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Autistic child in regular classroom - help!
Old 11-25-2006, 03:44 PM
 
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I have a little six-year-old who is moderately autistic. She has been in our school for 3 years and has been in inclusion in kinder and now first. The parents think she belongs there. None of her teachers do.

She has a full-time para who is a sweet but very loud lady. There is very little training available for this lady, and although she has gone to a few workshops, she seems frustrated and unable to handle the child. She is new to our school and makes it known that this was not what she signed up to do.

The student has made very little progress academically. She tends to do everything by rote and I'm pretty sure the para gives her most of the answers.

Her behavior has never been good. Initially, there was daily crying and verbal outbursts. They were short and we managed.

Since Halloween, she has been extremely upset every day and has started temper tantrums. On Halloween, she displayed aggression towards another little student who was wearing a brightly colored bow in her hair. The autistic child got out of her seat repeatedly and pulled the other child's hair. I was by myself as my para was at lunch.

Now, she is roaming about the room, tearing things up and ripping things off the wall. She refuses to come to recess and goes flat out in the hallway. She also refuses to leave the playground. There are constant screaming and outbursts when I am teaching.

The other 17 children in my class are obviously suffering. My para is obviously upset. The student is obviously not in the least restrictive environment. And the principal is afraid of the parents. The mother in particular has a history of threatening the school and sending nasty emails to the teachers and the principal. I would think that for all the school is doing to help her child, she would be grateful and kind, but she is hostile and angry.

Please don't tell me what research says about mainstreaming the autistic student. I know. This child needs a behavior system that is highly structured and a much smaller student-to-teacher ratio. I feel like we are doing her a disservice.

What do you guys think I should do?


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Old 11-26-2006, 11:57 AM
 
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I had a similar experience this year as a resource teacher and the child was obviously placed in an inappropriate environment. Inspite of my best efforts, I could not get anyone to listen to me ...until the day I was injured by the child who was then removed and placed in a stricter environment.
So, having had this horrible experience, here are a few ideas I can offer you and I'm really hoping you are in a public school system:
*document everything, both in narration and using a checklist so you can get some numerical data. For example, time on task/off task, hitting or touching other children, and successes. How you modified work, interventions and the results of including dates. Make a chart and put it on a clipboard. Your asst. can help collect data for you.
*call out the SPED forces. I assume you have a resource teacher and school psyc. at your school? Ask them to come in, observe and give you help. Hopefully you have a person in charge of behavioral disorders or an autistic specialist in the district. I would ask to have direct time from the austic specialist put on the IEP and to include training for you and the asst. If you feel the IEP does not meet her needs, ask the SPED teacher to call either a special review or atleast an educator's meeting.
*If you feel that you or other students may be harmed by this student, put it in writing and give a copy to the principal. Be sure the principal knows what is going on in the classroom. I would ask the principal to come and observe your class. You need to know that they support you and what is best for all of your students.
*A couple of things helped my student; increased meds and time out of the class to help with his sensory needs. He would visit the PMD class and get to bounce in the balls, bean bag chair, a swing etc. You might want to talk to the OT about a huggy vest or one of those cushions that gives feedback so she can sit still. Ask if a sensory diet is appropriate and get directions as to how and when. You should probably create a corner in the classroom with a beanbag chair or place she can go to stim if she has to, rather than roaming.This can be a reward for completed work.
*The child does belong to the parents and I don't know how reasonable they are, but asking them for help might be a good thing. They might be able to tell you what calms her at home and how to get the best behavior. Most likely they are very stressed too, but if you can get them working with you and supporting you, you'll be better off.
*Oh yes, reduce the stimulation in your class if possible, lower the lights (use the overhead instead) , play soft music for independent work, you can try headphones, we called them "quiet ears" for reading. You can get them at Walmart in the hunting section to block out loud noises $6. Yes, you need a behavior system, but you should get this support from your SPED team. Do you know about making a visual schedule? Use lots and lots of visuals. You might try books on tape. Ask your asst. to lower her voice and speak softly in the classroom. I hope some of these ideas are helpful and I'm so sorry.
 
