Thursday, September 16, 2010

Different yet the same

For those of you who don't know.. for most of my career ... I have worked in special schools. Well we aren't technically allowed to call them "special" anymore.. everything and everyone is integrated here in the Great White North............. but we do have schools that have a high population of "coded" children. And for the last 30 years or so those are the schools where I worked.

These schools have full time psychologists, social workers, and resource teams. These schools have always practiced team work ...... sharing... everyone was asked for their input - everyone was part of "The Team".

This past spring I was offered a job at a "normal" school. We have hardly any coded kiddies. We do not have a school psychologist, or social worker or resource teams. We just have regular staff.


we have one special needs child in Kindergarten. He is severely autistic. (well that's not what his parents say.. or what the ABA team say.. or what the Board says) BUT by my definition - for what it's worth - he is severely autistic.

I listened - on the first day of school - to his parents singing his praises. To his ABA workers singing his praises. Oh he might be a little trouble at transitional times, BUT, the old standbys of "5 more minutes" or at worst a "time out" worked.

On the first day of school he had a total melt down and threw rocks, kicked and screamed and head butted anyone who tried to remove him from the climbing equipment in the yard.

every time he doesn't get his own way he has a melt down with aggressive behaviour.

So the old me, the trained educator, jumped into action. I started documenting everything. And finally after more than a week of these melt downs, I spoke with his ABA therapist when she was in....... calmly and quietly explaining what I was experiencing, and suggesting (god forbid!!) that perhaps it was only the change in school - but he was showing more than mild symptoms of autism - in my humble opinion.

That short sharing of information has been blown hugely out of proportion .. I have been accused of saying that he doesn't belong in our school, I have been accused of discussing confidential information with a stranger... Oh I have been accused of a number of things.

Fortunately - it all seems to have blown over. I got my wrist slapped in the principal's office. I apologized - in my own special way - I was sorry I had followed my training and considered myself a part of the team. They needn't worry it wouldn't ever happen again. And so the problem has gone away.


It hasn't. The boy is still in my daycare program... still having melt downs. I figure one of these days he is gonna hit another child, or his screaming will upset a parent and then someone other then myself will speak up and out.

But for the most part this is a normal school - with normal happy fun loving children. It is a new experience for me. I almost - ALMOST - feel redundant. I sit at my computer for most of the day doing my computer stuff. Every once in a while a child will come in to chat. But for the most part, life rolls along smoothly without any need of my expertise.

The only thing that I can see that doesn't change from one type of school to the next is................

Yup........ snotty nosed kids = bugs. And I managed to pick up my first bug of the year......... UGH !!! I have been dragging myself through my days..... swallowing hand fulls of Tylenol and spoonfuls of cough syrup. I haven't given in to it yet..... I can't actually. This is staffing week and I still need 3 more staff members. So I sniffle my way through interviews, come home and curl up under piles of blankets and shiver my way through to the next morning.

What's the old saying......... "the more things change - the more they stay the same"???

Here's to a rough start to the new school year


  1. I am sorry your year has started so roughly. Here's to things settling down and beginning to perk along more smoothly. And may your one little "odd" duckling flourish under your care and with your expertise.

    All the best,

  2. I'm sorry about that child who might not be getting the help and resources he needs. It's so sad when people would rather bury their heads in the sand than open their eyes and assess the situation to figure out how to best help the child.

    I feel your pain on the school germs thing. The twins started daycare on September 1st. They started their second cold or flu today. I'm still not fully recovered from the first one! How am I supposed to manage this when I start work again? Ugh.


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