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RightGalaxy
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06 Apr 2010, 1:05 pm

Had a long talk with my cousin who is a special ed teacher for an autism support classroom and she said that the most tiresome problem with parents is this: They assume that because their children are autistic that they must be mathematical geniuses and junior scientists. She claims that they are EVER SO wrong. She stood REALLY firm on this one: She believes that parents who do this do it for themselves so they don't finally crack up from the stress of having a child who needs so much extra help. It gives them something to look forward too but often they are forced to wake up when they see failing grades and an inability to "learn". The parents fail to understand that even if their child were a gifted mathematician, they would still have to take other courses to graduate from college. Surely the child can do math but he has to be able to do everything else too.
She advised that the best thing parents can do is to drop the ego and just do what is right for the child. Don't tell the child that they are brilliant because these kids take this literally, throw around this baloney with their rejecting peers, and then they get beat up on the playground. She said that the other day, she could've just quit on the spot because one of the moms practically "undid" everything she did for one of her students because of her own pride. That this parent insisted that she surely had an autistic genius as "her" child. Their IEP meeting turned into a screaming match. This child was far from genius. The mother didn't want to hear it. She was under the impression that because her boy calculated square roots perfectly then he should be mainstreamed. This child was able to read a whole picture book but had no clue as to what the story was about. This kid was 11 and was reading at first grade level and the mother angrily insisted that he be mainstreamed and that he didn't need anymore intervention or van transportation because he was good (not exceptional) at math and that math would be his career and that they could afford even an Ivy League education for him to go and learn more math. 8O My relative screamed, "There's more to life than [] math!!" She ended up being suspended for a day for misconduct. This child's case had to be turned over to a board because none of this child's teachers would agree with the mother's opinion. My cousin said she wished she had become an accountant instead. She said the kids are great! But the parents need to be shot. She said it's NEVER the kid causing the problem. It ALWAYS the parents. She said they're nickpicky over irrelevant stuff, their proud, prejudiced, competive, everything to nurture their illusion of what their child "really" is.
She started to wonder if some parents actually loved their child at all. Even worse than the rest, she said that adoptive parents were really trying to cover up the fact that they felt stuck with a needy child. They were full of the most baloney. :roll:



Willard
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06 Apr 2010, 1:17 pm

That is so very sad. My heart bleeds for children who must endure parents like that on top of their Autistic problems... :cry:



Marsian
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06 Apr 2010, 1:30 pm

My Mum still thinks I'm some kinda genius despite the fact that I've failed a million times... She suffers from what I call 'Rose Tinted Spectacles Syndrome'... It drives me CRAZY!



jat
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06 Apr 2010, 1:40 pm

While that is sad, for every story of this sort, there is probably at least one (or closer to ten) stories of parents trying to get services for their autistic children and being told by the school that the children don't need them because they're doing "fine," because they can read, even though they aren't understanding anything they read, or because they can speak even though they can't interact appropriately with any of the other children at school, or because they can (laboriously) form letters, but they can't write functionally. Far more parents are fighting to obtain needed services for their children than are refusing needed/appropriate services the schools are offering.



Janissy
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06 Apr 2010, 1:54 pm

I think the mother and the teacher are both right about some things and both wrong about some things.

The teacher is wrong in thinking that math is just some irrelevent splinter skill and the parent should stop being so proud of their child for doing it well. The teacher's attitude comes across as, "Your child sucks and has no redeeming qualities and the sooner you accept that and let us get on with warehousing him, the better". I know she didn't say that literally, but I'm telling you- it's what the mom heard. Thus the screaming match.

The mom is wrong in thinking that ability precludes disability. His math skills don't mean he needs no help in other areas and mainstreaming is not necessarily the best choice for him, even if he could ace all the math tests.

The best outcome for this kid would happen if a 3rd party advocate came in and acted as an intermediary between the parents and school administration. Advocates are generally hired by parents (some of my friends have hired one, I almost hired one) to act as intermediaries when administration and parents can't come to an agreement over details of a child's education. Maybe this mom will hire one in the hopes that the advocate will get her son mainstreamed. And that would actuially be a good thing because an advocate can be calm and objective when tempers flare. An advocate could probably also convince this mom of the wisdom of his Sped interventions even though he is good at math. It's all in the approach. At this point, the mom sees the teacher as an enemy of her son and but would probably be more open to other people saying the same thing because there wouldn't be all this baggage.


