10/21/11 – Ryan did very well across the street in math today. Although I had to refocus and redirect him a few times but he did well with today’s lesson. – Mrs. B.
I thought Ryan was doing well with his new math class. Mrs. B wrote positive, reassuring things in his notebook.
At our IEP review meeting this morning, I got a very different picture.
I requested this meeting so we could make the inclusion math class an official part of his individual education program, so that the school district would be required to have a staff member consistently available to take him to the class.
I sat down at the meeting with my agenda in mind: consistency, increased interaction with typical peers, get Ryan out of that tiny room full of screaming children. The whole team was around the table: speech and occupational therapists, Mrs. B, Mrs. W, school psychologist and her interns, liaison from the Board of Ed. We had leftover Halloween candy and a basket of cheery purple pens.
I thought I was ready.
Someone asked how Ryan is doing in the inclusion math class. Mrs. W gave her impressions: Ryan spends most of his time in class scripting. Loudly. “He’s very disruptive to the class. All the other children keep turning around to look at him.”
All the other children keep turning around to look at him.
I tried to hide my leaky eyes.
Mrs. B added that for most of the nine sessions Ryan has had in Mrs. W’s math class, Mrs. B and her assistants have pulled Ryan out of there after 10 minutes or so because of his inability to focus. This should not have been news to me. Ryan’s communication notebook should reflect what’s actually going on, not tell me rosy stories giving me false hope about his progress.
My eyes were on fire. I was quietly choking.
We had a rational discussion about the purpose of putting Ryan into Mrs. W’s class: to provide opportunities for interaction with typical peers. We agreed that math is not the best forum for such interactions. We noted that Ryan is receiving the same academic content in his 8:1:2 class as the other first graders are getting, just in an individualized setting. We agreed that Ryan lacks the social readiness to properly participate in integrated math. We agreed to find additional opportunities, such as art, lunch, or recess, to work on this goal. We agreed to table the matter of changing Ryan’s IEP until various schedules could be coordinated. I thanked everyone and got the hell out of the room as quickly as I could.
In moments like this, I just hate autism. I hate knowing how hard it will be for my baby to integrate with other kids his age. Why does this have to be so hard for my baby? I know Ryan doesn’t care what teachers like Mrs. W expect of him, but that’s part of what being a member of a society is about: to be a functioning member of society, one must understand the concepts of authority and expectations – that there’s a time to talk and a time to listen.
I know that the committee hit upon the proper, rational course of action, but my heart just stops when I imagine a roomful of typical first graders turning around to stare at my baby. Please, someday, let him fit in.