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#1 of 29 Old 01-07-2013, 07:58 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi All,

 

For those of you I don't know, my DD is on the autism spectrum and is now 16. I've been around here forever, but not as much lately.

 

I just started a new job today and I'm so excited. I'm a TA in a special needs classroom. Its a cross category grade 3-5 classroom. The teacher is super, and the principal really has a heart for special needs kids. I'm getting to know the kids and learning the classroom rules and all.

 

I'm thinking about going back to college to get certified to teach special education. There is a program through a college here for people who already have BAs, and I've been researching it.

 

There was a time I would have laughed really, really hard if someone had told me that I would want to do this kind of work. For so long, I was overwhelmed and just trying so, so hard to be the best mom possible to my DD. Being her mom was a full time job for many years (more than a full time job, really). I couldn't imagine wanting to work with other children, much less special needs kids.

 

She is doing super now (she really turned a corner when she was about 14) and last year I went back to the kind of work I did before I had kids. As much as I liked it BEFORE kids, I hate it now. It just isn't me anymore.

 

So I did a lot of soul searching about what I want to do now that I have time to do something besides be a mom, and I found myself deeply drawn to working other special kids.

 

The other TA in the classroom is the mother of a child with Down's Syndrome who also went into this kind of work once her son was somewhat independent.


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#2 of 29 Old 01-07-2013, 08:07 PM
 
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Linda, that is great!  Ds has always been so fond of his special ed teachers and I think it is because they are caring and committed to the kids that they work with.  Glad you are able to relate to your students because of your personal experience.  

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#3 of 29 Old 01-08-2013, 08:36 AM
 
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I am so happy for you Linda! I did sort of the same thing - my experience of raising special needs kids led me to a position as family advocate for families with kids in the mental health system. I believe that as parents of special needs kids, we bring a depth of understanding that no textbook or classroom could ever teach. Yay for you, and the lucky kids in your class!clap.gif
 


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#4 of 29 Old 01-08-2013, 11:34 AM
 
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Linda, Congratulations! I always appreciate everything you share on here and have already learned so very much from you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. The kids, families, and other staff are lucky to have you. So glad to hear you have found and are following your passion! I too am considering some professional options I would never have even noticed were it not for my experiences parenting my son. That seems to be another gift that comes with special needs - finding a new and crystal clear sense of purpose.

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#5 of 29 Old 01-15-2013, 09:13 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the warm wishes! The last week has been crazy adjusting to the new job. The kids in the class are AMAZING and I just adore them. I'm starting to learn the SN community from the school side and it's very interesting. The teacher I'm with really advocates for the kids with the district and tries to get them the best possible services, but she has to tow the party line with parents.
 

Some of the things I'm seeing are fairly heart wrenching (one little girl in our class is there because of shaken baby syndrome) but the thing that gets to me is that we have one little guy who is unpredictable and at times dangerous. They are working on a new behavior plan for him, so may be that will help. We are trying to keep the other kids safe. I really feel for his parents. I feel for him too -- once the dust clears and he realizes what he has done, he seems to feel genuine remorse and regret. Part of my job is to track his behaviors during the day and then tell his parent at pick up. I kinda want to give the mom a hug. This is her baby boy, and as a parent I would find it hard to hear these things.


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#6 of 29 Old 01-16-2013, 07:45 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Linda on the move View Post Part of my job is to track his behaviors during the day and then tell his parent at pick up. I kinda want to give the mom a hug. This is her baby boy, and as a parent I would find it hard to hear these things.

Could you give her a written list or report instead of her having to listen to a litany of her son's transgressions each day? My heart also goes out to this mom - I would get to dread pick-up time every day. And could you sprinkle in one or two things he did well each day? Note the remorse, or even just a sweet smile or something you noticed. Not to be artificial, but to let Mom know you recognize her child is more than just his bad behaviors.

