Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Diary or ability to predict the future? (Warning: boring)

I often use my posts as a "memory hole" for things I want to, but am unable to, keep in my head. Today, my post will be a diary of sorts, maybe even a horoscope for things I can see happening in the future....

I am, hopefully, leaving my job at the school district to get one much closer to home. Not that I want to leave, I'm sure there is still more I could do at my TMD classroom, but I feel I have accomplished enough to feel good about leaving. I knew at the beginning of the year, with my personality, or lack there of, I might only last a year, so I made it a goal to get all my goals accomplished. And I learned more from my students, and learned more from my aides, than I ever could have imagined. It has been a year of tremendous growth.

But something within me has always been drawn to a residential school (read: institution) for autistics kids whose behavior makes them unable to survive in the regular school systems. Or maybe it's for teachers who find themselves unable to cope with differences. Same thing. At any rate, it's on the school systems dime.

I was always kind of afraid to go there, not sure how I would react to abuse if I saw it. After all, I had spent the entire year in the public school system trying to show the aides what I had learned from autism-hub. I am not perfect, by any means, but what I learned here changed my head, and I wanted to change their heads in the same way.

So when I applied for the job, I was thinking I would have to change their heads at the residential school in the same way. Fortunately, I found the director of the school to be highly advanced in the treatment of humans. I believe I have found another mentor... She is a true mensch (sp?), if that's the correct word for a woman.

The thing is, the school, which was started by parents who wanted a place for their child to belong, has been bought out in the last year by a "for profit" company. Will they be "real", or will they choose profits over the lives of the students, like one sees in hospitals and nursing homes. How will I keep my mentor from getting angry and quitting? She's the heart of the school. Will I have to abide by dumbass policies and procedures like I have in the public school, multiplied by greed? Or have I learned how to "fudge" well enough for the politico's who decide the fate of public schools that I can fake it in a private enterprise? Maybe they are good people after all, and it won't be as bad as I think......................

It will be ten times the challenge of the public school, and I look forward to hearing that "little voice" within that challenges all systems. You know, that one that makes people think smart people are "tricky", when all they really are amounts to lucky guessers.

Life is good. I feel like I am finally using the "brains God gave me" (as my father used to always say, "Why don't you use the brains God gave you???") to leave my own small imprint on the world.

I already love the kids I met, and the teachers I will be working with. I will know in the next couple of days if I got the job. I am making plans of how I will slowly change things for the better, ala autism-hub.

What made me fall in love with my new "mentor" is the "behavioral plans" she had for the kids. There are no restraints other than "sit downs" (time-outs) to get the kids to calm down. I found they worked very well for my students who became aggressive. One student even put himself there, and told me "hush", when I went to check up on him. It wasn't a negative place, but a place to get it together. They use a token system, which made me think "oh, God...", but it was based on reward for positive behavior. There is no physical restraint used unless they are hurting others or themselves, and it is based on a plan that everyone in the school uses, or is supposed to use, that is safety oriented, not punitive. There are always going to be the a------ that get through that are physically punitive, but it is not sanctioned. I don't know what I was expecting, but it wasn't the kindness I saw. It wasn't the acceptance of the kids as they are. It wasn't the strong woman who held all the responsibility for kids being treated like we all would like ourselves or our children treated.

My first "goal" is to talk them into gaining computer access. And then I'm planting one of the kids butts in front of some autism advocate sites. And I look forward to changing his head. There is something wonderful there...the mentor sees it, too.

So, there I go....sorry.

1 comment:

Bonnie Ventura said...

Not boring at all, and I wish you all the best! I had to smile at the mental image of the kids in the institution sitting around a computer and discussing autistic civil rights websites. What a contrast to the horror stories we so often read about.

Don't ever stop dreaming big dreams...

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