Category Archives: kindergarten at last

one year on…


Oops, I missed my blog’s first anniversary.

It was just a couple of days ago.

It’s interesting to look back at the Orientation Day post where I felt (hoped) in time Mac would simply be just “Mac” – if that is our ‘yardstick’ then I believe we have had phenomenal success. 

Thanks for sharing the journey with us.  Thank you for your comments & insights.  

Here’s hoping 2010 is as successful as this year.

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to the Max!

His eyes lit up when he spotted it.  

“What’s that coloured thing?” he asked.  It was Mac’s Macaw AAC device.

“Its a new talking box to help Mac make some choices and ask questions in class”, I explained to Mac’s friend Max as they came out of class together at the end of the day.

“How?” Max enquired further.

So we showed him.  

Mac pressed the button for it to say “Hi, how are you?”… Max grinned.

Mac pressed the button again and it said “What have you been doing?”

At that Max rolled his eyes…

“Maccy, you KNOW what we
                       have been doing, pfft!”

 

At least I know the kids will keep us ‘honest’ making sure anything we put on the Macaw is relevant and useful.

I love these guys.

 

 

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yes! no!

The yes/no options with switches are working well – very easy to incorporate.

I know it is only a starting point but this is what I learnt from Mac when I asked him about his day…

  • His teacher today was Mrs C and his aide was R.  
  • They didn’t make planes but they did make ships.  
  • He did some numbers and he knows that seven is bigger than four.  
  • He also told me that two plus three (2+3) does not equal four, seven or nine but it does equal five.  
  • 23 is bigger than seven and 32 is not bigger than 43.  
  • He does not like the yes/no buttons but he does love them.  
  • He doesn’t want anything to drink nor does he want anything to eat, but he does want the TV on.  

He was consistently pressing the buttons with his feet and because I tend to watch his face, his expressions as I read them were matching his foot answers.  I know all except whether they did numbers today were appropriate answers.

The benefit of the physical answers with the switches is that it tends to keep you engaged for a little longer regardless of whether the answers are right or wrong.   This is way more than I would ever have managed to drag out of Mac’s cousins when they were his age – but then you don’t tend to ask yes/no questions – maybe we should.

Yesterday in class he was asked by his teacher whether he liked chocolate – she said he used his cheek to quickly hit the yes three times.  Still a chocoholic it seems.

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chucking a sickie?

Mac stayed away from school on Wednesday.  There was a dreadful dust storm and we decided that two days in the dust for someone with potentially ‘titchy lungs’ was not a wise move.

Dusty Days

So Mac stayed at home.  We snuck out briefly to get Mac a long overdue haircut.  (If kids didn’t have wear hats at school it would be fine, a good slab of hair product to keep it high and spiky works a treat… but when you have to put the obligatory school hat on your head and then it goes flat and pokes you in the eye.  On weekends he was able to get around with ‘mad’ hair, not so at school)

Thursday the sky was clear and school was on the agenda.  Mac wasn’t enjoying breakfast but we thought he was just tired.  He started to get quite distressed so I picked him up to give him a hug and he was boiling hot… a raging temperature.  So… no school Thursday.

Friday he was still spiking some temps with no other symptoms so yet again, a day at home.  

We did have to call in at the school on Friday afternoon to collect one of the other kids and pop round to her house.  As we wandered over to the playground some of his classmates spotted him.  Out of the classroom ran about eight of the Kindy kids, checking up on their friend, telling him they missed him, checking he wasn’t too sick, and determining just what, in fact, the actual illness was.  Mac was grinning from ear to ear not looking one bit sick.

When bell rang his ‘posse’ of senior friends spotted him, over they ran, checking up on him.  When they asked him if he was sick he gave the most evil smile as if to say ‘nuh, just pretending’.  So they now think he was ‘wagging’ which apparently is pretty cool.

The temps have now turned into sinus and hayfever, most likely a result of the dust.  He is a bit miserable so here’s hoping he is well for Monday.  He misses being at school as much as the kids miss having him there.

