I was to go to that meeting.

I was interested in having this meeting because there was something a little unusual about the accident.  Frodo had a black eye from the collision.  The main part of the bruise- the worst part, clearly where the main impact occurred, was a little below the eye, and off to the side.  How on earth could a kid who was running back and forth take a sideways hit?  And the other child, who was about the same height as Frodo took no damage at all.  How do two kids collide head to head and one gets bruised  and the other not at all?  The only position that made any sense was that the other kid's was head down and forward- you know, in headbutt position- when the two hit.  In other words, how was this solely his fault? Or even his fault at all?

But then the meeting happened.  The principal explained that she had no interest in discussing the accident.  But, she said, she wanted to get Frodo help.  She claimed to have handled such cases before, and she did seem a little knowledgeable.   She had a possible solution, the only solution and the only help she had to offer:  We send him to another school with a class for children like him.  It was regrettable, she said, that they had no such class, and she had been trying to get such a class, but the facts were there was no such class, they weren't equipped to handle him, and so off he should go.  That was the one and only suggestion for help for Frodo she had to give.  So the school did not have the capacity to help him. It also most certainly did not have the will.

On the last day there, the two EAs came to Puff and told her, with tears in their eyes, that they would miss Frodo.  One even said that Frodo knew twice as much as any other student in the class. This may be true.  Frodo can actually read a little. He can count to a hundred.  He knows his colours.  He knows his shapes and the other day mentioned a dodecahedron.  The teacher also said she would miss Frodo, but, given everything that happened with her, we just don't believe her.

And so, he now goes to a new school.  it is even further away.  His sister still goes to the original school, which is yet another added headache.  The class itself is small, only six students, of varying age and grades.  Some of these kids are severely handicapped.  This is where they have decided my son belongs.

On the plus side, the teacher sends notes to us daily in which she compliments Frodo, gives us suggestions of things to work with him on, and appears to want him in the class.  After one week, she is already working on trying to reintegrate Frodo with a regular class for a part of the day.  Hopefully we will see signs of improvement.  Lord knows last year was an unmitigated waste.

1 comment:

Patience said...

I could say that you should go after the original teacher for her refusal to work with your ds. I could but I know how useless it is to try to fight someone who doesn't want to be on board and will make life difficult for you and complain daily. Legally she had no right to ask you to pick up your ds early. Again I understand the position you were in because I've been in both situations. I truly hope the special class is better. The teacher sounds good and interested. It must be a relief of sorts even thought it adds more complications to the whole school thing with two different schools. On the plus side; you are learning how smart your kid is. Sure he doesn't show it conventionally now but it bodes well for the future. Don't despair. We had our dark days and it will get better. It may take years but from everything you're saying I see Frodo becoming independent with lots of interests and likely being in a mainstream class more and more down the road leading to a regular high school program perhaps with a bit of support from resource. Nice that the EA's were so generous in giving you all that feedback.