Monday, May 13, 2013
Safety Guy's IEP meeting (8th grade, transition to high school next year - eep!) went pretty well, I think. It was a long meeting, over an hour, but it was okay. We discussed a lot of stuff, including the bullying,his reactions to bullying, his auditory sensitivity issues, and how to help him deal better with peer interactions/bullying as we go on.
It was an "all hands on deck" meeting, with the resource teacher, a regular teacher (science in this case), psychologist, counselor, and vice-principal, plus our son, my husband and myself. We all want the best for SG, but this has been a very tough year, and we all feel that we need to stop his slide and help him make better choices.
Safety Guy's grades have tanked in a couple classes since February, and decreased across the board to a lesser extent. A lot of that is due to stress, both from school and from home-related issues. We've addressed the home stuff, but the school stuff remains a huge problem. We just want to help him get as much of his work made up as possible before the end of this last quarter, and keep him from having a major meltdown at school over bullying or frustration.
I got in writing in his IEP that we had discussed the possible need for a 1:1 aide for him next year. That is NOT our first choice to help him, by the way, but I wanted the discussion open for the future if necessary. Independence issues aside, the schools always dislike spending money where they don't think they have to. Raising the specter of spending extra money always gets their attention. Anyhow, we're not going that route, but I made it clear that he should not NEED another adult with him in school to run interference between him and the bullies. I think they got the point.
We discussed other ways to to deal with his auditory/sensory issues (noise/crowds bother him). One thing that his teacher let him do this year was use his iPod and earbuds while doing individual seatwork or computer work, to tune out distractions. That's in writing in his IEP now. The counselor suggested that Safety Guy take advantage of the offer of "decompression time," to stop by the guidance office when someone is really on his nerves or after a tough class, BEFORE he goes to his next class and tries to "last word" the people who got on his nerves and escalate the situation. Just a few minutes is usually enough for him to get his control back. Getting him to take those few minutes BEFORE he loses control is the key. Also, he benefits from having lunch in a quiet area rather than the cafeteria. The vice principal and counselor said that the librarian (a wonderful teacher in her own right, and just plain a cool person) allows a few kids to eat lunch in the library, and put that out as an option for SG.
While there are always issues of staffing and space at our school (not enough staff due to budget cuts, not enough space ditto), for 9th grade the resource teachers have tried to group SG with students with other similar needs but who are not the main instigators of issues with him. Likewise, the guidance counselor is going to try to use the little flexibility he has in scheduling to try to separate SG from certain students where possible.
It was a positive meeting, even if it wasn't easy. We all want him to succeed. If we can break this negative cycle of bullying or hypersensitivity leading to reaction/overreaction, the his high school years will be MUCH better than junior high has been. We'll see how next year goes.
The proof may be in the pudding, but I prefer baklava :-)