May 4, 2013

Teacher Appreciation Week

Posted in Fun Stuff, Life's Little Moments, My Take on Autism tagged , , , , , , , , , at 10:38 am by autismmommytherapist

Summer 2012 Part 1 002

Today’s post is in honor of Teacher Appreciation week, and is dedicated to the teachers, therapists, administrators, and support staff who work with all of our children.

 

Dear Educators,

 

It’s been almost nine years since my eldest son was diagnosed with autism, and it would be the understatement of the year to say it hasn’t always been easy. My family’s journey with autism has comprised two states, dozens of doctors, therapists, teachers, and Early Intervention practitioners, and by this point I feel as if we’ve seen it all.

For us, however, there has been one shining thread of competence woven throughout all of our trials, and I feel compelled to speak of it today.

In essence, all hail to the teachers.

It hasn’t all been smooth sailing of course. There were a few IEP meetings along the way where I cried (one was at the thought of my eldest son moving on to a new teacher in the coming school year, perhaps that one shouldn’t count). Frustrastion regarding my boy’s academics and behaviors has intruded on occasion, and a few times I felt I wasn’t truly being heard.

For the most part however, my family and the bevy of educators assigned to both our boys have been able to play nice with each other, and for this, among other things, I am eternally grateful.

I’ve felt that the dedicated men and women who’ve worked with my sons have respected them, pushed them when appropriate, and equally importantly, have liked them (and trust me, at times both of their behaviors have not been particularly likeable).

Truly, none of them are paid enough.

So today, I’d simply like to say thank-you. Thank-you to the speech therapist who stayed up all night to reinstall the programs my oldest son deleted from his iPad, just because he thought erasing them all would be fun.

Thank-you to the child study teams who tweaked, manipulated, and created the perfect IEPs for seven years for my kids, then made certain they were enacted. Thank you to the administrators who gave us time during that long, awful period when Justin resumed his aggressive state last year, waiting months while we figured out how to quell the terrible tide of his anger without having to remove him from his school.

Thank-you to the aides, the life-blood of any classroom (I know, because I’ve been one), who’ve not only tolerated my sons’ non-compliance at times, but have regarded it as a worthy challenge.

And last, but certainly not least, thank-you to the special education and regular education teachers in three different districts (it takes more than one village sometimes) who have challenged my children, believed in them, loved them, and put up with me to boot.

The latter statement should earn them all the medal AND the monument.

You have not only made a tremendous difference in the lives of my sons- you, through your kindness, your commitment, and most importantly perhaps, your competence, have given my family a life.

For once, all I have left to say is thank-you.

 

September 12, 2011

School, Glorious School

Posted in Life's Little Moments tagged , , , , , , , , , at 9:41 am by autismmommytherapist

Last week, for four consecutive days, for a brilliant three hours at a time, I “rediscovered” my life again. Gone was my youngest, who spent the last hundred or so hours of the summer complaining he was bored. This was despite having access to a pool, the beach, three amusement parks, and what amounted to approximately a gazillion playdates, whose scheduling alone made me question my sanity. Vacated was my eldest, who has yet to completely recover post-Irene, as evidenced by some seriously ramped-up OCD, and equally questionable sleeping habits. During that time I attacked piles of crap I’d ignored since Father’s Day, ran a ridiculous amount of errands sans child, and remembered to shave my legs. Even with my husband just down the hallway hard at work, the house was comparatively silent, devoid of the whirlwind of noise that signifies the presence of both of my sons.

School, glorious school.

Every year I send a silent message of thanks to the universe at large for the creation of IDEA, that fabulous law that enables my offspring to have an education, and gives me the opportunity to once again breathe. I can’t thank the parents who spearheaded its creation enough, and can’t imagine having to convince legislators that my children were indeed entitled to attend school despite the differences in their brains from the “typical” crowd. I am well aware that all school systems are still not created equal. I am also aware that many of my fellow parents with differently-abled children are yet engaged in a tug-of-war with their respective districts, desperately attempting to convince administrators and teachers how best to meet the needs of their children. We still have a long way to go until it’s perfect. In some cases, we still have a long way to go before it’s even adequate. But at least, thankfully, education is an option.

For my two boys, for which I am eternally grateful, it’s become a fabulous option indeed.

I have to admit the McCaffertys cheated the gods of first week of school jitters this year, as my eldest not only had the same teacher and classmates, but enjoyed the return of the same phenomenal bus drivers. My youngest just commenced his third year of school with his cherished teacher and dedicated aides, and although his class composition has been altered (a fact which kept him up three straight nights in June) to allow a few of his friends to move on to kindergarten, a sampling of the “oldies but goodies” remained behind. He’s already made a new best friend, a lovely young girl with whom he plans on being betrothed and producing his future five, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that she’s amenable.

So much for that return trip to Paris someday. Time for an addition.

The truth is my semi-return to sanity would not be possible without the expertise of both the faculties involved, from assistants and teachers to principals, and occupational and speech therapists as well. From the frequent notes replete with great detail about their days to the exceedingly well-executed field trips and schoolwide programs, both my boys are cared for, challenged, and excited by the prospect of learning. My sons are constantly treated with dignity and respect, and valued for the unique qualities of their personalities that comprise the core of who they are.

Frankly, that last sentence is half the battle already won.

So today I’d just like to say thanks to the entire world (we’re so beyond a village) helping to inspire my sons, both for a great first week of school, and what I’m certain will be a fantastic year to come. This family quite literally couldn’t do it without you, and the glorious smiles beaming from the faces of my boys every day they return home to me are evidence of just how hard you work for them, trying to elicit their best. My sons are appreciative. I am grateful. The reduced piles in my house are ecstatic.

And once again, truly, thank you.