I mentioned last week that we’d had Julianna’s IEP meeting. I never really talked about it, though, and I thought some of you might be interested.
Every single meeting concerning Julianna begins with the adult in question pulling their notes together in a stack, prepared to dive in, and then pausing to look up with helpless disarmament to say, “First of all, you do know just how sweet your daughter is, right?”
Yes, we know it. We wonder what her brothers think of such an assessment, though. 🙂
Reading is her strength. She’s basically at grade level, even with comprehension factored in. Her ability to read words on a page is way beyond her comprehension. She’s been reading Dinosaurs Before Dark (the first of the Magic Treehouse series–a chapter book!). “I do it by mysef!” she says insistently, with that deliberate, one-word-at-a-time inflection that characterizes her speech.
Math, however, is Julianna’s bugaboo. Yesterday afternoon, I was doing math homework with her. What number comes before?_____16 _____8 ______6 ____14
She stared at it like she’d never seen numbers before. We made a chart across the top of the page, counting backwards. That alone was excruciatingly difficult. I thought, though, that it would then be relatively simple to refer to the chart to snag the number that comes “before.” Not so. I may have mentioned that the concepts of “more” and “less” have been a huge stumbling block. How can you add or subtract without understanding those concepts? (Short answer: you can’t. She’s way behind in math already.) But they’ve been working on that a lot and I’m seeing progress in comprehension of those concepts.
Now we’re on to “before” and “after.” I looked for good Sesame Street-type videos for her to watch and couldn’t find any. The only “before” and “after” they address is the cause-and-effect kind. You can have dessert AFTER dinner. You must eat dinner BEFORE you have dessert. She’s got that down. The math meaning, though, is another story. I’m attending an all-day “Downs Ed” conference tomorrow, so I’m crossing my fingers I’ll come away with some good strategies for teaching abstract concepts to a child whose brain is wired firmly to the concrete.
After committing to public schooling for Julianna, Christian and I have been devoting time this year to Down syndrome awareness. We spent two mornings at the local Catholic school talking to all the students from 3rd grade up to 8th grade about Down syndrome and Julianna specifically, and I am bringing Julianna back to go around and visit with the classes when she has a day off school in a few weeks. It looks like we’ll be talking to the third graders yearly from here on out. We also went to Julianna’s public school classroom, and we are working on scheduling more visits around her school. I also spoke to the parish religious ed director this week about coming in to her Wednesday night class for the same purpose.
So we’re doing what we can to address the “fear factor” a lot of the Catholic kids seem to have around our daughter. She has boundary issues. As in, she doesn’t recognize that there are any. I talked recently about how we teach sexuality in our family. But Julianna’s so concrete, I haven’t felt that she’s ready for all those concepts. I think the “boundaries” issue is our entry point. I’ve long thought that little children are very intuitive about boundaries. The most open, demonstrative child can turn into a turtle instantly when a needy adult comes around broadcasting their neediness. Kids, I firmly believe, like people who don’t need them, but just enjoy them. Julianna just wants to hug kids, and they find it off-putting. My heart bleeds for my daughter. I want the kids to be more sensitive and willing to accept that this is part of her disability, but I also want her to learn boundaries.
This post is approaching epic length, so let me switch gears to share a couple of funnies. First, Nicholas to Julianna the other day as he stalks around the living room with Alex’s nerf crossbow: “HOLD STILL! I’M GONNA AMBUSH YOU!”
And finally, Alex on the piano, giving a “rock concert” for his younger siblings, drags his thumb from the top of the keyboard to the bottom. (This is called a gliss and it’s his daddy’s trademark.) He stops. Yells, “Ow! How does Daddy DO that?????”
(Hm. Both of those were funnier in person.)
Have a great weekend!