Monday, June 28, 2010

A Letter of Thanks

I'm sharing with you all a letter of thanks to my son's school. He just finished elementary school and will be heading off the world of middle school in September. Because I taught at that school (beginning when Adam was in 3rd grade) he was pupil placed there. When I left, his principal allowed him to remain there so he would not have to switch school. This school also feeds into his base middle school, so the friends he met would be continuing on with him also.

I wrote this letter, because I think all too often schools (administrators and teachers) don't get even close to the credit they deserve. Yea - just as in every profession, there are definitely some schools that could use some room for improvement. But there are also lots of schools that are doing amazing jobs with our kids. And they don't get thanked enough. Because Adam's principal allowed him to stay, and because of the wonderful job they did with him I felt they definitely deserved a special thank you. It is because of teams like Adam had, that he was able to get where he is today developmentally. (Names, of course, have been changed)

Dear Dr. Principle and Ms. Assistant Principle,

We are writing this to thank you for allowing Adam to be pupil placed at Best Elementary School for the past four years. Our entire family has completely enjoyed our experience here.

When Adam began 3rd grade at Best Elementary School he didn't have the most positive attitude towards school. After his first day Dad and I could see it turning in a different direction. When asked how his day went he exclaimed, "Mom, Dad, I'm gonna have to listen! At this school when the teacher asks a question she doesn't need to repeat it because everyone was listening. So someone answers and she moves on! Which means I won't be bored anymore! Which means maybe I won't get into mischief anymore!"

At some point in September of 3rd grade he also put away his car carpet (a small floor carpet that has roads and buildings printed on it to drive Matchbox cars on). You see, all through 2nd grade he had this carpet out in a quiet area of the house. The roads were jam packed with Matchbox cars lined up in traffic jams. Most days after school he would go to the carpet and re-arrange the traffic jams. While doing so he would be quietly mumbling to himself, but stop whenever someone entered the room. Dad and I had always thought this was another display of his Aspergers Syndrome - a fixation and perseverate play. Sometimes he would be there for 10 minutes, sometimes up to an hour. Of course, we would always guide him away and back into 'our world', but it was clear this was part of his routine - this need to re-arrange the traffic jams and line cars up just so on the roads.

We asked him why he put it away. His answer completely took us by surprise. He said, "Because the traffic jams in my life are gone finally." Upon further questioning he shared with us that each road represented a different part of his day - morning work, math, reading, lunch, specials, home, etc. Depending on how each part of the day went depended on how much of a traffic jam there was in the afternoon. Some cars were even associated with specific people. The more he perceived them as irritating him, the more they were towards the front of the traffic jam line. The days there were crashes were the days he was sent to the Principal's office, severely reprimanded by his teacher or had a major conflict with a peer.

The car carpet has not been taken out since then! And while he did not think every day was perfect, he did believe that the staff truly was invested in his learning and teaching him to be a better person, as well as also learn to realize his role in conflicts and how to solve and prevent them.

The classroom teacher he has had all 4 years have all gone above and beyond their call of duty.

It is because of them that he has truly improved in his ability to relate and interact with his peers. As parents we can tell him what he should, could and should do in different situations. But we can't provide 25 children for him to practice these skills with. Dad and I really did not think he'd be where he is socially at this age. His growth in wanting to interact and actually doing it successfully, learning to navigate ht nonverbal world, and maintaining friendships has been a joy to watch develop. To have neighborhood kids knocking on our door, to have sleepovers, to be able to spontaneously play Marco Polo at the pool with children he just met...these are all activities he did not engage in before.

It is because of them that he enjoys being at school and learning and challenging himself.

It is because of them that he is prepared to go to middle school both academically and socially.

All his classroom teachers have been wonderful at keeping the lines of communication open with us as parents. Sharing funny stories as well as areas that he was having difficulty with so that we could all work as a team with Adam to help. All his teachers were always flexible to try accommodations and modifications so that Adam could fully participate in activities.

We would like to thank all the staff at Best School:
Mrs. 3rd Grade teacher, Mrs. 4th grade teacher, Ms. 5th grade teacher, Mrs. 6th grade teacher, Mrs. 5th grade teacher, Ms. Guidance Counselor, Mrs. Guidance Counselor, Mr. PE teacher, Mrs. PE Teacher, Mrs. Library Teacher, Mrs. Art Teacher, Mr. Art Teacher, Mrs. Nurse, Mr. Band Teacher, Mrs. Music Teacher, Mrs. Music Teacher, Administration, Office and Custodial Staff and the rest of the Best Elementary School Staff for all they have given Adam.

We will miss Best Elementary School. This school will always have a special place in our memories,

Thank you,
Adam's Mom and Dad

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Thursday, June 17, 2010

Doll Houses Aren't Just for Dolls

See this doll house? Adam and I got it from Michael's. We spent A Long Time putting it together, gluing it and painting it. You might be wondering why the blue, gray and black color theme. You may be wondering why a just-about-12-year-old-boy wanted a doll house.

For his Lego's of course!!

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Wednesday, June 2, 2010

To Summer Camp Or Not

The question of the week has been do I send Adam to summer camp or not? Apparently I'm not alone in this delima as I come across this topic as I've been reading my blog feeder the past few weeks.

So, I'm gonna do the classic Pros and Cons list.

-Northern VA offers camps on an amazing amount of topics-sports academics, enrichment-you name it, there is a camp for it
-We can afford it
-Opportunity to practice social skills
-Opportunity to learn something
-To keep Adam busy

-Camps are all over the county, and with traffic I could very well spend 1-3 hours a day transporting him to and from camp
-He's unlikely to interact with the kids from camp afterwards-chances of them in his school, or nearby are actually not that big depending where oh the county the camp is.
-I could use the money spent on camp on trips to museums and water parks
-He can practice social Skills with kids in neighborhood who he has relationships with already
-If counselors don't have training/experience with Aspergers it could be miserable for Adam (and others around him)

I think the decision is actually not that hard. Each year I pour through web sites for summer camps and then decide the cons outweigh the pros. Afterall, isn't summer supposed to be about sleeping in, relaxing, learning in your own backyard, swimming at the neighborhood pool, impromptu play dates in the neighborhood, extra screen time, reading books because you WANT to, not because you were ASSIGNED to and exploring hobbies and interests on your own?

Yea. I think we'll do that again this summer along with some day trips into the city.

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