Came out of a surprisingly wonderful parent-teacher conference with Finn’s teacher a little while ago, and wanted to jot it down while it’s still fresh –
She started by telling me how glad she is to have Finn in her class, and how little she knew about Down syndrome before, and how much she’s learned. She told me, very heartfelt, that she is so impressed with the growth Finn has made since he started in her class back in the fall – academically, socially, and developmentally. She talked about how he well he follows routines now, how enthusiastic he is about being there, and how he went from almost exclusively “parallel play” at the beginning of the school year to truly interacting with his peers now. She talked about how more than the academic aspect, TK is mainly an opportunity for children to learn how to be in school, and Finn has shown tremendous growth.
Most meaningful, however, was her telling me that having Finn in her class has helped her to grow as a teacher, and helped the other students grow as little people and citizens. She told me how the other kids, while having some recognition that Finn is different, see him as an equal, and include him in all of their activities without reservation.
This, people, is inclusion. This is why we fight for it.
We talked about areas in which Finn struggles – mainly transitions and deviations from the routine he becomes accustomed to (for instance, when he has a substitute aide, or when school is on a modified schedule as it is this week, he tends to have a hard time going with the flow).
Finally, after all these months, I broached the subject of our last IEP meeting, since we have another coming up probably next month. I’ve felt for some time that that meeting back in November changed the tone of our relationship with Finn’s teacher. It was so contentious, and I have no doubt that it was off-putting to her to see these parents come in and have all this animosity; I’ve sensed a standoffishness from her ever since then. I told her that I know we have another IEP meeting coming up and that I am very sorry for how heated and contentious the last one was, but I wanted to assure her that none of that was directed at her, but rather at the district people with whom we’ve had to fight over every single thing pertaining to Finn since he turned three. She said, “I can’t blame you. I can’t say there was anything wrong with your approach. You’re a mom. I’m a mom. That’s what we do: we fight for our kids. I would do the same thing.” I so appreciated hearing that, and I feel like the air has been cleared, to the extent that anything was actually iffy between us.
As far as the “aggressive” behavior Finn was exhibiting a while back, it appears to have stopped. It was always directed at one little boy in particular, and Finn’s teacher and I both came to the conclusion that Finn singled this boy out because he has taken a particular liking to him, and pushing him was his way of engaging the boy. It did get to the point that I was very upset about it because I was called into two meetings at school about it and I finally did request a Functional Behavior Assessment. However, when I met with the school psychologist and the behavior specialist to sign the form consenting to the assessment, after explaining the situation as I knew it, we agreed that rather than jumping right to a FBA – which would just add one more thing to his file that will follow him around forever – the behavior specialist would conduct a “behavior consultation” first – which is really just an informal observation and a recommendation from there. He’s the one that actually made the suggestion, and I was very grateful. To date, I know he’s done his observations, but I have not yet heard any word from him about recommendations. In any case, Finn hasn’t exhibited “aggressive” behavior since before the behavior specialist went in to observe Finn.
Anyway, I’m feeling really good about where Finn is right now!