Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The good, the bad and the scrimpy - at C.'s school

Somehow I managed to get C. a trifle of professional attention at school yesterday; actually more attention than she's ever received there before. I have no idea why we hit the jackpot - I've been prodding and nudging for the last eleven years to no avail.

This small dose of input centered around the one occupational therapist responsible for all the technology equipment used in the classrooms. In the past, she generously loaned me a couple of contraptions that have enabled C. to work on our computer at home. 
Now I was meeting with her to demonstrate C's "mastery" - I'm taking extreme liberties with that word - of our tablet. My goal was also to gain expert tips and guidance.

Several other staff members happened to be in tech expert's room at the time. Among them was C.'s teacher whom the tech expert instructed on how to work with C at the tablet. 

It was disappointing - not surprising, though - to see the depths of the teacher's cluelessness. She's well-intentioned and maternal but the two-bit certificate in special education she earned at a pseudo- academic institution just doesn't cut it. She shares this qualification with all the teachers at C.'s school. They are favored over university graduates in the name of that lofty goal: penny-pinching.   

The tech expert exhibited skill, intuition and experience. She waited for C. to act independently and noticed every one of C.'s minuscule responses. It was a pleasure to observe her. An added bonus: she is respectful to parents. I consider her the school's single treasure. 

Sadly, she is only utilized to instruct other staff members on working with computers but has no contact with the children directly. Presumably the chief administrator - the woman who never, ever leaves her office - believes that this arrangement yields the maximum return for this expert's salary. 

Now, I understand that money is tight. This year we've been asked to send diapers every day with our children. And that's fine.  But hiring poorly trained teachers, and skimping on skilled professionals definitely is not.

Nor is failing to repair the elevator.

With over 100 students, most of whom cannot use the stairs, many of whom are wheelchair bound,  it is unforgivable to rely on only one elevator. Especially when it's tiny. No more than two wheelchairs fit at once.

The excuse making the rounds for the elevator scandal is "It needs a new part from overseas."
It seems the part is in that godforsaken remote corner of the globe known as Belgium. Six weeks isn't enough time to get a part from Belgium cheaply?

Venting over, here are two fantastic free games we've found on the tablet for C.  Both are for Android devices, which is what ours is.
Meanwhile here are tips from the tech expert:
  • Prop up the tablet so that it's on a tilt, rather than flat down on the table
  • Don't touch or coax C. to press the tablet.
  • Only support her elbow gently.
  • Settle for contact with the screen by any part of C.'s hand, even the knuckle. Don't aim for a finger touch (as I had been)
  • Then wait. 
  • Wait. 
  • And wait some more.

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