This morning KidThree and I had an appointment at her school for yet another IEP (individual education plan). Everytime anything having to do with a disabled child's education changes, there has to be another IEP. It takes the principal, the counselor, the school psychologist, and a resource specialist. Usually we also have the school nurse, but she wasn't there this morning. All this was to figure out how KidThree could attend school all day.
Recap for those not in the know: KidThree attends our local continuation high school, as problems due to her PTSD made that a better fit for her than our regular (and very large) high school. The continuation school has two sessions a day, one from 8:30 to 11:30 in the morning, the other from 12:30 to 3:30 in the afternoon. From 11:30 to 12:30, the school building is locked and no students are allowed in. Most of the students attend only one session, spending the rest of the day working or doing schoolwork at home, but a few attend both sessions, spending the lunch hour outside.
Our problem was twofold: KidThree needs access to the bathroom at lunch, and, because of her paraplegia, she is hypersensitive to heat and cold. Staying outside for that hour in extreme weather isn't feasible--she gets too hot or too cold--so what to do? I had been told by several staff members that possible alternatives included having the school district hire an aide for that hour or having staff members take turns staying in for lunch. Either of those solutions would get KidThree bathroom access and have an adult in the building for safety and security.
Today I got told neither of those were possibilities. Hmm. That stinks. The principal said that the school district would not hire an aide for just one student. You know what? I bet they do. There are kids with more severe handicaps than KidThree's who (I think) get individual aides. I did get told, for the first time, that one teacher has two clubs (chess and music) that meet at lunchtime, one on Tuesday and one on Wednesday, so KidThree could attend school all day on those days.
KidThree was the one who solved the problem. She will use the bathroom before lunch, with no penalty for not being in that particular class the entire fifty-minute period, on the three non-club days; and when it is too hot or too cold for her to be comfortable outside, she will wheel herself over to the senior center next door to spend her lunch hour there. The education is individualized enough that she won't fall behind for missing half that period three days a week.
All present were so pleased with KidThree for coming up with that solution. A year ago, she wouldn't have been able to function that independently. Maturity looks good on her!
This afternoon, a probation officer called. He was putting together his sentencing recommendation for the court and had to get information for the Victim Impact section. Oh my. As I talked to him, things I'd forgotten kept popping into my head. In effect, I had to relive the entire ghastly twenty-one months since the shooting, telling the probation officer about the shock and terror and devastation and trauma, physical and emotional, that KidThree (and I) went through. It has been a seriously tough time but we've come through it surprisingly well--back in February of 2007, I would never have believed we would be this okay. Time is a good healer.
Yesterday we went to Group, babies securely in tow and adorably dressed in their Halloween pumpkin outfits. Two of our good friends were there, one the man who's been in a chair for fifty years--he told us all about the Mediterranean cruise he and his wife just went on. He actually got to the top of the Acropolis! KidThree wants to be just like him in fifty years.
There were two new people. One man was injured in a car accident--we got to Group late and missed introductions, so didn't get his precise injury level, but I would guess around C-5 or so.
***Introductions go like this: Name, injury level and cause, and how long ago. Kidthree says, "my name is [KidThree], I'm a complete T-9, I've been in a chair almost two years, I got shot." I say, "my name is Susan; I'm [KidThree's] mom."
This man's wife was with him. They have five children, from a teen down to a toddler. She is going to have her hands full when he goes home next week. We were all able to give them a lot of helpful advice about what to expect; it was good to feel so helpful to them. KidThree and I had nothing like that when we left the hospital; we just got in the car and drove home. It was terrifying. I didn't know how I was going to manage or what I would do if we ran into trouble or how the different social service programs would work once they kicked in. Our retired friend was wonderful, giving our newly injured friend lots of encouragement, telling him that his life would still be good; and I was able to tell the pair things I wished I had known then, including just how the in-home support program worked and how long it would take to get their first aide paid. I gave the wife my name and phone number as she said she didn't have a good support system up here. They live forty-five minutes away from us, too far to visit easily, but I can sure be an understanding shoulder to cry on over the phone.
The other new person was a young man (age 20) there with his mother and an interpreter. He was very quiet but by the end did appear to have been glad he was brought over. His was a very new injury--it looked like he was also a quad. He won't be going home for several more weeks, so we'll probably get to see him again. I think he was glad to see KidThree when she wheeled in, as everyone else was quite a bit older.
Tomorrow the babies are not coming; the family is heading to Grandma's this evening for a three-day vacation. Instead, I'll babysit MissA and her maybe-autistic brother, LittleJ. Their mother is going on a one-day business trip and their father is off on another business trip. I'll be there when the children wake and then take them to school, then I'll pick them up at the end of the day and stay the hour or two or three until their mother gets back home. It will be interesting to see how LittleJ reacts to having me there when he wakes up. These two children and I have a routine of stopping by McDonald's after I pick them up from school--there is one strategically located between their school/daycare and their home--where I buy them a small fries to share. I'll have to call McDonald's tonight: if they sell their fries in the morning, I'll stop by there on the way to school to help LittleJ deal with having me disrupting his usual morning routine. This babysitting job will get me some much-needed grocery money. Money is so useful.
I'm still thrilled about President-elect Obama and still annoyed over the passage of Proposition Eight. What a peculiar day Tuesday was--such progress on the one hand, and such a step back on the other. People never fail to amaze me.