Thursday, November 29, 2012

Drum roll please......

After two long, grueling years of fighting, asking, testing/retesting, meetings and LOTS of frustration, Riley has an IEP. Whoo hook!! We had our big meeting yesterday. We took our friend with us to the meeting (she's a behaviorist), and we got an IEP! I think they were giving us one anyway, but having someone else (from outside district, and thinking she might be an advocate) helped. He qualified under speech, and Autism. Duh. I had been telling the psychologist at the jr. high that for two years! I KNEW he had trouble with his pragmatic language. Anyone who has talked to Riley can figure that out! Anyone who knows anything about Autism can figure that out. Duh. Social skills issues galore=Autism. The speech pathologist at American conducted her testing, and what do you know? Serious deficits in pragmatic language skills! I had to really restrain myself from yelling "duh!" Except it wasn't this team I wanted to yell that at. I so wish the jr. high team had been present. In any case, he will see the speech teacher once a week, for 30 minutes to work on those deficit skills. He remains in the tutorial class (resource period) that we placed him into this school year. He has goals for speech and goals for turning in his work. He has accommodations (quite a lot-all of them transferred over from the 504 plan). We have a case manager, and now there's a real course of action. As our behaviorist friend pointed out to them, this is a kid who can (and will) go to college, and if he does not get help with the skills he's lacking, he won't make it through college and then won't get a job. She then asked them what they were going to do to help him. The inclusion specialist will be by to see him, and we have a plan! It's all LEGAL now, so they HAVE to follow it. All hell breaks loose if it's not followed. I am not worried. I trust the staff and administrators at the high school. We absolutely love it there. Riley's teachers had nothing but kind things to say about him, and why not? He's not a behavior issue. They are all willing to help him succeed, and the best part is, he KNOWS it! He senses it. We are very happy. We won the education lottery! It was a long, difficult battle (and it may not be over), but it was worth it.

The above picture is from marching band. Riley is a completely different person with his band friends. It's amazing for us to watch the transformation of him there-it's like when we take him to Disneyland. Pure happiness.

Now, do I email the superintendent and head of special ed to let them know of our success (and the jr. high's failure)? OR do I let it go? THAT is the question.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

A First!

We got a progress note in the mail yesterday. We are quite used to them. However, this one was different...

We are smiling very big right now! A progress note for an A+!!! We will take it!! He actually has TWO A+ grades right now. Four As and three Bs in fact. He's rocking it at the high school! Yes, a change in venue has suited him well. We LOVE the high school!!

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Friday, September 28, 2012

Good Sign?

It's very early, but this was in my email today! The high school uses School Loop. It's awesome. I get an email everyday with a progress note and current grades. Just LOOK! We are doing a happy dance. These are the grades he's always been capable of. Amazing what caring and motivating teachers can do.

The marching band went to the football game tonight, and played from the stands.

Riley, playing clarinet. He is a completely different person when he's with his band friends. He interacts!! It's amazing and has been a long time coming.

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Sunday, September 9, 2012

Marching Band

Riley's first performance with the marching band was on Saturday.

We had to get up at dark o'clock, to be at the school by 5:00 am.

We all took Bart (in the dark) to Berkeley. It was High School Band Day at UC Berkeley. 22 high school bands performed at halftime, with Cal's band. It was a really long day, but fun was had by all. Cal's band is enormous! After the football game, the band got to march through campus. They also got a tour of the campus, earlier in the day.

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Friday, September 7, 2012

A Change of Venue

I haven't updated here in a long time. I am not sure I will keep this site up. People interested in Riley, just ask me questions. I am not sure I feel a need to constantly update. I think I needed to get my frustrations out over the last two years. I feel less frustrated. I have a great support system, and I am leaning on those people. Things are good right now. We tweaked some things, made some changes, and are using the resources available to us. We are thankful for good healthcare.

Riley started high school on Wednesday. He loves it. He's in the marching band (and spent two weeks at band camp this summer-during the day, it wasn't a sleep away camp). He loves it. He has his first performance tomorrow at UC Berkeley. They are playing during halftime of the football game. It will be an early, long day, but we are looking forward to it.

I love everything about the high school. They are wonderful. We met with them in May to discuss stuff and everything we came up with has happened so far. I guess the junior high is just a holding tank before high school. A waste of two years if you ask me. It's so much better at the high school. Riley has noticed a huge difference in the attitudes of the kids. So much more accepting and kind. Jr. High kids are just rotten.

