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Gena
12-06-2011, 01:41 PM
Update: DS is going back to the Autism classroom. Full Update in Post #17.

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DS is 7 and in 2nd grade. For Kindergarten he was in a self-contained Autism classroom. Last year he was partially mainstreamed: spending mornings in the regular 1st grade classroom and afternoons in the Autism classroom. DS loved going to school and thrived in these placements, making amazing progress.

This year, the school attempted to fully mainstream DS, although with a one-on-one aide. This was not the plan in the IEP, which called for gradually increased partial mainstreaming. The school really mishandled the situation right from the start. It has not gone well. DS can do the academic work (with some modifications), but has had a lot of behavioral difficulties, sensory difficulties, and attention issues. DS has been stressed out since school started: acting out in other settings, sleeping problems, eating problems, always wanting to stay home, and being just a miserable little boy. Weíve had a series of meetings with the school and with district personnel (some meetings lasting as long as 2 hours). Little by little we have been able to get DSís program adjusted: daily sessions in the sensory room, increased time in the resource room, functional behavior plan, daily reports home, etc. As a result, weíve gone through several revisions of the IEP.

The current plan calls for DS to get some of his instruction in the regular classroom and some in the resource room. Initially with this plan, DS seemed to be making some improvements. But lately the daily reports have shown that DS is increasingly resistant to being in the regular classroom. He no longer wants to join the regular class for even the activities he previously enjoyed there (computers, science, reading groups, etc). He will go to ďspecialsĒ with the class, however.

Over the weekend, DS told me, ďI am not going to Ms. Mís room (the 2nd grade classroom) anymore. I only like the resource room.Ē He seemed very happy with himself, almost giddy about it. I told him that I wanted him spend some time in Ms. Mís room to be with his class. But he kept saying over and over that he would not go anymore.

Yesterday, the daily report indicated that he did indeed refuse to even step into the regular classroom. He got all his academic instruction in the resource room. (He did join the class for library time, but refused to check out a book, which is unusual for him.) The resource room teacher noted that DS had a hard time getting settled down to work, but was in an usually good mood all day. He even told his aide that he would rather be sick than go to Ms. Mís class. When I asked DS why he did not want to go to Ms. Mís classroom, he was quiet for while and then said, ďI just canít do it there.Ē When I tried to get him to explain this, DS simply said, ďMommy, we are done talking about it. Iím not talking about this anymore.Ē This is exactly what we say to DS when we have made a decision and no more arguments or negotiations are allowed.

This morning, after we went over his daily schedule and school checklist, DS reminded me, ďIím not going to Ms. Mís class anymore. Iím only going to the resource room.Ē I told him we would have to see that the teachers say about that. DS simply said ďNo.Ē He was very calm about it, which is really not like him. I canít help but realize that he has come to a firm decision in his mind.

Iím not sure what to do here. Obviously DS is unhappy with how mainstreaming has been going. And just as obviously he has come up with his own solution. But I donít agree with him the giving up on mainstreaming is the right answer. The Autism classroom is no longer considered an ďappropriate placementĒ for him. I donít think spending all his time in the resource room is appropriate either. We can't force him to be the mainstream classroom without him acting out and disrupting the entire class.

As anyone been through something like this? What do we do now?

egoldber
12-06-2011, 03:51 PM
Wow. That's really hard. :(

What is the reason that they want to continue mainstreaming him this year? It seems pretty clear, for whatever reason, that it is not working for him now. Not to say it may not work out next year or another year. (Or maybe with a different teacher / classroom dynamic?)

karstmama
12-06-2011, 04:10 PM
i'm earlier in the process than you, with ds in pre-k, but yowsers... any chance to give him what he's asking for? i have to think he might be right for now.

thinking of y'all, whatever happens.

hillview
12-06-2011, 04:16 PM
HUGS. No advice but I am sending you P&PT sounds like a rough time.

JTsMom
12-06-2011, 05:48 PM
I'm kind of thinking along the same lines. Would it be totally out of the question to just go with his plan, at least for a while? You know his personality best, of course, but I'm thinking if Jason were to be that set on something, forcing the issue would make him really dig in his heels, and do more damage than it would be worth. But, if I made it a non-issue, then slowly tried to build up to my goal, it would probably work.

What a tough spot to be in, in any case!

crl
12-06-2011, 08:29 PM
No BTDT. I wonder if there are any incentives to encourage him to spend some time in the regular classroom? Maybe start with his favorite time in there, with a one on one aide and a reward for staying for that one activity? And then gradually build up to more time in the class?

(Does he like having you come to school? Would you be available to come and read to his regular class or help with an activity? Maybe he would be persuaded to join while you were there?)

Catherine

Gena
12-07-2011, 10:45 AM
Thank you for all the support.


Wow. That's really hard. :(

What is the reason that they want to continue mainstreaming him this year? It seems pretty clear, for whatever reason, that it is not working for him now. Not to say it may not work out next year or another year. (Or maybe with a different teacher / classroom dynamic?)

It has a lot to do with the push for LRE (Least Restricitve Environment). The school is saying that the Autism classroom is too restrictive for DS's level of functioning. So that means he's supposed to be in the mainstream classroom. There really isn't an in-between placement other than what they are trying now - some time in the regular classroom and some in the resource room.

Other schools in the district have a more in-between placement, such as a mixed disability classroom or a communications impaired classroom. Last spring, when we did the IEP for this year, the district tried to push to toward this, but we believed that it would be too traumatic for DS to change schools. DS's psychologist agreed with us, when she talked to DS and saw how strongly he identified with his school and the staff there. Now were are wondering if we made the wrong decision.

I just can't believe that the school does not have a better procedure to transition kids from the Autism classroom into the mainstream. I have a hard time believing that our kid is the first one to go through this.


Would it be totally out of the question to just go with his plan, at least for a while?

The problem with DS's plan is that the resource room is not set up to be a full-time placement. It's a place for students to go for hour or so at a time to work on areas where they need extra support or reteaching of the material. So, the resource room teacher is not set up to teach the whole 2nd grade cirriculum. She has other students who are in and out of her room all day and it's disruptive to have DS in there all day. Lately DS has been doing all of his work in the reource room and much of his instruction is coming from his paraeducator (one-on-one aide). The aide is wonderful and we love her, but she is not a teacher and should not be doing so much instruction.


No BTDT. I wonder if there are any incentives to encourage him to spend some time in the regular classroom? Maybe start with his favorite time in there, with a one on one aide and a reward for staying for that one activity? And then gradually build up to more time in the class?

(Does he like having you come to school? Would you be available to come and read to his regular class or help with an activity? Maybe he would be persuaded to join while you were there?)

Catherine

They have been trying different incentives to have him stay in class during his favored activities. He's still fighting against it. Apparently they can't offer him anything that he thinks is worth the effort.

DS does NOT like if DH or I come to the classroom. He's really big on people being in the right setting and in his worldview school in NOT the right setting for Mom and Dad. We've learned this the hard way.

pinkmomagain
12-07-2011, 11:22 AM
I can't help but think it would be helpful if someone could tease out what it is he doesn't like about the mainstream class. The psychologist? Classroom teacher? Aide? Because if you can't get at what the issues are and address them then you are really in a tough spot. Maybe talk about what he likes about the resource room and that may give clues about what he doesn't like in the mainstream classroom. Maybe it's the noise, seat placement, the teacher herself...

crl
12-07-2011, 11:37 AM
I understand. My ds did NOT want me in his classroom in K. I ended up volunteering in a 5th grade room.

A couple other ideas (just brainstorming). Does he have a visual schedule? What if he builds his own schedule each morning, but there are not enough blocks for resource room so he has to choose some of them to be in the regular classroom? Then it's not the teachers telling him, it's just the way the schedule works. And he builds it himself so he controls which blocks are done where.

Or can you all play into his view about rules and explain that the resource teacher is not allowed to have him in the room all day? And that his aid isn't allowed to teach him every day? It is agains the rules of their jobs.

Or, can you explain that he either needs to spend part of the day in the regular classroom or he needs to go to a different school? Not as a threat or anything, just that's the way things are. You could even take him to see the other school. And then ask him to chose. I'd only do this if he really can close, of course. But maybe he would rather go to a different school than stay in the regular classroom. I don't know your son, so this may be way too complicated or anxiety producing. We could never have done this kind of thing with my ds in the past, but just this year I think he could understand and make a choice.

Catherine

Gena
12-07-2011, 11:41 AM
I can't help but think it would be helpful if someone could tease out what it is he doesn't like about the mainstream class. The psychologist? Classroom teacher? Aide? Because if you can't get at what the issues are and address them then you are really in a tough spot. Maybe talk about what he likes about the resource room and that may give clues about what he doesn't like in the mainstream classroom. Maybe it's the noise, seat placement, the teacher herself...


I completely agree. For months I have been pushing for a Functional Behavioral Assessment (FBA). The staff has finally started the FBA process and are currently working on gathering data. Personally, I suspect that it is a combination of issues including sensory, language processing, and social diffiiculties.

Gena
12-07-2011, 12:25 PM
These are great ideas.


A couple other ideas (just brainstorming). Does he have a visual schedule? What if he builds his own schedule each morning, but there are not enough blocks for resource room so he has to choose some of them to be in the regular classroom? Then it's not the teachers telling him, it's just the way the schedule works. And he builds it himself so he controls which blocks are done where.

He does have a visual schedule. He has a book with his schedule for each day of the week. It's a set schedule for each day, with post-it notes added when there is a change in routine. The resource room teaher and the classroom teacher have told me that there is not enough time to let him build his schedule each morning, so the daily books are a compromise.

Right now, the intiention is for DS to be in the regular classroom for the instruction (lesson), but he can choose to do the work either the regular classroom or the resource room. DS is refusing to go the classroom for even the lesson, despite what it says on his schedule.

Another problem right now that almost everyday has a change in schedule for holiday events. These are supposed to be "fun", but DS just finds them stressful and often refuses to participate.


Or can you all play into his view about rules and explain that the resource teacher is not allowed to have him in the room all day? And that his aid isn't allowed to teach him every day? It is agains the rules of their jobs.

That's an interesting idea. I don't know if DS would accept this. Considering that he has already spent several days in the resource room, it may be hard to explain why they have been braking this rule and not have to follow it.

When DS was mainly in the regular classroom, he kept asking how many cards he needed to pull (stoplight system) to go back to the Autism classroom. So if he is told that he cannot stay in the resource room, he would probably request the Autism classroom again.


Or, can you explain that he either needs to spend part of the day in the regular classroom or he needs to go to a different school? Not as a threat or anything, just that's the way things are. You could even take him to see the other school. And then ask him to chose. I'd only do this if he really can close, of course. But maybe he would rather go to a different school than stay in the regular classroom. I don't know your son, so this may be way too complicated or anxiety producing. We could never have done this kind of thing with my ds in the past, but just this year I think he could understand and make a choice.

DH and I agree that we will not change schools in the middle of the school year. At this point, it is not even an option offered by the district. It's likely that the school will agree to return him to the Autism classroom, but they are holding this out as a last resort.

We may consider changing schools for next school year. But if it comes to that, I'm not sure if we will stay in the public school system or explore our options through the Ohio Autism Scholarship Program.

crl
12-07-2011, 03:44 PM
Hmm, I'm out of ideas for the moment. Maybe the holiday break can be an opportunity for a fresh start of some sort. All the extra (NOT) fun activities will be over with. Maybe some kind of social story to read over the break, if social stories help your ds (I know they help lots of kids, they pissed my ds off).

Catherine

inmypjs
12-07-2011, 08:01 PM
I don't have any great ideas, but wanted to say I'm sorry you are going through this. I've always been impressed when I've read your posts because you sound like such a great advocate for your son! I was thinking that if the school agrees with you that last year things were going better than this year, would that be a starting point for making a new plan for him? Sort of a problem solving approach - last year it was better, this year it's not so great, so let's look at what was working last year and try to get back to that. Good luck and hang in there.

mytwosons
12-07-2011, 08:36 PM
So sorry you are going through this.

I think the FBA is something they definitely should have done a while ago and I'm glad to read they are finally moving on it. IME, it's hit or miss whether or not the people doing the assessment are properly trained. Any chance you could convince them to get an outside person to come and observe your DS? I've paid out-of-pocket to have someone come in and found it was worth the cost. (They didn't do a full FBA, but had some very good insights to share.)

Uno-Mom
12-09-2011, 01:21 AM
I completely agree. For months I have been pushing for a Functional Behavioral Assessment (FBA). The staff has finally started the FBA process and are currently working on gathering data. Personally, I suspect that it is a combination of issues including sensory, language processing, and social diffiiculties.
Gena, I think you are right, just based on things you've written here.

I do not, not, not want to make light of how difficult and troubling this situation is... but I couldn't read and not comment that I came away from your OP with a sense of deep respect for your son and his calm assertion. What an amazing discussion and amazing child! It also reflects powerfully on the great parenting he's had. When i read what he said, I thought "I bet that's exactly what he hears from Gena..." And then you confirmed my guess! You are raising a fine young man.

Have you had any chance to observe the mainstream classroom personally? You might have some insights, if the school is willing to hear them. I know that can be hit and miss sometimes... It is great that they're doing an FBA but I can say from experience that even great school folks can miss the triggers and functions sometimea.because they are so used to the environment. At least that's what I've seen, as someone who gets to come in from outside. And lest I sound all arrogant, I have missed some glaring things myself when in my regular program environments.

pinkmomagain
12-09-2011, 09:19 AM
I do not, not, not want to make light of how difficult and troubling this situation is... but I couldn't read and not comment that I came away from your OP with a sense of deep respect for your son and his calm assertion. What an amazing discussion and amazing child!

My first thought when I read your original post was "Hmmmmmm, I really like this kid!" He really advocated for himself in such a calm, self-assured way. Impressive.

Gena
12-12-2011, 01:32 PM
Thanks again for all the support and the brainstorming.

We had more meetings with the school staff last week and DS was observed by the district's Special Ed Coordinator. The Coordinator was very concerned about what she saw regarding DS's unwillingness to go into the mainstream classroom and his negative self-esteem.

Starting today, DS is going back to the Autism classroom part-time. He will still go back to his 2nd grade class for "specials" and some of his preferred activities. Once he gains better skills for taking group instruction and gets some of his self-confidence back, they will work on slowly re-integrating him into the classroom for more activities.

I think this is the best option for DS right now. He needs the structure and teaching methods that settting can provide. He knows the teacher in that classroom and has a strong bond with her. She has a great understanding of his learning style and what techniques work for him.

The school staff really resisted putting him back in the Autism classroom. The SE Coordinator keeps telling me that they didn't want to do it because DS "is just so darn smart". And I keep reminding her that "smart" is NOT the same thing as "not impaired". The staff is now understanding that they rushed him into full mainstreaming too soon.

DS is happy about going back to the Autism classroom, but anxious that his schedule is changing again. He realized this morning that his schedule book will be wrong, but I tried to reassure him that the teachers will give him a new schedule. I know it'll be a rough transition until DS feels secure about the schedule change. DS told me that he still wants to do "Read Naturally" (a reading comprehension program) and wants to have specials with his class. I told him that I would make sure he still gets those things.

I am hopeful about this change in placement. And I am proud of DS that he was able to voice his feelings on this matter. I know that it is my job to advocate for my son. But I believe that it is also my job to teach him how to advocate for himself. That doesn't mean that he gets to make all the decisions about his educational placement, but it does mean that we need to consider his preferences when making some of those decisions.

As an aside - last month, I ended up changing his Religious Education (Sunday School) enrollment to "home study" because he was not able to handle the classroom environment there either. (His Sunday School teacher had no experience with autism so it was a very difficult situation all around.) DS is much happier studying the religious ed material at home and staying with me during Mass.

JTsMom
12-12-2011, 02:41 PM
That's a great update Gena! I'm sure there will be a few bumps during the transition, but it sounds like things worked out as well as possible. I have to agree that it's really awesome that he's able to advocate for himself so well, and at quite a young age. Sending you a virtual high five. :)

inmypjs
12-12-2011, 03:48 PM
I'm happy to read your update too. It sounds like this will be a good fit once he works through the transition. I also thought it was so neat that he was able to articulate that things weren't working for him.

crl
12-12-2011, 07:39 PM
Sounds like a plan that takes into account your son's needs. I am glad he was able to speak up for himself. Good luck with the transition!

Catherine

melrose7
12-13-2011, 12:05 AM
So glad you were able to come up with a solution that will seem to help your DS. My DD1 has been mainstreamed last year in K4 as there is no Autism class here and we are also now starting to see more problem behavior at school. not sure the reason and with her being nonverbal it's a guessing game. Hopefully the return to the Autism class for awhile is just what your DS needs for a little bit.




As an aside - last month, I ended up changing his Religious Education (Sunday School) enrollment to "home study" because he was not able to handle the classroom environment there either. (His Sunday School teacher had no experience with autism so it was a very difficult situation all around.) DS is much happier studying the religious ed material at home and staying with me during Mass.

Happy to see this as we are considering home study next year.