Yesterday was our busiest day of summer. Julia’s schedule was: dentist, cello lesson, swimming lesson, strings camp, IDS clinic. Swim lesson and strings camp were new. I was anxious. Julia was fine at swim lesson. She seemed to be listening and doing as told. There were three kids in her class which is perfect for her to handle the class without additional help.
At least I hope so. The instructor looked a bit anxious when I let him know that Julia is on the spectrum but he took the initiative and did not let her drift.
Kati asked about what happened with strings experience, aka music camp. The beginning of the story is here (https://myyearofchasingjoy.wordpress.com/2014/05/13/music-camp/). An update is here (https://myyearofchasingjoy.wordpress.com/2014/05/20/alls-well/). [I haven’t figured out how to use the link button.]
The further update is that at the graduation party, Victoria, who went to strings class all year with Julia as well as the district strings concert at West High, told me that she was going to be Julia’s aide during strings camp. (All but the first day) I didn’t think this would happen. I suggested Victoria to my district contact but I didn’t push for her, mainly because the district does not seem to like to support their special ed students for summer enrichment classes. I am aware that just getting Julia into the class/camp/experience could be a small loss of face for those who told me it couldn’t be done. I wanted Julia’s entry into this experience to be smooth because I intend to make use of enrichment classes for other summers.
But I am overjoyed that Julia will be with Victoria who she has known for four years, who did strings class with her and who taught her to knit this year. Victoria was still on vacation on Monday, so Julia’s reading teacher for the past two years stepped in for the day. From what I heard, there were a few bumps — Julia talked at times when the teacher was talking and some of the music was challenging — but none of this sounded out of the ordinary. Considering that Julia has been studying for less than a year and many of the kids at the camp are more experienced, she is right on track.
I could not be more grateful for these extraordinary women who work so hard during the school year and are willing to give up part of their summer to be with Julia and help her through this new experience.
And just to say this very clearly: There is no summer school exception to the IDEA. If a special ed student needs to do summer academic work or enrichment classes and those resources are run by the school district, a student’s needs must be accommodated under federal law. This does not mean that a student’s entire IEP will be implemented — so, no speech therapy or PT or OT, but a student must be accommodated in the class they are in. In Julia’s case, this means that she needs an aide to be with her during strings camp. She does not need a special curriculum or any other accommodation and I don’t know whether they could refuse a student with those needs. I want to encourage other families with special ed students to use the resources that their school districts have. I admit to feeling the legal passions rise — issues like this could put me back in an advocate’s role.
We are still in bed this morning. Julia beginning to awaken. She was rightfully exhausted last night. Today’s swim lesson and music camp looks like a piece of cake by comparison. I was pretty exhausted too — added to the taxi chores and a bit of anxiety about Julia’s new experiences, I spent my free time yesterday finding a eye glasses service who would put Julia’s therapy lens into new frames. A few days ago, she broke her “first” frames. Because they are costume frames — Harry Potter glasses — it was a challenge finding a replacement. Five dollar frames don’t come with a lot of markings. I was successful in finding some of the same size to accommodate lens but of course, the lens had to be popped out of the old and into the new frames. Two places refused to do it. I was trying to avoid sending the frames to Milwaukee where it is usually done. The third accepted the challenge, warned me that the lens could chip or break and did it. It worked, the glasses fit and we are back in business.
I ended the day with somewhat of a hangover. Anxiety over new adventures? Anxiety over the glasses? Exhausted from my choice of joy this weekend? Coming down from a very social weekend? Feeling another death anniversary pass? Whatever the reason, I felt the dip in spirits. I was tired enough to wet my feet in deeper water of despair and depression and felt drawn to embrace the sad waters, but . . . but recognized where I could go and knew that if I just got to bed and closed my eyes, I would recover some equilibrium. I don’t mean that I was running away from sadness or anxiety. The weekend, the anniversary, the new experiences, the busy day’s schedule, anxiety over Julia’s ability to meet the challenges, even fixing the glasses were real causes for what I felt, but I did not need to globalize it and imagine that days would always be overfilled or Julia’s days would always be challenging or that she would be breaking her glasses again very soon or that I needed to be thrown into the aftermath of great loss again soon. Silly, I know, in part, where where my mind can turn to especially when I am tired.
So, I went to bed. Early. Thunder storms at midnight brought Julia into my bed and we needed a long guided meditation to get us back to sleep. I had a weird dream which I may describe if I can remember enough of it that stirred up feelings of abandonment and loss but this morning, in the cool, sunny morning, what upset my spirit only informs me.