a blog about raising a daughter with cerebral palsy and learning unexpected lessons along the way

Thursday, August 26, 2010


I had all weekend to fume and stew over the comments that were shared with me regarding Oia's 'touching' on just the second day of preschool; which was last Thursday. My fiercely protective instincts that weekend were at an all time high and I could have downed a bear in seconds, no doubt.

So come Monday's drop-off, I informed Oia's teacher to check her schedule and find a time that we could discuss some concerns of mine. She agreed. At pick-up that same day (I pick-up Oia at noon), she asked if I could come back around 3 after her last student leaves. I agreed. No time like the present.

I returned on time at 3 with a mental agenda to run through. I'll tell you, I've held hundreds of meetings/conferences before, but as the role of teacher, never as the parent. Whole new ballgame that is...I was nervous sitting on the other side of the table, so to speak. PT just 'happened' to be in the room filling out paperwork when I arrived, but good for me, I had questions for her too and I'm all about killing two birds with one stone.

In a nutshell, teacher explained where she was coming from with her comments. Since Oia is wobbly on her feet teacher is concerned that Oia could get bumped or knocked over easily when the other kids shrug her, therefore jeopardizing her safety. Apparently, there are some kids with sensory issues in the room and touch is a problem for them. I respect that. Moving forward.

My stand was simple in request. I shared that I walk a fine line when it comes to telling Oia 'no' when she has gestured or touched a kid as a way to communicate and interact with him/her. Being told no may discourage one of the only ways she communicates and discouraging her would hinder an already significant language delay. I reinforced that I viewed this touching and gesturing as partly a curious behavior (which is age appropriate) but also part of a natural progression of language. Teacher agreed. I requested that the desired (hands-off) way to communicate be modeled for Oia, along with giving her a key word or two to try and use in place of a tug or touch, all the while informing the classmate what Oia is asking or trying to say to them. It really only takes seconds to do this and eventually, one day, she'll get it.

Teacher stated that Oia is having a hard time transitioning to preschool, though she admits she is still just a "baby" and that this will take some time. Preschool has proven tough even for our social butterfly. First day was fairly smooth but subsequent days have been worse. The fact that she goes Monday, then off for 2 days, goes Thursday, then off for 3 more days makes the transition harder to get used to. Suggestion was made to send Oia another day of the week to give her more frequent exposure in hopes of making her more comfortable sooner. Rob and I are on board. Beginning next week, Oia's new schedule will be Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, 8-noon. Tuesday's are open days for playgroup, appointments, etc. and Friday is our private PT day.

On to the PT part of the meeting. Oia's IEP lists the minutes per week/month that each therapist should be working with her. I have no doubts that they will follow this plan but knowing what therapists she works with each day is something I would like to know, without having to ask every day. (I send Oia on Mondays and Thursdays because these are the days that all 3 therapist are at the school together.) I can't depend on Oia to tell me who she worked with or what she did so I mentioned I'd appreciate some checklist or note telling me the bare minimum; who worked with her and for how long. And because I am acutely aware of the amounts of paperwork that teachers are responsible for, I even volunteered to make the sheet for them. PT agreed to fill out and send home with Oia whatever I make. Sheet is made, copied, and ready for Monday.

Teacher thanked me for coming forward and discussing my issues. Overall, we ended the discussion on the same page. I truly believe this is a teacher who wants what is best for Oia and for all of the students, despite my moment last week. I had no problem with her message, but rather it's delivery. Personality differences, I guess. Bottom line is this: They know who I am. They know I'm paying attention and I may even have the potential to be a pain in the ass. But more than that, I am here to work with them, not against them.

And if that's not enough, Rob represented us at our county's Special Education Advisory Committee the following day. Now they know the both of us.


  1. You are awesome Mo. And I am so glad you ended what sounds like a very productive meeting on the same page.

  2. Sounds like a wonderful outcome! Good for you for standing up in the beginning instead of letting things fester for weeks. I hope Oia becomes more comfortable in her new surroundings in the coming days!

  3. Good for you, MO for being such a great advocate for Oia. She is really lucky to have you. You know exactly what she needs, and how she needs it. I'm glad you left the meeting feeling better, and on the same page with the teacher. Looking forward to hearing about some better times in the classroom.:) I hope her new schedule is easier on her.

  4. Hooray. I think that's a good meeting. And, it sounds like you were both heard, which is good. One of my thoughts was, how come Oia has the problem and not the kids who don't want to be touched? So, I'm glad that was discussed a little bit. They need to learn, just as much as Oia needs to learn, proper socialization. I also think that going more often will be good for her. And, by the way, I love your family picture on your side bar. Her hands up in the air like that ~ that smile. It just makes me so happy!

  5. yes, definitely the delivery and timing. It sounds like she was overwhelmed that day and just unloaded on you when you arrived for pick-up. Do you have a communication book? That helped us. I said the same thing about PT when Nathan started school. I can't count on him to tell me who he worked with or what they did. Our pt and ot have their own stickers that just say 'Cindy worked with Nathan today" and then they write the date. They stick them in each of the boys communication books and if they want to write something short they do that too. Glad you all had a productive meeting. Sometimes those working relationships that go through something like that in the beginning turn out to be the best ones in the long run.

  6. Good for you, mama! I want to know about therapy too! Charlie has a binder--I wonder if I could ask them to leave me a note inside?

  7. So glad you stuck up for her and her way of communicating. You seemed to explain things extremely well and helping the teacher know more about her. Nice.