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Old 11-26-2006, 12:23 PM
 
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You've listed a lot of the problems that this student is having, but what supports, besides an assistant, are there in place for this student? Visual scheduling? Visual transition supports? Does she speak? If not, or if she is not adept at speaking, does she have another reliable method of communication? Has she had a functional behavior assessment or a behavior intervention plan? Does she have sensory needs that need to be addressed through occupational therapy? I could go on, and on, because behavior support for children with autism is part of my job.

You can't talk about LRE without talking about "all needed supports and services."
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Yes and no
Old 11-26-2006, 04:18 PM
 
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Yes, she gets OT but just once a week. Our OT is only on campus on Mondays. Functional communication? None except screaming and crying. She doesn't speak and doesn't have much receptive language. No response to verbal or visual cues. She does sporadically respond to written prompts. I made these up for lack of a better idea: I am going to my cubby now, I am standing in line now, etc.

Visual scheduling, yes. Visual transition supports, no.

Behavior intervention plans? Many, and these have been revised since school started. The para is unable to follow through on much of the reward and consequence system that is in place. I have tried to address this with the principal and she refuses to listen. The child's verbal outbursts have actually increased since school began, and I have noted that we never extinguish a behavior; she quickly substitutes a new one in its place.

The behavior specialist - since we are not an ESE school - is working between us and 30 other schools this year. He is wonderful but comes very sporadically. He tries to talk with the para and has observed that she is not following through.

The child is enrolled in the language program at our school and is also labelled SLD. The language teacher sees her about 15 minutes a day and the SLD 60 minutes a week. The mother, I am told, got the county to label the child language-impaired so that she could be at our school. We are not her home school.

I thought that autism implied a language deficit. I don't agree that these are separate disorders.

The problems for me are these: very unsupportive boss, para with minimal skills, angry mom, loud student, and 17 others. Seven of the seventeen others are language delayed. My regular ed kids are suffering. Five of them copied this child's behavior in music class and they all got in trouble for rolling around on the carpet. Their response to me? "She did it, why can't we?"

If it were up to me, I'd be glad to work with this little girl one-on-one every day. But, I have a whole class of others waiting to learn to read.
I have training in MR. But, I haven't worked with special needs children since the 1980s. I have been a reg. ed. teacher.

And if I tell the truth to the mom about the child's progress, she sends nastygrams. I am not allowed to send anything home but a perfect paper or I can get myself in big trouble. I feel like I lie and cover up to hide what is really going on academically and behaviorally.

I don't like my job this year and I can't make it work for this child or the other 17 children.
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Old 11-26-2006, 05:29 PM
 
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None of the above dismisses the responsibility of the school district to provide an appropriate placement and LRE for the child. I still feel you need to make the calls followed up by written letters with c.c.'s to the important people. Document in a professional way that you are asking for increased help to properly meet the needs of the child and that it is having a negative impact on the child as well as your class . Even if your boss doesn't support you, a well written statement asking for support and thanking in advance for the support may help gain his/her respect.
I totally understand you not liking your job this year. Hopefully this can be resolved soon.


 
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Old 11-26-2006, 06:41 PM
 
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What a mess you've got on your hands.

What's the deal with the para? If the principal isn't concerned about her being incapable of performing her job, can you pull in special education administration to help you? If the para sucks, to be blunt, you're dead in the water because any support ideas just can't be implemented.

I've never heard of a dual diagnosis of SLD and Autism either, and I share your doubts as to whether that is even possible. How the heck can you even assess her skills if the kid has limited communication?

And it's not inclusion or mainstreaming anyway if the kid isn't at their home school.

I have a lot of suggestions I could make, but like I said, with a para who isn't doing their job, plus all these other things falling into the cracks. . . .is the student getting speech therapy? Because it would be the SLP's job to oversee communication, and that is usually the biggest issue for kids with ASD. If you can't tell someone what you want, screaming, biting, hitting, and all those other things take the place of what you want to say.

lunalu is right that a child is still entitled to FAPE. I don't necessarily agree that the child doesn't belong in a regular classroom though, because if a student hasn't been in a regular classroom with appropriate supports and services, how would you know?
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Here's more
Old 11-27-2006, 02:33 PM
 
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The student was in a self-contained language preschool for 2 years. It was a small class with a very experienced teacher - an SLP. At the end of preschool, she was NOT recommended for regular kindergarten. The mother ignored the SLP and got the county to 'label' her as language-delayed. The mother insisted (demanded?) that she stay at our school. The mother is an attorney.

