Two weeks of public school special education for Blossom has been 50x harder than homeschooling her. We are all so exhausted! Physically, emotionally, everything! The amount of time it's taking me on the phone, emailing and in meetings for Blossom has been so great, that my other two girls have had no lessons this week or only one per day. Apple went to bed last night at 9pm and I let her sleep until 10:30am this morning. It's 12:30pm and she's sitting in her highchair fast asleep right now.
The special ed. teachers changed Blossom's schedule without notifying the counselor. I think they mentioned it to me, but put it this way, "We share the students, so she'll begin in so-and-so's class in the mornings." What they meant was, "We are changing her schedule completely. She will no longer be in Transitional Math, but in Life Skills, where she'll spend more time playing. Today, we bowled in the hallway because in Oct. we have a field trip to a bowling alley. And she has homework for math. Yes, it's counting to 5 and writing the number. I know that YOU know she can subtract two-digit numbers and borrow, but I don't know that so until I can evaluate her, this is what I'm giving her."
Yesterday, I took her to the classroom that was on her schedule. School begins at 8am. In the classroom, by now 8:15am, the students were eating breakfast and watching a Curious George cartoon on PBS TV. They turned it off at 8:45am and started playing street sign Bingo. When I pointed out to the teacher that this looked like babysitting instead of school, she said, "Well, these students can't read and write like your daughter can."
The problem is that Blossom is at a level by herself. The other high-functioning special ed. kids are academically several grades ahead of her and not new to the English language. The lower functioning kids are very, very low functioning and can't read or write and many are severely handicapped, in wheelchairs, non-verbal, and this is where Blossom has been placed except for one class, English, but I can already tell it's way too hard. So is her one mainstream class, chorus. They were in class for 105 minutes and didn't sing at all, just did a theory workbook. It's way too hard for Blossom. I didn't tell her that, I helped her to do the work, but even My Firefighter couldn't understand the instructions. I could because I know music already and have a point of reference.
Legally, the school has to provide work and support at the level that Blossom functions and works at. The reality, though, is that there isn't enough staff to spare for one student who is somewhat well-behaved, but can't function in the higher level special ed. academic classes. There are just as many, if not many more, interruptions than we experience at home caring for the daycare kids, because the students with profound special needs in the classroom are always needed assistance, whether it's diaper changes or help in the restroom, to needing their hands washed and being moved away from the other students after masturbating (yes, a male student did play with himself, blatantly, but inside his clothing, right beside Blossom), drool that needs wiping up, attention when they get too loud with the spontaneous repetitive noises many of the students make. Blossoms verbal expression has already started taking on the characteristics of the children more affected by CP. I knew this was a possibility because in an orphanage, the key to survival is fitting in, blend in, don't be different. I didn't think it would happen so fast, though. When I picked her up on Thursday, I couldn't understand a word she was saying.
She's beginning to have behavioral problems at school, too. Boredom is one reason, but the other is that she's feeling that everyone thinks she's stupid and damaged because she's being given "baby work" and put in the "damaged area." (She's always called the area of her orphanage where the children with profound special needs lived, the "damaged area," even though I've taught her the correct terms.) I dropped her off on Thursday, got to the car and cried. I cried on and off all day and couldn't wait to pick her up, and when I did, that's when she was speaking unintelligibly. Thinking she had English class on Friday, her one class with a teacher who really sees her potential realistically, I took her to school, and that's when I found out her schedule had been changed without proper authorization. I've been sending emails and making calls every single day, giving the teacher samples of all of Blossom's school work and even gave them the names of the math computer programs we've been using here at home. So, yesterday, Blossom announced that she did CTCmath during class. I was glad she did some actual work. It galls the heck out of me, though, that it's work I bought and paid for and had to provide to a public school for my child.
There has been one good side-effect. It's made me think outside the box and come up with an entirely new plan. I don't know if it's feasible, but with a little research, I can find out. It's also showed me some things about Sissy that I really needed to understand and accept. Next to Blossom, Sissy seemed higher functioning enough that I've always believed she'd learn enough to be an independent adult. Seeing her without Blossom, it became startling clear that she has very similar deficits, but without the layer of trauma that Blossom has. I was, for the first time, able to see very clearly, the difference between memorized behavior and skills and cognitive ability (self-awareness and knowledge integration is extremely low). After doing some basic first grade level reading comprehension exercises, I took the results and my concerns on several other matters to my pediatrician and in a heartbeat, she gave us a referral to a developmental pediatrician. Bottom line for Sissy is that she doesn't have the intellectual ability to be an independent adult either. Looking back and remembering as I type all this out, EVERY SINGLE PERSON WE MET IN CHINA, except my guide, EVEN THE PERSONNEL AT THE U.S. CONSULATE, said upon seeing her, "Oh, I see you've adopted a child with a mental disability." I kept saying, "No, she just looks that way, but everyone says she's fine."
I wish I'd stopped listening long ago to all those out there around me who kept saying things like, "all teens are like that," and "just throw them out there, they'll either sink or swim," and "it's just a language and culture thing."