Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Teacher reply about Ella's coloring

Edited specific copied text to cover my butt. Sorry. Didnt think about that.

The gist of the note is as follows:

She is sorry my daughter felt insulted, and she thought she made the directions clear. The purpose of the coloring sheet was to be used in a sharing activity later to help the kids get to know each other.

She said she told Ella that the way she colored was not the way the directions were given. She wants to talk to Ella and tell her what she meant. She wanted Ella to do a quality job, not hurt her feelings. And she asked my permission to talk to her.


I'm relatively non-plussed with the reply. Firstly, there is a bit difference between "I don't allow that kind of coloring in my class." If the teacher had said "You didn't color the squares the way I asked you to", that's actually a whole different sentence. They both require explanation.. the first is more abstract and dismissive, and sounds like she is reprimanding. The second sounds less harsh and is more descriptive. So honestly, I'd like to know what she said and how she said it.

Right now, I am thinking I will let it go.. BUT, I will send a note in giving permission for her to talk to Ella in private to apologize, and ask that she be allowed to re-do the page with much more specific instruction.

Comment, please!!! I'd love to hear your take on this.

Wordless Wednesday

What do you do when a teacher insults your Aspie's ability?

Yesterday was Ella's second day of 4th grade. She attends a year-round school (pretty common in our area), and attends 9 weeks on, 3 weeks off with a long break around Christmas. She got in the car yesterday afternoon and did not seem herself. I asked her to tell me about her day, and she gave a brief and un-detailed overview. She is just about as verbose and enthusiastic as her mother, so I knew something was not right. When she got to a particular point in her description of her day, she told me that she didn't think she could tell me about it because it might make her too sad. I asked her why, and she said that she had gotten her feelings hurt by her teacher.

I asked if she would feel better if I were holding her hand while she told me, and she said yes.

This is the conversation as best as I can recall. I wrote it down right after we got home.

Ella: "We were in the media center doing testing for reading groups, and everybody was coloring on coloring sheets while we waited for our turn. My teacher saw my coloring page and told me "I don't allow that kind of coloring in my class.".

Me: "Were you being noisy and scribbling fast?"

Ella: "No."

Me: "Were you angry and coloring loudly?"

Ella: "No."

Me: "Let me get this straight. You were coloring a coloring page, and not drawing an abstract picture of something she didn't like?"

Ella: "We were coloring two coloring pages that the teacher gave us to do while we waited for our turn, we were't drawing."

Me: "Well, I can't understand what she meant by now allowing "that kind of coloring" in her class. What did you think she meant?"

Ella: "I don't know what she means either. I was coloring like I always color, the way you taught me, I didn't know there was another way to color."

Me: "I don't think there is another way to color, Ella. I am sorry she said that to you."

(Hmm. I just can't figure out how to not interpret this a different way than it seems. Let's see if I can get any more information about the setup.)

Me: "Were you sitting with other people when she said this? Can you explain to me what she scene was, so I can picture it in my head?"

Ella: "Yes, I was sitting with other people at a table. My teacher had come from the testing table and told everyone to be quiet. She walked over to my table and looked at my paper, and said "I don't allow that kind of coloring in my class"

Me: "Did she talk to anyone else that you could see about their paper?"

Ella: "No."

Me: "Were there any instructions about how to color the pages?"

Ella: "No."

Me: "Ella, how did you feel when she said that?"

Ella: "I felt sad. I felt like she said my coloring was messy and bad. I tried to color over it and fix it after she left my table. I just don't understand what I did wrong!"

Me: " I can understand why you are frustrated and upset. I can understand why you felt judged. It was not helpful for her to tell you that she didn't "allow that kind of coloring" if she didn't explain what kind of coloring she did expect, and exactly what you were doing wrong that made her say something."

Ella: "Will you talk to her and find out what I did wrong?"

Me: "Yes, I can e-mail her or call her, but I want to talk to Papa and Grandma first, so they can help me know what to say, okay?"

