Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Looking Ahead

Safety Guy's annual IEP meeting is just around the corner, so I met with his teacher today for a conference as she's getting ready to prepare his IEP for 8th grade.  We're on the same page regarding Safety Guy's abilities and needs, so it was a pretty stress-free meeting.  It's never pleasant to discuss your child's difficulties and poor choices, which we did, but Mrs. W. was equally willing to tally his strengths and positive choices. 

Safety Guy has been struggling to get homework done off and on all year.  We've tried to give him as much independence as possible as a 7th grader, but he clearly needs closer supervision in this area - much to his intense dismay.  We've been through a couple rounds of this before:  "Show us you can make an honest effort and turn in the assignments, and we won't be looking over your shoulder and your daily agenda all the time.  Slacking off and not turning in work means we'll be on your case."  Well, we're back to being nosy parents now until the end of the school year. 

One thing that has been on my mind is the likelihood that our son would be having classes with many of the same disruptive, bullying kids again next year.  I know that formally "tracking" students into classes by ability fell into disfavor years ago.  I don't have hard stats, but I think it's making a comeback under other names as school districts have been increasingly finding that keeping classes with mixed abilities across the board creates problems of its own - namely, that the students who WANT to learn CAN'T learn well in a class with a number of high-maintenance behaviorally challenged kids, and the middle of the road kids get ignored or fall behind.  Mainstreaming is good for special needs students, but what about those students who may or may not have any special needs educationally, but definitely have issues with their behavior that require more of a teacher's time than the rest of the class combined?   Safety Guy's school has quite a few of these students at every grade level (most schools do), with a cluster of them in junior high right now for some reason.

My concern is that if Safety Guy has to continue to be in classes with the kids who are disruptive and bullying to him, will he act more and more like them?  Or will he eventually lash out physically at them, not just verbally?  I'm not content to leave him in a lose-lose situation until he snaps, then punish him for not having superhuman patience and self-control.  As far as I'm concerned, he's been expected to have patience and self-control beyond what most kids with AS can normally muster for almost two years, and it's a miracle he hasn't clocked someone by now.  But to maintain this level of control for another year (or two or three) in that situation?  That's just cruel and unfair to him.  I brought up the issue of next year's class makeup, and Mrs. W. understood completely.  But, God bless Mrs. W., she told me today that a special class for "difficult" students has been proposed for our junior high school.  And, she has already told the powers that be that Safety Guy is NOT an appropriate candidate for such a class and would not benefit from it at all.  In fact, it could have the opposite effect on him, and set him back for years to come.  So, she's got our backs.

That's a huge relief for my husband and I.