The thing is (see, there's those things again), it's not so much a case of "the squeaky wheel gets the grease," as it is a matter of triage. Just like Hawkeye and Trapper on M*A*S*H, I have to decide which problem of which kid is the most urgent. Also like on M*A*S*H, my triage process involves a lot of wisecracking while stepping over bodily fluids.
For most of the summer, Little Dude's new Asperger diagnosis was topping the priority list, followed immediately by the Peanut Butter Kid's health issues.
Now that Little Dude is kicking and screaming his way into preschool each morning, and all I can do is wait for the Peanut Butter Kid's next GI appointment, I'm focused on making sure the PBK actually learns something this year. So far I am basically winging it while I wait for her homebound schooling services to start. I have some experience with homeschooling; we used two online charter schools last year during our move. The online charter schools provide a curriculum, teachers, and materials, though. It's professionally developed. By real educators with credentials and experience and lots of extra letters after their names. I, on the other hand, have a workbook and a list of skills I found on the Texas Education Agency website.
Incidentally, the homebound schooling thing presents a little problem for me: every morning while we get ready for school, Little Dude rants about how he said he wants to be homeschooled. Remember, Mommy? And he knows perfectly well what homeschooling is, and I have the Peanut Butter Kid home with me. So he must be thinking, what the hell? Why can't I stay home?
Anyway, I have a meeting with the school counselor tomorrow, which hopefully will involve being given a date and time when a tutor is going to show up at my house. Hopefully it does not involve the school bringing in Child Protective Services, because I'm starting to pick up a vibe that they think I have Munchausen by Proxy Syndrome. Which is particularly hilarious, given that they don't even know that I'm about to ask for a 504 Plan* to accommodate the Pork Lo Maniac's fine motor skill delay.
The PLM's hands had kind of slipped down on the triage list. But then today it took her an hour to get two-thirds done with her math homework (rote copying of multiplication tables). At that point I told her she could stop and move onto spelling. Forty minutes later, she had finished her spelling assignment (rote copying of spelling words). At the end of this lovely afternoon, her hands were fatigued and cramped, and she was near tears. Up the priority ladder she goes.
The Pork Lo Maniac has had years of occupational therapy. Her pencil grasp is so bizarre, I can't even physically duplicate it. At this point, the occupational therapists have given up trying to change it, and instead have termed it an "adaptive" grasp. I think that's the medical term for "wow, your kid's hands are whacked." In the last few years, we've been blessed with teachers that accommodated the PLM's situation "on the down low." This year, the PLM is in fourth grade. The fourth grade standardized test in Texas involves a written section. Houston, we have a problem.
You know what's generally not a security risk? Carrying a screaming child into a school. I could see them becoming alarmed if I was carrying a screaming child out of the school, but that was clearly not the case yesterday.
So fine. Whatever. I will carry my flailing son, screaming and crying, into the office and obtain a pass. Except this morning an aide was waiting for me in the lobby running interference. She took him, so that I "didn't need" to take him to the cafeteria myself.
And yet I still got a telephone spanking from the principal today for walking my kids into school instead of using the drive-up line. The
Fine. Whatever. I will walk Little Dude into the lobby. My nine-year-olds will enter through the side door, like servants or orphans in Oliver Twist.
And I'm still asking for the 504.
*For the uninitiated, a 504 Plan allows for accommodations in the educational setting; e.g., a child with a hearing disability might need to sit closer to the front of the room. Legally, it is Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and is intended to prevent discrimination against people with disabilities. The IEP, which falls under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), allows for specialized instruction. In this case, I'll be asking for a 504 Plan to accommodate the Pork Lo Maniac's fine motor skill delay; she may need extra time on essay tests, for example. For more about IEPs and 504 Plans, see the WrightsLaw website. Now you know everything I know. Don't you feel hip and awesome?