Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Aftermath: a Follow-Up to Ben's Issues at School

When we last spoke, I was terribly sad and angry over Ben's most recent patch of rocky ground, but I feel as if I left you hanging and I want to share with you what happened in the aftermath.

First of all, thank you everyone for the words (and photographs) of support and comfort and hope.  I was moved to tears by some and to loud laughter by others.  And there were so MANY comments, even some from strangers, as the blogpost circulated.  I began to wonder if it would go viral, but we were overshadowed, I think, by the kid who ate his pop-tart into the shape of a gun and began waving around the cafeteria.  Eek.

Some of you suggested I should contact the press.  I thought about it, but by the time the Indianapolis Star called, I had thought better of it.  I truly don't want Ben to think of himself as a martyr, a victim, OR a hero, and I thought it best to just let it die down.

The first day of the suspension was a day of sitting home and recovering.  He and I were both so shaken and upset over the confrontation in the office, and the shame of being suspended.  The second day, however, Ben asked when he would be able to return to school.  I was happy to hear that question as I thought I would never get him through the doors of the school again.


In sharing Ben's story with others, I talked with a friend about Ben's lack of friends, and lack of interest in any of the school extra-curricular activities.  She suggested 4-H, which Ben jumped on.  He is now enrolled and signed up for projects in Legos, Collections, Model-Making and...Photography.  

Time passed.  We worked on some of his take-home work and watched a lot of TV.  Ben agreed to come and take photos at my theatre rehearsals, for which I paid him.  He did some chores around the house and accompanied me on errands.

On Tuesday this week, Ben returned to school where he is, yes, far behind now, but I have grudgingly given up the idea that Ben will leave Mt. Vernon with a high school diploma.  In just six weeks, Ben will be 17, and still a freshman in high school.  Next year this time, he will be just about to turn 18, and at that point, eligible to take the GED.  I believe now that our goal is to simply keep him IN school as long as we can, then take the GED and move on to the next phase of his life, whatever that is.

On Friday of this week, we had a case conference at school for Ben where we worked at making school a friendlier place for Ben.  We came to an agreement that Ben would be able to scan his homework at home and email it in.  He is also allowed to take time-outs from stressful situations in the classroom and go to the nurse's office for--a snack (I firmly believe Ben's temperament is often tied to his diet).  From now on, he will be able to keep a small drawing pad by on his desk during lessons, because I (and his psychologist) firmly believe that being able to doodle helps Ben concentrate.  Among other decisions made were for Ben to be pulled out of the Algebra class and be tutored on his own time towards taking the end-of-the-year Algebra exam.  He also will able to use a device called a Smart Pen.  

In any case, things are better. We are still working to get him caught up at school, and looking ahead, like everyone, to the relief of Spring Break.

Thank you again, everyone, for your support, encouragement and advice.  It's good to know that we have friends out there.

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