Last week, Julia’s inclusion facilitator (a post previously called “case manager” and hereafter IF) told me that Julia was not put on the bus list in error and if it was possible for me to drive her for the week, she would get the bus this second week of school. I agreed, jotting down the bus as a topic of conversation for our meeting this week. Sunday evening, the bus service called me to tell me when Julia would be picked up on Monday. This morning the bus was early and so tooted its horn for us. I went to the door and Julia was out a few minutes later. I talked to the driver who actually seemed to know the the time quoted to me was too late and that they were still making adjustments. She apologized that I did not get phone call before this morning about changes. I feel like I’m living in some utopian bizarro world! In Madison (I’m not going to repeat the bus saga, the sped bus never tooted its horns if Julia was not waiting for it. A bus pulled up to our house, waited a few minutes and then left. There were a few times when I complained the bus never showed up and the dispatcher said that the bus was there, waited and left. If the bus was early, especially in the early days of ninth grade, it could have escaped our notice. So, this little curtesy, a tooting of the horn seems like a miracle to me. Continue reading
Sunday, second day of the Framingham PopCult Anime Con.
Spiky green hair or extraordinarily long pink hair, intricate foam weapons, knee high boots with lifts, tails and long gray gloves, short skirted Japanese school girl uniforms, maids and sword carrying warriors stalk the hotel halls. There are a few other functions going on in the hotel. Did the family reunion in the Concord Room know they would be running into imaginary adventurers?
Julia’s passion for My Hero Academia is completely in line with the many, many con attendees who are dressed as Hero characters or sporting identifiable tee shirts. Lots of bought costumes and some more original hand made ones are on display. A beautiful looking Howl from Howl’s Moving Castle won best costume of the con. The character, Howl, is male; I am not sure of the con’s Howl. The gender of many bewigged attendees is a complete mystery and after awhile I stop guessing. So many of the anime characters could be either or both depending on the adventure, the plot line, or the preference of the composer. Boys in skirts and make up; girls as male warrior characters. Julia has gone from rigid identifications of gender when she entered high school to the ability to accept the fluidity of this gathering. She declares that she wants to cross-dress but either I don’t understand exactly what she means or she doesn’t understand the concept. She still wants to wear dresses and skirts all the time. Now, how is that cross dressing? Continue reading
So much moving, nothing stops time, nothing stops emotion ebbing and flowing. There are lessons of impermanence around every corner.
The bullet points of the now:
-We have a place to live! Last Thursday, Cheshire and I saw the first floor of an owner occupied 2-family victorian house, 3-bedrooms, good kitchen, laundry hook-ups in basement, off street although not garage parking and relatively close to stores and restaurants and pretty. I made application on Friday, was rushed along when another prospective renter expressed interest, the RE agent called me (in Indianapolis, thank goodness, we don’t need land lines anymore) and broke the good news. Lease signing, check sending, other document signing was a stuttering flurry over the next few days. I think I can safely say that we have a place to live in Newtonville. Continue reading
State of my world:
Julia’s head scratching has not abated with the delousing and aftermath. She is losing hair and areas without hair are increasingly visible to the casual observer. I think she is doing most of her scratching at night before she goes to sleep and when she is alone in the bathroom. Anxiety, habit, stimming or something else? Years ago, the way she finally stopped scratching her skin was on a three-strike-and-she-was-sent-home-from-school program. It was radical and it worked. I don’t know right now how much scratching is going on at school — I’m checking. I don’t think that school staff would be willing to put such a discipline into effect. Of course, if it is mostly at night, that it wouldn’t work anyway. I am in full worry mode. We will visit our doctor next Tuesday and her shrink on Thursday. OT is working on it as well. Needless to say, I am without control.
I spoke with a local reporter yesterday about Shabazz High School and my experience last spring when Julia applied for admission and was first asked for an interview and then rejected before the interview took place. I talked about inconsistent messages and requirements, and apparent exclusion of kids with IEPs. I told him that just before school closed for the summer and we were about to travel, how I got a call that they were reconsidering everyone who had applied and was rejected. (I don’t remember if it was rejected without interview.) Julia couldn’t interview before traveling and when we returned home, I check out the requirements again. Julia had been summarily rejected for not doing grade level math. Neither the requirement for doing grade level math nor her math skills had changed. I decided not to put her through an interview. I acknowledged to the reporter that the school has been good for kids there and I didn’t want to jeopardize the school for those kids. And yet, what of kids like Julia? I am conflicted. Continue reading
After two reminder emails to my list of PTB (“Powers That Be”), Julia was picked up this morning in time to get to school on time. Her case manager texted me that her bus was on time and she was not marked late during first period. I’m holding out for a week before I ‘get off my high horse,’ as my grandma used to say.
