Sunday, September 8, 2013

So far, so good

I mean, aside from kiddo cutting a hole in the front of his brand-new shirt on the first day of school. Apparently they were doing an arts-and-crafts thing of some sort. "The scissors you gave me were too sharp, Mommy," kiddo said. Yes, scissors have an unfortunate tendency to be sharp, since they are used to cut things. How about that, kiddo?

I can't really come down on him, though, because of the thing I did in nursery school once. Which is, I cut a boy's hair. For absolutely no reason. Just reached over with the scissors and snipped a lock off. I got in all kinds of trouble, of course, and the boy I think needed some supplementing trimming at the salon to neaten everything out. To this day I don't know what I was thinking. So at least kiddo only caused damage to his own person, and at least it was just a shirt. Which we have decided will now be his "art smock," since he already wrecked it.

Otherwise we haven't gotten any horrible reports yet. Though granted, what with Labor Day and Rosh Hashanah, he's only been in school two days so far. (I imagine he'll have many more opportunities next week to wreck his outfits.) The 504 coordinator wants to wait a week or two to see how he's settling in, then adjust the accommodations accordingly. That makes sense.

I have high hopes for his teacher, though, whom several other mom friends with older boys recommended. She's very structured, they said, and I said, perfect. A laid-back, whatever teacher would be a disaster for him.

She met us at the door on the first day, as we were doing the usual dork-parent thing and waiting in front of the school to snap a shot of him coming off the bus, then walking him to his room. The very first thing she said was to thank me for writing the letter to her, explaining what kiddo is good at and what he needs help with. She said it was very helpful. I was thrilled she'd read it, let alone liked it. That made my day.

I also shared the letter with the other ADHD moms I've been meeting up with -- our own personal support group -- and they liked the letter so much some of them were planning on ripping it off for their own kids. I am totally in favor of that. In fact I am so in favor of that that I am posting it here (with some details changed, of course). If one teacher liked it, I bet others would too. Steal away.


            I’m glad to know that my son XXXXX will be in your class this coming school year. I’d like to tell you a little bit about him.

XXXX has ADHD and has a 504 plan for classroom accommodations. In XXXXX class last year, those accommodations included a fidget toy, a band around the bottom of his seat and a special cushion to sit on. He has had issues with sitting still and with being physically aggressive with other children, due to sensory overload. He presents certain challenges, but offers a lot of positives as well.

He’s extremely friendly and loves to laugh. He wants to be helpful and to please adults, even if he doesn’t always quite manage to do it. He’s creative and smart, and loves to read. He also loves computer time and shows some skill with mathematics. He’s capable of a great many things, but may need extra help in achieving them.
We’ve found that being very clear and direct helps with XXXX. He will question instructions but given an answer, tends to be satisfied. Any opportunity for physical activity will benefit him (he does also have a weighted vest to assist with the physical stimulation, and has been receiving occupational therapy through the school). Repetitive or routine work will not go well with him, even though it’s certainly necessary. His brain isn’t stimulated enough by the activity and he will seem to find it almost painful. The occasional break, or even just a chance to stand up and stretch, should make a difference. He does enjoy any opportunity to be creative or to tell a story; you may find those tendencies helpful.
Other methods that seem to work are seating him close to the teacher’s desk and making him either line leader or line “caboose,” enabling the teacher to watch him more closely. We use a Time Timer at home, or the timers on our phones; sometimes the only way to get him to complete a task is to encourage him to “beat the clock.” He’s proud of himself when he’s able to do that. He does have issues with transitions; I’ve found that either using the timer, or telling him, “I’m going to count to five and then you need to do this,” is effective. (Sometimes the counting alone will work, without a stated consequence.) He also has trouble controlling his emotions sometimes, especially if he loses a game or if things don’t go the way he thinks they should. At home, we ask him to count backward from 10 to 1 and take a deep breath, which is generally effective. To ensure he’s listening to you, it’s a good idea to either touch him on the shoulder or make him repeat back to you what you said.

He’s very social and wants friends, but will unintentionally invade personal space or say inappropriate things. He was part of a social skills group last year, and I hope he is offered that opportunity again this year. We have seen some improvement in that area.
I hope you find this information useful. My husband and I look forward to working with you this school year. Our contact information is below; please don’t hesitate to reach out to either one of us if you have a question or something you need to discuss. Thanks and looking forward to meeting you.

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