Saturday, February 9, 2013

Good Times in 4th Grade

I know it's been forever. Sorry. I was distracted by...well..stuff. Ok. I will admit it. I think I've been holding my breath since the start of the school year. My motto has has been to hope for the best, but expect the worst. But experience has taught me to basically hold on to my ass, this roller coaster has just started the ascent. So this school year has thrown me completely off, and I just can't relax and enjoy the ride. It has been my DS's best and most rewarding, and it has me more nervous as hell. This is the year we decided to try the big push into GenEd. Considering what a disaster the end of 3rd grade was for us (multiple suspensions, an FBA), we did know that we needed to try something different. The Oregon Virtual Academy was one viable option, but we decided to request Isaac start GenEd first. Last year he had almost zero time out of the CB classroom, so we did not have high hopes. But he started, first day, in a 4th grade classroom. And it's been great so far. Can I say that aloud? Will I jinx it? In the beginning, he was spending only 50% of his time in GenEd. Now, 90%. He only returns to The CB classroom for social skills, speech, and occasional handwriting support. The only pieces he is not doing in GenEd is cursive and spelling, but I have requested that we add that to his curriculum as well, even if it is just for practice. He is starting to make friends there, although this has been a slower process. But he feels liked and supported. And that is pretty darn good. Now the question of why. Why now? What changed? This has been bopping around my head for the last few months and I have come up with a few theories. Not all very great individually, but together there might be an answer. 1. He was bored in the CB classroom. Although Alameda's CB room is supposed to be an 'academic' one, with most kids just managing behavioral problems but academically near or at grade level, that really isn't the case right now. Love the teacher, love the support team, they've been awesome. But many kids struggle with the most basic academics, and the behavior issues are often so overwhelmingly that academics are just getting pushed to the side. Isaac was spending a lot of time waiting and not doing. 2. Role modeling. When melt downs are common in your classroom, you think that is an acceptable way to communicate your problems. It's the old 'monkey-see monkey-do' effect. 3. He's older. He's 10yo now, and I can tell in many ways he is maturing and handling things better. He seems more self-aware, and seems more in control. 4. His GenEd teacher is amazing, and his entire classroom is a celebration of the slightly geeky - even rocking a Star Trek theme! And many of the kids in his class seem to be slightly shy and bookish, a good combo for him. 5. Zoloft. So who knows. Time will tell.


  1. Kind of amazing that I thought to check in today after so many months! I'm so glad his year is going well. Big hug! Congratulations mama!!

  2. That's so amazing, Kristen! Is sounds like it's finally all coming together :) So glad I found you again. Keep ORVA in mind for a back-up plan, but keep doing what you guys are doing -- we're rooting for ya'!

    ETA: if hand-writing seems to be a stumbling block (and it isn't always - some kids love it), could you have your DS keyboard? We're faster at typing in the audball household, so creative writing used to be done with the alphasmart from the learning center. Now we use our computers for ORVA, but note-taking is tricky!

  3. Your #2 reason is why we chose to place our son in a gen ed classroom from the beginning. (We are also in the PPS system) Considering that every appropriate behavior must be learned, and since he doesn't generalize, they have to be learned over and over again in every situation, we wanted his models to be neurotypical peers.

    Kinder was tough, first was harder, but things began to smooth out and this year (3rd) has been fabulous.

    My son also has a lot of trouble with handwriting. I purchased a NetBook (basically a light weight laptop) that he can use for writing assignments. He still has to write for handwriting practice, but for actual paragraph writing, he can use the netbook. This works for us because 1. My son is an excellent typist, and uses the computer at home a lot, 2. The school is super supportive and 3. I was able to spend a couple hours in the classroom every day for the first couple of months of school teaching him where to store and charge the computer, how to open and save documents, etc.

  4. Isaac has an Alpha Smart that he uses in class, which helps for now, but has serious limitations. He uses our Ipad with a bluetooth keyboard attachment at home, which has worked great.

  5. Whoops! Hit publish too soon! I always feel as if I am making all of my mistakes with him, polishing my approach for my daughter, who is in 1st grade and has the exact same Dx as my son. It has been much easier so far with her, and I am more confident with our approach. I finally told Isaac he was a trail blazer for his sister, and hopefully that makes him feel empowered.