Wednesday, September 2, 2015

School's Here! First and Fifth Grade!

Happy First and Fifth grade!

Best I could get with the giggles

Both girls were very excited for school to be back in session. Now that it's been a few weeks, I feel like I can give my back-to-school report.

Vivian loves school.  She's very bright, I worry a bit of her being academically bored--but we'll handle that. No real concerns here.

Elena, on the other hand, needs attention. I am in regular contact with E's educators and principal, so we had worked out a plan for fifth grade. Of course, things got rearranged at the last minute. Overall it's good. Elena's fantastic fourth grade teacher ended up moving to fifth grade, and E was placed with her. I'm very happy about this. "Looping" is wonderful, provided it's a good fit, and it's a huge relief not to have to educate a new teacher about Elena's specific needs. The bad surprise was Elena doesn't have an aide. 

You read that right.

Her regular classroom aide (she has had one every previous year) wasn't signed enough hours with E to keep her gainfully employed. At first, I was shocked. But...maybe I shouldn't be. Elena isn't the only child in the class who previously needed an aide, and those other students have learned to handle their specific issues on their own. I started to bristle, figuring that I was going to have to get all "IEP-legal" but that wasn't at all the case. If Elena needs an aide, they will make that happen. They are trying to determine if she really needs one.

And I started thinking, well, it sure would be great if she didn't. Let's try it.

So far, things are going very well. It helps that the fifth-grade classrooms are as central as they can be; Elena's walking demands are less than previous years. She is working on one-crutch walking so she can carry items (some issues there, like decreased speed and hip turning inward, so that might not work out very well for regular school activity). There isn't a full-time aide in her class, but there is someone assigned to help E at certain times of the day--on/off the bus (carrying), lunchroom (carrying/seating), and gym (still working this out). Elena is enjoying being as independent as she can, and wants to be like her peers (no hulking adult presence). Her teacher does notice her fatigue at the end of the day, so Elena's needs may change. Also, E is better than ever with vocalizing her needs (being tired and needing to sit down, get a drink, carry something, etc.) which is absolutely fantastic. She also has a new school PT who is offering some great seating solutions (dynamic seating, re-energizing strategies for mid/late school day) and E's now under watch of the school OT for her non-verbal learning disability/OT re-energizing techniques. It's really been great so far. 

I've had three impromptu meetings with her IEP team/educators and they are a great group. Very attentive, quick to respond, offering new ideas and looking ahead to prepare us for middle school.

ElenaWatch continues...


Anonymous said...

When I stopped having an aide I finally learned proper independence at school. The aides used to be a kind of learned helplessness. I think Elena can certainly be way more independent.

Anonymous said...

While I'm not a person with CP, I have friends who have it to varying degrees, so reading this blog has been informative for me. Question though: does Elena know about the blog? Is she okay with you writing such personal things about her, such as her trouble with constipation and occasional emotional struggles? Some children as they approach their teens get self-conscious about things that set them apart from their peers, and may want parents and others to not share certain things about them, be they in their parents' presence or not. Thoughts?

Amy said...

Elena does know what I post here. I do have her approval. I am fully aware that one day she may not want certain things published regarding her experiences growing up with cerebral palsy. I also know that she understands that her experiences have helped several families through difficult times, and this blog has produced some very real friendships for both of us. It is my hope that one day she will take over this blog (if she wishes) and write about her experience in her own words.

Anonymous said...

I finally got to looking at the last two recent posts! I also sent you an email (yesterday...? Maybe 2 days ago? I dont know for sure) so id you don't mind responding to that soon that'd be great! No rush i'm just letting you know i did send one because sometimes email is weird and doesn't always go through. Thanks!