The county has now disbanded the self-contained language program, saying that these teachers are not 'highly qualified.'

So, those teachers are now 'consultants' and come in and help their kids within the regular ed classroom. As I stated, I get 30 minutes a day with the SLP helping me and I have 7 language kids.

Anyway, I got off the track. The student was with a WONDERFUL para last year who is becoming a teacher. This para is now interning and couldn't come back. The child was AWFUL all last year. She spent most of her time out of the room being walked around the campus. She was disruptive, crawled around under the furniture, screamed, and upset the other kids every single day. I was right down the hall from the class last year. You could hear this student all over the school. There were 22 in her kindergarten class.

Althought the para I have now is inexperienced, I don't think that is the main thing. The student was observed today during a 20-minute center time while the para was at lunch:

Climbed a 6' bookcase, tried to climb a floor-to-ceiling window, pulled the numbers off the calendar, dumped the big book carrel, stepped on a group of kids who were on the rug working with Legoes, stepped on the big books, the list goes on and on. There were 3 incidences of crying today and she screamed "Sad face" 10 times. There were 2 tantrums on the floor.

I don't think this student has the right placement.

We have autistic classrooms with very small classes and trained teachers and 2-3 paras but not at my school. These programs have every available resource person right there and on site, but not at my school.
An SLP from one of these autistic units did come over one day to observe this child. She thought the placement was wrong.

The approach we are using to help this child is like a patchwork quilt, and it's not working. If I speak the truth, I could get sued by the mom. The mom is in a strong state of denial and tells us she thinks the little girl can do many things that she cannot. It's so sad, but it's also my responsibility to look out for ALL my kids, not just the one.
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Old 11-27-2006, 04:23 PM
 
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Gosh, isn't it always our worst fear? What could you get sued for? As long as you are following the IEP and documenting that, I don't think she could sue you personally. Now, would your school consider going through Due Process to get the student in an appropriate placement? probably not. I felt that my school district would sooner feed me to the wolves before taking up against the parent. I'm glad to hear that you have others observing. I hope they are writing them up as formal observations. I still think parental support is key. Can you bring the parent in for a conference with the multidisciplinary team and try to problem solve?
 
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Old 02-19-2009, 11:43 PM
 
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This sounds like my classroom, for three years now, after being asked by SPED administrators to work with an autistic 6 year old. I accepted the challenge because I was not informed of the abuse that the prior teacher had suffered from the child's mother. Mother transferred the student to our school because of my reputation as a compassionate teacher and student advocate. I recently celebrated my 27th year of teaching. These last three years have been overwhelmingly awful.

I welcomed this family with open arms because I believed that this child could succeed in a regular class setting, with sixty minutes of resource support, daily. She recieves OT and APE weekly. Speech services are delivered five times weekly. In three years, the mother, who is a lawyer, has harrassed 7 paras and administrators with constant threats of sueing. Though our paras are trained, none of them met mother's expectations. She insists that the para do everything for the girl from packing her books to helping her in the bathroom and tieing her shoes. Mother feels that because the child demonstrates strength in reading fluency,she is able to perform other third grade academic tasks. She is unable to focus on text without the para tracking words and turning the pages. In addition to ALL of the other issues that you have mentioned, she wets her pants weekly. She attackes other kids on the playground at least once a month. She has kicked or hit every para. She refuses to learn to tie her shoes and she passes gas frequently during the day.

As the child's case manager, I am responsible for overseeing her academic and social progress. Mother requests IEP meetings on a monthly basis. Did I mention that she serves as an advocate for other parents at our school, and she encourages them to request frequent IEP meetings which last form 2 to 4 hours---on a good day. An outside behavior specialist accompanies parent to each meeting and we constantly revise the student's behavior plan. A district autisim specialist visits the regular classroom, weekly, to provide training for the para and regular teacher------In short I am the "go to girl" for every team member. Since January, I've spent so much time documenting that my other students have recieved very little, fragmented instruction. I spend one forth of every school day, resolving some issue regarding this student, not to mention the one hour of constant outbursts that we endure during his one hour of resource service.

