Thursday, September 2, 2010

My name is Amy....

I was thinking in the shower (where all great thinking happens) that perhaps, since I have some new readers you may not know our history. Since joining The Old Schoolhouse Crew, many people have began to peek at the blog for reviews. I often put next to my link "special needs." So for those of you who are is our history.

The Reader's Digest Condensed Version:

We deal with hearing impairment, autism, adhd and sensory needs.

Somewhat Expanded Version:

Andrew was born profoundly deaf. At 13 months of age he received a cochlear implant and we decided to proceed with AVT (Auditory Verbal Therapy.) Spoken English is his first (and currently only) language. In the area of speech and language Andrew was slow to develop compared to his peer. Now, at the age of 10, he is understood by pretty much anyone and has incredible language skills. We knew early on there was "something else" in addition to the hearing impairment.

We were in a zero-three program within the public schools. It was wonderful. At age three Andrew transferred to a outstanding oral hearing impaired preschool. If all classrooms were like that, and if the other services would have stepped up to do their job, I might still be in public school, but alas, I got a taste for the way the IEP played out IRL, and I also got a peek at what Andrew's future would be in the district we are in and we decided to homeschool.

During those preschool years it became clear that Andrew had 'other' issues. When we did the IEP we decided on 'autism' because with a wink and a nod it fit, and we needed additional services. If you look at DSMIV he doesn't really fit. If you look at the 'core deficits' as defined in the RDI program (which we now do), he does fit. He has sensory needs (sensory seeking) and also adhd (either as part of the autism or in addition to it.)

So when it became time for Andrew to transfer out of the preschool, I looked at our options and we began to homeschool. Truthfully, we'd been homeschooling since birth. Even those who know me from preschool years know my heart was never REALLY in the school stuff and we didn't take him full time (which was 9:00-2:00 five days a week.) Our options were:

  • Hearing impaired elementary school: It became apparent that Andrew was much higher in 'skill' for any of the academics in this program. Although we struggle with some of the same subjects now that we did then, I felt he would be extremely bored in this environment. I wanted co-operative type of education and this program seemed restrictive. The HI elementary program has since moved districts. Our old preschool teacher is going to teach kindergarten next year...bummer. I am guessing it is better now.

  • Autism classroom: In one classroom I visited, I was left alone with another parent with the students. The para had left for an early lunch and one of the kids became a 'runner.' The teacher went to catch him..and there we were. In another classroom the kids were on the floor licking toys. (Andrew does lick toys but this is not what I would 'show' as my best day to people.)

  • "Inclusion": Forgive me while I laugh. I visited a classroom with an autistic child "Billy." It was Billy's birthday and the teacher said while I was there, "everyone tell Billy happy birthday." She then said, "see, he's included." In another classroom there was direct instruction going on. The autistic girl had an aid sitting next to her. The person giving the tour said, "you'd never know she was autistic if she didn't have the aid." NO one was doing anything in the could you tell? She was also on the wrong page while the teacher was talking and the aid was not helping in any way. I always thought one polished their shoes for a 'tour'..and if this was their BEST..I was concerned.

So... we homeschool. We began doing RDI formally about a year ago. Andrew is 'high functioning / Aspergerian. He reads very very well..and like many kids on the spectrum has fine tuned his brain connections with non-fiction. We are working toward more fiction this year. Math is..a struggle. He does understand conceptually but facts are difficult. He spells better than his mama. His writing is very much like a preschooler. We are very eclectic and I will write about our curriculum in another post.

That is the semi-expanded version of who we are and how we ended uphere. Andrew is now 10. He is a joy and a challenge. I have grown to 'heart' my kid over the past year. That too is another post.

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