By Leslie Lindsay
I know, I know I am late with my usual “Apraxia Monday” blog and here’s why: it’s conference time around here …which really means the kiddos are home from school, thus decreasing my writing time. But I have some good news and bad news: the conferences went off without a hitch. With one tiny little exception.
Let me just back-track a bit to one of the very first parent-teacher conferences we ever attended. It was near Thanksgiving of that year. My husband and I were all set for our annual trip to St. Louis where we spend the holiday of thanks. The minivan was packed, the kids ready. One last stop: Miss Lisa’s classroom for conferences. At the time Kate was 3 1/2 years old. She was in the school district preschool for “severe apraxia.” She had only a handful of words in her vocabulary, and some of those weren’t really words at all…more like sounds and approximations in conjuction with a gesture that we knew meant *something.*
We walked into the bright and cheerful classroom where we were greeted by Kate’s sweet, jolly teacher. “Pull, up a chair!” she chirped. We did. The chair were teeny little jobs from Ikea. I think we broke one. Miss Lisa spread out all of the things they had been working on in preschool. She pointed things out–things that made little sense to me: Kate’s IEP goals, her scores on this-or-that…and I nodded and smiled. (image source: http://www.noodle.org/noodlings/k-12/what-expect-parent-teacher-conferences)
And then Miss Lisa said the few words I was dreading, “I think we may need to look at getting Kate into a diagnostic classroom for kindergarten.”
My stomach lurched. “Diagnostic?!?”
She nodded and leaned in, “You, know…her apraxia is just so severe. I really think the diagnostic program would be better for Kate.” She went on to explain that the diagnostic program–at least in our district–works in such that Kate would attend ‘regular’ half-day kindergarten with her peers and then the second half of the day would be spent in a ‘special classroom’ getting additional reinforcement on her skills, language and speech, etc.
I swallowed my pride and probed a bit more, “Where is this kindergarten?” and “Will she ever get better?” Miss Lisa was sympathic and answered my questions to the best of her ability. We didn’t know when–or if–Kate was going to get better. It was a time of uncertaintly.
When we left preschool that morning, our kids in tow and a loaded van, I lone tear rolled down my cheek, “I just don’t want her to be in a diagnostic program.” My hubby assured me that it must be for the best or her teacher wouldn’t suggest it.
Fastforward to Kate’s 2nd grade year. She’s is doing great! Okay–disclaimer: she is getting S’s (satisfactory/grade-appropriate) in reading and writing,–common for kids with apraxia. Those were the only two S’s on her report card. The others are all E’s (excellent/”A”). In the meantime, we learned that Kate also has ADHD. Also quite common for kids with CAS to have a co-morbid neurological condition (co-occuring). Her teacher is recommended a 504 for test-taking accomodations so that Kate may organize her thoughts and ides better. Okay–a little knife in the heart, but I knew to expect this.
A day late and dollar short? Well, maybe…but in the long run, I couldn’t ask for a better daughter.
[And in case, you are wondering–Kate did not attend diagnostic kindergarten. We had in her private speech therapy with OT pretty intensively the summer before kindergarten.]
For more information on Parent-Teacher Conferences and 504 plans, please see:
- From the National PTA http://www.pta.org/2532.htm
- From the National Education Association (NEA) http://www.nea.org/tools/parent-teacher-conferences.html
- From Teacher Vision. Nice listing of hand-outs and more http://www.teachervision.fen.com/teacher-parent-conferences/resource/3713.html
- Another good one from trusted source, Scholastic. I think this may have run in a print edition of Scholastic Parent & Child magazine a few years back, http://www.scholastic.com/resources/article/teacher-conference/
- Information on 504 plans can be found at Great Schools, http://www.greatschools.org/special-education/legal-rights/868-section-504.gs and http://specialchildren.about.com/od/504s/f/504faq1.htm
- More information on school, reading, writing, and more can be found in chapters 10, 11, 12 of SPEAKING OF APRAXIA (Woodbine House, 2012).