At the end of last school year I sent a nasty email to the head of special ed and the district's superintendent. They never responded. I wanted them to know how awful the last two years have been. Apparently they don't care. It's fine. I know the high school cares, and as long as they keep caring, it won't be a problem. I think he finally gets an IEP.

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Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Still Here

Things are really crappy right now. 25 days until Riley is out of that damn school. I burned my bridge with the counselor there, after his report card and some very scary words from Riley. She's useless anyway. She has done nothing but fight me on an IEP, and she hasn't helped him at all. I thanked her for that. :-) AND I work for the district!! I can't imagine what would happen if I wasn't a teacher!

There are just lots of things going on right now. Some I don't care to share. It's heartbreaking and rather stressful.

Results are almost ready (from the third professional we have seen), and now we have sought a psychiatrist. Anxiety is at an all-time high (school, grades, expectations) and Riley doesn't want to go anywhere. He just wants to be home all the time. He has the appt with the psychiatrist on May 25. We think he needs some meds to help with the anxiety. The not wanting to leave the house is getting old fast. Really very frustrating. I mean he doesn't want to go anywhere (except Disneyland).

I am contacting the high school for a meeting. It's IEP time and I am done fucking around with this district. Oh, will be contacting the head of Special Ed as well. It's time she knows what is going on. Keep that to yourself as I plan on "surprising" them. I have played their game, tried to do it their way, but it's not helped my kid. That is unacceptable. He has a right to an education, free from constant harassment from peers, in the "least restrictive environment." Done. Playing. Games. We've dicked around for 2 years now.

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Thursday, February 23, 2012

This picture is from Riley's piano recital in January. He played two songs, Heigh Ho and It's a Small World. He did a great job!

There have been a few things going on around here...

Riley started a social group after the first of the year. It meets every sunday for a little over an hour. The woman who runs it, works for my school district. She does this as a side job. She is excellent. They are working on the exact things that concern me: being able to see things from another person's perspective, being less rigid, etc. He likes going, and I REALLY like the connection I have made with the other moms. They have the same frustrations. It's kind of comforting to know that I am not alone.

Riley has been melting down a lot more lately. About stupid things too: like not being able to find his scout scarf (when he was told to locate it two hours before, but didn't) at the last minute. It caused lots of crying and tears. I think his hormones are raging, but I swear I am waiting for his head to spin around. He never threw fits like that when he was little, so it's kind of new for us. He also had a major meltdown over attending a Superbowl party. He just didn't understand why he should go because he doesn't like football. In the end, he went, but he took a book. I let him since the hosting family has an Autistic child as well, and I knew they would totally understand. Our goal is to try and get Riley out to be social at least once over the weekends. He is happy to just stay home, not talking to anyone.

Our lovely neighbor is up to his old tricks. He and another boy threw a rock at Riley when he was walking home from school. He was behind them on the way home, but they stopped and made him go around them, so that they were behind. The neighbor threw the rock. The thing is though that Riley didn't know he threw a rock until the next day when the other boy told him. He sits next to Riley in Math and he said that our neighbor threw the rock to scare Riley. He admitted it. I sent an email to the VP-that whole strand was a joke. Basically they got a warning and that's it. They denied that they threw the rock. Kevin called and talked to the VP, who told him that parents were called, and next time there would be a consequence. I let the VP know how dissatisfied I was with the handling of the situation. It was intimidation and bullying, both are suspendable offenses according to Ed Code. Apparently not the first time though, and now there's a paper trail so if they bother him again, they will be suspended. I suppose they will have to kill Riley in order for something to be done. Next time though, we call the police. That jackass is old enough now to STOP his asshole behavior or risk the legal consequences. I really have no idea why he keeps bothering Riley. I really don't. Riley says nothing to him, doesn't even look at him, just ignores him completely and yet this kid keeps going after him. His parents are horrible. His sister is equally as horrible. Do you know how hard it is to watch your child constantly hurt? It sucks, and I wouldn't wish it on anyone-well, except the neighbor kid. THAT would be great! I would pay money to watch that! I saw him walking down the street the day after all of this came out. He looked right at me (I was driving), with this deer in the headlights look and I looked right back at him and mouthed the word "ASS" at him. I hate that kid. Next time I see him I am going to give him the watching eyes.