However, just because nothing is ever sweet and easy—This morning we went to the door three minutes before her ride has been scheduled to find the bus waiting. I don’t quite know when it got there and I hadn’t received any word that she would be picked up sooner than her scheduled time. I really don’t mean to look a gift horse in the mouth (Barb, lots of horse idiots today!), but it felt that it was just a wee bit passive aggressive to reschedule the pick up without any word to me. Because the bus has been coming late, we have been going to the door just on time. If we had this morning, the bus would have probably left. I’ll swallow this complaint right here, because I know what response I would get. I’m not even going to add to my thank you that a schedule getting Julia to school on time should have been worked out before school started. Continue reading
This morning I send this email to everyone who I could think of–teachers, school administrators, district administrators and the bus company (I will modify this email slightly and send it every day to my list of PTB until the issue is resolved. At last, for Julia that is.):
My daughter, Julia Schanker, is a sophomore at West High School and has been late to school everyday since school began.
Julia is on the autism spectrum and has an IEP. This year her IEP specifically states the she be on time to school. Badger Bus is responsible for getting Julia to school in the morning. Badger Bus has been late every morning since school has started. To date, Julia has accrued six (6) tardy reports for first period during the first eight (8) days of school. (There was no tardy report on the first day of school and I drove her to school one day.)
Last year, Julia was late for school every day until November 13, because Badger Bus was figuring out how to get her to school on time. In order to get her to school on time last year, I wrote to many of you asking for help. I am not willing to wait until November this year.
On the first day of school this year, I asked the driver why she was late. Her answer was, “there was traffic on Park Street.” For anyone using Park Street on weekday mornings, traffic is not an unusual occurrence. This Monday, when I called Badger Bus, Bob the dispatcher, told me, “[t]his is only the fourth day of school.” Today is Friday, the eighth day of school and the bus was late again today.
Julia’s untimely arrival at school is disturbing on a number of levels.
1. On the personal level, students on the autism spectrum, like Julia, need extra time to prepare for and reach their classrooms. They need time to settle down in a classroom and they need regularity in their days to have successful days. Worrying about getting to school, rushing to leave lunch and coat at a locker and racing to a classroom is a recipe for an unproductive day and eventually inappropriate behavior.
2. Legally, transportation is in Julia’s IEP and thus West High School is not in compliance with Julia’s IEP which is protected by the IDEA. The IEP team also agreed that being on time to school is important for Julia’s education, thus, the district is contractually obligated to get her to school on time. Finally, Julia is being denied FAPE.
3. School wide, Principal Karen Boran sent a strong letter to the West community last week about excessive student tardiness. She has initiated appropriate consequences for excessive and repeated tardiness to classes. Badger Bus is not in compliance with West High School Policy.
4. Finally, on Tuesday, when I dropped Julia off at West at 8:20 (ten minutes after first period began) there were three Badger Bus vehicles dropping off special ed students. I saw another vehicle driving up as I pulled away. At the time, I wondered if tardiness was not a Julia issue but an issue shared by many, many students at West High School who receive Special Education Services and are transported to school by Badger Bus. Indeed, this idea was confirmed by Bob the dispatcher when I spoke with him later this week. He told me that he had a pile of complaints from parents and a large number of those complaints were regarding West High School.
I look forward to hearing back from many of you over the next few days and to addressing this challenge for Julia and for all students receiving special education services quickly and effectively.
“This is only the fourth day of school,” said the Badger Bus Dispatcher when I called I this morning long after Julia was supposed to be picked up for school. Bob, the Dispatcher, who seems like a nice enough guy, called the driver who told Bob that he had been outside our house and waited for minutes before taking off at 7:51; however, we were outside sitting on our steps at 7:48 and no one stopped from the time until just after 8:00. Give or take a few minutes and the possibility that clocks differ, the upshot was that I drove Julia to school and she got there at 8:20. First period begin at 8:10. Continue reading
West High School Choir concert last night. Julia had a solo in the Freshman Choir’s rendition of Sia’s Rainbow.
There is backstory.
Julia has choir class every day. We, the indomitable Anthony Cao and I, worked very intentionally helping Julia with appropriate choir behavior, that is, standing still, watching him and singing, not talking. Julia and I have done a standing meditation since November to find out what her body does when it is still and lots of reminders (and lots of praise) for the other points. Continue reading
This is a picture of Julia walking to class. Her case manager sent it to me yesterdy. He wrote: “Hey, I was following Julia and a peer in the hall, talking like best buds. Not sure who her friend is, but I’m happy she has made strong connections with reg ed peers.”
It is a great picture.
When I looked at it, my first impulse, after a good hearted motherly smile, is to race to the story of Julia making a friend, going over someone’s house, talking too long on the phone, telling secrets to someone (not me), going to a sleepover, having a party. And then, I stop. Continue reading
Casting the widest net I can. I’m looking for a way for Julia to organize and remember. These are two big challenges that she has. I know she is not an unusual teenager in this regard but without these skills life is pretty stressful for her. For us.
The usual assignment notebook is not enough. Neither is simply supplying her binders, pocket folders and accordion folders (Her favorite right now). She needs a system. And she needs it to appeal to her visual learning style.
I envision an app to use with her cell phone and iPad to replace her assignment notebook. Something that would be easy to add to or link other web pages, etc. to.
And then a physical system to use with notebooks or binders or folders.
If anyone has any idea or system or can recommend something to read to help me in this, PLEASE let me know.