 

I am glad the job is working out. This is the kind of role we need filled by caring moms, rather than inexperienced students. Nothing against students, but often the entry level positions, with the most direct care of these kids, are filled by those for whom it is "just a job". Clearly, you are bringing your heart to it.


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#7 of 29 Old 01-16-2013, 08:13 AM
 
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I'm really glad you chose this as a next career. :D Based on the stuff you write I think you will excel in this field. I'm so glad that your students will get to benefit from having you in their lives.

 

I don't think I will go back to teaching but I think about heading in the direction of therapist for severely traumatized children. The kind everyone else gives up on. I have a while till my kids are old enough. I will think about you as the years go by and I try to motivate myself towards going back to school. :)


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#8 of 29 Old 01-16-2013, 03:34 PM
 
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Originally Posted by mamarhu View Post

Could you give her a written list or report instead of her having to listen to a litany of her son's transgressions each day? My heart also goes out to this mom - I would get to dread pick-up time every day. And could you sprinkle in one or two things he did well each day? Note the remorse, or even just a sweet smile or something you noticed. Not to be artificial, but to let Mom know you recognize her child is more than just his bad behaviors.

 

mamarhu, when I was in school learning about assessment and critique for art at k12 level, we were told when addressing student's work to start with a positive and end with a positive (they would use the analogy of like a sandwich).  The areas for improvement went between the positives.  

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#9 of 29 Old 01-17-2013, 12:51 PM
 
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Congratulations, what an amazing thing for you! And for the kids, like a PP pointed out.

this special needs community I fought so hard to keep out of with DS1 and have been catapulted right into with DS2, is actually all kinds of awesome, and I am already having diffuse thoughts of getting really involved in educational matters. Not sure whether I can or want to turn it into a career, I don't think I am that brave - considering my own health issues, I better remain a civil servant with the job security and benefits for life, but I expect i could work part time and go into advocacy or local politics. All this way down the road of course, though hopefully a bit earlier than DS2's 16th birthday.

I'd love to hear more about what you're doing, and how the plans to get more qualifications are turning out...


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#10 of 29 Old 01-20-2013, 12:19 PM - Thread Starter
 
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The pick up time is bumpy. I do give the mom a written report that is a form I fill out as the day as long. Every segment of his day gets documented and when things go well, that is noted. The problem is that at pick up, he runs off or otherwise spins out of control so it is difficult to talk to her at all. Part of my goal right now is to treat her with dignity, look her in the eye, tell her that I hope she has a nice weekend, ect. Even in our brief interactions, just to stay one human being connecting and being kind to another human being.

I'm a little overwhelmed with my role right now and really no longer want the lead teachers job. She puts in a ton of hours, has a ton of stress, fills out a crazy amount of paper work, and usually seems to have both a parent and the principal annoyed at her about something. And she is an awesome teacher! I wish my dd had had her when she was younger.

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#11 of 29 Old 01-20-2013, 01:36 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Linda on the move View Post

I'm a little overwhelmed with my role right now and really no longer want the lead teachers job.

I totally get this feeling. My agency offered to pay part of my tuition for grad school, if I wanted to become a therapist. No, thank you!

 

Hang in there. You haven't yet hit your stride, and it will become smoother. I am learning to leave work at work - a new skill for those of us who have been parenting so intensely for so long. Remember all the self-care skills you probably heard over the years. They are just as important now in your new role as they were as a parent.

 

As for the pick up time issue - have you read The Explosive Child (or the school-based companion book, Lost at School)? Is there any way to work collaboratively with the child to make transitioning to Mom smoother? I don't know if you mentioned the child's age or cognitive/verbal abilities.


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#12 of 29 Old 01-22-2013, 10:15 AM
 
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Originally Posted by mamarhu View Post

Could you give her a written list or report instead of her having to listen to a litany of her son's transgressions each day? My heart also goes out to this mom - I would get to dread pick-up time every day. And could you sprinkle in one or two things he did well each day? Note the remorse, or even just a sweet smile or something you noticed. Not to be artificial, but to let Mom know you recognize her child is more than just his bad behaviors.

