Friday, November 29, 2019

School Update

School has been in session for a little over three months and while it hasn't been without its bumps and occasional teeth jarring moments, we all agree it is going better than we dared hope. 

I was terrified to send Joseph to school. The main reason had to do with his brains way of scrambling information; then when questioned, he can only remember bits and pieces so he fills in the gaps with what he considers logical answers. In the FASD world this is called confabulation. When Joseph tells a story we automatically take into consideration that his story will likely contain a few figments of his imagination. Over the years we have learned what questions to ask to get to what really happened. For instance he told me his teacher yelled at him because he wasn't finished with an assignment. I asked, "Did she yell like this," and raised my voice, "Or did she speak like this," and used a firm tone of voice. His reply, "It felt like she yelled, but she just told me that I need to pay attention." 

I was also concerned he would unknowingly make false allegations as this is something he does from time time when he misinterprets a situation. We discussed it with his teachers, per a mentors advice, and they seemed to understand our concerns which made me feel a little better. However, one still doesn't know how things will play out in a real life situation. We didn't have long to wait until we were presented with just such an opportunity.

Three weeks into the school year I got the phone call every parent dreads, but particularly those of us who have children with mental health disabilities, "There has been an incident, we need you to come to school asap. Joseph made a threat, but we won't be formally charging him as you warned us that this could happen.  However, we want Joseph, as well as his classmates, to know this is not acceptable behavior." To say my heart sank to my toes is an understatement. I was sure we had reached the end of the road and I would be back to homeschooling him. I called Dean and asked for advice on how to handle the situation depending how things went down, and then called my mom asking her to pray. Turns out, Joseph became frustrated with a teacher when she wouldn't let him keep talking during class, and in his frustration, he made a threat. The school handled it very well. I was once again amazed at how well they understood my son. We had a level headed discussion together and they made it clear to Joseph that under no circumstances was he to talk like that again. He was sincerely sorry and promised it wouldn't happen again. But I know my son, in the heat of the moment, he just doesn't think and I feared there would soon be a, "Next time." When I shared my concern, his teachers rose up to the plate and implemented techniques to keep him from escalating and with those tools in place there hasn't been another incident at school. The bus is another matter, but switching buses and having an aid sit by him, solved those problems as well. 

It means so much to have other adults come alongside us and brainstorm ways to help Joseph succeed. He comes home from school happy, calm and regulated, something that hasn't happened in years. Having him attend school and be successful has opened so many doors for him. It is also giving me the opportunity to do some physical and emotional healing from the past eleven years of chaos.  

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