I wasn’t skilled at advocating in the school system, but I always did my best. I wasn’t always able to get the maiden the accommodations she required, but I always supported her efforts and needs and tried to educate the teachers and principals about her strengths and challenges. I took an active interest in what was happening and I spoke up (as best as I could) when something wasn’t working.
She had a fabulous grade two teacher and principal who “got FASD” which started her off with great support in the first year I adopted her. The communication book always had entries, but the teacher and principal were fabulous, understanding and accommodating. Not so much for most of the rest of her school experience.
I found when a teacher understood the behaviour and provided accommodation and guidance, the maiden soared. When her behaviour was misunderstood or thought of as intentional and not a brain based disability, she floundered. In 10 years of school there have been 4 teachers that used a neurological based approach. The other six years were disrupted school years with more time spent at home sick, refusing to go, or being pulled out to be taught at home.
I never forced the maiden to be in an unwelcoming or unsupportive environment. Grades were not the most important. Effort was. I was never more proud of her when she kept going back and trying again. But I never forced her.
As I write this she is at school for her last day of grade 12. Next week she graduates high school. I never thought it would happen. And in September she begins a 2 year college program for students with developmental disabilities. I am worried about how she will cope, but I am hopeful the environment will be far above what the public school system was like.
Regardless of the future, next week we will celebrate the accomplishment of graduating high school. School has definitely been a very difficult road for the maiden, not paved, but full of potholes and detours – but she did the best she could and that is all I ever asked of her.
College was as much of a disaster for her as high school.
Despite being a program for students with intellectual disabilities, and accommodations for the students, they did not understand FASD. As a result the maiden was set up to fail by the College not providing one on one support and leaving her unsupported at breaks and lunch time. After holding a meeting to try to get the supports she needed – a six-week strike was called. After the strike was settled, it was Christmas Break. She went back for a few weeks, then it was reading week. She didn’t go back after that. I simply told her she could try again if she wanted at some point in the future.
Come back tomorrow for another NB strategy tip for FASD.