 

 

Echoing this.  

 

This is great news, Linda!  Congrats.


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#13 of 29 Old 01-23-2013, 11:49 AM
 
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Congrats Linda! I'm another person who has learned much from you here through the years.
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#14 of 29 Old 01-23-2013, 07:04 PM
 
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Linda, this is wonderful news for you!  I'm sure you will be of such help in your new job.  I can tell from your posts that you are such and understanding person.
 


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#15 of 29 Old 01-23-2013, 07:18 PM
 
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Wow!  Linda, I totally missed this.  I'm so happy and excited for you, and doubly happy and excited for the children and families' lives you will be touching.  They are truly blessed to have such a wonderful compassionate knowledgeable person to advocate for them!joy.gif


 
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#16 of 29 Old 01-23-2013, 09:31 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by mamarhu View Post

Could you give her a written list or report instead of her having to listen to a litany of her son's transgressions each day? My heart also goes out to this mom - I would get to dread pick-up time every day. And could you sprinkle in one or two things he did well each day? Note the remorse, or even just a sweet smile or something you noticed. Not to be artificial, but to let Mom know you recognize her child is more than just his bad behaviors.

 

 

 

She gets a written report on his day that is 2-3 pages long that notes positives as well as negatives. I do mention positive or sweet things when possible, but he is so out of control at pick up that it is often hard to speak to her.   He uses a picture schedule to get through his day, and a truly unbelievable amount has gone into making the transition as easy as possible.

 

He is going to be switching to a different school in our district next week -- it's a self contained school for special needs. It is a state of the art facility (sensory room, therapeutic pool with physical therapy in the pool, etc.) But it feels like a facility instead of a school.

 

I don't know what is happening to my job. The principal and sped teachers at our school are trying to get me switched to another sped classroom there that has an opening, but the district is wanting me to switch with him. I don't know where I go to work next Monday morning. I really don't want to go to the other school -- I think it would be depressing for me. Every one says it is great, but it's just not what I signed on for. .....


but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#17 of 29 Old 01-24-2013, 02:05 PM
 
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Perhaps if he goes to the other school you could agree to just a trial period there.  Having done this work myself, I know how both the school and the child you work with are a pretty big part of how much you enjoy the job.  For me, the school usually trumped the child as it affects your overall social atmosphere, but you don't know if you don't try it.  "Facility" type structures can be a lot warmer than the term implies, and how they feel depends more upon the staff than the designation.

 

Hope whatever happens this works out for you.
 


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#18 of 29 Old 01-24-2013, 05:26 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I've heard that the staff is amazing and that the school does great work (in addition to talking to people who work for the district, I also know a woman whose son has Downs and went to school there for years).

 

But right now I'm in a cross cat classroom, and while the kids are more severely affected than kids who can be mainstreamed for at least part of the day, the other school has mostly kids with truly profound issues. A lot of the students are non-verbal. It seems heavy and depressing.

 

It's Thursday, and I still don't know where I am supposed to report for work on Monday. But if they tell me tomorrow that I'm to go to the other school, I'm going to go and try to have as open of a mind as I can. I know that sometimes things in my life are working out just right for me even though it doesn't seem like it. May be there is a person there that I am meant to meet, or an experience that I am meant to have, and it will effect and change my life in some wonderful way.

 

After all, I never would have chosen to be the parent of a child with autism, but I would be a completely different person if I hadn't had this experience, and I really like who I am right now. The experience of being my daughters mother has made me a better person. 


but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#19 of 29 Old 01-25-2013, 07:22 AM
 
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Let us know where you go, and how it goes! My district has around 3 (depending on how you count) different special needs schools, and each is a totally different experience. So much depends on the administration and the individual teacher.  A therapeutic pool - wow! In general, I think it is a good thing that they are considering having the staff (you) follow the child - if you have a relationship that is working, it is worth preserving.
 