And yes, of course the parents love their children. That the teacher doubts this mainly because they disagree with her IEP recommendations is a real problem. Parents can read that toxic attitude and it poisons all parent/teacher interactions. The assumption that a parent doesn't love their child because they disagree with IEP recommendations is a horrible assumption. It will lead to more screaming matches. In the scenario described I see no lack of love. I see blinkered denial that disability can coexist along with ability.



DenvrDave
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06 Apr 2010, 1:59 pm

Willard wrote:
That is so very sad. My heart bleeds for children who must endure parents like that on top of their Autistic problems... :cry:


Amen to that, brother.



DW_a_mom
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06 Apr 2010, 3:05 pm

There are two sides to every story and it probably is good for us to hear the other side. We spend a lot of time here talking about stubborn IEP teams and how parents should trust their instincts because the parent knows their unique child the best. A bit opposite of what your relative is feeling, I'd say.

The truth is, there are blinders on, at times, on all sides. While your relative is certainly trying to do her best, and has professional knowledge that should be respected, I find the assumption that parental rose colored glasses have anything to do with ego to be destructive. That may be the case at times, but in my experience it is not the case most of the time, and your relative has become harmfully jaded if that is her view. If she brings that attitude into a meeting, she invites confrontation.

Instead, in the case at issue, I would hope she gave the parent credit for knowing and loving her one unique child, while gently filling the parent in on what she does not know: how a balance of skills plays out for the vast majority of children like the one unique child, and why that experience indicates certain courses of actions to the professional.

Believing one's child is a genius when they are not is a double edged sword, one that does have some positive purposes to it, and that is why such thoughts tend to flow to parents in these situations. Recognizing that helps bridge the gap, before moving on to the more practical matters of how real life is going to play out for the child, and what the best path will be to maximize potential.

I think Janissy is right in suggesting a third party look at the situation. Someone without either negative assumptions or blinders might help both parties reach a better decision.

When I encounter what I believe to be disillusioned parents here, whether the blinders be overly positive or overly negative, I tend to move in with kid gloves, asking a lot of questions. The goal is to get the parent to figure out for themselves if they are wearing shaded glasses, instead of trying to ram it down their throats, in most cases; the method simply works better. Plus, you know, I really do believe there could be facts out there that make all my interpretations invalid, so why ever assume one holds all the high ground?


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Last edited by DW_a_mom on 06 Apr 2010, 3:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Willard
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06 Apr 2010, 3:09 pm

jat wrote:
While that is sad, for every story of this sort, there is probably at least one (or closer to ten) stories of parents trying to get services for their autistic children and being told by the school that the children don't need them because they're doing "fine," because they can read, even though they aren't understanding anything they read, or because they can speak even though they can't interact appropriately with any of the other children at school, or because they can (laboriously) form letters, but they can't write functionally. Far more parents are fighting to obtain needed services for their children than are refusing needed/appropriate services the schools are offering.



There are a great many of us who grew up in a world where there were no services because the only learning disability was Downs Syndrome and if you didn't have that, you were as capable as anybody else. Yes, it was tough to know there were things you couldn't do and have nobody listen when you said so, but having overbearing pushy parents convinced we were really geniuses who couldn't fail would have been a nightmare pressure to live with. Bad as I may have had it, it could have been much worse...



AnotherOne
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06 Apr 2010, 3:41 pm

khm, khm, here is a story of disillusioned parent:
i see my kid 24 h on weekends and i followed him from his first day of life so i know more about his development than a teacher that sees him every work day with the bunch of other kids.
the other thing is that we as parents and my sons teachers have very different goals. they want to make him constantly attentive and we know that he can not do it and never will. this runs in the family, we switch the attention on/off but still we are doing well. they simply trying to push into the same thing instead going around it. we told them that that is probably permanent but they don't listen.

