Finn at School

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!

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17 Responses to Finn at School

  1. Pauline March 11, 2014 at 9:02 pm #

    Oh Lisa …. I cried reading this post. I can only imagine how you felt about what Finn has been going thru. To finally have the positive recognition that he deserves. I’m so happy for you both. LOVE YOU

    • Lisa March 11, 2014 at 10:52 pm #

      Thank you, Polly!

  2. Julie March 11, 2014 at 11:24 pm #

    Smiling big right now. Well done, Mama!

  3. Nicole March 12, 2014 at 12:39 am #

    This is great. Really great. I was just thinking as I was reading about host ball experience – I wondered how things at school were going.
    Good luck with the remaining time before his next IEP meeting. Looking forward to some good news, rather than more about district officials being complete asses. xox!

  4. Nicole March 12, 2014 at 12:39 am #

    *his t ball experience. Ugh – auto correct!

    • Lisa March 12, 2014 at 4:36 am #

      I knew what you meant 🙂

  5. Angel The Alien March 12, 2014 at 1:16 am #

    Glad he’s doing so well in school! And its great that whatever aggressive behavior he was having seemed to have gone away! Maybe the behavior specialist talked to the teacher about what she could do, but didn’t speak with you? I hope Finn found a way to be friends with the boy he thought was so cool!

  6. Min March 12, 2014 at 1:18 am #

    So glad to hear the good news! As a teacher, I know it can be hard to feel that meetings have put you on the wrong foot with parents and it’s wonderful that you were able to meet with each other outside of the IEP format. I think it’s awesome that the teacher shared what a meaningful learning experience this has been not only for the kids but for her as well – this IS how inclusion is supposed to work and I’m so glad that it’s turned around for you guys. The kids see Finn as a member of his class because he is a member of the class, and you’ve made this possible. Crossing my fingers that things will stay on this positive track for your next meeting.

  7. jisun March 12, 2014 at 3:34 pm #

    I just love this. Not surprised though, he’s pretty great. 🙂

  8. Deborah Mitchell March 13, 2014 at 11:06 am #

    The fruits of your labor -no doubt you have felt weary at all the road blocks but look what you did. I truly loved reading this post, Lisa. Not only is the teacher changed, but Finn’s classmates will grow up and be forever changed, too.

    • Lisa March 13, 2014 at 5:21 pm #

      Yes, very true. It’s been exhausting and often frustrating, but here is the payoff. I only wish that this would actually serve to pave a smoother road ahead of us and Finn with regard to his education, but sadly, I know it won’t.

  9. Mardra March 13, 2014 at 8:44 pm #

    Yea! Go Finn! Go Mom! and Go teacher! It doesn’t *always* come together (as you know) so I am celebrating this one with you. 🙂

    • Lisa March 14, 2014 at 3:49 am #

      Thank you!

  10. E March 13, 2014 at 9:59 pm #

    This is truly awesome to read, Lisa! Really great stuff. Your little guy is doing amazingly, it seems. And him being able to write his name? That’s just icing on the cake!!!

    I like how you said that TK is just about learning to be in school. Most definitely not the case in our school and at times, I wish it was…At our TK, the kids are already required to count to 100 by 1s, 5s, 10s, know what a curvillinear triangle is, etc…it’s just so much for little 5 year olds! But this program of yours sounds like exactly what most TK kids need..including Finn…right there, with all the other kiddos…

    🙂

    • Lisa March 14, 2014 at 3:50 am #

      Wow, that just sounds absurd – way too much pressure for 5-year olds!

      Yep, we are very pleased with where Finn’s at. He’s accepted, embraced, happy, and healthy. What more could any parent hope for?

  11. Allyson March 31, 2014 at 4:23 am #

    Can I just say that reading your posts about little Finn has inspired me to continue to stay an education major. I want to be that teacher that shows parents and everyone what amazing things children can do. I stumbled across your blog a while back but have never written. I truly admire you.

    • Lisa March 31, 2014 at 4:50 am #

      Thank you! That really means a lot to me!

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