Friday, September 12, 2008

Is This Really What's Best for Him?

All was going well this week since school has started (although I did have to call in sick for him on Monday because he had this cold/pukey thing happening, hey it happens!) He started his regular ed time on Wednesday and it went great.

But yesterday, I got a lengthy note home from his teacher telling a sad tale. I knew something was going on when he stepped off the bus and told me right away that he had had an "outburst". After much questioning with no responses given, I rifled through his backpack and found her note. She explained that when he went down to science, he started speaking out very loudly that he didn't like science and that it was too much reading! When his para started to take him out of the room, he let out a curse word (we're not sure which one). Great. Anyway, he came back to his special ed room and calmed down. His teacher made him go back for the last minutes of the regular class, just so he would realize that screaming was not going to get him out of going (I like her way of thinking). I guess he was good from that point on, but had also been threatened with losing his rights to going on a little local field trip they were going on later that day.

This really is a sad tale to me, not because of his behavior so much, that's not surprising. He has a lot of trouble being good and quiet in situations that entail nothing of interest to him. It's more that the "typical" kids saw him behave like that, and that just made him that much more different from them, disconnected from them. Some of them probably even laughed when they heard him cuss. All these thoughts really break my heart. It breaks my heart because all this goes back to things not being done right in these school systems to begin with, which places kids in situations just set up to make them fail.

We, his parents are the ones who push for him to be in regular ed part of the day. We decided it was good for him to see how "typical" kids act in class, and hopefully model that. We don't think he could hang out all day in regular ed the way it's set up right now. At the same time I have to ask myself if we, Bill and I, are setting him up for failure by breaking up his day as such, ripping him out of the comfort of a room with 3 other students only to be thrown in to a room full of kids talking and interacting, not with him, forcing him to try to pay attention to subject matter that probably doesn't really make much sense to him to begin with, and expect him to get something out of all this? Are we the ones making the mistake, doing things wrong?

And so having said all this, it makes it very difficult for me to punish him for his behavior. It's almost equivalent I think to a baby crying, trying to get it's mom's attention the only way it knows how, trying to tell her that something is wrong. Maybe Casey is acting out in an unconscious effort to do the same. Maybe this situation isn't right for him.

I guess I need to give it some time. We'll see how it goes, but something tells me we may need to rethink our ideas about what's good for him, and try to figure moreso, what he wants to be good in!


Osh said...

Your concerns were my concerns as well. I struggle because Evan is very smart academically, but socially and sensory he can't function in a typical classroom. The district forced him into regular ed classes, it ended in a bad way (disorderly conducts) now Evan is in an alternative school setting, missing out on what a larger school can offer academically, but having his sensory and social skill needs met...

DJ said...

A silver lining, if you're looking for one: By putting Case in the "regular" class for part of the day, you're giving all those kids a chance to be exposed to someone with Autism at a time when they are very open-minded and learning about the world. That's going to have a positive effect on so many kids, being able to relate to and have empathy toward kids with autism or whatever. As you know, Sophia's had class with an autistic boy for a few years, and she's never come home making fun of him or joking about him. She treats the fact that he leaves the classroom or gets special attention the way she treats the fact that some kids have peanut allergies or ride the bus instead of walking home: It isn't good or bad, it's just how things work.

Obviously, your concern is about Casey. But you guys (including Bill, whatever) should remember that your decisions have a chance to make a positive impact beyond him.

[bonus points for working "set up for failure" into a blog post!]

Mama Mara said...

Ditto. Sounds just like my Rocky. And me, struggling to do what's best when there is no best.

Re the issue of punishing him, I say Naaaaaah. I leave the discipline for at-school behavior at school.

Club 166 said...

Reminder to self-don't follow links from Maddy-they only lead to good reading to take up more of my time.

There's never one right answer to this, and what's right at one time may be wrong at another.

Our Buddy Boy (who is now 8 and in 3rd grade) started off being fully included in Kindergarten (which we didn't think was right). He was almost expelled after a few outbursts, and was homeschooled for about half the year.

He started off the next year being bussed between two schools (one a class for emotionally disturbed kids, the other a self contained special needs class), which was the best compromise we could get without the school keeping him in the ED school full time. Talk about a disjointed day.

Last year was at least in the same school, starting off mostly in the self contained special needs class, and progressing to mostly in the regular class with an aide.

This year he's mostly full time in the regular class (sharing an aide), and though these kids have seen meltdowns where he's screamed, thrown things, swore, and pulled down his pants, have just elected him to the student council!

Kids can be brutal, but they can also be much more accepting. I guess my point is that things aren't necessarily set in stone, and all is not lost (though we still haven't become immune to those gut wrenching sinking feelings when "events" happen).


Stacy said...

Just discovered your blog through Club 166. I have an 8 going on 9-year-old in third grade with autism. I have to agree with Joe. What's right for our kids changes depending on the circumstance.

TJ is now pretty much integrated into regular ed with pullouts for speech, OT, and Math. But it has been a lot of putting him in, pulling him back, and trial and error to find the right mix. What seemed to work really well for us was to have TJ join the regular ed. class for subjects that he was interested in and did well in, then move to integration for more challenging or less interesting subjects.

And the kids have really gotten used to his quirkiness. Many of them jump to take him under his wing. But this all takes some time.

I haven't read much of your blog yet, but I can already tell that you are a great mom and seem to be in tune with what your son needs.

Just wanted to say also that I read your first post. Your journey with the biomedical stuff sounds very similar to mine. I'm glad I found your blog. I have been looking for more moms with kids the same age as TJ to read about their experiences. I'm looking forward to reading more.

Bobbi said...

Parker isn't in Elementry school yet but I think about this already. I really worry about what it will be like and how he will adapt. Maybe you should talk to some people that work with him and see what they think is best. Sometimes a new perspective helps. I'm sorry he's having a hard time and having his fun feild trip taken away. I wish I had some advice for you. (hugs)

Marla said...

I could write pages about struggling with the exact same thing you write here. It is such a hard decision. I totally agree that punishment would be out of the question. Hang in there.