that being said, we gave my sons teachers (preK) more than 2 years trying whatever they think should work. his progress is minimal. for some things we are back to the beginning: we said to the PT that he can do all the ball throwing, jumping etc but he is not interested. a year later she said the same and discontinued therapy. OT said that if we find a method that owrks with him to let her know. and still after all this they wanted more tests more time. well that doesn't sound reasonable. they don't know what he has, they suspect AS or pdd-nos while doctors say he doesn't have it. in any case i trust that people who can make a progress and i wouldn't care about the label or diagnosis if they could help him but they don't. now i will assume responsibility and teach him myself. i don't know, maybe i'll fail too. we'll try different things that is for sure.

and yes, the kid will more benefit from math and sciences than from english in the long run (edit: its hard to predict actually since some balance is probably the best). and yes, i know i sound crazy, illogical and so on but i also know from my life that sometimes it pays off to stick with what you believe in. however i think that there must be responsibility, the rules of the school are like that that one needs to pass tests and such so if the mother believes that her son is genius than she should homeschool him or take him to the ivy league univ right away.

edit: the reason why i am writing this is because i think it is necessary to question experts if their methods do not work and that we as parents can judge the results and be proactive in finding the solution.



psychohist
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06 Apr 2010, 5:21 pm

Janissy wrote:
The teacher is wrong in thinking that math is just some irrelevent splinter skill and the parent should stop being so proud of their child for doing it well.

This is what struck me about the original post. Unless I'm misremembering school, being able to extract square roots reliably at age 11 is actually pretty impressive.

It may not be an argument for mainstreaming, but it's certainly a talent that should be nurtured.



humanoid5
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06 Apr 2010, 6:54 pm

One reason why I'm glad we homeschool....not to have to deal with this kind of stuff. I do have a kid who's a genius, but all the smarts in the world aren't going to matter when he is grown, if he can't learn to interact properly and get along with people. I do know if he was in school, there is absolutely no way he could be mainstreamed, and he'd be in special ed. I just don't see what the big deal is about that!



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06 Apr 2010, 6:55 pm

psychohist wrote:
Janissy wrote:
The teacher is wrong in thinking that math is just some irrelevent splinter skill and the parent should stop being so proud of their child for doing it well.

This is what struck me about the original post. Unless I'm misremembering school, being able to extract square roots reliably at age 11 is actually pretty impressive.

It may not be an argument for mainstreaming, but it's certainly a talent that should be nurtured.


Ditto this.

I am not saying that those parents sound easy or pleasant to deal with, but there are likely two sides to the story. And I would rather see a parent believing in their child's abilities and routing for them, than the opposite, even if it is somewhat misguided.



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06 Apr 2010, 8:23 pm

Oh how horrible all those meltdowns must be for those parents.

I would never allow my my parents to act like that.


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Caitlin
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06 Apr 2010, 10:54 pm

To propose the other side of the story: I think your cousin needs to find a new calling. It sounds to me like she is in a rut, has begun stereotyping parents of autistic students, and may no longer be able to see the many, many ways in which a child can show, and grow their gifts. I know a lot of parents of autistic kids, and I don't know any of them to be prone to misguided beliefs that their kids are math wizards. If your cousin has seen a plethora of parents who feel their children are not learning in her classroom.... she may want to consider their position more thoughtfully.

The autistic mind works very differently than what most mainstream teachers are accustomed to seeing in their classroom. To be frank, I don't have a lot of confidence that most teachers would recognize a mathematical genius in the elementary years. They would likely be too busy disciplining them for misbehaviour.

My son is no genius, but he does have a mind for math - but only if you pose the questions in the way his mind works. If you ask him what 8+4 is, he'll take quite a while to work that one out. Yet when given a visual method for math - like manipulatives - he went from two decimal places (tens) to the millions within 5 minutes of being introduced to a completely new math concept (base 10s). His teachers, when he was in school, completely missed this gift, because they wouldn't accommodate his sensory needs in the classroom and therefore never even saw what he was capable of doing, or how fast he could learn when given the right approach and opportunities.

I personally find it really distasteful when a professional (so called) chooses to rant about their clients in derogatory ways. It strikes me as unprofessional.


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07 Apr 2010, 12:07 am

many parents are sensitive snowflakes for whom "little Johnny" or "little Suzie" can do no wrong. They very often have their heads firmly planted between their own butt cheeks. You see, because parents made the kid, they don't want to have to face up to the reality that their DNA produced anything less than perfect in their eyes.

These are, more often than not, parents who also like to live vicariously through their children.