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Haley23 Haley23 is online now
 
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Haley23
 
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Preparing for high needs students
Old 07-20-2016, 06:46 PM
 
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PD for me starts tomorrow, so I'm getting into school mode early (students don't start for a few weeks) . I have two very high needs K students coming in this fall. My team tried very hard to get these students to start in a mod/severe program right away (my school is only supposed to serve "mild" needs, and therefore has less than 1/10th of the sped staff that the other schools do), but it didn't work. I have no training in mod/severe needs. I'm a little more prepared this time around because I had a K student with significant needs two years ago. However, that year I wasn't able to start my services with any of my other students until about 6 weeks into the year and my para wasn't able to join me until 3 months in, when that student was finally placed in the appropriate program. I'm really trying to avoid that happening this time around. I have some things planned for both students and would love some feedback from people that are experienced with this population.

Student 1: Very similar to the student I had two years ago. We suspect student is on the spectrum, but not diagnosed. Receptively, the student can do any rote academic skill (knows all letters, sounds, numbers, colors, etc.) Expressive speech is hard to understand and is working on basic sounds, but not to the point of needing PECS. Other than the rote skill knowledge, student is essentially acting like a much younger child (maybe 2 years at most) in the classroom. Student just wants to run around and play, doesn't really follow any directions, either doesn't understand or doesn't care about behavior systems. Has been violent with both students and staff. Student runs out of the room and runs away from the playground at recess. I asked to observe an academic lesson with this student. The student threw a giant tantrum during cleanup time prior to this, an adult cleaned up for the student, and then the student sat on a para's lap and shrieked throughout the entire lesson. Pre-k claims student is "fully potty trained" but has had numerous accidents. I just can't imagine how this student is going to function in a K room with 30 (yes 30!) students and one teacher with very rigorous demands.

Here's what I have already set up:
-boardmaker visuals on a key ring for all adults to use for basic directions
-big "stop" signs on all doors (mom said she uses them at home to keep student from running, we'll see)
-same bathroom picture schedule student used in pre-k
-picture schedule for classroom routines
-if/then board
-same "carpet spot" visual student used in pre-k
-same transition objects from pre-k
-backpack to carry around transition objects (pre-k said this helped)
-rotating schedule of 1:1 adult support for the first few days of school (really hoping to back this off gradually as we do NOT have random adults available to help just one student, and I'm hoping the rotating schedule will keep student from getting too attached to one adult).

Student 2: Suspected FAS, again not diagnosed. I have taught a sibling and I know the home situation is bad. Student mostly points and grunts to communicate, but has a few basic phrases often used with adults. Receptively knows 2 letters from the student's name, other than that has no academic skills. Enjoys adult and student attention. Very poor motor skills. Comes to school in diapers, pre-k staff claims the student is potty trained if they take them off. When we observed, the student mostly just wondered listlessly around the room. Seems more calm/complaint than the first student, doesn't like to be left out so will watch other kids to follow the routine. We asked pre-k repeatedly to do a cognitive assessment and they said they couldn't get permission from mom.

Here's what I have in place:
-Student "buddy" to help with the routine
-Picture schedule and carpet spot/desk chair visual incorporating student's favorite cartoon character
-Modified center work focusing on 3 letters and 3 numbers
-Rotating schedule of adult support for the first few days, same reasoning as above

I also have a set meeting time with both gen ed teachers so we can discuss how the interventions are working and made adjustments as necessary. Last time we had a student like this, my team got raked over the coals for "not preparing/not meeting his needs", so I'm really trying to have everything ready in advance this time. Any other ideas or things I'm missing?


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readandweep readandweep is offline
 
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Good start
Old 07-21-2016, 03:17 AM
 
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It sounds like you have a good start. I hate to throw teachers under the bus, but wow, Pre-K did you no favors, huh?

Student 1: Bells on doors as stop signs are great, but with 30 other kids he may have more opportunity to take off. I would establish that he is manipulating adults (got adult to clean up) by taking data so mom/admin can't say he is young or low and does not understand. Noise cards to establish the rules/teach him the rules and then remove from setting if he starts making noise ("you can stop making noise and stay in the circle or go sit at the table.") Sitting there and screaming is teaching him that behavior is OK and you need to establish that you tried to help and did not just remove him. I would try a behavior system again. If the adults were giving in to him in Pre-K perhaps the system was not given a fair shot or run as intended. I would suggest just starting with simple positive reinforcement ("thank you for sitting," give half a mini Oreo, sticker, etc.). Full-on token systems might be too much at this point. Will you be pulling him for small group or individual work? Maybe do some comparison data of the different settings (hit five times in 30 minutes in regular ed, only hit once in an hour in your room with two other kids).

Student 2: This one is going to be tougher if he is not acting out. Are they expecting you or the regular ed teacher to change this kid? Is begin sent in a diaper instead of underwear grounds for a DCFS call at your school? He might respond to a token system or reinforcement to attend to instruction. I like the buddy idea. He might also respond to modified whole class rewards. Give him how own goal (I'm guessing unfinished class work is going to pile up) and he gets to attend fun Friday or does a puzzle with a gen ed buddy.

Good luck it sounds like you have your hands full.
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Haley23 Haley23 is online now
 
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Old 07-22-2016, 09:06 AM
 
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Thanks for the suggestions readandweep! My team and I met with the pre-k umpteen times last Spring to try to avoid situations like this happening, but it just doesn't help. I think they really are doing what they think is best, but they just don't understand how rigorous the demands are in K and how poorly they're setting the kids up for that (to be fair, middle school probably says the same about us!) I really want them to come observe the K rooms at my school.

I'm not sure if I'll be pulling the 1st student or not. I typically don't do push-in services, but this student technically has all of the academic skills necessary for K. Since all of the beginning of the year stuff is rote, the student is technically significantly above most other entering K students and meeting the expectations for at least mid-year already. My pull out classes for K will be focusing on letters/sounds and numbers/counting at least for the first few months, so it doesn't really make sense to place this student there. I'm guessing I'll have to meet the service hours in the gen ed room. I like the idea of starting with a simple behavior system, for documentation if nothing else. The student I had previously who was like this just didn't seem to understand the connection between his behavior and the reward. I even tried modeling doing the behavior and getting the reward, "I'm going to sit on the carpet now, so Ms. gen ed teacher can give me a sticker", and he just shrieked and shrieked when he didn't get the sticker rather than doing the behavior to get it.

We've made numerous social services calls for the 2nd student's family due to things the sibling has said. Nothing ever really happens with social services in my area. Changing students is obviously not something we usually do in a mild needs program; I guess I'm going to have to ask my admin. I guess it seems normal for mod/severe programs but to me it seems wildly inappropriate to check to see if a student is wearing underwear or a diaper! The thing with this student is also that mom is never going to cooperate with having the student moved to another sped program, which are all housed in other school buildings, so I know I'll have this student all year regardless. I think some sort of reinforcement for attending to instruction might work, since the student would respond to the extra attention from the adult.
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readandweep readandweep is offline
 
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More suggestions?
Old 07-22-2016, 02:42 PM
 
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If you are up for it!

If student 1 does not get the connection of behavior=reward, I would try catching him doing something first and then rewarding. Nothing hard and fast, just showing him you have control and not him. I would also only pair the reward with you or the gen ed teacher at first. ("Look at you, you are sitting in the chair with your feet on the floor!" Give reward).

I would also get some data on how often the undesired behavior is happening and do frequent check ins ("there is the timer, did you have cool hands? No? We will start the timer and try again this time!").

So if he is hitting, eloping or screaming (whichever is most aversive) every five minutes, you set a timer for every 2-3 minutes and reward him for every interval he went without the aversive behavior. I would only concentrate on one behavior at first and bump the amount of time up as he improves. Eighty percent success is usually a good goal.

This is what I would do in my class, but I'm self contained. Thirty general ed K kids is a whole other world.

If the basic reward does not work you could sit down at the next check in meeting (is admin attending these?) and state this is what we've tried (basic plan) and this is what I would do next. However, to have the best chance at success he would need to be in another placement.

This is where your friendly gen ed teacher chimes and says how much she would love to do this with Student 1, but....(fewer other kids, 1:1 aide)

And then you chime and say how you would love to do this, but...(small groups in another room, case load of X-kids).

Ball is then in admins court as you and gen ed teacher tried interventions and stated what kind of support you needed. Unless admin can come up with a way to make this work or an extensive schedule/duty change - ball is in admin's court. At the very least the teachers have covered themselves if parents object or sue.
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Old 07-23-2016, 04:23 PM
 
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I think you have a good start but I agree that more than likely these students will be completely sensory overwhelmed and disorganized in a class with 30 other kids. If possible I would have the kids come for a visit to the classroom before school starts so they can take in the physical space which will help reduce their anxiety on the first day. I would also set up a separate space for each where they can go to when overwhelmed and overstimulated as opposed to running out of the room or sitting there and scream (Let them know that this will be there safe space) They will need to know what they can do when they become overwhelmed instead of just hearing what they can't do. I have seen a small tent in a corner of the room work. That space should not be used as a punishment 'time out' but as a positive space they can go to stay calm. Really, the most important thing they will need to learn is to self-manage their anxiety in socially appropriate ways and for that they need to be taught strategies. Schedules are great. They might need their own copy on their desk and staff will need to understand that they will need to be prepared for any schedule changes. They will need extra assistance during transitions (maybe a buddy child).
I wish we would start giving kids full support right of the bat - they would do much better and would need much less support as they get older. Usually by the time the kids come to my self contained class they are completely traumatized and need a long time to feel safe and capable again.


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Haley23 Haley23 is online now
 
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Old 07-24-2016, 07:37 PM
 
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I'm always happy to hear more suggestions! My principal does attend our weekly sped team meeting most of the time. I have to be really careful though because last time when I brought up all of the difficulties with spending so much time on one student, my team and I were accused of "not being motivated" to help the student. In the three years I've worked there it's the only time my admin has really ever been upset with me, and I've heard from the rest of the team that this is kind of her MO when we get kids like this. Apparently they think it stems from way back when she was a classroom teacher and had an extremely high needs/violent student that she didn't feel the sped team supported her with. Unfortunately, I think my district kind of takes advantage of the fact that our low SES parents don't really know and/or won't complain when their children aren't getting services, so when we get students like this no one but me seems to care that other kids are missing their service hours. I'm doing my best to document everything (have a running google doc already set up for both students) and present things in a factual way.

Quote:
I wish we would start giving kids full support right of the bat - they would do much better and would need much less support as they get older.
I definitely agree with this! My sped director wants us to "give kids a chance" in the mild needs programs/their home schools before putting them in a moderate needs or significant support needs program. My team and I spent tons of time at the pre-k last spring meeting and observing to try to get these kids into proper placements right away. It's setting them up for failure, IMO. Often they do get moved, but since the moderate and SSN programs are housed in other buildings, they have to move schools in the middle of the year, which I think is horrible. That is if the parents will even agree to that; almost every time we've referred someone to a new program, their parent has agreed that they can go but only at the beginning of the next school year. My director argues that kids will often "make progress over the summer" and come into K higher than we think, which I think is absurd. We don't have summer programming, so kids regress, not make progress! If they start in moderate needs and it turns out they do well/don't need as much support, every school has a mild needs program so they could be immediately moved to mild needs without changing schools, and at that point it would be a celebration rather than them "failing" in mild needs and having to be moved "down."
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