My #Son’s #Autism-Specific #Class Schedule

We are fortunate that my son qualifies for a “contained classroom” that is Autism-specific, which includes a teacher and two Educational Assistants for the six children. His teacher is new this school year. She hasn’t taught an Autism-specific class before (apparently her role last year was teaching 200 students English at a different school) but her background is actually doing one-on-one ABA therapy with kids with Autism. Needless to say, that made me feel better at the beginning of the school year of her ability to teach my son and his five classmates, in this Autism-specific class. She also clearly loves her job too!

Each month, the teacher sends home a calendar of the activities for the month. It states the “days” the rest of the school is following for their schedule (Days 1 through 5) but thankfully, his teacher understands the importance of a predictable schedule. This is his schedule for January:

2015 January Schedule

We have joked every month until now that he’ll help for the cooking instruction but won’t eat it…but next week, they are making “pigs in a blanket”. He’ll eat those, but I have to let the teacher know that we call them “croissants”. But how cool is it that they have a therapy dog come in every week?!!

They even have a huge daily schedule posted in their classroom:

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Love it!

The Kids’ #Christmas Gifts for their #Teachers and EAs

Every year, the kids and I bake a loaf for each of their teachers and Educational Assistants as the gift before Christmas break. My daughter saw me looking through Pinterest one evening and saw cute decorated jars. When she asked what they were, I told her that they were hot chocolate mixes that people give out as gifts. She immediately asked if we could make them for the teachers and EAs for Christmas…and still bake something.

So, this year, we made individualized hot chocolate containers:

And still made pumpkin loaf too!

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Merry Christmas and thank you to my kids’ teachers and EAs!!

What My Son is Thankful For (#Autism)

Canadian Thanksgiving was a couple of weekends ago and I was sssooooo happy to receive this turkey made by my son:

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My son’s teacher wrote down words that all the kids in his class may choose to be thankful for. My son chose the following words:

  • puzzles
  • computer
  • iPad
  • family
  • park
  • Snoezlen

Made my day! Will be going in the tote for future Thanksgivings, to decorate the house.

 

Last Day of School

My kids have finished Grade 2…happy tears!

My daughter had a rough start to the year. In Grade 1, she had all As and Bs on her report card, despite being her first year in French Immersion. She started in a new school for Grade 2 as we have finally settled into our (hopefully) forever home. She liked her teacher and classmates a lot, but was struggling and her report card reflected that. There was also a huge lack of information and communication coming from the teacher. Parent-Teacher interview solidified that she needed to get out of this teacher’s class.

The teacher was lovely and personable but I knew more about a school she had visited in Africa last summer during her honeymoon than what was happening in my daughter’s class. She claimed spelling test words were uploaded to her class blog every Sunday and some weeks the words were uploaded on Wednesday nights for a Friday test, which only gave us two nights to practice. The thing that solidified it for me was when she thought it was a “brilliant idea” when I suggested she write the homework down on the blackboard for my daughter and the other Grade 2ers to write in their daytimers. I would have thought that was a pretty simple concept.  The kids’ dad and I met with the principal and resource teacher and were able to arrange for her to change classes.

My daughter returned to school in January in a new class in the English stream…and she loved it!  She knew what was expected of her again in school, and most of all, she was excited about school again. The teacher was amazing, organized, and communicative with me. She indicated every day in my daughter’s daytimer that she had seen whether or not I had written in it. She had reward systems in place in class, and my daughter worked hard towards them. It was amazing to see her report card this week…she brought all of her grades up at least one letter, with one subject raising two letters so she’s back to where she was in Grade 1. 🙂

My son continues in IBI throughout the summer and, because he’s only in school on Mondays, his report card and IEP has been mailed to me as they weren’t ready on Monday. I can’t wait to see them. Thinking back to where he was at the beginning of Grade 1 vs now (which includes a year and a half of IBI and an Autism-specific class), it brings tears to my eyes.  I have even confirmed that he will be returning to the Autism-specific class with his fantastic teacher next year, which I’m really looking forward to as he’ll be discharged from IBI late in the calendar year this year.

As a thank you, we baked pumpkin loaves, and I wanted to share the drawings the kids made on the bags for the loaves.

For my daughter’s teacher:

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My daughter was so cute because she also wanted to give pumpkin loaves to her classmate’s helpers too because “they work really hard to help him”:

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When I asked my son to sign his name, it took him these two tries first:

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(Apparently Kermit had to make an appearance)

Such a proud mama!!

Speak Up For Special Needs!

 

 

 

Was at the Early Years Centre this morning with my soon-to-be (next Wednesday!) 6 year old DS for its “Something Special” program offered every Thursday morning.  It’s a program where parents of kids with special needs and their children can come and play.  The toys put out are more sensory-based than when we regularly go there.

 

I was speaking with another mom whom I met last week.  Her son is entering Kindergarten this September and we have been chatting about how to advocate for your child.  She’s having an issue with her son playing soccer.  The coach’s son is bullying her child a bit, and instigating bad behaviour in her child.  I was offering suggestions of the type of language she can use with the assistant coach as she’s pretty sure the assistant coach is aware of the issue, based on comments he’s made in the past. 

 

She’s a very calm and quiet woman so I was trying to encourage her that this situation she’s encountered with soccer will be great practice for her in advocating for her son in Kindergarten in the fall.  The big difference she and I had walking into Kindergarten was that my son has an official diagnosis (of Autism) whereas her son doesn’t yet have a diagnosis. 

 

My kids had been in daycare prior to Kindergarten so we didn’t have to work on transitioning to school at all…especially since their former daycare centre was located in a school.  That made it a bit easier for my son.  In Grade 1 this September however, he will be attending a special needs class at school AND (hopefully) IBI will have started/be starting. 

 

My biggest advice to parents of children with special needs, diagnosed or not, is learn how to be assertive with the school system.  If your child can/may/will benefit from something, ask for it to be implemented.  If you work with the school, they will usually try to do as much to accommodate HOWEVER, also empower yourself with your school board’s policies related to special needs and special needs accommodation in the classroom.  Request a meeting with your principal (and teacher and Educational Assistant) prior to school starting, and continue to follow up until you get that meeting.  Be the “squeaky wheel” but please be nice about it. 

 

Arm yourself with information and knowledge because YOU are your child’s best

and sometimes ONLY advocate!