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Sunday, January 11, 2015

Growing Pains with Iryna

Education for Iryna has been a challenge for half of our posts in the Air Force. When we were in Ohio, we found Ms W to be an incredible teacher who truly understood Iryna and what she needed. Iryna thrived with Ms W. Then we moved to FL and that was NOT a good place for Iryna. Her teacher struggled to teach her and I received at least 2-3 phone calls per week, asking me to talk with Iryna to help her do this or that or calm down. Then we moved back to Ohio and were so blessed to return Iryna to Ms W's classroom. She did so well those two years. Now we are in the DC area and although I enjoy Iryna's current teacher, Ms B, it seems like something isn't working right for Iryna. 

She began school in September and we get home notes everyday (except for 2 days, to date) of the many misbehaviors of Iryna. These behaviors include yelling, throwing things, pinching and hitting other children. It is hard to receive those, day after day. In December, we received a message that Iryna had hurt one of the teachers and she was ordered to be suspended from school for one day. 

Now I find myself in meetings to put together a Functional Behavioral Assessment. We had one meeting in December and it went well, I suppose. We mainly talked about several people who would come in and observe Iryna in her classroom to see if there were any triggers or patterns in her behavior. Last week we had a follow-up appointment where we discussed results. I was pretty stressed about the meeting beforehand. Even though I know that I am not to blame for Iryna's poor choices and behaviors, I still feel as though they reflect upon me and that I will somehow be disciplined for them. I was pleasantly surprised at the outcome of the meeting. They are going to do a full psychological evaluation for Iryna and want to have her spend more time in the regular 4th grade class instead of her special education classroom. It came out that Iryna's frustrations partly included her lack of ability to communicate with the other children in her classroom, many of whom are non-verbal. Up to this time, she has had a short visit with the regular 4th grade classroom in the morning. Now they want for her to visit that classroom in the afternoon, too. The teacher in this classroom states that Iryna behaves very well with the other children. The one thing I was pushing for was to have a one-on-one aid with Iryna, but it came out that that would be more like a bandaid fix to help prevent her from hurting other children, when in fact she may be in the wrong classroom altogether. I am encouraged to help Iryna find where she would thrive here in our new home. And I am very grateful for the women who are working to help us do just that. 

It is interesting to see Iryna growing up and learning. She is now on the onset of puberty. We just bought some training bras and she is now a full size 7 in pants and shirts. She will be 11 this summer. She is still small, but growing up, too. 

Iryna isn't really the sort of person who wants all the attention upon herself, but I have noticed that on birthdays she will really struggle. I don't think she knows how to be happy for someone else on their special day. Anna's birthday was a few weeks ago, and Iryna was really having a hard time. I communicated to her that it was Anna's birthday and that if she could not calm down, then she would have to go to her bedroom for a while. After this conversation, it was time to pray and it was her day to do it. I was impressed by the words she prayed. She asked Heavenly Father to please help her calm down so she could be happy and help Anna enjoy her birthday. Her ability to articulate the words alone blew me away. It was another example of her growing up. 

My son, Calvin, is turning 8 soon and will be baptized. This has sparked Iryna to be interested in being baptized. Up until this point, I didn't think Iryna was quite ready, but I think she is approaching it very soon. In fact, we are talking about both Keith and Iryna being baptized this summer. I didn't know if they would be baptized at all, much less now. I am grateful to my Heavenly Father for helping them progress to this point in life. It has not been an easy parenting journey for me to parent my twins, but there have been some wonderful moments and I know that their baptism will be one of those. 

This is from a Primary Spotlight for Iryna. Tyler and I got a good laugh out of Iryna's favorite scripture story: "And it came to pass," which is funny because when we read scriptures together at night, her favorite verses to read are the ones that begin with "And it came to pass." Also, I wonder if she would get to serve a mission in the jungle. Ha ha. 


Brittany H. said...

Starting over is so hard--especially when you're leaving a good teacher behind! You are such an amazing mom and really connect so well with your kids.

Anonymous said...

I know that you've mentioned that Iryna struggles with the effects of fetal alcohol syndrome, and goodness knows I can't relate to that. If the fact that she used to need a special ed class, but maybe no longer does, or at least much less than full time, then she is making some excellent progress. I am glad to hear that news! I get frustrated with people that I can't seem to communicate with, so I can relate to that! Take comfort in this: if you felt inspired to remove her from that adoption agency all these years ago, that must mean that you are meant to be able to help her and to be in those places where she can make the most progress. Celebrate every success you have!

Rooting for you all!

Hevel said...

I remember, And it came to pass was everyone's favourite BoM phrase in seminary.