I had the most wonderful phone call from Dustin's teacher last night. She began by calling us about busing since there are 1/2 days of school today for teacher conferences. Since Dustin goes to school on a modified day, his buses are not available to bring him home. We are keeping him out of school since I cannot provide transportation. What followed gave my heart hope.
I have been astounded lately at Dustin's progress. The behaviors are still there and always will be. His is impulsive as always and can turn his attitude from good to ugly on a dime. Even though he is more like a 4 year old than a 12 year old, he still has the hormones, and the snarky pre-teen seeps out from time to time. That being said . . .
He is doing REALLY well in school. For those of you who may be new readers, Dustin had a particularly bad run of school last year. His first year of middle school (in a Moderately Handicapped Program) consisted of a 14 day hospital stay, 9 suspensions, countless days in In-School-Suspensions. Behaviorally he was running out of the building, stabbing people with pencils, wrapping the television cord around a teachers neck, biting, yelling, riding on a child's electric wheelchair WHILE the child was in it, etc. Need I say more? Near the end of the school year, we chose in an IEP conference to modify his school day to 2 hours and provide a 1:1 aide. Did I say we chose? I didn't have an option. It was either that or the school system was done. Alternative placements had been exhausted and due to his ow IQ, a behavioral placement would not have been functional for him. (Thankfully, because that was a washout before) According to Article 7 in Indiana, the school is required to provide appropriate placement for my child and if there isn't one they have to create one. In Dustin's case it seemed appropriate placement was home-bound instruction if modified day didn't work. Much to my surprise and delight, it did work. We then increased his day to 3 hours at the beginning of this school year.
This first 10 weeks of school has been spent reintegrating Dustin back into the classroom. His aide accompanies him, but she has taken more and more time to help other children and give Dustin the space to learn to regulate himself in the classroom on his own. He has done REMARKABLY well. When his teacher called me last night, she had nothing but positive things to say about this "new" child in her classroom. His aggressive behaviors have disappeared, and his learning has definitely taken and up-swing. The emergent literacy I am seeing at home is definitely being noticed at school. His writing skills are far superior to where he was before and he has even begun cursive and is excelling. She told me the days that comes home with sad faces on his behavior card is simply because they are increasing their expectations and that those "sad face" days would've been happy face days last year. INCREDIBLE! His aide is increasingly away from his side and he is still remaining on task and focused for the most part. He is even doing 2nd grade story problems in math and loves it.
I was flabbergasted when I got off the phone. I have never, in the 7 years we have had Dustin, received a phone call from the teacher such as this one. I am thrilled at his progress. Now, if he could leave his sister alone. . .
The work moves on!
5 minutes ago