A few weeks ago Krys went to Mia's first parent-teacher conference (I was sick that week, so I was lying on the couch trying not to die). Her teacher told her the usual stuff, and we all moved on. Then, last week, her teacher sent a note home that told of Mia's poor behavior, from pushing things away from her when she doesn't want to learn to problems when they try to get her to do physical stuff. Her teacher was most concerned about her falling behind the other kids, which she's starting to do severely. They have been working hard to get her to eat, and she's doing fairly well in that regard (I haven't weighed her recently, but I have to think she's gained something, as she's eating decently at home too), but now they're trying to get her up to speed academically, and she's just not keeping up. This does not come as news to us - Mia is very slow to learn anything. She has a good long-term memory, but getting stuff into her long-term memory is a serious chore. I was more concerned with the behavioral stuff.
I spoke to her teacher, who invited me to observe one day to see what they were doing with her. I went last Friday to check it out, but it wasn't really an observation, because we were discussing with her physical therapist and occupational therapist what to do with her in the classroom. I told the teacher I think part of the problem is that she's feeling much better, both because her hip is finally healed enough (she was back on her horse this past week, which is nice) and because she's eating more, thus she has more strength. This, I think, leads to a bit of boredom on her part, and I'm not sure if the teachers are doing enough to move her around, because she needs to move around a bit! So when I went into her class, I showed them a bit of what they can do with her. Her home PT is going to visit the class next week to help them out a bit more with that. As usual with Mia, they are worried that they're hurting her when they move her, because she whines so much. Mia is quite smart, and she knows that she can manipulate people into feeling sorry for her. She also anticipates movement hurting more than it does, so she starts whining almost before you touch her. I've grown immune to it, but people who don't know her that well - like her teachers - think she's in immense pain, so they don't challenge her. I told them that they need to warn her when they're moving her and that it's not going to hurt, and if she cries, they start what they're doing all over again, so she doesn't get away with it. I also told them that she can, with minimal help, sit up when she falls over, so instead of just lifting her up, they should try to help her sit up on her own. Mia tires so easily that she's become a bit lazy, and everyone needs to make her work harder to get what she wants. They, of course, are terrified of causing her some real damage and any subsequent lawsuit which would stem from that, and I understand that, but it doesn't mean they shouldn't make her do some work!
As for the academic problems, it's a bit more vexing. For the last two years, Mia has been in a class with several different grade levels, so the teachers worked with her very individually and didn't worry about where she was in relation to other kids. Now she's in a class with all second-graders, and while they're special education kids, they are more advanced than Mia is. It's not a big class, and they have at least three teachers (the head teacher and two aides) in there (there's another aide, but I'm not sure if he's full-time), so giving Mia individual attention isn't a problem. I'm not sure why the teacher is so worried about her falling behind the other kids, because each special needs kid has an IEP (Individualized Education Program, in case you're new around here) and by law, they need to tailor a curriculum for her. So what the other kids are doing shouldn't matter. Her teacher got in touch with her teacher from last year, who gave her some tips about how to deal with Mia (lots of short breaks, because her attention span is so short), and I hope that helps, but I'm not sure why I care where Mia is in relation to the other kids. I assume her teacher is worried because she might have to be "held back," but I think everyone knew she would never work at her grade level. It's very frustrating, because I think they don't want to move her to third grade because she won't be ready for it, but they don't want to keep her second grade because she'll be too old. This is why I was so happy with her previous school - they worked at her speed, and we'd decide once she reached sixth grade age if she was ready to move on to junior high. The discrete elementary grades didn't matter all that much.
So what to do? Well, her teacher is going to wait until the end of the quarter and assess her. I have to call the Special Ed. coordinator, who checks in on Mia, and a teacher who comes into the classroom to assist with her specifically, and see what they think. Her teacher suggested a "moderately disabled" class for Mia, but I'd have to check that out, because the moderately disabled class next to hers last year was full of kids who were barely verbal. Mia would have been the most advanced kid in there, and I don't want her to be the most advanced kid in a class - I'd rather her be in a class like the one she's in now, because then she can have role models to whom she can aspire. Unfortunately, that's not looking so good right now.
I hope her teachers can get it figured out. I have a feeling that if they move her around more, she'll calm down a bit and maybe focus more. If she doesn't, we have options. We thought about moving her to a different school district with better special education facilities, and that's still an option. We're just frustrated because Mia was in such a good place the last two years and the school district "couldn't afford" it anymore. So now she's in a bit of a limbo situation. We get that it's a challenge educating her. You know what? Don't get into special education if you don't want a challenge!