Adventures in Autistic Parenthood

Monday, February 28, 2011

Who is this Kid, and What Have You Done With Dude?:

Computer Time!!

We had an IEP (Individualized Education Program) meeting at Dude's school. The stated reason for the parent (insert: Guy who doesn't know anything) attending these meetings is so that they feel less in the dark and more in control of the process and the progress their child is making in the system. I'm not sure how they think a 1 hour meeting, once a year, is going to make up for the 4-6 years of college I'd need to understand most of what's going on. Look, I'm a parent. I do 'parent things'. What I'm looking for is a kind of Special Needs Parent-Teacher conference. I don't have the knowledge to guide my son's education. You want to know how to get him to stay with you in a parking lot? I got that one.  You want to know what kind of  Vocational Program he's suited for? No clue. But I still go... whenever I don't completely forget when the meeting is supposed to be. They always want to set these dates 2 months or so in advance, and that gives me way more time than I need to entirely blow it off.  I hear they've got these new things called 'calendar's, and one of these days I'm gonna have to learn how to work one of those things.
  This year my fear of having missed the IEP came 2 weeks earlier than usual. Meaning my panic call actually occurred 1 week before the meeting instead of 1 week after. Armed with the correct date and time I was actually ready to go on the right day... Then I woke up to 10 inches of snow from a freakish late blizzard and school was cancelled. Fearing that the Fates wouldn't allow my attendance at this important educational event I waited for the Scheduling God (Carol) to hit me with another date and time, hoping she would be kind and not put it beyond my calendar-deficient attention span. Luckily for Dude's continued education she set a date only 5 days further along and at the same time (she's learning), so I actually made it there on time.

Movie Exitement

   Naturally, with the rescheduling some of the participants were late, and others couldn't make it there at all, but the meeting itself was actually very good. Since Dave is 16 now, he's not only allowed, but encouraged to go to the IEP and participate as much as he can. Once he got past thinking that I was there to free him from his educational prison and buy him video games, he was actually quiet and at least listened to everything we were saying. Until Ms. Walkney's PDA went off. Then he said (fairly loudly) 'You have a new text message!' Which got a chuckle, and gave me a chance to tell the funeral story. His teacher, Mrs. Yarosz, went over everything they were trying to do, and also the why and how of what was going on. She also told me how wonderful Dude is about doing unsupervised chores and how he can be quiet and task-oriented. I couldn't even call the lady a liar, because there Dave was, sitting at the table, being quiet, and before the meeting was over he was just allowed to walk out all on his own to go back to class.(what sort of mind-control lab is this place, anyway?) His new Speech Therapist, Tammy, informed me that his last ST 'just couldn't stay away from David' and was basically Speech-Stalking him. (I also learned that Maureen reads the blog and I couldn't resist giving her some trouble) When I had something to say, I had the eyes of everyone in the room (except Dave's). And the new School Supervisor, Regan, (not sure what title this replaced) asked pertinant questions of everybody and tried to learn all she could about Dude in the time we had.
     This year I only had one semi-burning question. Earlier in the year the wheels had started rolling to get David into a Vocational Training program (I know that's not what they call it anymore but I can't remember the PC version). Those wheels came to a screeching, grinding halt when they came against the speed-bump that is me. PA treats VT like a regular job. And the law says that if you're under 18 and you want a job, you have to have a work permit. To get a work permit your parent (speed bump) has to fill out the form. To fill out the form the parent needs the child's (hopefully) birth certificate. So after taking off work, and walking entirely around the High School twice because I couldn't figure out how to get in, that's when I was informed, by the no-nonsense Work Permit Woman, that I could not procede without proof that my son was actually born. Evidently they thought he was some sort of lab-experiment that I cooked up on the weekend.
   I have the filing system called- 'Oh! That's where that is!' and after an entire afternoon of tearing apart my desk, computer room, filing cabinet and dresser the only thing I could find was the reciept from the last time I'd needed his BC and had to order it from Florida six years before. So that's what I did again. Now what I wanted to know was 'Is this program going to do him any good? Or did I waste an entire afternoon and 14 bucks to get something I'm not really going to need immediately?' Answer: Unknown to me the VT people had been do Dude's class and decided that it was a bit early for him to enter their program. But at least my filing cabinet got cleaned out an re-organized. And the state of Florida got more of my money. They've been missing that since I moved away.
Speech Therapy lessons
   After the meeting I visited his room and was immediately greeted by a loud, and familiar voice saying, "Oh no! Now we have to start all over!' So evidently my son is wonderful at school, unless I'm around. (my mother always said I was a disruptive influence) I talked briefly to the kids that I know and the teachers that I didn't until it was time for Dude to go to Speech Therapy. Dave is very enthusiastic about going to ST, in fact he reminds everyone when it's time to go. Partly because Tammy is another of his fans, but mostly because he gets to use the computer for most of his lessons. I was gathering my stuff from the office when I decided I'd like to check out the class (since I have none of my own). Regan offered to escort me, but about halfway there we met Dave, who grabbed my arm, hunched over and acted like he was dragging me to the room. Tammy then led me on a whirlwind tour of her 20 foot square office/room, Dave decided that school work on computers is much more interesting that that 'Dad-person' and promptly ignored the both of us for the rest of the time I was there.

  I wasn't quite prepared to find out how 'wonderful' Dude is at school, but not only was everyone telling me how wonderful they thought he was they were telling me how wonderful other people thought he was too. C'mon! I know this kid. Sure he's cute and charming, but he's also a stubborn, loud pain in the butt! But there he was, quiet and nearly well-mannered and not acting like a scrambled recording of 16 different video games. The whole time I'm thinking, 'Nice kid, but what have you done with my son?'