She agreed, and went to play with Maddie. I sat down and wrote the conversation out, and then called my husband. He was livid. He was angry particularly at the abstractness of what the teacher said, and her lack of pointing out what she was doing wrong, and what she wanted. He and I both assume that she has read Ella's file and knows she has delays with fine motor control.. if not that she has Asperger's and has trouble with inference.

For you teachers out there, I am certainly aware that I got only Ella's side of the story. I am interested in hearing her teacher's side of the story, and this is the email I sent, after talking to my mom, who calmed and focused me:

I am sorry to be emailing you twice in the course of a week, I have not been known to be a helicopter/hovering mom! I like that we can email teachers, but I don't tend to use it very often.


Hi Mrs. B:

The purpose of this email is that Ella recounted a conversation she had with you today, and I wanted your take on it, if you had a few minutes.

She said that during the time the class was in the media center, they were allowed to color a few coloring pages. She said that you came to talk to her at her table and said words to the effect of,"I don't allow that kind of coloring in my class.".

Ella did not know what you meant by saying that. She interpreted your words to mean that her coloring was not good enough and she felt insulted. She was upset while telling me the story, and wanted to hold my hand while she told me.

I know your day was long and full, and you might not even remember the conversation. But I would be grateful if you would share your take on this interaction and let me know What you were trying to get across to her.


I wanted to get across what I heard, how Ella was feeling when she told me the story, and I tried to be low key and conversational, showing that I was not jumping to any conclusions. The hardest part was being brief.

Now, if she did say this, if she has something to say about Ella's lack of motor skills appropriate for a 4th grader, and she has read Ella's file... well.. we are going to use some stronger words.

She was so sad, and I can't imagine how that must have made her feel to be both sad and confused by a new teacher on the second day. It sure doesn't set a good tone for the rest of the year!!!

I will update you when I hear back from the teacher. I guess I will call her tonight.


Still haven't heard from the teacher. Here is Ella's interpretation of what the coloring page looked like and how she colored it. I still can't get past her teacher having this discussion about coloring page busy work in the 4th grade.

Monday, July 27, 2009

I'm guest posting at today

I have a guest post today at Mamikaze's website, "Rage Against the Washing Machine" . I decided to write about Mollie, the sweet tiny girl who inspired me to major in special education and gave me a lifelong tenderness for children with special needs. I would love for you to go check out Mamikaze's blog and have a look around at who she supports and reads. She is a really cool woman and a thoughtful, honest writer! Thanks, Astacia!!!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

"Top 10 Reasons I am Excited to Stay Home with My Family this Coming Weekend."

I did not make it to BlogHer '09, because I just started blogging right before it happened. It sounds like an awfully big deal, and I would have been overwhelmed as a total newbie. I am planning to go to the Type A Mom Conference in Asheville, NC in September, and hope to learn a lot about writing, marketing, finding my niche, etc.

Cozi is sponsoring 15 moms attending Type A Mom Con who are not attending Blogher 09, and I would love to be one of the moms chosen! The rules are that the moms with the most comments to their top 10 reasons post will be chosen. So comment away!!!

10. I get to REST after two crazy weeks in a row! Nashville vacation, then having guests for part of this week.

9. Getting to spend time with my friend Holly, who I havent seen in 6 years, who came to visit during BlogHer!

8. I am nursing my toddler, and taking him to BlogHer would have been disastrous as would leaving him at home. I am very happy to stay home and continue nursing him :)

7. I would have not had the opportunity to find out that there was an opportunity to get sponsorship to the TypeAMomCon!

6. I will spend WAY too much time late tonight uploading and tweaking my Cozi account, I have a new toy!! :)

5. I will get to attend worship with my husband and children at our church, and that is a big part of our life.

4. I have a fantastic African Curry dinner cooking upstairs, not to be missed!

3. I have had a unique opportunity to meet bloggers and friends on twitter that I might have missed were it not for BlogHop09, and subsequent twitter non blogher party events!

2. The anticipation for BlogHer 10 is palpable, and seeing tweets and pictures from the BlogHer goers helps me really get motivated to go next year!

1. I don't have to shave my legs for this :)

BlogHop '09 Introduction to me and my family

I am way way far down the BlogHop '09 links list, so thank you VERY much for coming to visit me!