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Good luck!  Let us know how Monday went.
 


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#21 of 29 Old 01-26-2013, 06:23 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Great News!!!

 

Friday afternoon I found out that I get to stay at the school where I am!  I'm switching to a position that rotates between 3 different classroom (one cross cat, and 2 gen ed) and has specific duties for kids with a variety issues. I'm really excited about it. The teachers I'll be working with are super, and the nature of the position means that I'll have a lot of variety and see how different teachers do things. I'll be working with special needs kids who are mainstreamed part of the day and kids in a self contained classroom part of the day.

 

The principal really went to bat for me. He told the district that he was concerned that if they made me switch to the other school, I might quit, and that would be a loss for the district. thumb.gif
 

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#22 of 29 Old 01-26-2013, 08:15 PM
 
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That's wonderful. I'm so glad you are appreciated. :)


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#23 of 29 Old 01-26-2013, 10:26 PM
 
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That's great!

I feel that having a child with SN, meeting children that are more badly affected than one's own is scary, because it stirs up all the worries again one had thought could be put away. Then, after I got over my initial shock and fears, I just felt the need to reach out while being grateful for how lucky we've been so far.

 

Edited to add that I love your attitude about taking on whatever life throws at you and will try to emulate it!


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#24 of 29 Old 01-27-2013, 04:11 PM
 
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Great news!


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#25 of 29 Old 01-27-2013, 06:21 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I feel that having a child with SN, meeting children that are more badly affected than one's own is scary, because it stirs up all the worries again one had thought could be put away.

 

For me, it's not about fear. My family is complete and my kids are teens, and I have peace about what I've been given deal to deal with and what I've been blessed with. But what I enjoy most about my job is the interaction with the kids, and I feel that I, personally, would find that less satisfying with children who are non-verbal, profoundly cognitively impaired, etc.

 

I could still end up at the other school eventually, but not right now. I'm I'm grateful for that. thumb.gif


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#26 of 29 Old 01-29-2013, 07:51 AM
 
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Linda - congratulations on your job, that is great. I also consider going into special ed when my son is a bit older, simply because I personally feel it's more of a calling then a profession. My son has severe autism/nonverbal and attends a self contained special education school for profound students.. because of this I'm actually more drawn to working with profound students because that is what I know best. Anyhow, good luck to you and best wishes. :o)

 

ETA: Have you read any of Torey Hayden's books? She writes nonfiction stories and information about being a special needs teacher. Her books are amazing and were life changing for me. I highly recommend her!


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#27 of 29 Old 01-30-2013, 08:29 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My son has severe autism/nonverbal and attends a self contained special education school for profound students.. because of this I'm actually more drawn to working with profound students because that is what I know best.

 


That's so cool!  I think it's amazing how different people feel drawn to working with different kinds of kids.

 

Right now, one of my little buddies has a birth defect and therefore lacks usable hands and arms, one has fetal alcohol syndrome, one has high functioning autism with sensory issues out the ying yang, and one has spastic cp.

 

And they are all just little dears. I adore them. love.gif


but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#28 of 29 Old 01-31-2013, 04:32 AM
 
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That's so cool!  I think it's amazing how different people feel drawn to working with different kinds of kids.

I miss my gang kids so much it hurts. I feel like I accomplished more good in the three years I taught than in any other ten year period. I haven't been able to talk someone into better life choices in a long time. I feel kind of useless. I try to convince myself that my kids need the attention too. smile.gif

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#29 of 29 Old 02-01-2013, 05:03 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I try to convince myself that my kids need the attention too. smile.gif

 

I think the most important thing we will do in our lives is raise our own kids. nod.gif

 

I'm glad that I wasn't trying to work with other people's children while my children were still young. For me, segmenting seems to be working really well.


but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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