There are two autistic children and one mentally retarded child in my family. Two of the children are enrolled in special classrooms and one autistic child is in the general classroom. I understand the importance of keeping children in the mainstream; unfortunately, some children cannot be placed in the regular setting untill they have met some standard of social and academic achievement. My only escape from this nightmare is a transfer.
 
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Old 01-10-2010, 11:05 PM
 
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Not only your children are getting a disservice by not being able to have your full attention since it is on this particular child, but the child herself is getting a disservice by not being in a 0ne-to-one ratio autism class where the teachers specialize in special needs children. If the mom is so concerned about the mainstream part, autism schools take time out in the day to visit mainstream classes so that the child also adapts to typical children as well. I think this is the principles job to have a meeting with you as the teacher and the parents to recommend the child get into her special education department through the school district. I think the principle could also have the special needs coordinator there present so that the mother gets the proper education and direction for her child.

I am a mother of an autistic boy who has flourished to his fullest potential in an autism specified school. When he was young I also made the mistake of mainstreaming him thinking he just 'needed the social interaction to help him improve'. He now has improved much more in autism schools because they break down education for their level so that they actually learn from it.

If you need more information call your district and ask for the special education department. The coordinator there could direct you in what to do for this child


 
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Old 11-14-2010, 09:28 AM
 
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I would have the para document the behavior on a regular basis. I would also call your district and have the professional in charge of mainstreaming special needs children . There are many behavioral methods that can be used but each depends on the the specific child and what works with them.I would also talkto the other teachers that had this child. They may have methods that work. I also have a student like this in my class. I have a specific schedule that the child follows every day. It does not necessarily join in with what the class does because we move a little faster. They like consistency!! I also have my para take him out for breaks. My other kids have been awesome and want to help . Good luck!
You can do this! After all kids are all "special".
 
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Old 02-19-2011, 07:45 PM
 
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Hi,
I have been teaching for the last 10 years and have, for the very first time in my career, 2 students with autism and one with serious HDHD in my classroom. This is my first time teaching in Grade 2 and I have a classroom of 18 pupils with 3 of them who are worth 5 students each. One has HDHD and is on the waiting list to be evaluated for medication and psychological assessment (might take up to a year), another is on medication but his medication needs to be increased only the problem is is that he has not gained enough weight in the last year to be able to switch and gets really picky about his food, another has asberger for which I am reading about and trying to put systems in class to help him like an MF system (microphone and speaker) which actually benefited all students since they can all hear me better. I taught in this class from end of August until mid-October and just have returned now in this classroom after a leave of absence of 4 months due to a burnout. I have been informed by my principal that I will be on my own in the classroom with no para. I have spent the last week in the classroom and all I could do is to try to help the 15 other kids do the best they could and try my best to disregard the misbehaving or constant interruption from these 3 students. I am at lost as to how to be there for all 18 pupils when 3 of them are just taking so much of my energy and positivism. Please, would you know of really effective approach in regards to the 3 students to have them work ? I am loosing my patience and have been told by my principal that I have to increases my tolerance threshold and put in better and more effective systems to benefit all the students. I am so tired already, but I know I have to be there for all of them. Would you have good links, behavioral systems, visual system for them to have on their desk and around the classroom ? I gratefully say thank you in advance to all of you for your comments, advise and suggestions.
 
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Old 05-18-2011, 05:03 PM
 
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I have dealt with a similar situation. I only have 7 days of school left and let me tell you me as well as my other 21 students are in survival mode. I had no TA or no behavioralist of any kind to help me this year. I have dealt with it and let me tell you I no longer want to be a teacher. The parents of the student I have have not a clue of all the problems this child has. Deep in my heart I know he is autistic. I have done tons of research this year and this is my conclusion. My administration thinks he is autistic too. When I asked when are we going to talk to the parent and explain the specific problems of their child I was told not to mention anything. I have talked to the parent and even suggested going to a doctor, but because of her lack of knowledge of the severity of her son's problems she doesn't know what to do. I have put 100 percent of energy and time into this student. He gets all my attention and unfortunately it has taken a toll on my entire class. I go to extreme lengths to avoid the disruptive tantrums. I'll be honest I give into what he wants, but it avoids me having me dragging him to the office and disturbing the entire school. I don't blame him. I just want my administration to listen to me and not sweep the problem under the rug. I feel like I am a good teacher, but this year I feel like I have failed the children in my classroom. I hope next year is better. If I ever have another student who in classroom who is not in the least restrictive environment I am going to the top. I will not have other children's education affected just because of one student.
 
