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Neurodiversity Awareness/Appreciation

Neurodiversity Awareness/Appreciation

Friday, November 15, 2013

A Week In The Life

Keeping this guy out of trouble is a tough job! 
 Hi everyone! How are things? Going well here! If you check my Moodscope link, which I know you monitor frequently because nothing is more interesting to you than the ups and downs of the local alien, you will see that my mood has been pretty good lately! You will also note that my mood goes way up and way down with each day. It literally resembles a rollercoaster. A really fun rollercoaster. Like the Raging Bull maybe. When I move to Oregon I won't be able to ride the Raging Bull anymore because they don't have a Six Flags there... that is one of the few downpoints to moving... so I guess it is a good thing that I bring my own personal moodocoaster everywhere I go! Look at me getting off the point again...

So. I haven't blogged about my new job a lot lately. On the days when I am feeling bad, I often feel bad about my job, because just the fact that I am an aide again seems to highlight the concept that I am not doing what I want to do in life. Being an aide is very different from being a teacher, because sometimes I have good ideas but I can't use them... aides are mostly expected to follow the teacher's lessons and instructions to a T. The actual wording used by the employee manual is that aides are to follow the teacher's plans "with fidelity." Which is kind of weird wording if you ask me. But anyways...

When I am feeling good, like I am today, my job is just a means to an end... the end being, saving up money and moving... but it is also more enjoyable. I feel good about working with the kids. Now that I am getting more into the routine and feeling comfortable, I thought I'd give you a rough outline of what a week is like at my new job!

On Mondays, I am the classroom aide, which basically means I am somewhat in charge of all of the kids and help out wherever is needed. In the morning I help the kids get their coats off and stuff and get them settled in with morning work. For Reading and Math centers I am almost always helping out with the "low" group, which includes Noddy, Phoebe and Wren. You may remember from my first post about work, Noddy and Phoebe are two first graders with Down syndrome. They're cute as buttons, but also can really be handfuls! Wren, who was absent when I last wrote, has cerebral palsy and uses a wheel chair most of the time... she also uses an augmentative speech device. Which is actually just a regular iPad with some special software downloaded onto it... way easier to carry around than the old devices! During Centers they mostly play a lot of alphabet and number games, since they are all working on letter and number recognition, counting, and learning simple sight words. At lunch, I am also in charge of getting all but 2 of the kids down the stairs to the lunch room, which is easier said than done because both Noddy and Phoebe are prone to plopping their butts on the ground and refusing to get up, for no specific reason! Mondays are usually pretty long days. 

On Tuesdays, I am specifically in charge of Phoebe, Noddy and Finch. Finch is academically a lot higher than Phoebe and Noddy, so I barely ever actually work with him because he is always in different groups, but my main job with him is just to keep making sure I know where he is, because he has a tendency to wander off. This day is different from the days when I am the general classroom aide, because I am also specifically in charge of making sure Noddy pretends to go to the bathroom. Yes, I say "pretends!" Three times a day, I have to take him into the staff bathroom and sit around while he stands in front of the toilet and "tries" to go potty. I made up some Potty songs for him. One, sung to the tune of "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star," basically goes, "Tinkle, Tinkle, Little Noddy, please go pee-pee in the potty!" The other one is just the alphabet song, but at the end we sing, "Now I know my ABC's, next time go pee-pee in the potty for me!" Noddy loves the ABC song, and he usually starts singing along, except sometimes he gets in a weird mood and sings in this creepy gremlin voice, which cracks me up every time! We do this for a while, and then I change his diaper (which he usually peed in shortly after the last potty visit) and then we go back to class. Lather, rinse, repeat. 

On Wednesdays, I am in charge of Wren, the little girl who uses a wheelchair and a speech device. Wren doesn't use her speech device much though. She'll push certain buttons if you ask her too. For instance, during calendar, if you ask her to find what month it is, she'll hit the button for "November." But she doesn't use it for actual communication purposes yet. So mostly you have to ask her "yes or no" questions or have her point to stuff. Wednesday is a pretty easy day, because Wren is easy going. She doesn't really like to do Centers work (::coughcough I don't really blame her because the Centers work she gets is like the same stuff every day and I think although she's not ready to move up to the next higher group the low group stuff is really boring to her... I mean, how many times can you put together a puzzle that only has two pieces... but you did not hear that from me. Cough cough cough Ahem::) So really the only hard part is getting her to pay attention. And getting her to eat her lunch. She usually hates her lunch and will shake her head wildly and make gagging faces if you try to get her to eat it. Then she'll point to her Hot Cheetos, and that is usually what she ends up eating for lunch, and if you joke about maybe the Hot Cheetos being too spicy for her and maybe you'd better take them away, she gets a very alarmed look on her face!

On Thursdays, I am in charge of Grebe, which is both awesome and the bane of my existence. Taking care of Grebe in class is a little like being put in charge of a baby octopus. You like the baby octopus and you think he's cute and a joy to be around and everything, but baby octopuses aren't very good listeners at all, and they are very strong, and they are usually using their eight legs to wreak havoc left and right! And also the octopus wears a diaper and you have to take him to the nurse's office and somehow change him, which entails trying to hold back all eight of his legs with one of your arms while changing his diaper with the other. Also, you are expected to teach the baby octopus about cause and effect, by having him play cause and effect games on a laptop computer, which means getting him to use one of his eight arms to push a small yellow switch to make things happen on the screen, while you somehow keep him from destroying the laptop with his other seven legs. This pretty much sums up Grebe! The funnest part of Thursdays are music class, which is the one time in Grebe's life when someone actually hands him a percussion instrument and the thing he does best (banging on stuff) is perfectly allowed! The kid has rhythm. I am willing to bet you money that he'll be a drummer some day! Grebe is also another kid who refuses to eat anything but Cheetos. In the lunch room I have to get him seated at a table, then go pick up his school lunch, and pretty much toss it all in the garbage, an alarming waste of food but completely required. Today I tried to trick him... I broke a Cheeto in half, then took a piece of hamburger, and fused the meat between the two pieces of Cheeto. (It worked alarmingly well!) I then handed the burger-Cheeto to Grebe, and he put the whole thing in his mouth... and quickly spit out the meat! After that, any time I handed him a Cheeto, he stuck out his tongue like a frog to taste it first before he'd put it in his mouth. 

Fridays, I'm back to being a classroom aide, which means I help out again with all of the children. A lot of which entails helping out with Noddy and Phoebe. Friday is a little more of a low-key day, and it ends in the afternoon with all of the kids being allowed to watch a movie in the afternoon while we adults get things done around the classroom. Last Friday, though, ended with Noddy sitting on my lap playing with a stuffed Clifford toy and coughing directly into my face about eighty times, which I was sure was going to cause me to get a cold, but it didn't, so apparently my immune system is toughening up! 

I love the kids. I do. I wish I could be a teacher because I feel like there would be so much more I could do for them, besides just shepherding them around the school and wiping their butts and noses! 

Uh... I don't know a good sentence to end this post with, so... FIN. 

2 comments :

  1. you have a great job...kinda hard to call it a job you do good works for pay...hope that doesn't sound like you're a mercenary ..lol...you know it came to mind that you are in the same boat as your little wren..you wanna move forward as does she..keep up your good works Angel my Alien friend...

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  2. I can see how it could be difficult to be an aide and not the teacher, but it sounds like you are doing some really important work. Being there in those ways makes a big difference for those kids. I have struggled with the mood coaster many a time. It can be tough. Hope you are able to stay on the up, and find some balance.

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