Planning for Parents

I know I’ve talked a bit here about planning. It’s become a bit trendy nowadays, but I have needed and used a planner since my undergrad days, with rehearsals scheduled thither and yon, and assignments due; as my husband says, “people to see, things to do, and dogs to scratch!”

That said, figuring out how to organize all the parts of my life – it’s still a challenge. I’ve been bullet journalling since November of 2015, and found that it really works for me. I’m much more able to keep track of when things are due, upcoming events, and even tracking how often I do x, y, or z, which can come in very handy when I’m, say, working on a goal to read more, or exercise more, or be a better human being.

Recently, I’ve decided to track my moods, as well as the moods of those in my household, as their moods have an effect on my mood (as I’m sure you’ve experienced), and also because I’m getting to that age where moodiness is part and parcel of being a woman and all of the lovely things we go through that bewilder the men in our lives. I realized tracking “moods” would be an excellent thing to do for The Boy, and would help us spot some triggers. The more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea of setting up a “home base” journal for The Boy: notes from meetings, school schedules, records of emails from him (a strategy he uses to regulate when he is upset at school), “hang-out” dates, progress on our Independence Challenge, and plans for the future. Now that we are tracking work and volunteer hours for his high school program, this journal will be perfect for that, too.

Some planning friends suggested that, ideally, The Boy would do this for himself, to which I replied that just getting him to do homework was like pulling teeth, but I think I can find some common ground by letting him know I’m doing it, and allowing him to see, add or change things as he feels the need.

I found this excellent resource for autism parents of any age that would like to do something similar over at andnextcomesl.com – a site that’s new to me, but looks like a bevy of great resources.

When I get it set up and operational, I’ll make sure to come back and share what’s working, what’s not, and how it’s helping me be a better parent (I hope!) 🙂

 

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Transition to High School: He Has No Idea

Last week, I wrote about the “attempt” by the district to get some input from The Boy regarding his future for our upcoming IEP meeting during which we will discuss the transition to high school. The amount of effort put into getting his input was exactly one worksheet, borrowed from another school district. At that time, I was too busy shaking my head to know exactly what to do next.

IMG_4678I took that worksheet and put it into a digestible format (PowerPoint), and added some possible answers for The Boy to choose. I didn’t send anything in on the “due date” which was Friday. Over the weekend, I sat down briefly with The Boy and the roughly 15 slides with questions about his future. “Hm,” he’d say. “Go to the next one,” and “I haven’t really thought about that before,” were common responses. To summarize, I got nothin’. Monday, I sent in my responses to the parent survey (it is now Tuesday morning, and they are still in his backpack, by the way), and emailed his special ed teacher to explain that he didn’t have much response to the student survey, and it was either because he really doesn’t have any idea, or he’s not comfortable sharing his ideas at this time. Her response was that she had a simpler survey format she could send home. No doubt copied from the same school district… I replied that I didn’t think it was the format, as I had modified that for him, but the content was the issue, and that he really has no response.

What do they expect? Mom asks 15 questions or hands him the worksheet and they’re magically going to get profound and thoughtful answers to just what is going on inside my son’s brain? For the umpteenth time in the past three years, I have to ask, “Are you NEW here? Do you not know ANYTHING about autism?”

A serious, thoughtful, student-centered approach would be to integrate some of this transition planning throughout the 8th grade year, directly within the “social skills class” curriculum… You know, that curriculum that the principal wants to change willy-nilly based on what she feels like is important for my son? But what do I know?

I sometimes wish I didn’t know how half-assed they are approaching my kid’s education. Maybe ignorance would be bliss. But I do know, and I’m powerless to change the culture of the school and the district. That change has to come from within. I can scream and shout and threaten legal action all I want, but change is terrifyingly slow in education, and even those on the inside are mostly powerless to change it, as well.

My only course of action is to muddle through and shake my head.

 

 

Do as I Say, Not as I Do

We’ve had much discussion over the past few weeks, the school and I, about executive functioning skills and the need for a homework folder so that I know that what comes home needs to be completed/signed/looked at and returned, and the teachers and TA know the same about things that come from home. His teacher offered up a cat folder two weeks ago… via email, and I haven’t seen a single cat folder since.

Last night, while retrieving The Boy’s band music from his backpack, I found a random envelope that said “return by 3/18,” which contained a “Student Dream Sheet” and a “Parent Transition Survey,” which I have filled out multiple times before. The “Student Dream Sheet” is new, however. I took one look at it and immediately thought, “Yeah, right.”

IMG_4678It is a front and back sheet with 15 open-ended questions on it. I get that they can’t supply multiple choice answers because they are trying to understand just what it is The Boy wants to do in his future, but really? Is this the best way? They really think that this is even a possibility for someone who is fairly nonverbal? And it’s “due” in three days?

I don’t even have words at the moment, and I’m not really sure what I’m going to do about it. Yes, he needs to be involved, and ideally answers to “What kind of job do you want when you graduate?” and “Where do you want to live after graduation?” are important for us to have when considering his high school plan. But to expect that I can just sit down with him in an evening and get these answers (no doubt, preferably in full sentences – ha!) belies how little thought, effort, and expertise is behind this whole thing anyway. Shouldn’t an “assessment” for an IEP meeting follow the dictates of the IEP? Shouldn’t educators modify an information-gathering tool to the child with specific special needs?

“Do you have any significant medical problems that need to be considered when determining post school goals?”

Really?