So here we are. Sadly the time has put us through the wringer. Summer ended and our 3 boys headed back off to school. We now had a 1st grader, Kindergartner and a Preschooler. We had a bright outlook on the upcoming school year and almost in an instant our dreams of a good year was flushed away by the never ending bad reports and calls from the principle and other staff in the school. We heard and read in daily reports about how awful our kids attention spans were. How badly they disrupted their classes with outburst, tantrums and uncontrollable bad behavior. We even recieved a letter “letting us know” that our oldest had threatened another kid in the bathroom after lunch, and another about our middle boy being found in the handicap stall of the girls bathroom crouched down and rocking with his hands over his ears after telling his teacher he “needed to be alone” and then he bolted. We received never ending frowny faces on all of our youngest daily reports and were told over and over again about his “bad behavior and tantrums” in preschool.
Near the end of our first month of school I was receiving a phone call from the principal about every other day to come and get one of them. Each day after driving the poor kids to school we wondered when the first calls of the day from school would come. It was only after a full hour of screaming about not wanting to go to school, “hating school” and hiding from us that we would eventually drag them out of the car kicking and screaming and leave them in the schools care and hope for the best. (we hated leaving them like this everyday but school has always been the goal and we were desperately trying to find a way to make it work)
I called for many meetings and asked repeatedly for ARC meetings to change the kids IEPs in an effort to help the school understand how to help and teach my kids without disrupting the class room environment and all the other children in school. (we didn’t want them to cater to JUST our kids but we wanted our kids to be successful in school and in a school environment.) No such meeting was ever held.
I called for a meeting with the principal to discuss these issues and requested to see the so called “sensory room” that was supposed to be available to my kids on a regular basis. This room was a platform swing with some nap mats under it, a few excersize balls and some small tables, and a small trampoline with handles on it in the corner. I was shocked. When i heard the word sensory room i expected nylon or spandex swings, sensory lights, a ball pit, pads to keep the kids safe or at least carpet to protect them if they fell. It was basically an empty room with some craptastic excuses for sensory equipment. I new that they needed more not just for my kids but for all special needs kids in the school. It was great to have a room dedicated to a “sensory room” but they needed the equipment to make it one.
I immediately volunteered to work on the room and find donations to get the things that the sensory kids in the school so desperately needed. I was told there was NO budget for anything. the next day i dropped off a sheet with resources and a few ideas for some simply and almost free sensory room equipment. They said thank you and nothing was ever said to me about it again. I think they had good intentions but lacked the effort to do anything about it.
With the constant calls from school i learned quickly to keep my cell phone on me at all times expecting them to call at any time informing me that i needed to come “Get Him”. WOW! The final straw that broke my back (and my patients) was when I had casually asking the kids about school that day and Hunter tells me, “I had to speak to a cop today” I said, “oh, did everyone get to talk to him?” “No” he replied, “just me”
Wait...What... RED FLAGS! “what did you talk to him about?”
“He told me about good choices and bad choices and I was making bad choices.”
I instantly called my husband who was out on an errand and said, “How far away from the house are you?” He replied “about 2 minuets. Why?” to which I replied the following, “You need to be home right now because I am about to be arrested because I am going up to the school to RAISE SOME HELL!!!”
He pulled in and with out hesitation I jumped in my car and burned it up to school with steam coming out of my ears. I was almost shaking I was so mad. When i got to school the doors were locked and I yelled out, “ARE YOU KIDDING ME!!!” As I turned and started storming back to my car to get my phone to call repeatedly til someone let me in, the principals window opened and he told me he was coming to let me in.
We talked.....he told me he was at a lose with Hunter and didn’t know what to do. He told me that he had tried to contact me but my phone was by my side all day so i had a hard time believing him. He also told me that a cop wasn’t called on my 5 year old but that the correction officer that services the school was called over to talk to him. Next iIasked, why was he in the office THIS time? The principal didn’t know because he was out of the school til 10 or 11am and Hunter was already there when he walked into the office. Then the words i don’t think i will forget for a long time....”at this point he’s not even getting and education”....(i felt kind of bad for the guy for about a second. This was his very first year as a principal and he was in our school dealing with my autistic kids. But once he said that my kid wasn’t even getting an education anymore, i was done. I felt like they had completely given up on teaching my children after only one and a half months of school.
I asked this principle what HE wanted to do. I told him i didn’t think i was going to be bringing him back the next day and that i would be thinking about when and IF i would be bringing him back at all. He kindly said he would give us a principals excuse for the next days absence and he has never looked me in the eyes after that day. (like i said, i feel for the guy. i truly think he had NO IDEA what to do or how to educate my autistic children. I think he had a great desire to but nothing was being done so i wasn’t about to send my kids back into that kind of a “learning environment”.)
I sent my other 2 kids for 3 more days and then on fall break i pulled them from that school and began homeschooling. And now in one month we have gone from my young children being told they are “Bad kids” and having to talk to a correction officer about “Bad Choices” and the fact that they HATED SCHOOL AND LEARNING to a total 360. Now they LOVE learning. Their IQ is skyrocketing and they are total educational self starters. They are highly motivated and even have favorite subjects and ask when our “education time” is gonna start everyday. AMAZING!
Mason is in love with science and can’t get enough of building inventions with the old used stuff he finds around the house. His handwriting is impeccable and he is exited and finds joy in learning again. Hunter had taken off with his favorite subjects, the anatomy of the body, Meteorology or anything having to do with weather. His favorite pass time now is full on anatomy apps for med students on the Ipads. (we do regulate Tech time in our house and have only educational apps on our IPad.) Little Ammon is still struggling with the new routine of being at home, but he seems so much happier and his anxieties and fears have been cut in half. Most of the time he is our fun goofy sensory seeking Ammon again. His worksheets are improving daily and his speech is also making progress.
It was a reluctant, agonizing, pray full decision to pull the kids from school and take on homeschooling them all. Doing Ot and sensory therapy every few hours to keep them regulated and also adding in behavior therapy, Aqua Therapy and even structured social play therapy is all consuming. None of these things are an easy process and require so very much work on my part and on my husbands part. We made this decision as a family and we accomplish the day to day of it as a family. The children are held accountable for daily work and are cut NO SLACK when it comes to doing the work completely and correctly.
Some days are great and run smoothly but other days seem like a complete disaster and you feel like someone is always melting down in the house. BUT with each passing day and week we get more good days than bad and we are making progress and learning what will work and what won’t.
We didn’t ask for a special needs family but we will never let ANYONE tell us that our children aren’t WORTH THEIR EFFORT. God brought these kids into this earth for a reason and i am never gonna hold them back from what they can accomplish with a little understanding and the freedom to learn and explore the way that works best for them. Although there are so many times that it doesn’t feel like it, we are truly blessed to have these little geniuses in our lives and i wouldn’t change a thing. It is frustrating, tiring, all consuming, heartbreaking to raise our children but it is even more rewarding, loving and enlightening and we are grateful and prayerfully thank God everyday for the GIFT that is OUR FAMILY.