Tuesday, August 27, 2013


So we are a couple of weeks into school here, and it's going ok, ups and downs.  We will have Back to School Night this week, so we can meet BGA's teacher (we of course already know LGA's teacher) and the new principal. I am always nervous to see how the new teacher will be and what she will require, will she 'get' BGA? 
BGA's teacher sent home a 6 page info/supply list last week.  We had some of the supplies but had to go out and get some of the stuff on the list we didn't have......no big deal.  But what I found interesting was the list of the teacher's class rules. I know that ADD BGA is going to have a hard time following some of these rules. Last year's teacher, while nice, was a bit loopy and had a lot of personal issues going on, so let a LOT of stuff in her class slide.  This teacher is NOT going to do that, which makes me happy, but I am concerned how BGA is going to do.  She needed to bring the supply list home by Friday.  She forgot it at her desk the first day, so we were unable to get supplies as it was a weekend and she said the teacher had left the room.  So on Monday I remind her that she needs the supply list and could she find it in the tray under her desk and put it in her backpack.  She forgets. I send her back to the room and she brings the list back with her.  Tuesday Dave and I shop and get her stuff ready to take to school the next day.  But this is the issue we had with her in 4th grade due to her ADD, and being disorganized.  So, I'm thinking she will need to take meds at school in the pm, because I am sure her new teacher is going to say she needs her pm meds.  When I pick her up she talks non stop the whole way home, barely pausing for a breath.  She is all over the car, moving around and not able to sit still, until I remind her she needs to sit in her seat because the car is moving.

Also, with a new teacher I have to decide what I can personally reveal about BGA's past and how things work in her brain.  Last year she did not want to tell the kids at school she was adopted.  She told kids at her previous school and was teased quite a bit about it.  Her teacher last year knew as I told her in a form I had to fill out.  So I don't know if last year's teacher will tell this year's teacher or not.

I did not attend the first day of school, so I have not met the teacher as stated above.  Dave does the first day of school and has for a couple of years now.  He's not always involved in the day to day so this gives him a chance to meet teachers and see the classroom, etc.  This year I think they were a bit late and had to wait for a train, so he missed meeting the teacher, but did drop BGA off in her classroom and LGA had the same room so he said hi to her teacher.  Up to this point I have not met BGA's teacher so don't have any opinions formed, however, I can see by her 6 page document sent home that she is a bit strict.  I found it funny that BGA says she's already been muttering under her breath at certain kids (last year's 5th grade class was a really hard one so this year's teacher has some of the same students).  Last year's teacher is teaching the pull out kids and not having a classroom setting, so she said she's still got some of the kids she had last year.   I feel sorry for her because I think by the end of the year last year, she was just done.  Ready for school to be over.

On the reading front, which is the title of this post, LGA has been going gangbusters on reading.  Last year she was probably reading at a kinder level, and reading two letter words. This year, 3 and 4 letter words/sentences and she can almost read a full sentence.  We still have the repetition issue and sentences she knew at the beginning of the week, seemed harder by the end and words just weren't there.  However, last week was the first full week of school, so we just worked on her book bit by bit each day.  But to see her reading is a really good thing.  I had not seen her read like that before.  It was really a great feeling to see her read a small book. I'd say she's at first grade level, but that's ok, she's reading and that makes us happy.  This week her teacher added some double digit math, adding, and carrying over, and LGA did not want to do it, but I pushed through one sheet with her, then Dave took over and did the second one with her and she finished it.  I like seeing how she will pick out words in various pieces of paper or magazines she sees.  I think it's time to dig out her books and see which ones she can read.

So far BGA has been doing some reading each day. I am hoping the summer reading we let her do, staying up past bedtime, will help her bring her reading up a bit this year.  She did good in second to last semester, then the last semester her reading level dropped.  We are also having her read a half hour each day after school and she is not fighting us on it.  We have had the conversations about homework (last two years she has consistently lied to get out of homework) and her teacher is strict about that (no surprise there) too.  The teacher will call us if work is not being consistently turned in (as opposed to last year's teacher who never let us know there was a problem till BGA got a U on homework on one of her report cards).

Expectations are being laid out, we meet the teacher this week and we hope this will be a good year.  LGA is adjusting to the transition ok, not great, but getting there.  There have been meltdowns and things that set her off after school last week and week before, but I hope it's transition and that it will even out a bit when she settles.  Told her teacher she reported the older kids were teasing her and teacher said she'd look into it.  We are in the lying phase of FASD, so hard to know what is attention seeking and what is truth.  But I tell her before I talk to her teacher to give her the chance to either agree or tell me what she said was not true (has happened). 

I'm just happy to see the reading progressing.  On her state testing report, LGA jumpe from a Far Below Grade Level to Below Grade Level (then there is Grade Level and  Proficient - these two levels BGA stays around - and Advanced).  I'm really happy with that progress as she has been at Far Below since she started kinder.  That lets me know she's making progress and I couldn't be happier.

Hope those of you with kids in school have a great school year.

Monday, August 19, 2013

School Started..........and FASD Thoughts

School started last week.

