Saturday, October 13, 2007

Friday, October 12, 2007

The Apple and The Tree

When I was in my credential classes, I heard lots of people complaining about the apple not falling far from the tree -- that is, the kids they taught had issues 'cause the parents had issues.

Generally speaking, kids with more severe disabilities have genetic stuff going on -- though, of course, that's debated with autism.  However, sometimes, like with Seventh Grade J, there's a lot of mom in the kid.

Well...there's a lot of PH in his mom.  Wow.

Plus, his grandma was scary.  She gave very little feedback -- verbal or nonverbal -- until the end of the IEP, when she suddenly said she liked the plan for PH and thought it was really good.

So the end result is that the IEP went fine.

Now to sleep for a long, long time.  (Yawn.)

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Whys and Wherefores

So, I won't bore everyone with Aide J's continuing drama other than to say: what happened to just being a grown-up, coming to work, and doing your job?  Le sigh.

PH's IEP is done.  I might have gone a little overboard -- I wrote eight goals!  One for reading sight words, one for reading comprehension, one for writing his signature, one for attempting to spell words with at least the first sound, one for adding and subtracting 2-digit numbers, one for not using the godawful baby voice (no, I didn't call it that), one for slowing down and taking his time to produce good finished work, and one for taking himself to the bathroom without prompts.

All of which he needs, but yikes. ;-)

I'm kinda sad, though, 'cause tomorrow's Teacher M's last day, and I have an IEP after school.  :-(

Meanwhile, the not-stumper of the day.

I mentioned earlier that Superhero was so jealous of Bulldozer that he couldn't see straight.  The thing is, Superhero sees what he thinks is Bulldozer getting lots of attention for obnoxious behavior (what Bulldozer is really getting, though, is work not going away, but if the adults in my room don't get that, I won't expect Superhero to).  So, Superhero has been thinking, "Hm.  Let's try that."

So, today, he did something like putting his hand on E's face and then tapped -- I kid you not, if I didn't know what Superhero's intention was, it looked like you'd tap a kid on the head -- Bulldozer on the head.

To which my slowly going insane Aide J pulled Mr. Attention Fiend over for a "Why, Superhero?  Tell me why you did that?  Why would you do that?  No, don't go, I want you to tell me why...."

There are two problems with this.  One is the obvious: you DON'T GIVE ATTENTION TO AN ATTENTION-SEEKING KID FOR INAPPROPRIATE BEHAVIOR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


And, two, he can't answer why about ANYthing that I've ever seen.  Like, the word's not in his vocabulary.  We actually had a question along those lines on our testing last year -- something like a kid sitting on the ground and an overturned bike, and he couldn't say why the kid was sad.

Ironic, considering my post yesterday about the meaning of "wherefore," though. ;-)

First IEP

So, I'm halfway through writing PH's IEP. On the one hand, I can document a lot of progress from last year in academic areas. On the other, I have to figure out some sort of social/emotional goal that is basically, "Don't be a brat" without the goal actually being "don't be a brat."

'Cause, you know, that would be bad.

More later, maybe.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


With apologies to Cat for my unfortunate rewrite of my prior post, it was she who dubbed E "Elastigirl."

Better, Cat? ;-)

"And What Rough Beast...

...its hour come round at last / Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?"

-- "The Second Coming," by William Butler Yeats

(Which you should read -- aloud (all poetry should be read aloud) -- for the strange juxtaposition of the beautiful cadence of the language and the images they're portraying.)

In any event, I've begun to sense impending Drama lurking just out of sight from my classroom, "slouching" towards us to be born in a day of utter insanity, even as Bulldozer has better and better days. Why?

Well, for one thing, I may snap and descend into blissful loopiness after the four hundred thousandth time in ten minutes Bulldozer says, "Bathroom? Eye?" (translation: Can I go to the bathroom and clean my artificial eye which is really not dirty but provides a reasonable excuse for the two minute walk/break I really need?)

Or, Boy J (henceforth known as PH for reasons known only to Cat and myself...these are not his initials) and his laugh may send me over the edge to rock and cry in a corner.

Or, the wrong person will be walking by my classroom when M, having been asked if her stomach hurts, will shriek, "Ow, you hurt me, hurting me, bleeding!"

(Translation: "I've got whole impaction constipation issues that make my BMs so hard and big that they hurt terribly and make me bleed." But, yeah, passersby don't know that.)

Or, Aide J will turn just that little bit more green with envy that E (henceforth known as Elastigirl because her arms seemingly stretch to gigantic porportions if you have placed something seemingly out of reach) smiles at Aide T or, you know, works for me and doesn't hit or scratch me.

(Aide J has taken another job at a group home. It is not good. She's burning out but quick. What I thought was her "A ha!" moment has gone away quickly; she has forgotten that Elastigirl is trying to get her attention and, I think, is jealous that Elastigirl seemingly loves Aide T and is hitting and scratching her.

