Friday, October 3, 2008

Advocacy and Implementation of AT Takes Patience

The theme of the day was patience. It seemed as though I was trying to implement the same tools for the same students but in transition to new schools with new staff, or I was swimming against the tide as I attempted to service needs. Here are the reasons I wanted to bang my head on a wall today:

1. I had a teacher say that she got in trouble by her technology coordinator because she bought some AT software approved by the district that he didn't "approve" for the computer first. Excuse me?!! Technology is supposed to serve teachers and students - not the other way around.
2. I had a modification request for a lap tray that we discussed last spring. I have had the tray sitting in my office for 2 weeks this fall because everyone really is too busy to find the time to hunt down the picture in a catalog out of a huge stack of catalogs for a pattern so I can drill holes and modify the tray. I was asked if it was done by two different folks yesterday. (I did get to soldering/repairing a vibrating pillow switch yesterday. It's fixed and in circulation again.)
3. I was denied funding for software for a student because he didn't fit the right category.
4. I visited a student that we have in transition to the middle school. I am re-teaching the strategies for this student again with new staff - and the boy has seizures that cause him to lose new ground so it seems to be 2 steps forward, 3 steps back.
5. I began to start on AAC trials for a boy that needed to start the first of September but because it takes awhile for things to settle down and requests to come in - we are finally getting to it.

I don't like to complain - I am a positive person - and I know I am sticking my neck out a little if folks in my backyard read my blog, but I really do have a point to my sharing this...the fact is, that we are all human and we all have a limit to what we can do in a day. Maybe the tech guy that wasn't happy with the software purchase had just been in a meeting where they were trying to stay on top of managing the flood of stuff that gets put on computers and it was just the wrong news at the wrong time on the wrong day.
Maybe I need to take more initiative and not wait for others to get information and equipment to me. I could do the research for the lap tray modification on my own and not wait.
I should stop trying to have such a big heart that tries to fund everyone's needs and once in awhile say to a school or district - "You need to buy this one" (with money many don't have - and it is only going to get worse.)
Teachers are just now getting into a routine and following up on major AT plans they want to implement this fall - and I just need to relax and go with the flow. The problem is that we all want things to progress faster and see kids get into the right equipment, interventions, therapies, implementations and modifications. Sometimes I think if I am not aggressive and pushing the envelope, there will be some parent somewhere wondering when anything is going to happen for their child.
I think we have a great staff and team of specialists. They are driving all over the country servicing kids and seeing terrific things happen for them - so I don't want to make this sound like a slam on them. We all want the best and get frustrated when we are juggleing 30, 40 or 50 students and can't keep all the balls in the air at the same time.
I talk about advocacy a lot and I hear stories from frustrated parents who wish things would happen faster. Not just in our neck of the woods but through emails and questions too. I hope parents that are struggling with this will know that we are feeling a lot of the same frustrations. If we can focus, take a deep breath, use some patience in the appropriate situations and continue to work towards the common goal, we will get there.

All the best to you,



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