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a masterful maneuver

We should never underestimate the might and will of 5 & 6 year olds.   There is healthy competition for the right to have Mac as your reading partner each morning in class.  Some of the kids certainly ‘outwit, outplay, outlast’ their classmates.  Don’t even think about getting to school too early… the negotiations in the playground are ‘insane’.  

We tend to arrive just as the bell goes (or a little after, oops).  The process is, wheel into class, shift Mac, already sitting in the special tomato soft sitter clipped into his wheelchair, directly onto the soft sitter wheelbase for floor time.  It takes about 10 seconds – pretty quick set up.

The latest development is that two of his more ‘wily’ friends, Grace and Sophia, have cottoned on to the process and worked out a way to ensure Mac sits next to them.

On arrival I find they have already secured the wheelbase into position between them, reading to one another ACROSS the wheelbase, until such time as Mac arrives and is ‘inserted’ between them.

Then, of course, they both commence reading to him, at the same time, regardless of whether they have the same book or not – pretty funny.

The other ‘regular maneuver’ by the kids is that of putting away Mac’s ‘talking box’ (one-step communicator).  The child who packs it up generally places it a spot ONLY THEY know – therefore ensuring their role in helping the next day.

Clever kids!

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‘gotcha’

The school system is not completely without hope.  Just as I believe much of the problem in DET lies at a grass roots attitudinal level…

I also know the silver lining is found in the same place.  NSW DET has some amazing teachers who simply ‘get it’ when it comes to teaching & including children with additional support needs.

Mac’s teacher for Term 2 and Term 3 is a recent grad, and, let’s face it… his class is not a ‘walk in the park’.  Mac, with his multiple, severe, complex disabilities is not the only child with additional support requirements in their class of 23 children.

It is wonderful to see her embrace this challenge – a lesser mortal may have run a mile.  

Miss A is a great teacher and this experience so early in her career will ensure she goes on to become a phenomenal teacher.

What I love most is seeing the development of the relationship with Mac and Miss A go from guarded uncertainty, to slight wariness, to reasonable comfort and finally, what is now a full on ‘gotcha’.  

Miss A and Mac sent a text message to one of Mac’s aides the other day.  The text went something like this…

“Dear R, I have just snuck over to Miss A’s desk to use her phone while she is busy with all the other kids.  I just want to send you a very Maccy Moo Birthday Wish.  Love Mac”

What I love about this wasn’t just hearing how excited ‘R’ was about receiving it. 

I love Miss A understands that these moments do need to be facilitated, but that doesn’t make them fake.  

It shows her recognition and respect for Mac by providing him a delightful one on one opportunity with her, his teacher.  She said he loved doing it – he knew they were up to something tricky.

Often kids with Teachers Aide supports miss out on ‘one on one’ opportunities to interact with their teachers – Mac’s teachers have been excellent at ensuring this isn’t the case.

Oh, also… we know Miss A is ‘fully got’ because she has had the ‘Mac running & talking’ dream – that is more impressive than the ‘Mac walking’ so many others have had.  

Now there’s an IEP goal if ever I saw one…

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bleary-eyed superhero


It was a day worth celebrating – 100 days of Kindergarten!

Party fever was in the air.  Zero the Hero was due to visit.  Everyone was taking ‘zero shaped party food’. 

superheroMac, well he was just a bit weary.  100 days is a lot of days to have to be dragged out of bed when you would rather be sleeping – he ‘channels’ teenager very well. 

Mac, like many children with brain injuries, believes sleeping is optional.  It certainly shouldn’t occur under the cover of darkness, and as far as Mac is concerned, the most appropriate time for sleep is between 4am and 11am.  This doesn’t auger well for the standard school day (nor the sanity of his parents). 

So despite the excitement of wearing ‘superhero’ clothing rather than school uniform, having a new zero chest-plate harness to finish off the red & blue outfit and taking zero shaped lollies made into flowers on toothpicks… it took a while for the bleary zzzs to leave.flowerlolly

It was revealed a bit of chocolate at first break had him sparking up – he does love the chocolate.  By the time I collected him at the end of the day the sugar highs had kicked in and he was his normal, wild little self.   He was a good kid though, he did eat all his lunch.

If only school was a party every day – oh, that’s right, for Mac… IT IS!

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