I am a brand new blogger (which may or may not be painfully obvious), and I started in earnest not long after my oldest daughter was diagnosed with Aspergers. Entries about her will figure largely into my blog, but there are plenty of other things I am passionate about and want to blog about.

My blog title references the fact that I am pursuing harmony in my family and balance in my life as a mom, wife, daughter, friend, housekeeper, cook, laundress, blogger, and twitter-er.

My brief bio:

nearly overwhelmed mom of 4 trying to stay ahead of the chaos
a perpetually late, mostly disorganized, schedule-hating stay home mom
a homeschooler
geek wife
sci-fi fan
a singer
an amateur genealogist
avid reader/bibliophile
a researcher of pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, circumcision, and vaccination.
a 3 time homebirther
a good listener
an out-of-the-box thinker
a special needs mom and a spectrum mom
an advocate for my kids' special needs
I was recently described as being a tough cookie with a big heart

I think that just about covers it!

I love social media. I have been online since 1993, first on IRC in chatrooms, then on email lists, then on discussion forums. Twitter has given me a new level of making connections, and linking me to some wonderful blogs. I think I've been a social media addict for a LONG time. Doesn't hurt that I am outgoing and love to talk!

I love to help people connect. I thrive on making deep connections with others, talking about difficult subjects and learning from them, helping others find support systems and likeminded friends. Not surprisingly, my college major was special ed and psychology.

I met my husband on the internet in a Christian, college-age chatroom, and he bought our wedding rings and my engagement rings five weeks after we started dating. He proposed to me on the anniversary of the day we met in person and in the place where he told me he wanted to marry me during that first weekend we met in person. He is a stable force in my life, generous with his praise (which is good since my "love language" is words of affirmation!), a man of integrity, and the head of our household. I gladly submit to him because he "gets it" and cherishes my submission to him. The books "Reforming Marriage" by Doug Wilson and "Love and Respect" by Emerson Eggerichs have been very influential in our married life.

Our children are Ella (9), Maddie (6), Annelise (3), and Teddy (1). While Maddie has ADHD and as a result requires some extra effort to channel and restrain and focus.. Ella takes the lion's share of our efforts to parent. My husband has said that she takes about 50% of our focus, and the other 3 children don't come close to the other %50 percent all together.

I hope you will let me know that you've come to visit my blog, and I hope you will check back again. Please visit the links on the right side of my blog, I would love for you to meet the people that inspire me to share and connect!

My family:

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: Teddy's First Train Ride

Monday, July 20, 2009

Our first family hike, quite an emotional experience

While on vacation this past week, our family hiked at Coker Creek Falls in eastern TN. We chose this day trip from a local book about daytrips near Murphy, North Carolina. About 3/4 of the way there, our oldest, Ella, started asking questions about the hike. She had been on some hikes before with her dad and her YMCA Indian Princess tribe, but she did not know what to expect from this place that no one in the car was familiar with. We gave her the booklet so she could read about Coker Creek Falls to see if that helped at all. We tried our best to answer her questions, and give her encouragement, but things went downhill quickly..

"What if I break my arm or leg?"

"How will we find crutches in the woods?"

"This says rock ledges! My mind is not running away with me! I'm gonna die!"

*major meltdown ensues* We talk. We reassure.

Papa: "Ella, do you trust us? Have we ever taken you somewhere to do something that we knew was not safe?

Mama: We brought Annelise and Teddy with us. Would we bring the little ones to someplace we thought was very dangerous and where one of you could die?"

She becomes slightly more rational...
"There are a lot of bad things that could happen that I'm afraid of. I was all excited till I found out what this hike was!"

We reflect her feelings.
"I know we have never been to Coker Creek Falls. I know it is a new experience and that can make you nervous and scared. I know that you are afraid that you could get hurt. But we are here to keep you safe and to make sure nothing bad happens to you"

We encourage.
"You can do it! It's an adventure! Come with us!"

By the time we got to the parking lot, I was emotionally exhausted already and my ears were hurting from her crying and yelling. Seriously. I did not know how I was going to hike, let alone have the resources to help my children.

