Wednesday, June 3, 2009

It's Unfair But We Must Push On

I joked with my para this morning that perhaps at least one of the children would not show this morning and give us a break we deserved from yesterday's "busy-ness." One of the boys was late but when we took them to the room after breakfast he did very well.

In case I didn't mention it before, three of the kids are autistic of the four boys that have been coming. The only girl has not shown up yet. Two of the boys are basically nonverbal and according to the paperwork,like to run. Fortunately, they have only run inside the class--but if we tell them to sit or stand still to do an activity, they usually will. Outside the class, I hold the hand of one while the para holds the hand of the other. Although it requires we use a lot of patience and energy we find them enjoyable. It's interesting to get to know all of the little idiosyncrasies of individual children with autism. Generally, they are happy children. They just require so much energy!!

My busiest student placed his book bag on the right table without being reminded and went to the sign-in table. He allowed hand-over-hand writing of his name, which he seems to love to do. He knows it is his name and he can pick his name card from those of the other children.

I have to share how I do the name cards each summer because if you are another teacher this is an idea for you. When I find out the names of the children I get card stock paper. I usually use Print Shop Deluxe but this time I used Microsoft Word Art in a regular Microsoft Word document. I set the layout as "landscape." The type of font I use is Comic Sans because it more closely resembles handwriting. Make sure the letters are hollow so that the children can trace inside each letter of their names. Beneath the name I make a few lines for writing and a few shapes for tracing. I have a tabletop laminating machine and the film laminates stiff copies and makes rounded edges. After the name cards are laminated I have the children trace their names using dry erase markers. At the end of the day, I can just wipe the cards off to use the next day. Except for one these children are not visually impaired but this is a good activity for children with low vision. Hmmm. I guess I should take a photo and post it here.

We started the "Chips Club" today. My highest functioning child, with whom we have had no problems except for him wanting to be first in everything and not want any child to touch him, was having a bad morning. He went off when he had an X by his name. I'm thinking I will use a "caught being good" rather than "caught being bad" method because it sounds like he has been called bad quite a bit and feels horrible about that, even thinking we didn't like him. Although I tried to reassure him that we loved him and wanted to show him how to behave with his peers I had to restrain him for a while so that he would not kick and throw chairs at the other children.

About that time the lead teacher came in and said that our classes had to move to the outside rooms in 30 minutes to make room for the "regular" kids and coming for the LEAP program. That meant my baby who was in the throws of a temper tantrum was not the only one upset! We not only had to move but we now have to share rooms in the outside classrooms!

When that child who was just calming down, saw us taking down all the posters and packing up all the books, he panicked big time! He did not want to change rooms and tried to stop us from removing the posters and charts.

I'm used to being in the arts and having arts programs shut down first to save money. It's not fair but there are ways a teacher can include them in her daily operations. But when people decide that special classes and the children in them are not as important and can be shuffled wherever it gets to me. Often they think since we have fewer children we need less space. Not true. We often need the same space as a class of 20 with five to seven special needs children because of the activities and special materials/equipment our children need.Then, our kids need routine and disrupting a routine is tougher on our children--especially those with autism and Asperger's syndrome---than it would be with other children. No this was not a happy day for my kids or their teacher!

However, here is another thing to leave up to God while I will do my best to push on. It meant staying late to divide and decorate a new and smaller classroom. It means coming in a little earlier in the morning to make sure all is straight before the children arrive---but we will push on and we will succeed. With His help all my students will accomplish their summer IEP goals.

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