Except, of course, that her reaction -- which has become the appropriate ignoring and moving away last week -- has reverted to "Ow! Elastigirl, that hurt!" Which, you know, just encourages her.)

And that, I think, is really and truly where I sense my impending doom. Aide J is very territorial and very jealous when it comes to Aide T -- because when she first started, Elastigirl and Aide T had been joined at the hip because there was no other option, and because, you know, Aide T is good at her job. So, like I had with the aide before her who lasted exactly two days, I said that she should just observe Aide T and Elastigirl for a week to get the idea.

Since then, she has resented Aide T.

(Which, of course, is one of the main reasons I am leery of one-to-one aide support. Aides -- especially the motherly types -- get too attached and begin to think of the child as "theirs.")

Problem is, with Superhero and Bulldozer and M all having issues right now, and PH and The Boss having minor ones occassionally, I can't afford the tension in the room of having adults fighting with each other...or even, as is the case here, one deciding the other is not good.

So we're "turning and turning in the widening gyre" and hoping the "rough beast" can still be turned away.

Meanwhile, here's a little tidbit: the word "wherefore" means "why" -- as in the saying "the whys and wherefores."

So, in every sitcom in television history, when the teenagers do the balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet, EVERY SINGLE ONE of them inflects the balcony scene wrong...because they say:

"Oh, Romeo, Romeo, wherefore ART thou, Romeo?"

(As in, "Oh, Romeo, Romeo, where are you, Romeo?")

When in reality, it should be:

"Oh, Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?"

(As in, "Oh, Romeo, why are you Romeo Montague?")

Pardon the pronunciation -- and, yes, I'm doing this by memory to all you Evil Leprechauns out there -- but the scene is:

Oh, Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?
Deny thy father and refuse thy name; or, if thou
wilt not, be but sworn my love, and I'll no longer be a Capulet.

(So if you read the rest of the speech, Juliet is actually saying, "Romeo, why are you who you are? Why are you a Montague? Disown your father and leave your family. If you don't, just tell me you love me, and I'll disown my family.")

I have no idea why that rant showed itself now -- I've been wanting to write it for a while -- but I suspect it was the poetical bent of the post. We now return you to your regularly scheduled program.


I'll chat about today and the impending doom I sense just around the corner, but for right now, I just have to rant about this:

I left my computer on last night with a large-fonted note to myself of what, exactly, I needed to accomplish tonight sitting open in Writing With Symbols. I do not recall what documents I had open, but I know at least it was my symbol-supported first half of "The Bells."

I do have automatic updates turned on, but they are set to install upon shut down. That is, they download in the background but do not actually install themselves until I shut down the computer. That seems, to me, to be a fair compromise between the fact that I would never remember to check Windows Update on a regular basis and the fact that I don't want other people's mitts on my computer.

And I certainly don't want people turning it off without my permission.

What galls me here is two things -- one, that Microsoft pushed this update and had it override my own security settings, for frell's sake; and, two, that it couldn't at least pop up the usual "The blah blah blah that you have just installed requires that you restart your computer to take effect. Click OK to restart your computer." That, at least, would have given me the option (once I came home and saw it) of scribbling out my note to myself, or of saving my to do list in a document.

Bad, bad, bad Microsoft...didn't you already apologize for stuff like this?

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Sort of Done

So, I've been breaking the "school work only until 8:00" rule pretty badly so far this year.  I decided over the weekend that it is not the end of the world if we have to skip a day of social studies or if homework goes home a day late.

So, although I only finished next week's homework, spelling tests, and E's file folder game (revision 3), and the questions for the next 2 chapters of Charlie, I'm done for the night.

Incidentally, that's not as impressive as it sounds -- they use the same pictures for everything but Charlie, so a simple find and replace is pretty quick.

Also?  These are fantastic, especially if you use extra ricotta cheese.  :-)

Finally, I will have something to say about this (and this, this, and this) later, but my brain's not up to it tonight other than to say someone better stop this trend in its tracks right now.  People with disabilities are just as entitled to whatever form of physical pleasure they wish to participate in as are the rest of us.

Meanwhile, I recommend this discussion of the Ashley Treatment from when it first hit the news.  Also, you can find a variety of blog entries about the Ashley Treatment here.

(None of this is to say that I don't dread the thought of, say, M -- with her already existing issues Down There and her intense sensory problems with seams and tags in her underwear -- hitting That Time in her life...but girls with disabilities are just as entitled to become women with disabilities as I as a girl nerd was to become a grown up nerd.)


In no particular order...

1. Why is the marionnette music from Escape to Witch Mountain (one of my favorite movies as a kid) playing on The Simpsons?

1a. Looking that up on for y'all solved one of my lifelong mysteries. (Sad as this is, I'm not kidding.)

