Since Beans school incident recently I have become all that much more aware of how school improperly handles children with needs they don't understand. I am seeing a re-occurring theme that I find so unsettling.
It's the over-correction, under-supportive, non compassionate, non empathetic way that schools often view, and treat our children.
It seems so common that I find most parents don't even notice it. They just see the way their child is treated as the way it is. It doesn't have to be. Most find what happened to my son to be appalling, but what they don't understand is that if their child is being restrained at any point in their day that could easily be their child.
I have written a lot about behavior supports, and such, and will include those entries at the end of this entry for a reference to those that may not have seen it. As a quick reference, here are some points I'd like people to remember when dealing with the school, and autistic children.
* If your child is struggling in any way with school personnel, and behavior request a Functional Behavior Assessment. Don't think that it would cause too much trouble, or think that just because a certain para is working with your child that they'll be okay. Don't let the school make you feel that they're doing so much that you should be grateful, and not ask for more. That was the biggest mistake I made, by far.
* Remember, behavior is communication. Most behaviors exhibited by an autistic child at school are due to high anxiety, and frustration from not having what they need to be successful.
* A FBA will identify those needs, and attempt to meet them, which will change, or replace the behavior. Not because the intent is to change behavior, but rather to meet the needs of the student through positive behavior supports. When needs are met- the behaviors change.
* Understanding the why behind the behaviors is paramount to meeting the needs of a student with autism.
* A behavior plan can be drawn up, and added to the IEP after the assessment. Do not let the school tell you they don't need to add it to the IEP. They do, or they don't have to technically follow it.
* If you child is throwing chairs (for example, because I have seen a few of those lately) we don't need to focus on the behavior itself, ie the damage it causes, or how wrong it is. We need to figure out why the child is so upset that they would do that. Why is that his/her go-to tool? Children do the best with what they have at any given time. They aren't purposely trying to be defiant for the sake of defiance.
*Keep in mind that anxiety can be like a can of shaken soda pop. There can be an incidence where the child is 'shook up' in their day, and they build pressure until one tiny thing opens up top, and they explode, looking to the rest of the world as out of nowhere.
*I find executive functioning issues to be at the root for most kids on the spectrum.
* For nonverbal kids who are profoundly autistic I see a lot of very serous efforts to over-correct, and micromanage their body, and behavior. This is not okay. They are individuals, not toys you can program to do what you want. If you tell them how to manage every aspect of their lives, from when to sit, stand, potty, draw, stim, eat, then you are going to get a destructive response.
*Positive Behavior Plans are not about compliance. I hate that word. They are about meeting the child's needs in a way that the behavior automatically changes, because it no longer serves a purpose.
* No one has the right to put their hands on your child unless they are seriously about to hurt themselves, and even then they need to use de-escalation procedures, rather than actually restraining a person. An actual restraint is almost never necessary if the staff is well trained in how to handle special needs students.
* Meltdowns, and removal from classrooms are not, and should not ever be considered a normal part of ANY child's day. If these things are happening at any level of frequency this is an indication that the child's needs are not met.
* Behavior that results from a child's disability cannot be punished away. The school must address any manifestation of the child's disability, as per their civil rights.
* At any point the staff at a meeting, (formal or informal) tell you that they don't do this or that, because it isn't their policy ask to see said policy. Don't just take their word for it. If they have a policy for anything it should be written, and they should be able to show you.
Managing Negative Behaviors With Autism and ADHD
What is Executive Functioning?
How This Aspie Mom Preps for IEPs
My Email to Bubby's Special Ed Dept- an example of educational advocacy
Understanding the Why When Teaching Autistic Children
Back to School IEP Tips, and Ideas
Why Spanking is Harmful