Thursday, May 28, 2009

Successful school meeting! We're getting somewhere!

Successful school testing meeting!

My husband and I attended a meeting at Ella's school on Tuesday morning with her teacher, her principal, and the special ed resource teacher. Our purpose was to assess Ella's strengths and weaknesses in the classroom and at home, and to specify what areas we feel should be further investigated with educational and psychological testing. I was very surprised at how thorough the meeting was! We see so much more of Ella's tantrums, stress, and lack of age appropriate behaviour at home, that her teacher rarely notices anything out of the ordinary in the classroom. She was very surprised at Ella's recent diagnosis of Asperger's. Ella's principal is an amazing woman. She got her BS in Special Ed, taught for almost 10 years, provided respite care before her kids were born, and has been a principal for a long time. Special ed is her passion. She knows her stuff. As we were going through the questionnaires about Ella's strengths and struggles, the principal would often stop and explain to Ella's teacher that these were things that were indicative of being on the spectrum. She was very gentle, and gave great examples.. it was a good lesson for me in how to educate rather than come off as irritated that you don't believe Ella has Asperger's.

I was most surprised that in her teacher's review of her in general, she said that Ella was a quiet and withdrawn child. No one who has ever met her in her LIFE would say that about Ella. This seems to follow what I have read about girls with Asperger's too, that they tend to hang back on the outskirts of discussion, etc. to pay attention to what others are doing. So this is a side of Ella we have never seen.

In the end, it was decided that Ella would under go what amounts to an educational "full body scan" between now and August. They want to test her IQ, her achievement, her social ability, they intend to give her the WISC, the WIAT, and another Autism Spectrum test as well. The special ed teacher named off several tests, and the principal suggested several more. It was so nice to see that they were so interested in Ella, and they had such nice things to say about her sweet nature, her willingness to follow directions, her willingness to ask for help, they were very very positive. We had homeschooled Ella up until January of this school year, and to be honest, had never thought we would put any of our children in public school. We were shown in several ways why this school is great for her, and have had our decision affirmed several times. It happens to be the year round elementary school where we are districted, and I don't think that was a coincidence either.

Ella will very likely qualify for speech/language help due to her literal/rigid thinking and pragmatics. This may also mean that she secondarily qualifies for OT at school. She will also be able to attend social groups, where I suspect she will fall into the high range of ability.. I am hoping that it makes her feel good about herself that she will be on the outgoing/very verbal end of the social spectrum. I feel like it will be good for the others in there to learn from Ella's realtive social savvy as well.

I would love to hear from other moms of children on the spectrum regarding school testing, IEPs, and what it is like as your child starts getting into adolescence and navigating the new social rules that go along with it. I am so dependent on socialization, and I want to help equip Ella as much as possible with friends who understand, so that she feels understood and validated. She so often cries that I do not understand her. And she's right. But I am learning and reading and researching as fast as I can.


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