The Daughter Chronicles

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Back to school!

Mia and Norah started school this past Wednesday, 10 August, and I'm once again a happy camper. Six hours during the day with no kids? Yeah, I'll take that. Especially because I have a lot to do over the next few months.

Norah is now in first grade (tempus fugit and all that), and she's doing fine so far. Her kindergarten class was split up a bit, so two of her best friends from last year are in a different classroom, but as they're not allowed to socialize in class it doesn't really matter. She still hangs out with them at recess and lunch, so she's happy. Her homework is a bit harder and lengthier this year, unsurprisingly, so we'll see how she does with that. Last year I volunteered to work in her class every other Monday, but this year the volunteering is either in the afternoon (right about when Mia is coming home) or on Friday morning, when I'm taking Mia to hippotherapy. So I'm not doing that this year. Oh well. We have to volunteer for other stuff around the school, so I'm certainly not shirking my duties, but I did like hanging out in the class and getting to know the kids a bit.

Mia's situation is a bit more annoying, as it always is. The school is experimenting with mainstreaming the special education kids, which is a disaster waiting to happen, if you ask me. I don't have a problem with trying to get the special ed. kids into more situations where they can interact with regular ed. kids, but I also think it's a mistake to try to get kids like Mia into regular ed. classrooms, because she's so far behind regular fourth-graders that it's just silly. Plus, her behavior, while not terrible, is not very appropriate for a large classroom. We've been fretting about this all summer, and last Tuesday, we had an IEP meeting to discuss getting her to eat at school, and her "mainstreaming" was a topic of conversation, as well. The principal had already told me that she was not a good candidate for mainstreaming, which we already knew, but on Tuesday, they said they were going to try her in the regular ed. class. We spoke to the special ed. teacher, and we told her that she could pull Mia out of the regular ed. class as soon as possible - we're under no illusions about what she can accomplish in the regular ed. class.

Part of the problem is that Mia learns quite a bit from her peers, and if she's in a regular ed. class, they're too far ahead of her for her. When she's in a self-contained special ed. class with kids who are higher-functioning than she is but not too far ahead of her, she learns from them fairly well. Now those kids are being mainstreamed, and if she goes into a self-contained class, she'll probably be one of the higher-functioning kids, and therefore have no one to model from. On the other hand, if she stays in the regular ed. class, she'll misbehave, from screeching (usually happily) in the middle of class or pinching people randomly. So it's a conundrum. And, because she won't work independently, the teacher has to spend more time with her, and in a regular ed. class, that just won't happen, and her aide will end up teaching her a lot. Her aide is a very nice lady, but she's not a teacher.

It's only been three days, so we're not sure how it's going to play out. In a few weeks I think I will have to go in and observe her for a while and see what they're doing with her. As we always tell her teachers, we know her educational paths are limited, but we also know she can learn, so we want to give her the optimal environment for that. So far she's enjoying the new school year and she's eating fairly well. We'll see how she's doing in a week or two.

Despite eating fairly well at school, she's still nowhere near the amount of calories she needs to function well. We went to the gastroenterologist on Wednesday and she weighed in at 47 pounds, which is better but not great. I fear that a g-tube is in her future, but that's a post for another day!

For now, I'm just glad they're back at school, especially Mia. She enjoys it a lot, and they have a lot more options for her in terms of activities than I do. I just hope we can figure out what to do with her!


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