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Tales Of A Special Education Journey And Being A Single Parent

by | Jun 14, 2017 | Special Education Resources

Age 3 was when cautious day care center managers started approaching me about their need to discuss my daughter with me. “We’re concerned,” was a regular statement. In my own denial and alarm, I’d quickly dismiss their comments, convinced their issue was her obvious superior intelligence and not anything abnormal. We certainly didn’t need to discuss any special education concerns. Developing resentments against the pre-school establishment became a regular occurrence for me. I reasoned that they had prejudices against single moms. I had enough to deal with as a widow. I didn’t need their additional stress to go along with it.

By the third and final pre-school I was weary from waving off conversations that started with, “Mrs. Hudson, can we speak in private?” I didn’t see anything but a brilliant girl who loved to quote Curious George randomly as a way to initiate conversations with people. Sure, it was a bit awkward. I would always have to frame the reason for the quote with whomever she was talking to, justifying why she said what she did. But there wasn’t anything wrong with her. Besides, I had no other parent to ask for their opinions and my mother bristled at any whisper of anything out of the ordinary about her granddaughter.

I resolved to finish pre-school with her at home. We employed a 1-on-1 multi-sensory approach which she seemed to excel at. By Kindergarten she had already taught herself how to read and could do basic addition and subtraction with single digit numbers.

Kindergarten Confirms Suspicions About The Need For Help

I hadn’t noticed it before, but watching her interact with her peers outside in the school yard before she was led into class by her teacher caught my attention. They seemed to be overwhelmed by her. She was loud and in their face. While she beamed and excitedly shouted greetings, they rocked back on their heels and turned their faces away. This hurt my heart but she didn’t seem to notice at all.

When the first meeting with her Kindergarten teacher rolled around, her teacher looked anxious and unsure as she elaborated on the agenda items by inserting what my daughter’s results were so far. She continued to stammer and look down at her paper, avoiding eye contact. It was then that I surrendered my denial and waited for the next sentence. “I have a concern, Mrs. Hudson.”  Of course. Everyone had a concern but me, except for today. I just wanted to know.

As it turns out, she had a son who was on the autistic spectrum. She was noticing some typical nuances that go along with a child who has ASD. She encouraged me to reach out to my pediatrician. Finally, I agreed to listen to someone.

Special Education Becomes A Reality For Us

It was another year but we finally got to the stage where I asked for testing and my daughter started special education services for what they referred to as a “language and speech impairment.” She needed a lot of help with social interaction and training on how to interact with kids her own age. As it turns out, walking up to a group of 6 year olds and shouting, “I have fish!” in the ears of the closest school mate is not a good way to introduce yourself. She would learn proper communication protocols, along with volume control and spacial considerations with people.

My Struggles With Special Education Negotiations And Protocols

My first special education team was so overwhelming. They did scores of tests, I sat in front of a pile of paperwork, hardly understanding what it all meant. They had sent me her test results beforehand but the reams of paper and tiny print were dizzying. Each took their turn with explaining their round of tests and the results. All I heard were things they found wrong. I tried to explain things but they seemed uninterested, fixed on helping me get it.

Next step was to take all this information back to her pediatrician for review and referral to a Neuropsychologist who would make a medical diagnosis. This was a notion her doctor quickly rejected. He was staunchly opposed to medications to alleviate the symptoms of hyperactivity and compulsiveness that her teacher and the other professionals observed. He sent me packing with my paperwork, frustrated about what to do next.  Was she hyper? Yes! She drove me crazy some days! Compulsive? Is that what you call it when she knows that she isn’t supposed to do something but does it anyway? I wished some of these people could just spend a weekend with us so they’d see what I see and be able to explain it all to me.

I seemed to be unable to help anyone understand what it was like to do life with her in her own environment. I didn’t understand what she was like in the school setting because I was never there. Maybe I could have shared some insights. As for the strategies they put in place, I begged them to share them with me so I could mirror them at home. Sometimes they did, sometimes they didn’t. The school psychologist was always quick to tell me she’d share resources with me that she thought would help but they never materialized.

I always seemed to be losing paperwork just in time for the next meeting. It never occurred to me to keep a diary of what I observed in my daughter’s behavior but I wished I had. It would have saved me a lot trouble trying to explain things in the rearview mirror. Talk about an exercise in frustration! I was always trying to explain things to summer camp directors and Sunday school teachers to little avail. There wasn’t enough time to help them understand but they were always wanting to take my time to tell me about her odd behavior.

eCare Vault Helped Me Find My Compass Navigation Special Education

If ever there was a eureka moment, it was when I was introduced to eCare Vault. I knew that the special education journey was difficult to for any parent, never mind a single one. I knew I had a problem, I didn’t know its solution was this. The moment I realized that anyone who interacted with my daughter in a professional way could see all the same information at the same time and be able to also communicate with each other I was sold. There would be no more playing middle man for me and losing paperwork any more! I could load it into the application once and for all and anyone I wanted to include in the viewing of any information could. It couldn’t have been easier for me. As for the journaling, it happened automatically when I logged in and added notes. Anyone I invited to see the notes could. They could even comment on them. The journaling and collaboration came to me in one simple login.

It would be another 3 years of struggle and meetings with multiple professionals before she’d finally be diagnosed with ASD. While professionals like to talk to me about her disability, I see it as anything but. She is different. She has her own way of dealing with people and adversity. I am happy to say that her lack of social understanding actually helps her overcome difficulties with people, and as with most people on the spectrum, she struggles with social interaction. But she is a lovely, happy girl who has quite an interesting array of subjects she likes to focus on, such as geography and politics. That is, when she isn’t obsessively asking me what we are going to do this weekend and what grocery store we will go to and when. A heavy scheduled and rigid life is the kind of life my daughter wants to have, despite her go-with-the-flow, laid back mother. We’re working on it…

Life in the special education world is a tricky one, but I feel much more secure in the future of the journey knowing that a communication record is permanently and securely in one place as we go along.

 

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