Today we met with a new psychologist. We are having Riley reassessed and this time they are completing the IQ portion of the test. I think that's important to know in terms of school and services. Riley goes for the first round of testing March 6, then two more sessions after that.

High School registration will be coming soon. We have already gotten calls from the HS about programs (the athletic department-LMAO, oh yeah, I am sure they want Riley). He was nominated to do some AVID program, but we are declining. It's a four year program to prepare kids for college. That would be his only elective. I feel confident that Kevin and I can get Riley ready for college. He needs to have his electives. He wants to do band, and we want him to have that experience and meet new friends (we like the old ones too, but he needs more friends). He actually went with the 8th grade band classes, to the HS to listen to their band teacher speak about band in HS. He can actually take 7 periods and can take concert band AND marching band, AND marching band counts for PE!!!!!! I will make an appointment with the HS, at the end of this school year. We need a smooth transition to HS.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

And Here We Go Again??

So we spent 10 days in Florida, after Christmas. We went to Disney World. Riley is always up for a Disney trip. He's kind of a pain in the ass the first couple of days though. Particular about where we should eat, hard on his brother (who lacks the Disney knowledge that Riley has), basically he wants to do what he wants to do. The food thing is a real pain. He gets a "feeling" for a certain food, and if that's not an option on a menu, there are issues. Super annoying. I mean REALLY super annoying. We let him make the choices the first two days and after that, he was SOL (shit out of luck) if he didn't like what WE chose.

The meanness towards his brother drives me nuts. He can be nasty mean to Quinn. It's something we are hoping his therapist will work on, IF he can stop talking about Disney TO her. He doesn't talk WITH people, he talks TO them. He just started a social group on Sunday (which Kevin and I get to pay out of pocket for, since the school will not provide the service). We are hoping the group, and the awesome leader (she works for our district and boy does she know what she's doing!), will help with the meanness towards Quinn, in addition to the reciprocal communication. Oh, and the calling us and others by their NAMES. I have heard "mom" a little more often now, so hopefully there's progress.

Riley seems a lot more withdrawn lately. He just wants to disappear into his own world. He's not answering questions, the first time. He was doing that before, and I was always all over his case about it. He'd do it to other people though: grandparents, teachers, peers, us. It drove me nuts that someone would ask him something, and he just wouldn't respond. He got better about it, but lately, he's starting to do that again. I am insisting on responses. I won't let him disappear into his own little world. He has to be engaged.

School wears him out. I honestly will be surprised if he lasts through high school. He would never drop out, but eventually we may have to pull him out. Especially if we get nowhere with the school, like the junior high. The high school has A LOT of kids, and I've heard the halls are very crowded. He's not going to like that-the crowds or the noise. That may be one area where accommodations are made. There are 1,002 kids at his junior high, but the high school is even bigger. I have concerns. Nobody seems concerned about my concerns except me though. I have sought out advice from an advocate. We'll see what she says, and see if we'll need her services. Riley needs an IEP because he needs some services (social group, maybe even adapted PE). The school won't give him one, but they aren't following the 504 plan either. I'm finished playing with them.

We are also seeking another evaluation from a professional psychologist, since insurance will not pay for the Autism Center at Lucile Packard (Stanford). One of the doctors is from a place called Keystone Behavioral Pediatrics. My friend says they look good, so I will be calling over there tomorrow. I still have questions, and since Riley does not qualify for services from Regional Center, there's nobody to answer my questions!

To say that I am frustrated is an understatement. It's just never ending. If the school would step up and DO their job, it would be a lot better. I emailed the psychologist at the junior high last week, asking about the social group. Basically she dropped the ball. She told us at his 504 meeting, in October, that SHE was going to run a social group. She said she just needed to get permission from the parents of other kids who needed the service. Nothing has happened. I emailed her about it last week (I gave her quite a lot of time to get her shit together), and she said she is no longer able to do the group but that she was working with the head of special ed, to get one going. Yeah right. Perhaps an email to the head of special ed, from me, could speed things up? I'll try that tomorrow too. I am trying to work (district makes that hard for me to do as well), and I do have another child (what's his name again?), but I guess I will just have to plug on. I can't wait until Riley is out of that junior high, and I don't look forward to Quinn (oh yeah, that's his name) going at all. I am disillusioned with my district.