I noticed under the tidbits that young Tia was played in the flashbacks by Kim Richards' younger sister Kyle.

Why is this momentous?

Because I always -- always -- thought I recognized the girl shown in the flashbacks, but the quality of the picture is too (deliberately) poor to see her clearly. It's hazy, and as Tia's memory "clears," so to speak, the scene shifts away from them in the water and Uncle Bene giving Tia her star case, to the kids in the Malones' arms, from too far away to see the girl's face clearly.

So, I checked out Kyle Richards. She was Alicia on Little House on the Prairie -- Mr. Edwards' daughter. I loved Little House as a child -- so no wonder I thought young Tia looked familiar.

The Internet is cool. :-)

2. Bulldozer made it all day without a big meltdown -- just maybe 3 minutes of crying when he had to do speech. :-) And it's only Tuesday!

3. I have had random bits of songs stuck in my head all day. And I do mean random.

4. M had a pretty fun meltdown at the end of class time today, because she has to go number 2 again (she yelled "Ow, hurt me, bleeding!" when I asked if she had to go to the bathroom). That's a fun thing to explain to the OTs....

5. "The Bells" is a really long poem. But, it has the word "tintinnabulation," which I -- for reasons inexplicable even to myself -- have always found cool.

6. Aide J was bitten by my former student C at the group home where she now works. She seemed quite traumatized...not that being bitten doesn't suck, but it's not like I didn't warn her.

7. However, Aide J dealt with an E meltdown in exactly the right way -- she turned away, no words, etc!

8. On the down side, E was very excited to see Aide T today, which I think perturbed Aide J. She seemed kinda territorial, even after telling me Monday that she thought it would be good to rotate.

9. Boy J got over his drama when he realized he really would have to copy the stuff he missed while singing nonsense and yelling "poopy head" and "butthead" during science the other day. I think he was shocked we remembered.

10. It took some time to know for sure, but Angel does not belong in this class as it's currently made up. She, like A before her, has low academics, but I'll eat my shoe if she really is developmentally delayed.

10a. Back when I thought it would be fun to get a master's, I always thought it would be interesting to study how the minds of kids with and without developmental disabilities differ. I would have taken two groups of kids -- all of whom who were at the same reading and/or math levels -- and seen how they actually thought and problem solved.

Well...knowing Angel and A, and comparing them to, say, Now-In-Middle-School-R and Boy's interesting. There really is a perceptible -- but difficult to define -- difference in the way they interact with, perceive, and problem solve the world.

As my hero would say, "Fascinating."

Dinner -- and then more work (I am trying to get ready for next week so I can copy tomorrow and modify on Thursday so I can either have an IEP or go home early Friday) -- awaits.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Busy, Busy

Things have been thundering past me so fast that I can't believe tomorrow is Tuesday already.  If the parents ever acknowledge receipt of the invitation -- which we sent certified mail after all my notes were ignored and the family's phone numbers wouldn't work -- my first IEP (boy J) will be this Friday.

The big news, of course, was that Aide T was back today!

Of course, Aide S was out, so I still have not experienced a fully-staffed day.

Still, E was out, so it worked out.  For a brief, shining moment, I had capable people handling both Superhero and Bulldozer, and I got to hang with M!  Now I just need a few precious minutes to assess boy J before his IEP.

(And to program specialist PM, who seems to think that it's easy to pull kids daily for a week to assess prior to an IEP above and beyond what you normally do, I say:  fine.  Come teach my class when one aide is out and two kids are melting down simultaneously, M is freaking out 'cause she has to go number 2, and Superhero is spitting on him, and we'll see how much assessing you get done.  So there.  :-p )

Plus, I seem to have acquired the "fatigue" portion of PMS -- though, in return, I also seem to have ditched the clockwork-like migraines -- and that's why I haven't been around for a few days.

However, I must share the Aide K moment of the day.

After science this afternoon, I had scheduled "catch up day" because nobody actually finished on Friday.  After agenda books, the second thing on the list is journals.

Knowing to whom I spoke, I made sure to say slowly and carefully, "This is only journals from last week.  They are at the BACK of the journal.  Do NOT do the ones at the front of the journal -- they are this week's."

Not five minutes later did she approach Aide J and ask, "So, is she done with this?  I can't find today's journal, and this one is tomorrow's."

I turn around from Bulldozer, who is having his first meltdown of the day (begun at 1:15! wow!), and say, "No, those are THIS week's.  Remember, I said the old journals are in the back?"

I kid you not, I got a blank stare, so Aide J takes the journal from her.  "The old ones are in the back."  Another blank stare.  She -- I swear to God -- flips to the back of the journal and shows Aide K.

"Oooooooooooooooooooh," she says.

I might have slapped my own head if Bulldozer hadn't been trying to do the same thing at the time.