Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Just When Things were going so well

Today I had a meeting with Finley's education team.  The meeting was called by her braille teacher.  A few weeks back she said she thought the whole team should meet to talk about Finley before conferences.  I am pretty good at reading people, and I could tell something was up.  I did ask her in an email if something was wrong, but I didn't get an answer.

Now I understand why.

Today the meeting started out great.  Her teacher told me how great she is doing in class educationally.  She is reading on grade level, math is going well, and she is a sweet girl.  She is still very shy and not wanting to talk much, but that isn't new news.  Her mobility teacher said she is doing well.  They have reached the end of everything she needs to learn right now because she is still so visual.  They are spending their time practicing what she has learned, and talking about safety in the community.  Her braille teacher said that they are spending some time reviewing what they have learned so far this year, and just adding a few new contractions at this time.  Again, because she is so visual still, the teacher is using more and more braille books with pictures to help keep Finley's interesting in what they are learning.


Her sweet braille teacher turned to me, and I knew it was time for the "but".  I could just see it in her face.  This isn't my first rodeo - I have been on both sides of this table before.  I could tell by the way they were all looking at her, that she had something she thought I wouldn't like.

She told me that in Braille, she is still dealing with having to do a "song and dance" to get Finley to work.  Finley isn't very interested in braille (which isn't news to me because I struggle with her to do it at home) and so she is using every avoiding tactic to not do it at school.  The problem is - these behaviors should have lessened this year.  She is seeing more Kindergarten level behaviors in her, and it is worrisome.  She is asking to go to the bathroom during their session and she is gone sometimes for 10 minutes.  We all know that Finley can hold it for about 10 hours, so she is just avoiding doing the work.

The Braille teacher started with how we are going to cut back on braille homework.  We were doing so well, but it is starting to wear on Finley.  We are going to try doing a little less homework.  Finley is no dummy - she knows she is the only one in her class who has this extra nightly work, and she doesn't like it.  She considers it completely unfair, and so she fights.  So we are going to concentrate on doing a little less intense work for awhile and mostly have her read books to keep up her fluency skills.  Then her braille teacher will work with her during the week with the more intense braille instruction.

Her mobility teacher spoke of the same.  That as well as Finley is doing, it is still incredibly hard to keep her focused.  She is having to bribe her quite a bit to get her to work during their sessions.  She wasn't overly concerned with it, but stated that if Finley really did need the cane right now, we would be in trouble. 

Her teacher stated that even though she is doing so well academically, socially she is still behind.  She doesn't remember what she is supposed to be doing when there is a conflict in class.  She is still getting easily diestracted in class, and having to be reminded what to do at what time. 

All these behaviors point to.....you guessed it......being young.  Here we go again.  Yes, she is young.  I get that.  She is immature - she is the baby of the family.  These are not excuses - these are facts.  Plus, some of it is Finley's personality.  If she doesn't want to do something, she isn't going to do it.  Bottom line.  I can't make her - she has to want to.  Since she was little, this has been the case.  She is hard headed and stubborn.

In the end, what it came down to is the team wanting her to repeat 1st grade.  Or at least think about it.  I did find myself agreeing with them on a lot of levels.  I would love to see her get better at her basic skills in both braille and reading and writing and math.  I would like to see her become a little more less introverted and work on problem solving.  I would like to see her be confident enough that she WANTS to do the work and please the adults.

Do I think another year will do this for her?  I don't know.  It is so hard with Finley.  What is being young?  What is vision related?  What is her personality?  It is such an even mix of all three, that I don't know that more time will fix the problem, or just mess her up because now she will leave all of her friends behind.

I called Mat and he was dead set against it.  Just like last time.  His stance always is - if it isn't academic, then he doesn't care.  And I get that.  But I was the youngest in my class.  I was always the smallest too - just like Finley.  And I was shy until Junior high.  She is like me in a lot of ways.  I was never a super student, but I did just fine.

Given the chance to have been older, would I be a different person?  Probably not.  Would I have done better in class?  Maybe.  Who is to say.  I can no more guess my past than I can guess Finley's future.

What to do, what to do.  I talked to Finley about what is going on at school and what it is going to mean if it continues.  What had a serious heart to heart about school being her job.  When I talked to her about the possibility of staying one more year in first grade, she cried so hard I about died.  She wants to go to second grade, and she wasn't hearing any more about it.

Side bar - it was really sweet when Finley started crying, Cainan came over and just hugged her and patted her back.  He was so loving and was trying hard to convince her that it wouldn't be so bad.  That they would be together and see each other more.  It didn't work, but man did he try, and it was so cute.

I wish I had the answer.  Last year, the answer was given to me because she tested out of transitional.  But this year - we are back in the same place.  I don't regret us putting her in first grade - not for a minute.  But will I regret this next year at this time? 

I am tired of losing sleep over all of this crap.  Up and down, up and down we go with Finley.  Doing great, doing not so great.  Seeing okay, not seeing okay.  Not one day is the same.  In some cases, this would make for an exciting life.  But not here.  I am sick of it, and I know she is too.


Anonymous said...

february 26, 2013

Oh, I am sorrylife is difficult in your lives right now. Actually, I litterally saw a man who was blind today at Walmart. I think it is so cruel that everyone just stared at him as if he were utterly helpless. So mean. I said hi to his guide as they walked out the door and I went in. I try to think good about others and I try to help them if I can, in any way.
I believe god is going to direct you and your family in the right direction soon.

Your Friend,

Anonymous said...


Hey Pletcher family,

Just wanted to say hello to you all again. I am so happy I found your blog, because your Daughter Finley really inspires me.

I wish I lived closer to you all so we could meet ''in person.'' I am glad to call your family my friends. Maybe someday in the future I'll be able to attend your RDH12 Walk For Sight. That would be awesome.

I pray that there will be a cure for all children with all forms of LCA soon. For Finley.

I read her When The Lights Go Out Book and it touched my heart. I cried, so special.

I pray that things go smoothly for you in the coming future for you and your children.

May God Bless You And His Heavenly Angels Surround You Always!

Shayla Kay McCartney

Andrea Heathcock said...

Im new to you blog family so my opinion on this should be taken lightly. If you were homeschooling Finley, would you hold her back? Is it the social, braille and mobility that is holding her back? I think she should by go on to second grade. She can fill in the gaps as she learns to be a second grader. All of your children are precocious so I think she will do just fine. Also, with you in her corner, how can she fail? Take care.

Anonymous said...

Hi, glad to be reading about Finley. I can related to you feelings. I am the mom of Adriel who is 2 ½ with LCA and goes to a center base EI program. first of all as a parent of a visual impaired child there is so much we have to learn in order to make the best decision for our kids. I as a teacher assistant in a special ed classroom was so easy to give suggestion on where a child should be and how he was doing but when it came to see and listen about how Adriel was doing and what he was not doing it is really hard to process. although, I have the knowledge to see myself where he is having a hard time, the mom in me struggle with the reality. our kids are so unique and they are living in world between sight and no sight which makes it hard for them and the team around them who want to help. I just find out about his diagnosis and I am in the process of accepting and understanding this big responsibility. I am scare, sad, but hopeful. I know that our kids at the end of the day will be ok.