In my house, January is a month we approach with dread.
Christmas is over, the kids have just come back from weeks off of school, it's dark and rainy, and there's sort of a let down throughout the house. Saul's most dramatic moments from last year occurred when he went back to school in January.
This January has been great. With his new (TRAINED) aide, he hasn't called home more than twice in a three week period. (Before Mrs. Tee came on, he would call every day, sometimes two or three times before chucking at all in an running away from school towards home. With Mrs. Tee, not even the phone calls, let alone the "elopement".) He's not keeping up with school work on a day to day basis (he often creates projects for himself out of whole cloth and is disdainful of the work the rest of the class is doing), but before Mrs. Tee he was spending all day reading his own book in class, fighting and growling at adults who tried to take it away from him.
Hey, so he's taken the first step. Staying in school. Noticing what everyone else is doing. Doing at least one problem on the page.
Then we'll work towards: You get more behavior points and extra special prizes if you do more than simply attempt the work. How's about getting half of it done while staying in class? All of it while staying in class? Build on each step. When he can cope with X without anxiety, build a little more. If it's too stressful, work through the stress with the therapist.
Yesterday his Case Manager finally came to work. Three weeks away during Saul's most stressful time of the year, setting aside the beginning of school.
She pulls me into an empty classroom. "I'm VERY concerned about him. He's not doing ANY Math."
"He has four hours of dedicated Math and Science instruction at home twice a week."
"But he's not doing it in class."
"Didn't we agree that he didn't need to worry about Math because of Mr. Ho?"
"Well, how can I grade him for participation if he's not participating."
"He wasn't before. What did you do then?"
"Well. Then he was READING."
"But you used to complain that you couldn't get him out of the book. What do you want now?"
Round and round we go on the passive aggressive merry-go-round. Basically, she's ticked off that the aide the Special Education Director found for Saul (who's TRAINED in dealing with these behaviors) is more effective than the case manager was when she was working with Saul. And she wants me to know how very upset she is with the aide.
"But he's staying in school. You told me that was your primary goal in December. He's staying. Then we'll build."
"Well, I'm not sure we can build."
Oy yoy yoy.
Can the adults in the picture just get OVER themselves? Look at the data. Go ahead. Look at it. You told me in December that I had to make sure that he could not kick or run away ever again. (Like I have that power over him. Uh huh.)
Umm. Hello? He hasn't. He does better with someone who's firm and consistent. See that? It's in the data. He doesn't care about your ego or your degree or what university professor you're currently interning with. OK?
Want to see if he'll do more work? Hows about--oh, I know this is a radical thought--how's about you do your JOB that you are trained for, which would be Modifying His Curriculum so that he is more engaged by it?
(Infuriating example: Social Studies curriculum from early-December through the end of January is, Good Lord, you are not even going to believe this, weaving a basket. That's it. No writing. No texts. No maps. Nuffin. Just weaving a basket. You know what? My son won't weave the basket. He learned the technique in November, and he doesn't give a shit if he ever works on it again. You want him to learn about California's Native American population? Assign him some pages in the text, which we have on DVD-ROM at home and which he would love to use. His Case Manager is annoyed that he's falling behind in basket-weaving. Can I punch her now? How about now? By the way, Madame Case Manager, would you like to now WHY the District's writing scores are so poor? Maybe it's because you waste your kids' time Weaving A Freaakin' Basket!)
Ugh. That ticked me off yesterday.
But today things are good again. Saul went to school. Did a little work even, and has come home ready to do some (Bless me, I may faint) homework.
Day by Day.