On the second day of school I received a phone call from the special education coordinator expressing some concerns about how Megan was doing. At this point we had only corresponded through email and she had only met Megan one time; that very day. She was aware that Megan has Aspergers and in the summer we had been in contact about what teacher might be best for Megan and what things we might need to do during the school day to help Megan in what ever ways she needed. I decided that we would wait and see how Megan did and then make decisions as needed. When she called me on that second day of school, she implied that she didn’t think Megan should be in the Chinese Immersion program. She was basing this opinion solely on Megan’s meltdowns the first two days of school during lunch, and what she knew of Aspergers and Autism. Since this phone call, we have met in person and set up and IEP/504 for Megan, and I have found her to be a very nice and caring person who has Megan’s best interest at heart. But at the time of the phone call, she spoke to me as if I had no right to have placed Megan in the Chinese program, and although she didn’t come right out and say it, she made it blatantly clear that she thought Megan should be pulled from the program.
I know where she was coming from. Because of the nature of Megan’s Aspergers and because she also has a pragmatic language disorder (which comes with severe communication difficulties) the coordinator was concerned about Megan’s emotional well-being. For half the day her teacher ONLY speaks Chinese. No English at all, unless there is an emergency. The concern was that Megan would doubly struggle with communicating with her teacher, given the language barrier. I knew that Megan would excel with Chinese. Letters, numbers, musical notes…anything “symbolic” comes very easily to Megan. She also speaks by rote. Meaning she can only communicate and say things that she has heard before. She struggles with coming up with unique thought. In Chinese class, the teacher speaks, and the children repeat it. It is an understatement to say that Megan is EXCELLING in Chinese. She has no problem decoding any Chinese character thrown her way. She also has a knack for decoding the meanings of characters she has not seen before. It wasn’t two weeks into school that her Chinese teacher came to me just in awe of Megan. She was a little concerned that Megan never seemed to be “paying attention” and rarely made eye contact (welcome to my life) but she said even though she doesn’t pay attention, she still gets every answer right. My only concern was that Megan would struggle with being able to speak in Chinese. Looks like there was no need to worry there. She speaks it very well.
Megan is doing equally as well in her English class. When we were faced with the decision of picking a teacher for Megan, I just prayed and prayed about it, and hoped that she would end up with the teacher that was right for her. That prayer was answered: BIG TIME. Her English teacher is WONDERFUL. She is kind and patient and she has a nephew who has Aspergers. She is not flustered at all by Megan’s quirks, and genuinely likes her and wants to help her succeed. She also can’t say enough about how smart Megan is. She also expresses often that Megan has NO problems in class. It looks like Megan’s only struggles continue to be in social situations and with lunch.
The first couple weeks of school were color days. Megan loved wearing the color of the day each day. The last day was rainbow day and Megan convinced me to tie-dye a shirt, a pair of shorts, and some tights. She was colorful from head to toe.
Megan just loves learning. She loves school and although she struggles with the social aspect, she loves her classmates. We are definitely riding a rollar-coaster full of ups and downs, but I am so proud of her and the progress she is making. She has such a good heart and she tries so hard. I love my sweet little first grader and I see a bright future ahead of her.
This picture of Megan and her class cracks me up. I am sure you can find her, but she’s the little tiny one on the far left with the cheesiest smile who sticks out from the rest of the group like the bright shining star that she is. I’m not sure why they had her stand where she is standing since she is the tiniest person in the class, but I love the way it turned out. She really is different and unique. In every way.