I’m a special education teacher, and despite what a lot of people think, my hours extend beyond the hours of 8-3pm. Yes, the students are there between those hours, but I have paperwork and grading and planning that has to be done. I have meetings I have to hold/participating in. I have “staff development.” So, it was really, really convenient when Easter Seals came in and we finally got the Personal Assistance in place. I finally had someone to pick up Squeaker from school–every day except for Tuesday–and work with him until 5pm. I was finally able to work the hours that I really needed to in order to function appropriately at my job. I mean, I still needed to do some work at home sometimes, but not nearly as often. I didn’t feel like I was drowning anymore except for the weeks that I had multiple doctors appointments. I didn’t have to worry about what to do with Squeaker when I had meetings that I absolutely could not get out of anymore, either. It was nice to not have him tantruming while I was trying to be a professional. Suddenly, something happened that put it all to screeching halt and put me in a pickle.
Yes, I had the perfect personal assistance worker (SC). I wasn’t happy with our respite worker (PF) (Squeaker didn’t seem to care for her and was resistant going with her), but we could go without respite a bit more than we could go without personal assistance. And then it happened. I got a phone call from our case manager with Easter Seals stating that our personal assistant was no longer available except for on Thursdays and that our respite worker was going to be our new personal assistance worker on the other days. This started over Easter Break. As soon as I told Squeaker, he got upset because he really liked SC. Well, I figured PF could provide personal assistance at the house–having Squeaker write and clean up his room and do things like that. I figured she’d know what to do with him since she should’ve known his goals, she’d have some activities to do with him. And when she got here, he immediately hid, like he always does. Then he asked if he was staying here, and I assured him that he was, so he came out.
She had no idea what to do with him and I spent a lot of time coming up with things for her to do with him, which defeated the entire purpose of her being here. The first day wasn’t bad, but every day after, I could tell that she lacked patience with him. And she got no better at coming up with activities. She always looked tired. And Squeaker never warmed to her. He never wanted to leave with her. She also kept telling him that if he didn’t work with her, she would have to leave because they couldn’t sit and do nothing, as if he would care. Her job is to work with him and part of his issue is behavior, so she can’t just leave when things get hard. That really irked me. She was always ready to pick up and leave before her time was up.
Monday was the first day back at school, and she had already told me on Friday she wasn’t going to be able to get him, so I got him Monday. On Wednesday, her next day to get him, she called at about 2:20 and left me a message that she had a flat tire and couldn’t get him. His school gets out at 2:45pm and I had a meeting at 3pm. She said she could work with him at 6pm if I wanted her to, and I held her to that. I rushed over to pick him up and, thank God, a friend was right there and took him for me so I could rush back to work (right next door) for my 2 hour-long meeting. When I got home and Squeaker saw she was waiting in the driveway for us, he started crying.
Well, he was less than cooperative while she was working with him on homework (which she didn’t know how to do, despite my explaining it to her and constantly going over) and she mostly did it for him (despite my constantly going over and showing her that he could do it himself). At one point, while I was cooking dinner, I looked over while she was being a bit defiant, and noticed that she had this look like she wanted to grab him and was restraining herself. It made me very uncomfortable and I thought to myself, “What if I hadn’t been there?” This is the thought that stayed with me all night and all day on Thursday, which is the day that SC picks him up (thank God). At 6:45pm, PF decides it’s time to go because dinner was ready. I could tell she wanted to leave as soon as she got to our house, so I let her go.
Thursday afternoon, I made the decision that I didn’t want PF to pick up my child. Part of the reason is because I was getting all kinds of signals from him that he something was wrong. Part of the reason was because my Mommy senses were tingling. Part of the reason was because there were a couple of times where, despite my having properly secured his car seat in her car more than once before, I noticed she had improperly secured his car seat in her car by putting him in the five-point harness and then pulling the seatbelt over the top of the car seat. For all of these reasons, I felt that I just couldn’t trust her with one of my most precious gifts.
This is scary stuff, really. The worst part is that he’s not able to communicate with me why he’s so bothered by her. I have been trying to get him to talk to me for the longest time, but he won’t say anything. Then again, I still can’t get information out of him about what he’s done during the day. I never know what he’s eaten for lunch, if he’s done anything special…nothing. Sometimes he tries to tell me things he’s done at school, but he talks about things in ways that only make sense to him. I will probably never know why he was so upset by her. If he just didn’t care for her personality or if she abused him in some way. And that’s scary to me. So, I just can’t take any chances. If it feels wrong, I have to assume it’s wrong.
I called and told the case manager everything and she’s working on training a new person right now, so I have to be patient and wait for someone new. Funny thing is that she told me she wasn’t sure how many respite hours I had left since I was supposed to get respite during last week while I was getting personal assistance and I said, “Oh, that’s the other thing.” I hadn’t even told her about her leaving before time was up. When I told her that, for example, PF had left after 45 minutes on Wednesday, she noted the date and said, “Good to know.” So I think PF had been miss-reporting her time on top of everything else.
So yes, now I am in a pickle. And it stinks, really, because I start a new treatment for my back on Monday that requires me to be there three times a week (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday). And it’s IEP time soon, which means I have to start getting paperwork ready, which means that I have to devote even more time to work. Yes, it’s busy season, and now I have no one to help with my boy on any day but Thursday unless I rely on my friends, who I feel I’ve already stretched thin. But, if I have to choose between convenience and the safety of my child, go ahead pass the pickles.