Our journey through autism

Posts tagged ‘class’

Kindergarten

Today marks the end of the first two weeks of Kindergarten. His teacher says he’s doing well and trying really hard and he seems to really enjoy it. His teacher has years of experience teaching grades 1-3 this is her first time teaching Kindergarten but I liked what she said during curriculum night. She knows what is required for a successful first grader so she will make sure when the year ends they are ready for that. She told me she has special education training so it seems a great fit for Bilal to be in her class. She has created a website that she updates regularly and she is always sending out emails with news and requests. In the middle of the first week Bilal suffered a stomach upset, says he wants to throw up we said it could be motion sickness from eye exhaustion or the beginning of a cold. She said she’ll let him rest a bit and if he’s not any better we should pick him up, he was soon fine and spent the rest of the day at school. That evening she called and checked on how he was and updated me on his progress, she said he was doing really well and trying really hard, that he has trouble staying seated but that she doesn’t mind herself. She said writing is the most difficult for him but that OT and his special instruction should help with that. I really fell in love with her then, and really looking forward to the rest of the year working with her with helping Bilal. I’m trying out some volunteer positions in his class keep me better updated with his progress and what he’s learning. I volunteered to be a mystery reader, show up without the class knowing who it is and read them a story, wasn’t really interested at first but when I saw another mother with a heavy accent volunteer I thought why not. I volunteered for the Scarecrow Festival but we’ve yet to do anything.

Bilal at first only talked about the difference between pre-k and kindergarten about the bigger class, about recess, PE, the cafeteria, the school bus. He particularly enjoys waiting at the bus stop and getting on with the other kids and walking the bit from the stop till the house. He made friends with a first grader on his bus who is most probably only a couple months older than Bilal. He’s mentioned a few games he’s played during PE or recess. So far it looks like attending a typical class is the best fit for him inshaAllah. We should have an IEP meeting soon to update goals and include his vision problems, looking forward to a great year.

Kindergarten Observations

This month we’re busy with figuring out the best kindergarten placement for Bilal and later in the month we’ll have our transitional IEP meeting. So last week his teacher told me to contact the special ed instructor (Ms. Nateli) to tour the special ed kindergarten at Alpharetta Elementary. I went and saw the class and and had a chat with her. The class was set up exactly like his current Pre-K class and there were only 5 boys in the class (no girls) this year, they appeared to be high functioning but who knows who will be in the class next year. I felt it would be a repetition of the last two years for Bilal and not really beneficial, I feel its time for him to be included into the real world and deal and interact with typical peers and learn early on what the world is like. So she told me to contact the special ed instructor at his home school (Manning Oaks) to observe a typical kindergarten class and see the resource room and better understand Bilal’s other options. So a week later I go and meet her (Ms. Norton) and she takes me to the resource room, this is a small classroom where students who are having trouble with a certain subject can get pulled out and get more one on one instruction, the class usually doesn’t get any bigger than 6 students. It happened to be a math class, an area where Bilal will not need special instruction, but I understood the system. The teacher was explaining the word problem slowly and step by step, they solved it using different visual aids, drawings on the board, finger counting, block counting. The students get sticker rewards for good behavior and when they acquire a total of 25 stickers they get a prize from the treasure box. The whole time she kept taking notes on Bilal and asking how Bilal would cope with certain situations and explaining what a typical week was like. Then we went into the typical class. It’s set up very like his current Pre-K class but larger and with several tables (desks), they were also working on math word problems, but it was on the board and they were using terms like signs, equations, and solutions, they didn’t use much visual assistance. They move around a lot from group work on the floor to sitting in their chairs and writing the problem in their notebooks, to centers for play learning and then switching around again. Ms. Norton was very helpful explaining everything and taking down notes. She will be invited to attend the IEP meeting and give her opinion about Bilal’s placement as well.

From what I saw I feel Bilal would do fine in the typical class and he can be pulled out to the resource room to work on handwriting skills, and he’ll also be pulled out for his Speech and OT  sessions.  I’m nervous but ready for this IEP meeting to be over with.

Music Therapy

Along the lines of something fun after 4 months of one on one therapy we decided to have Bilal do music therapy. He loves singing and humming and takes after his father with his musical ear and right tone. He sings a lot of children’s songs pretty well, just off on lyrics either mispronouncing them, or just humming instead of saying the words. Recently he’s started signing along to the radio with me during our drives to and from therapy a mix of songs from the 80s, 90s and today. This music center had free introductory classes at the public library and I went and met with them. They offer music classes to babies 3 months – 10 years. Two weeks before classes were to begin I went and met with the music therapist, we discussed Bilal’s strengths and weaknesses, what we’d like to achieve and had a short mini-lesson as example to what we’ll cover once we begin. Bilal enjoyed the class and was looking forward to start. She will write out a goal sheet similar to an IEP to cover in the next 8 weeks as a winter session with an option for another 8 week session as spring term. This class is different as it is a class with other special needs children (social skills) and also their mothers, something we could do together that’s fun and educational.

As with all of Bilal’s classes or therapies they have a chart of activities to be covered. They start out with a Hello song, the therapist asks the child how they’d like to say hello, would they like to wave, or clap or stump their feet? this encourages speech, communication and decision making. There is a story to act out (imagination, movement), instruments to play, listening to different animal sounds from tape, moving to the speed of the music, following instructions, taking turns, etc… Bilal had a lot of fun, and with 2 other little hyper boys he had a blast being silly with them.

The only draw back to this is that it is a bit far, off in Cobb county and also Bilal is higher functioning than the other two boys so not much challenge in that with the same environment in school I’m not sure what to do, he needs a class with typically developing children, which at school might not be possible till kindergarten as he’s doing pre-k again next year due to a late September birthday. We’ll see how it goes and whether we’ll do the spring session as well or not.

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