My Experiences with School Aides

I was asked awhile back to write about my experiences with school Aides, so  here is my viewpoint.

My school was 17 miles away from home.  A thirty-five minute drive in my family’s car. However, by school bus it was close to a two hour ride one way!

I went to a school called Holiday Center. The school was created for children who had physical disabilities.  The grades ranged from kindergarten on up to the sixth grade.  Normal classwork would be conducted; while individual students would be pulled out of class, and taken to therapy sessions. The therapies included Occupational Therapy(OT), Physical Education(PE), Physical Therapy(PT), and Speech. I loved PE because it was fun and games with my peers, plus I loved the teacher. However, the other three therapies I gradually grew to resent, because I didn’t much like keeping an eye on the clock so that I could leave a interesting class, to go to a labor intensive therapy session. I was always torn between classwork and therapies; both in which would eventually lend me skills I would need in the future!

Holiday was attached to a grade school. of which we had the use of it’s library, gym, and stage for Holiday’s school productions, (my favorite times of year).  Eventually, my class moved into  the school, so we could fully experience be emerged with other “normal” peers.

I haven’t gotten to the main focus of this post yet, which are school aides.  School aides were the backbone of Holiday. They were the teachers extra set of hands.  They kept the schedule running smoothly. They were also there to assist the students with their personal needs.  Such as helping with bathroom breaks, with lunch, helping us pick out library books, and goodness knows what else.

They became invested in their students lives. Often becoming a sounding board to their students . Once when I was convinced my parents were crazy for insisting I needed to get braces to straighten out my teeth. My school aide picked up something was troubling me, and got me talking. By the end of our conversation she helped me to see the benefits of the torture coming my way, and even how lucky I was to have parents who saw that I needed braces!  To this day, I’m grateful for the aides I had at Holiday Center, for they encouraged me every step of the way.

Maybe at times the school aids were a little too intrusive.  They were in consent communication with our parents.  They knew the contents in our backpacks, so no surprises ever could occur.  Above all that, I was convinced I was an old soul at heart, therefore I preferred talking to my aides and teachers, rather then most of my peers.  This lead to a social awkwardness I still struggle with today!

My biggest goal while at Holiday was to be “mainstreamed” into my neighborhood school system.  This dream only happened after I agreed to stay at Holiday an extra year; so I could be prolific at using the communication device that was determined I absolutely needed to be successful at my new school.  Which, in all honesty, I was nowhere close to being great at.  The device looked like a  calculator.  Every word, phrase, and letter had a three digit code I had to memorize.  It had a male robotic voice, that didn’t jive with me at all.  What was it’s greatest downfall?  It’s lack to store my own phrases, and school work.  If it had those two capabilities, I could have made it work.

My graduation speech should have tipped me off that the device wasn’t well matched to my needs.  I spent about two hours programming the speech into  my communication device.  I was keenly aware of  the fact that if the device were to be.turned off, the speech would be lost.  There wasn’t a lot happening in school that day, so I decided I needed a breath of fresh air, and went outside.  When I wanted back in; I waved  at someone to let me in, and that’s when my hand fell ceremoniously on the device’s on/off switch.  I swore my first blue streak, and ran to my speech therapist who quickly helped restore my speech just in time.

Interesting enough, my two school districts feuded over who had the rights to my device.   Mom calmly but  firmly said, “You promised my daughter she could go to her neighborhood school, if she had this device. She is taking it with her.  We will gladly return the device when she’s no longer using it!”  The battle was dropped.

After my first day at my new school, the second I got off of my quickest bus ride ever; I burst  into  tears.  It was the hardest day of my life!  I had what I wanted, going to the same school my siblings went to, having some of of teachers say, “Say, are  you so and so’s kid sister?”  I literately knew no one.  I endured stares, and awkward moments,  while finding all my classes before the horrid bell rang.  I wanted to give up, and go back to Holiday where everybody knew me, and felt like  family.  However, I could not give up with just one day under my belt!

I only had  an aide a couple of times during the day.  Both were in modified study halls, plus scheduled bathroom breaks.  The rest of the time, I relied on my peers.  They helped me with  getting my books  out of my backpack and to the right pages, taking notes for me, and handing in homework.  They even helped  feed me my lunches.  Knowing myself the way I do, I would have stopped eating the moment my classmates stopped.

I didn’t have a female version of Kenneth “Speechless” hanging around constantly to interfere with peer bonding, and that was priceless, and I wouldn’t change it for the world!  However, sometimes I felt like a burden to my peers.  They didn’t walk into school starting 7th grade thinking they would be volunteering to help me at different times during the next six years.  However, I’m so grateful some my peers were willing to help me!  Go, Canby Cougars of 1988!  You rocked!

P,S.  In my Junior year, I ended up giving the communication device back to Holiday Center.  Instead I opted for a laptop computer, and a little device that typed  out ticker-tape messages.  Both devices served me about eight, years until I begrudgingly admitted that technology had improved enough that I felt I could be successful at using.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: