Friday, September 10, 2010

Fourth Grade Talk

Yesterday I visited the fourth grade class to talk to them about Drew and Fragile X. Fourth grade has study hall from 2:30 until the end of the day at 3:00. That was the time slot I was given.

I went to Holly Roos' session at the Fragile X conference about talking with kids about FXS. (Here is a link to her presentation) I looked over my notes and made some mental notes about what I would say.

Yesterday morning, I panicked and wrote out what I wanted to say. So much for winging it! I got to Drew's homeroom. He left with his aide and they went out to the playground. The two other classes filed in and they all sat down on the floor. There were 66 fourth graders and about 6(?) 3rd graders who attend the resource room with Drew.

I introduced myself to them as Drew's mom, and reminded them that I work in the cafeteria, so they probably already knew me. Most heads were nodding. I reminded them that Drew had gone to kindergarten with them but had gone to a special ed school for the past three years. I said that we decided we wanted to bring Drew back to Fort Loramie so he can be with his classmates. One boy said, "Woo-hoo!"

I asked them what things they had noticed that are different about Drew. Some of the things they said were, waves his hands around, sits down on the ground, hates stairs, keeps his head down. I acknowledged those differences then I said, "When you put your clothes on in the morning and go to school, do you think about your clothes much?" And of course, they said they didn't. I told them that Drew is aware of his clothes all the time. I asked if they'd ever had a tag in the back of their collar that bothered them. I said that when that happens, you really can't concentrate on anything until you get rid of that tag! And that is how it always is for Drew with his clothes.

We talked about how sensitive Drew is to noises and how his brain has a hard time deciding what sounds are most important for him to focus on.

Then I made a list on the Smartboard for things they liked to do at school and things they liked to do at home. We went through each item and I made them tell me if they thought Drew would like it. By the time we were at the bottom of the list, they were getting really good at it.

At the end of the talk, I let them ask me questions. One boy asked, "When is he going to stop having this?!" and I told him that he will most likely always have this, that Fragile X is just a part of who he is. Another boy asked me if Drew was lonely. That one was a little tough. I said, "Well, I think Drew is lonely sometimes. He really likes people, but he doesn't always know how to participate in a group. So sometimes he stays back even when he would like to join in." One boy told me that he said hi to Drew, but Drew didn't understand what he meant. I told that boy that Drew did understand what he meant, but he probably just wasn't able to say hi back. I told him that I was sure Drew liked that he had said hi, and Drwe probably still remembers him saying hi. The boy seemed pretty surprised, but pleased to hear it.

I told them I had heard many good things about how they treat Drew and they should keep up the good work. I told them that Drew won't usually start a conversation, but now that they have some ideas about what things he likes and doesn't like, they have some topics to talk about to him.

I felt like it went really well, and one of the teachers came up to me afterward and said that she had no idea about Fragile X and that I had explained it well. So I felt good about the talk overall.


the other lion said...

Good job! I am so proud of you!

Bonnie said...

Thank you thank you thank you for this post! I have to do this too, in a few weeks, to my boys' kindergarten class and I'm so nervous. But I really want the kids to know and accept my boys!!

Kristiem10 said...

Bonnie, I spoke with Blake's kindergarten class last year. Here is a link to my blog post about it.

Lisa said...

Great job! It looks like all the public speaking classes we took in high school paid off.:-)

Anonymous said...

Great job Kristie. You are a wonderful Mom and your kids will grow to love and appreciate you even more than you can realize. Be proud and keep up the great work.
Sandra Morse/Beverly, MA