Monday, November 12, 2012

Teacher of ACC Student - Parent Input

Alexandra Berube is a former Kindergarten teacher who taught a student with Agenesis of the Corpus Callosum in her classroom. She continues to tutor the student who is currently in 3rd grade, and she has written guest blog posts here about her teaching experience with the student.

After having read Alexandra's guest post on ACC and Communication, I asked her a question in regard to the child's social skills with peers. Alexandra mentioned to me that she would ask the child's parent.

As an unexpected surprise, I received an e-mail this morning from Alexandra who shared word-for-word (with permission) the parent's reply which includes some added input/insight.

The parent of the child/student who has ACC gave permission to share her e-mail reply (to Alexandra) here on this blog for you to read.

E-mail Reply from Parent of Student with ACC to Alexandra Berube:
(her child's Kindergarten teacher and current tutor)

"It's actually really interesting reading the posts from your perspective, especially the most recent post where you said you were a "little scared" about the whole situation. In hindsight, I can totally appreciate that. We came to you 2-3 days before the start of school and transformed the dynamic that you would have in your classroom instantly. That's true with any new arrival to a class, but *Max added a whole different dimension since none of us knew what to expect. While he was lacking fine motor and social skills (such as choosing when to speak, rolling on the ground, etc.), he had met every developmental milestone up to that point and even walked at 10 months of age. He also remembered details from stories, asked well thought out questions for a 5-year-old, could identify his letters and most of the letter sounds, and loved to learn new things. He also retained information and could access it. So, I really believed that if he was in the right setting with people that gave him the support he needed, he would learn. My biggest concern for him entering kindergarten was the social piece because he chose who he would talk too. He was completely verbal, but if he didn't know you or wasn't comfortable in the setting, he would not speak and would roll around on the ground. He barely spoke to his aunt until first grade, even though she lived across the street from us and he saw her routinely. He would also "act" things out instead of using his words, but his actions were only understood by immediate family so we were constantly interpreting for him.

I had put together the information packet for the public school kindergarten teacher and had already delivered it to her and had a follow-up conversation with her about working with him. When we went for the public school kindergarten orientation we found out that there were 28 kids in his half-day (2.5 hours) class and no aide. I knew he would be pulled out for speech therapy and occupational therapy during those 2.5 hour sessions and chances are he'd miss something very important since the schedule was so condensed. There was NO way I could send him to that class. I knew he would get lost in a class that size and he'd lose any opportunity that he had to be successful early on in school. I called the director of the Kindergarten program in a panic to find out if there was any availability still in your class. I had really wanted Max to attend your class, but my husband didn't want to pay for kindergarten…the public class size was the turning point for him. I enrolled him in the class with every expectation that you had the skills to work with him because the director of the kindergarten program had told me about the work you'd done during your first year teaching kindergarten. I also knew he would get the 1-on-1 attention he needed since the class size was 1:9 [1 teacher to 9 students] and 6 hours in length.

Many families don't disclose full information about a child's diagnosis because they are afraid that their child will be marginalized in the school system, and many families have stories to back up these fears. I thought a lot about whether or not I would disclose all that I knew before Max started school. I came to the decision that I was much more afraid of someone categorizing him as something he is not - such as autistic or ADHD. Knowing the truth meant that the school district and his teachers could not ignore that my child would need services throughout his academic career. When I made the decision, I had no idea what those services would be, but when I knew what he needed, I wanted them in place. I didn't want to fight for them or jump through hoops because I didn't fully disclose. For me, this decision also meant that I would communicate with a teacher directly about Max's condition. I have never expected that anyone would know what AgCC is or have had past experience working with a child in Max's situation. Therefore, I had to educate his teachers. I put together a packet of information that included research articles about how children with AgCC learn, fact sheets about typical behavior or learning styles of children with AgCC and a powerpoint presentation that gave developmental background about Max from birth. I have also let every teacher know that I expect there will be red flags along the way and I want to know about them when they see them. I am not the parent that is going to disregard a concern or deny that my child might need extra assistance. I know that my child will need more and I want to make sure he gets exactly what he needs. This proactive approach has been very successful this far with his teachers."

*Name has been changed.

Note: "AgCC" = Agenesis of the Corpus Callosum

Thank you very much to *Max's parent for sharing such personal insight (and allowing me to share it in open with you) about her child who has Agenesis of the Corpus Callosum and her feelings with respect to school and her son's educational learning environment and experience.

As a mom myself of a son who has ACC, I can relate very well (as I know many parents can) to how crucial it is to find the right educational placement/setting/environment and teacher for your child. In fact, I believe very strongly that ACC and school/educational placement (as well as any accommodations and services the child who has ACC requires) is so vital in order for a child to thrive academically as well as socially, that I think the topic deserves it's own separate blog post!

About Alexandra Berube

Alexandra is the Managing Director of Boston Tutoring Services, a tutoring company that offers one-to-one in-home tutoring in Massachusetts. She is also a former Kindergarten teacher who also tutors students in grades
K-8, in all subject areas, including test preparation.

Exciting News!!

Watch for another upcoming guest post this week from Alexandra, regarding the student she taught (and tutored) who has Agenesis of the Corpus Callosum, on the topic of Math-Multiplication.

As a teacher and professional tutor, Alexandra plans to share more future guest blog posts here--where she will reveal additional insight into her student who has Agenesis of the Corpus Callosum and how it affects the student's education, and she will also be sharing teaching strategies that have helped her student.**

**Please Note: Agenesis of the Corpus Callosum has a very wide range of effects--ranging anywhere from no symptoms--or mild learning disabilities--to severe mental and/or physical challenges. It can sometimes also be seen with other medical conditions, genetic syndromes, chromosomal anomalies and more. Every person with ACC can present differently in terms of their development, cognitive abilities and educational needs.

Each child who has ACC is a unique individual with their own abilities, weaknesses, challenges, motivations, strengths, as well as their own style of learning.

No comments:

Post a Comment

I am very interested in reading your comments and
look forward to hearing from you. Thank you.