Our first stop was this first waterfall section, where Maddie took a picture of me, and I took a picture of her.

Not long after these were taken, we came to a manmade set of stairs and railings meant to help you descend to an area recommended for going out onto the falls and even hiking up the rocky crags in the falls! Maddie, Annelise, and I scampered down to the bottom, but realized that we needed to have worn crocs or water shoes, as well as swimsuits, to enjoy the falls that way. We scampered back up, and attempted to continue on our hike.

Ella was having none of that. She took one look down the path, as it narrowed and curved downward, and started absolutely freaking out.

She started stomping her feet, clinging to her father, and screaming to have someone stay with her or take her back to the car. The Doctor and I discussed things, and decided that she needed to be brave and come along, because the rest of the family wanted to take the hike. He worked with her for a while, and then let me try.

Ella "I can't go on any further!"
Mama: "Yes you can, I know you can do this."

Ella "I'll just stay here"
Mama: "Ella, you can't stay here."
Ella: "Ground me from everything, just please don't make me do it!"

I felt badly for her. I knew she was really really terrified. But I also knew that this was a teachable moment, and that if she would come and have the adventure with us, that she would be proud of herself for doing it.

I showed her that her little sister Annelise was ambling up and down the trail ahead of us. I reminded her that I had done a scouting mission ahead of us to check out the trail. I asked her if she would hold onto me with her hands around my arm, and showed her that I would hold her around the shoulders, and that we could go a little ways. We took baby steps, but we made some progress past the manmade railing point. She was still hiccuping a little, and shaking and clinging to me, but we started down the path with no more verbal resistance!


A few times we even got to the point where she was just holding my hand and not clinging to me!

We started on our return trip about 20 minutes later, and she had relaxed enough to converse and look around. I suggested that we each take a small quartz-looking stone from the path to remind us of our journey, and she agreed to do that.

Annelise was hiking ahead of us, and chirped "We hiking in the magic rainbow forest!"

Ella deadpanned: "Magic Rainbow Forest? More like plummeting to my death!"

I have a ray of sunshine and a little black storm cloud, don't I?

Before the end of the hike, Maddie and Ella both came out into the middle of the waterfall with me, a HUGE success for Ella! See the death grip on my arm?

Afterward, she did say that she was glad she had hiked, that it was very pretty, and that she appreciated that I had my hand on her the whole time.

Mission Accomplished!!!

Here are some other pictures from the hike:

Have you had a family hiking experience? What was the first one like? I would love to hear about it!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Meltdowns and real life coping skills

My parents came to visit this week, and Ella is tracked out from school (year round). She was wonderfully well behaved.. we went to an indoor play space, then McDonalds and played in the play area. Lots of crowds, lots of potential for overload. She was helpful and totally cool all day.

My parents weren't probably out of the driveway, and my husband was brushing her hair. Her hair is very long, and she has some motor coordination issues that prevent her from really doing an adequate job. She started to wail like she was being crucified or drawn and quartered. I gave my husband control of bathing the sweet Teddy fella, and took over hair brushing.

Ella told me she likes it when I brush her hair because I take smaller sections of hair, and that I joke about the rats living in her hair and that they are yelling as I am brushing them out. I asked if she was having trouble brushing her hair like she needed to, and she said yes. I asked her if she wanted me to start taking over her hair brushing twice a day, and she said yes to that too. She asked if I would start doing her body brushing again too. She HATED the Willbarger technique skin brushing that we did when she was having private occupational/sensory therapy. So for her to ask, that was really awesome!

While I was brushing her skin and doing joint compressions, we had this great talk..

Me: "When Grandma and Grandpa left, did you know you were going to lose control?"

Ella: "Yeah"

Me: " Do you sometimes know if you are going to lose it after a hard day at school?"

Ella: "Yeah"

Me: "Because you remember when I told you that when you get in the car and freak out on us, it's like you become a tornado and throw stuff at us with your words? It would be really nice to know that is coming. Because it doesn't happen every time I come get you."

Me: " How do you deal with being stressed at school?"