I am glad that school has started as I am ready for LGA to go back to school.  Don't flame me for this, but she turned 9, and has been a bit hard to handle this summer at times.  I need the break from her during the day and she needs the school structure.  More on that in a bit.

LGA got the same teacher she had last year.  They moved Ms. M. up to teaching the special ed day class grades 4-6.  Since LGA is in modified grade 4, she got to keep her teacher.  OH, she and I were both so happy.  When I saw her teacher 3 days in, she said that she likes to keep 'her' kids for a couple of years.  I want to ask her to please stay till LGA goes to 7th.  If she did, LGA would have her for 4 yrs.  It's good for LGA.  Transition is hard.  I may have mentioned that they (school district special ed program) were wanting to change boundaries and possibly move her.  If they did that would have meant she would be attending the 5th school since we brought her home 5 yrs ago.  Nope, I wouldn't have it and made a call.  Our Program Specialist with the school district is retiring, so we have a new male PS.  I haven't met him yet but the teacher wants to have an early IEP so we can all meet (there is a new male speech teacher as well) and go over her goals.  Ms. M. thinks that LGA should skip speech as she has more of a learning disorder and we should concentrate on that.  So we'll see how this all plays out.  Already, we had a 3 hour blow out on Thursday of last week.  It started when I let them play electronics (which will be on the weekday school ban starting today - weekday ban is in effect till Friday, then Friday and whenever we have down time on the weekend they can play.  TV is also on this ban) and LGA wanted to play a game that BGA bought with allowance money.  BGA said no.  LGA blew up.  It took 3 hours of off/on behavior and me sending her to her room to cool off and trying again, before I got it out of her that she was made at BGA.  BGA and LGA now share a recess and LGA was mad because her friend, Mr. K., was not there and she wanted to play with BGA.  BGA, being in 6th grade and trying out a new friend clique this year, did not want her sister playing with her and evidently didn't tell her in the nicest way.  So......lots of talking with the two of them and explaning that BGA would not always play with LGA, etc.  LGA has friends, both autistic.  So they have issues, but Mrs. M. is wonderful about sorting out all the issues.   So, the issues I was worried about, being in with the big kids, started quickly enough.  The only thing I will need to go over again with Mrs. M. is this issue. She thinks LGA is ok, but based on her behavior last week, she isn't and Mrs. M. I hope can reassure her and guide her through the big grades.

BGA is doing ok.  I think her teacher (based on what Mrs. M. told me) will be a better fit than last year's teacher (who had a lot of 'life' events happen last year).  I'm already liking how she works her class and basically puts up with nothing.  I think BGA will need to take her pm ADHD med in school though as she can't focus in the pm once her am med wears off and I really feel she needs this so she can be organized.  She forgot her school supply list, leaving it under the metal tray instead of putting it in her folder in her backpack.  So this year we will need to meet with the teacher again and go over how to help her get organized, etc.  Last year's teacher just didn't care and told me, "yes, she has a hard time focusing in the pm, but I am able to get her back on track."  That worked last year, but the teacher the year before said she needed her pm med as she was not focused.  BGA had some bullying issues but has picked a different set of friends to play with, although she has the "she's my best friend and I want to take a dollar to school so I can buy her something" and it's only day 5 of school going on.  But so far, the other girls are leaving her alone. She really wants her other friend back but is accepting that she will need to find another group of friends to hang out with.  I hope she can find them, as the summer talks included the fact that she wants friends and cares about having them this year.  There is a new principal and I like what he is doing so far. 

And now on to the FASD part of the post.  You may have watched Good Morning America, where the author, Emily Oster, advocates drinking into the third trimester.  I firmly believe that no amount of alcohol ingested by a pregnant woman is safe.  FASD (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder) is 100% preventable.  Living with an adopted daughter who has FASD, I wonder sometimes if her birthmother had not been drinking while pg, how different her life would be.  I won't lecture on this subject, but do go to this site (NOFAS) and read the response this organization gave.  This subject is all over the internet right now.  Please post a comment if you are inclined.  More and more children in the US and Europe are affected by FASD and it is one of the most misunderstood as well.  Not much research is done on FASD, and it should be. 


LGA has issues due to FASD, issues that are sometimes hard to live with.  FASD is something people don't understand and there is always advice about what you should do and not a lot of support.  I read on FB today about a parent who was at the end of her rope.  She's been to therapists for her son (who is a teen I believe, the post was shared on another group, so I didn't see the original post), she's on meds, he's on meds, and life is just hard.  The teen/adult behaviors are hard to deal with.  LGA might be on the lower end of the spectrum, but she still faces learning issues and other delays that make me wonder what life will be like when she is a teen/adult.  It didn't start out that way and the sweet 3 yr old we met was nothing like the 9 yr old she is now.  When she is not having fits or tantrums, she is a very sweet girl.  It's just rough going at times.  I know this woman's despair, although I have not felt the depths of where she is, I have felt unsupported, misunderstood, and tired.  I am going to try and see if there is a support group in our area, because as LGA ages, I think we are going to need it.

So, school year 2013-14 has started and let's hope it's a good one.  Good luck to all who have started school this week.  Hope it's a good year for all of us.