Welcome to a day in my life. I can't guarantee that this will be an exciting read for anyone. My life is filled with all the mundane activities of a stay-at-home-mom just trying to raise her three sons to be the best men they can be.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Have I mentioned that I love Cameron's Teacher?

Three years ago we had Cameron tested to see if he had a learning disability. It didn't reveal anything, but there were two pages of recommendations for accomodations to help him out in areas that were clearly a struggle for him. After taking the report to his teacher that year, and trying in vain to set up some meetings with him, and the Special Ed Resource Teacher he continued to struggle all year. Without going into all the sordid details, the whole year was a disaster. I mostly put the blame on the teacher for not meeting Cameron's needs and basically ignoring him all year, and refusing our pleas for help. I also blame myself for not advocating more for my son and fighting the system, and a teacher that had him falling between the cracks.

In our school system, if a child is formally identified as having any learning issue they receive all kinds of accomodations and resourses to help that child in anyway possible. If a child has some difficulties, but is not formally identified, then he falls through the cracks and is at the mercy of the teacher. A good teacher will be able to help that child. In our case, he had a teacher that didn't want to take to time to help him.

The following two school years were very good for Cameron and, while he still struggled in certain areas, he had wonderful teachers who recognized how bright he is, and allowed him to shine. While he didn't have any accomodations, they, themselves, did things within their classroom setting to help him be successful.

This year, Cameron is in his Music Teacher's class. He was so happy to find out that he would be in his class, as were we because he's a great teacher. Well, Cameron is now in grade 7 and the work load has become a lot heavier and there's a lot more expected. Cam has become increasingly overwhelmed. Mr. M. has quickly set up some meetings with the teachers who have Cameron and the SERT. While he doesn't qualify officially for an IEP (individual education plan) Mr. M. has requested that he have an informal one so that he will have the same accomodations in all his classes. Yay!!!!! I am so happy.

Basically he has great difficulties with organization. No matter what we have done, both in school and out, this hasn't gotten any better. He also has great difficulties with writing. He's able to grasp concepts fairly easily, and is very creative and knowledgeable, but writing it on paper is very difficult. He's still unable to write in cursive writing and his printing is very tedious for him.

Last year he had some occupational therapy through the school to help him with his gross and fine motor skills.

It appears that the physical part of writing is a huge problem for him. Now his teachers are going to give him all his notes in hand-outs so he doesn't have to try and take notes and can just focus on the lesson and doing the class work. We will be working with him to increase his keyboarding skills and speed so that he can do more of his work on the computer.

Mr. M. is spending a lot of time with him to help him stay organized. We will be meeting in a couple of weeks with the SERT to discuss further accomodations and the informal IEP.

I love Mr. M.!!!!

(and so does Cameron!)

8 comments:

  1. It's so nice to hear that there are still teacher's like Mr. M out there. That is wonderful that Cameron is getting the help he needs. I totally know what you are going thru with my Tristan. His teacher this year has been a blessing.

    I wish Cameron a wonderful year of learning.

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  2. Its great that he has a teacher to help him this year. This is a crucial time, in my opinion, becuase they really do need a good foundation set before hey enter high school. It can be very overwhelming to those who are already struggling. Believe me when I say this ... there are many kids WITH iep's that fall through the cracks too. It is an unfortunate reality and we need more teachers like Cameron's Mr. M.

    There is a wonderful software program called "Inspirations" that is great to use when organizing your thoughts. It allows you to use different formats to suit what you are doing. I have only used it a handful of times but I love it and the kids who have LDs (and those who dont, as well) respond well to it. Your SERT should be able to tell you more about it.

    One top of the autistic student I work with, I am also working closely with two other LD kids. (I am in a 6/7 split) One thing I did for all of them this year was to buy a desktop, letter sized file folder. Each section is labelled into Math, Language Arts, Geography, History and Science. This allows them to have everything at a glance rather than tucked away in a desk. Because they are notorious for not putting their papers into their proper duotangs, this at least helps them find things when it is time to use them or take a moment to organize and put everything in their right books.

    Good lcuk to Cameraon. I hope he gets all that he needs.

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  3. Thank you for sharing about Cameron...teachers are key to helping students like Cameron bloom.

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  4. Anonymous5:56 PM

    Wow, your experience sounds so similar to ours with our son, now in Grade 6. He was very slow with writing tasks at school - he would get his Math test half completed in the time alloted, and get a D (since it was not completed), however if they gave him more time and he completed it, he would get an A. Most all his writing assignments would come home to be completed at home. We had an independent psychological accessment done 2 years ago (we wanted to determine whether this was motivational, or an area of need) and a 10 page report resulted, which indicated that he has a graphomotor coordination issue, and a modified IEP was put in place at school, where the same academic expectations are required, however he is given accomodiations, such as handouts instead of copying things from the board (for the sake of copying them), use of computer in class to write essays (he works soooo much faster on keyboard than pencil/paper). By next year he will likely have his own laptop. We have several fun typing tutor software programs and he can type quite well. Funny thing that he plays piano and cornet with no problem, its the dragging the pencil across the paper that is the issue. I can chat more off-line about our experiences, but the support from his teachers has been GREAT, since we now understand this. Back in Grade 1, 2 and 3, he had some not so supportive teachers, who thought he was slow and lazy, and said as much to him - he lost his recesses to complete his work!! He is doing so much better now and gained alot of confidence in himself with the accomodations, though he doesn't like to be singled out by being seen as having 'special' treatment such as using the class computer.

    Heather

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  5. Thanks for writing this nice tribute to a good teacher. It's easy to complain about the rotten eggs and take the good ones for granted. I'm glad you haven't taken Mr. M. for granted.

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  6. What wonderful news to have such an understanding teacher! Wishing you and Cameron all the best!!

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  7. I'm so glad that Cameron has a great teacher this year. It's tough enough to advocate for a child who has been IPRC'd... I can't imagine how much harder it would be if you didn't have that little piece of paper to back you up. Good for you for hanging in there, and lucky for you that there are still some GREAT teachers out there! :)

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  8. I work as a paraeducator with middle school students who have IEPs, and have a daughter with special needs, too. A wonderful special education teacher is the reason I became interested in this.

    Anyhow, there is a therapy that you might want to check out for Cameron. You can read about it on the National Institute for Learning Development site: http://www.nild.net/

    It is called Rhythmic Writing. I have observed this being done with a student, and the results are amazing. The therapy has to do in part, with old-fashioned penmanship, and helps the two sides of the brain to communicate more effectively. It should help with organizational skills as well.

    I wish you well. This can be overcome!

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