Ella: "I am silent most of the day. I can't cry unless I get really hurt or something."

Me: "Yeah, your teacher did mention that during our meeting with her and the principal and the school psychologist"

Me: "How do you feel when you can't cry or lose control at school when you are stressed out?"

Ella: "Like I am in a cage"

(I felt really sad when I heard that!!!)

Me: "When you know you have had a stressful day, and have been keeping quiet through hard stuff, and you KNOW you are going to lose it in the car or right when you get home, can you think of something you might be able to tell me to let me know you might have a meltdown?"

Ella: "I think I feel a storm coming on."

Me: "I think that's a great idea! If you feel like you're getting close to a meltdown, can you try to remember to say that? Add I will try to ask that if it looks like you're starting to lose it, ok?"

Ella:" OK mama, thanks for brushing me!"

Ella with her stuffed cat, her skin brush, and a big smile!

I love when we have the opportunity to talk about meltdowns when she is NOT melting down. I think she did some great communicating, and we made a great connection and a plan for how to work the issue of meltdowns. I am really pleased!

Have you had a conversation with your child about how to cope with things in public, or with behaviours at home when you are not in the moment? When you can plan ahead for how to handle those situations? How did that go for you? Was it something that adapted well, or am I in for a defiant, tearful "No! I DON"T feel like there's a storm coming on! Leave me alone!!!!" the next time I try this??

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

How about you?

I don't know how to tag, or who would want to complete this particular meme, so I'll just volunteer some potentially interesting things about me in this post!

The 2 rules of tagging are: (this is what you do)
1. respond and rework; answer the questions on your blog, replace one question that you dislike with a question of your invention,
add one more question of your own (don't feel obliged as it's quite long already!)
2.Tag eight other people (and, let them know, of course!)

Here goes :

What is your current obsession?
Categorizing my twitter friends, learning about blogging, reading about Aspergers and Non Verbal Learning Disorder

What is your greatest achievement?
Figuring out how to parent 4 kids simultaneously!

Coffee or Tea?
Chai Tea for me!

What’s for dinner?
Chickety Chinese Chicken Salad

What have you just made?
a blog!

What are you listening to right now?
Adverts before the movie "Journey To The Center of the Earth" starts, and my children chattering

What is your favourite ice cream flavour?
Coconut at Pelican's drive thru

What do you think of the person who tagged you?
I don't know her well, but she is a fun person to tweet with, and I am honored to have received a tag!

If you could go anywhere in the world for the next hour, where would you go?
Into a deep sleep. Seriously!

Which language do you want to learn?

What’s your favorite quote (for now)?
Other People are Other People!

What is your favourite colour?

What is your dream job?
Professional singer/dancer in musicals on Broadway. In an alternate life! In this life, I have it, I am a stay home mom

Do you admire any one’s style?
My friend Alicia's style

Describe your personal style?
Attempting to be classic with some hippy thrown in

What are you going to do after this?
make eggs for breakfast for my 6 yr old

What is your favourite fruit?

What inspires you?
Jesus, my family

Your favourite book?
one of my favorite series is the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon

Your favourite film?
one favourite is 13 Going on 30

Do you collect something?
old family pictures

What is your favourite smell?

What are you most proud of?
my level of patience growing to fit my growing family

How many times do you press the snooze button before you get up?
Toddlers don't have snooze buttons

Cats or dogs?

Complete the following:
Love is something that you do, not only what you feel

What would you like to make next?
a children's novel

What the best piece of advice you have been given?
Other people are other people. They are not you. Their thought and opinions and decisions are all theirs.

How important is networking with & supporting other artists in your own work / How has it helped you? (emotionally, creatively, business wise, etc.)
It has helped me creatively, emotionally steadied and undergirded me, and given me confidence!

Where would your ideal vacation/holiday spot be? Why?
New Zealand. It seems like one of those places where there is still untouched natural beauty left in the world.

Why were you give your particular name? Is there a story behind it?
My parents loved my first name, and my middle name is in honor of my aunt.


Party 2nite! Come to @TrueFemme 's #TrickorTweet Party & don't forget to visit her stop on the scavenger hunt!

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