Monday, November 3, 2008

I want to be hopeful...

I really, really want to be hopeful and optimistic here. You see, I just got back from meeting the new, supposedly permanent aide that the school has *finally* managed to hire to work with Kiddo for her sensory diet. Today was this woman's first day. She has no actual work experience in terms of providing sensory support to children; from what I hear her last job was a lunchroom monitor position at one of the other district schools. I'm cool with that, after all I didn't have any experience in providing sensory support to children prior to Kiddo either. I am wondering, however, exactly what and how much she was told about this specific position for which she was hired... it sure didn't seem like much when I met with her this morning. The OT (whom I adore - we've been so lucky in the OTs we've worked with over the years) and I demonstrated how to do Kiddo's sensory diet, going through all the steps. I added extra explanation and gave her a nutshell description of SPD - mostly in terms of how it affects Kiddo, and also offered to give the aide some materials on SPD, which she said she'd like, so those will be going to school in Kiddo's backpack on Wednesday. (No school tomorrow.) She does have some personal, life experience with children with special needs, as she told me her son (now an adult) has Tourette's, so that should at least give her some good insight into things.

Why is it, then, that I'm not leaping for joy over this match? Maybe the way that she seemed surprised to hear that Kiddo is not cognitively impaired in any way - because that makes me wonder what she may've been told and how misinformed she was. (Please note: I am in no way denigrating those children who are DD or MR; I only mean to explain that in Kiddo's case, this is not the issue at hand, yet the aide seemed to think it was.) When I explained that Kiddo, for example, is eminently capable of eating her lunch all on her own (this after I witnessed another aide literally spoon-feeding Kiddo her yogurt in the lunchroom the other week, which made my jaw drop, as Kiddo's been able to feed herself since she was a baby) she seemed surprised to hear that news. So, like I said, I wonder exactly what this woman was told in terms of Kiddo's abilities, challenges and needs. I wonder and I worry about how this is going to go.

Kiddo's IEP is very clearly written. The *only* thing for which she needs assistance, and the *only* thing for which the aide is required, is her sensory stuff. This means doing her five step sensory diet (swinging, yoga, body sock, bear walk and deep pressure) three times each day and keeping an eye on Kiddo in the classroom to see if she needs any extra sensory input - things like her air cushion to sit on or putting on her pressure vest. She doesn't need help picking out which crayon to use, or eating her yogurt, or anything else. The fact that this new aide seemed surprised to hear that makes me worry. I don't know if she has a preexisting relationship with any of the staff at the school that may have led to her being misinformed about Kiddo's needs or what. (There certainly are some misconceptions about Kiddo's abilities and needs, despite attempts by her team and I to correct them. This is the actualization of the fear that some folks have about their child being "labeled" as special needs - people assume "special needs" to mean one thing that it doesn't necessarily mean, and can't get past their incorrect preconceptions. I didn't want to be one of those parents who worried about the labels - the goal here is to get Kiddo the support she needs so she can be successful in school. Unfortunately, just because I wanted to be optimistic about the whole "classified/label" issue, there are people who give credence to those concerns, which just makes me want to beat my head against the wall some more.)

I just really hope that she turns out to "get" Kiddo and catches on to her sensory needs quickly. I hope that she *likes* Kiddo and I hope that she has the energy and general wherewithal to work with Kiddo successfully. I hope that this works out, because it is now the ninth week of school and it is high time that the school has someone in place and can finally comply with Kiddo's IEP and meet her needs. I am a little leery that this woman (who was, by my best count, at least the FIFTH person offered the job) was just hired because she was willing to take the job and not necessarily due to her qualifications or because she'll be a good fit in the position or with Kiddo. There, I said it. I'm afraid she is just a willing, warm body so the school can say they are in compliance.

I hate not feeling more hopeful about this. I want this to work, I want this woman to be kind, aware, quick on the uptake, able to do what needs to be done. I want her to "get it" and get Kiddo and be a help and a support so that Kiddo won't have to struggle with a disregulated sensory system in school any more. I want her to be more than a warm body who fills a requirement. I guess I'm not as optimistic as I was the first day of school because of all the nonsense that has occurred since then. (Oh, I didn't even mention that I was NEVER informed by anyone in the administration *or* at the Special Ed office that this woman had been hired and was starting today, and not because I haven't repeatedly asked to be kept informed, either. I found out, once again, from "unofficial" sources who shouldn't have been the first to tell me. Seriously, WTF?) There seems to be a LOT more concern about not getting blamed for the noncompliance, for not taking the heat for the screw-ups than there is for doing what is best for the student with the IEP. That's why I'm worried that this aide wasn't hired for any reason other than to get the school in compliance by having a person in the job. That's why I'm not as optimistic or hopeful as I should be. At the same time, I don't want to prejudge this woman. I don't want a less than stellar first impression and my ongoing issues with the school to color my perspective. To quote Fox Mulder, I want to believe. I want to believe that this woman can handle things, can learn quickly, can do what needs to be done and meet Kiddo's needs. I'm hoping and praying it works out, but I'm just not as hopeful as I might be. *sigh*

I guess there's nothing more I can do but wait and see what happens...

9 comments:

Paige said...

You are probably right--she is either misinformed or overly careful and as she gets to know Kiddo, she will see how much she can do for herself---but I am sure a little explaining would go a long way.

It is a start---a late start, but a start none the less.

Good luck to them all!

Debbie said...

I think all of your worries and concerns are founded. I would probably be in there frequently at first making sure she knows what to do. On the bright side, if she is new to this maybe she'll be open to your ideas.

momto1 said...

I think you have a right to be concerned. I know I would be. You put it into perspective very well; there is a learning curve with any job, of course, one never wants that to effect their child. I am sure the aide will make some mistakes...but none that will hurt Kiddo in the long run. She'll learn, and in a few months time, they will have a great relationship. I wouldn't hesitate to observe them together if you have the time...and if you feel like it isn't a good fit, say something--but from what I've seen here, I am sure you will! Good luck these next few weeks.

Eudea-Mamia said...

I'm with Debbie - since the lady is new to the whole process, she won't come to the table with what "worked" for someone else before, and force you and Kiddo into that round hole.

With a clean slate, YOU are the one to do the writing, you know.

I hope that makes sense. I can appreciate your guarded optimism though - you have been through the ringer on this.

Em

Texan Mama @ Who Put Me In Charge said...

Hey Heather. Maybe I'm late to the game, but could you possibly direct me to a blog post that you wrote about what is a sensory diet? What is an air cushion? what is swinging, body sock, bear walk, etc. and why does your daughter need them? I've gathered that she has some special needs but I guess I am totally out of the loop about what diagnosis she has and what that diagnosis means. Good luck with all she has ahead of her and hope you finally get an aide that works out for Kiddo!

dddiva said...

I am going to be praying that kiddo gets the support she needs from her new aide- hopefully the earlier posters are right and she's coming to the table without preconceptions and it will work out well all around. :)

My name is Andy. said...

Oh I hope that this works out!

Andrea said...

I'm sorry it isn't off to a great start. I hope this lady can help your kiddo and get her going in the direction she needs to go so she can have the success she deserves.

Worried Mom said...

Keep the faith, Heather. Roy's support people had never heard of NLD much less worked with an NLD student. I killed a whole tree supplying copies of articles on it and with little change. I finally had his doctor and another consultant attend an IEP meeting and actually teach the teachers, OT, consultant teacher, school psychologist, etc. etc. etc. Still not much luck. But it finally got through to one person and made a world of difference. It's a long road - but you've got what it takes to advocate for your sweet Kiddo!
Ruth