Saturday, August 20, 2011

I Have a Little Shadow

Now that Little A loves school and I no longer need to hang around on-site in case he comes crying and looking for me or just wants to exit the classroom, (all of which he used to do frequently) I hardly know what goes on when he's there. Since he won't tell me about his days, all I can do is drop him off and pick him every day up like a good mother.

Thank goodness for the Shadow Teacher's journal. Again, I only get two mornings a week to read five days' worth of school activities, but it's better than wondering or having to grill an already tired teacher at the end of every school day.

Her very detailed journal chronicles their activities together both in and out of the classroom. I give verbal reports on the latest developments with his various therapists and she tries to incorporate all the efforts into her work with him.

Sometimes he still surprises us. Lately he's typed "hed" for head, "otr" (otter) and "egele" (eagle) into the keyboard. Those were easy enough to interpret, and once I corrected his spelling he didn't get those words wrong again. Harder was "hipots", which turned out to be his version of hippopotamus.

One day I saw that he had spelled "time" with letter tiles, and concluded this was part of what they were learning at school about the calendar. He's been arranging his letter tiles into fours or threes, but never upon command. So he may be getting the concept of quantities, even if I didn't think he listened when I tried to explain them to him.

His Shadow Teacher reports that last week at school, the teachers were trying to determine if he could identify beginning letters by pointing them out when presented with an object. Clearly bored with that simple lesson, he quickly spelled out "corn" (a word no one had ever taught him to spell) when presented with a plastic corncob, then took it and went off to play farmer.

When he wants to get her attention in the classroom he stands in front of her and looks at her face until she makes eye contact with him, and then smiles. He's gone from being annoyed with her to having a classroom buddy to interpret his gestures and babbling.

Non-verbal communication is extremely difficult for human beings. Most difficult for the person who knows what he wants to say, but cannot express it verbally. We've had a recent run of checkups, and I've gotten a pediatric neurologist's number to see if there's anything that can be done to address what may be apraxia or dyspraxia or some other thing I need to read more about. Whatever it is, I pray that one day we discover the key and unlock Little A's mind-mouth connection so he can finally tell us everything he's been wanting to say.


Peter S. said...

Hi, Iya! This is great news -- finally finding a very qualified individual to help out Little A! You know what, if it weren't for you and Honey, I wouldn't even know what shadow teachers are and the very important work that they do. Although I'm curious -- how long does a child usually need a shadow teacher for?

Stepford Mum said...

Hi Peter! We were lucky to find our Shadow Teacher. And to answer your question, a child needs one for as long as he or she still isn't able to handle lessons in a regular classroom setup on his or her own. Some kids get overwhelmed with too much information or simply too many things going on at the same time - electric fans whirling overhead, teacher talking and bells ringing etc.

Others, like Little A, need to be taught to sit still for long periods of time and focus on the lesson that way. He tends to jump up and run to the front when he gets excited, or tries to grab the book the teacher is reading from if he likes the story, for example. We're hoping he gains enough behavior skills to be able to handle school on his own by the time he's old enough to go into prep level. Fingers crossed!!