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Old 05-19-2011, 03:52 AM
 
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This has been my soapbox issue lately. The way inclusion is handled at my school is not right for anyone. Teachers are forced to teach inclusion classes. They are not given adequate support or training. The majority of reg ed teachers are NOT qualified to address the special needs of many children "dumped" in the reg ed classroom (I believe to save money). I am NOT qualified and the special ed teacher is spread to thin. If a child is having meltdowns on a daily basis, it does not take a genius to see the placement is not appropriate. And yes, unless the school has adequate in class support, ALL of the students are being done a disservice. I just don't understand how others don't see this.

I am not a special ed teacher. I am not qualified.
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Old 05-22-2011, 06:10 PM
 
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Document document doucment. How much time in class is spent on her, how much whole group time is taken away by her and everything your principal doesn't do, and each and every phone and email conversation from the parents. In fact after a few emails that you have printed out, let the parents know you are documenting them and the child behaviors. They don't like hearing that. I wish these parents would understand that no matter how much they put these kids into regular activities and classrooms they will never be regular. That kids is their most important one to worry about, and I don't know about you but I got 24 other kids in that room who have parents that feel the same way!
Then get the other parents involved by letting them know they will have to work on somethings at home because class time is interrupted daily and you can't get to the curriculum and tend to the special needs that this class has. They will have to make up that time at home for their kids. That will get more than one parent calling your wimpy principal and the fear of many is stronger than the fear of one.
Good Luck!
 
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Old 10-29-2011, 05:17 PM
 
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Why not keep data on the childs behavior? Then call a meeting with the parents to discuss what options they have available in maybe making a change for the student. Also I would talk to your boss let him/her know your concerns. Remember that even though the student has a para that does not mean the students cares for him/ her and may need a change. Maybe you could see if the para could take on the teaching for an hour or two while you work with the student. This not only gives the student a break, but the para as well.
 
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Old 02-04-2012, 07:57 PM
 
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Shell,

I agree! So many parents are fighting for rights to be mainstreamed but are not looking at what the student with special needs really needs. Yes, I have taught some high functioning autistic students and they were "high functioning". They did not take away to educational rights of the other 20 students. I do not agree with mainstreaming when it affects the autistic student and all other students. I took on an autistic student that I was told was "high functioning" but far from it. I have had training, worked with many autistic students, created visuals, ect... The student has left me with scars on my hands, busted my lip, kicked me more times than I can count, hurt other students, one student was so scared she had an asthma attack, and my students' were not getting what they needed. The parents and school wanted me to give too much focus on one student. What about the needs of my other students? They have rights also. I am all for equal education, but sometimes parents need face that their child needs different placement. I do not deserve to go to work and get physically abused. I am tired from hearing from others that are not teachers, have not been in this situtuation, and do not understand the responsiblity of 20+ student's education.
 
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Old 02-15-2012, 10:54 PM
 
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I have done my time as a special educator and eventually had to leave the profession. The lawyers, the parents, and the students themselves create an atmosphere where learning is secondary to this myth all students should be in inclusive classrooms. We see how NCLB has caused scores to actually drop because we are teaching to the test. Inclusion causes the same effect for normal students. It is a distraction that regular educators should not have to deal with. Teachers are not trained and are not paid enough for the services that are demanded
 
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Old 03-08-2012, 01:50 PM
 
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This is not only an issue for the teachers or the TA. If there is no parental support, and the child is constantly getting mixed messages, he cannot succeed. What happened to PARENTS TEACHING THEIR KIDS SOCIAL SKILLS at home - if situations are correctly handled at home and appropriate skills taught, the child will have some rules in place which the school can work with. I work with a high functioning autistic child - we give him rules and boundaries with which to function by (by way of social stories - use picture symbols if reading is an issue) and he DOES understand. Life is still not always plain sailing (only yesterday I went home in tears) but he is able to listen in class and learn. This is a child who started at school with us without any clear speech ability, and who spent most of his time hiding away under the desks in the classroom.
 

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