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CaroGirl
11-21-2008, 05:55 PM
There's an escalating situation in my son's classroom and I fear it threatens to polarize the community. I've spoken previously (for anyone who remembers) about a boy in my son's sixth grade class, CM, who has Asperger's. When he gets frustrated he has violent outbursts. So far this year, he's had two. The latest outburst was the last straw for a lot of parents because not only did he attack the students, throwing chairs and screaming, he bit the teacher, in front of all the kids.

The worst thing for me is that my son, a bystander, has been fingered and punished for CM's behaviour. Twice. I met with the teacher and principal last week and both said my son has a good heart and did nothing wrong in either incident, yet he's had to spend entire periods in the office doing "reflection" and has been removed from the lunch room, having to eat alone, for the past week (along with four other children who may or may not have been involved with provoking CM).

To my mind, CM is not well served by being in this class. He's obviously not happy and is a disruption to the rest of the students. Another parent is gathering names from concerned parents and is prepared to launch a campaign to remove CM from the classroom. I have agreed to go on the list.

As far as I'm concerned, the threats to my son's safety and academic achievement need to be removed. If that means removing the child, then so be it. I like the family and have known them since my son was in kindergarten but Mama Bear has her protect her baby. Right? What am I to do?

Mela
11-21-2008, 08:11 PM
Oh, Carogirl, that's a tough situation. But acting in the best interests of your son has to blind you to everything else - if CM is creating an uncomfortable situation in the classroom - and indeed if the students are scared of him (as I would be) then action has to be taken. Throwing chairs and biting the teacher are horrible acts and would scare the beegesus out of adults, let along sixth graders.

I don't get why your child has had to face punishment - that just boggles my mind. And where have the other school officials been through all of this? Does CM take meds? Could it be that on this day (and the day of the first incident) he was off medication?
And is there any word from CM's parents?

CaroGirl
11-21-2008, 09:00 PM
I haven't talked to CM's parents. He does take medication but the administration of it is, of course, private. I don't know what he takes, when, or what dose. I'm curious as to his parents' motivations to keep him in this classroom. I'd like to call and find out but I'm not sure I have the courage.

Thanks Mela.

Cranky
11-21-2008, 09:12 PM
There could be many reasons for the child still being in a mainstream placement. Not the least of which being that appropriate behavior is being modeled by the child's peers on a daily basis.

The law also states that a child must be placed in the Least Restrictive environment. The default is the mainstream classroom, and the placement has to be "proven" to not be appropriate (and therefore NOT the least restrictive environment) in order for the child to be placed in a different classroom.

There are a lot of things that have to happen before such a decision is made. Is the child being given appropriate supports? Such as sensory breaks or occupational therapy to help with sensory overloads (a common reason for outbursts like the ones this child has apparently had), for example. You can't, by law, punish a child for behavior that manifests as a result of the disability. That being said, they should also have a behavioral intervention plan in place to help head these sorts of incidents off.

Something is not right with either the placement or the supports that the child is getting in his current placement, from what I can tell. You don't know what's going on behind the scenes here, and it's never as easy as it seems on the surface. "Well, just yank the kid out then!" It doesn't work that way. Clearly, though, something is NOT working, and IMO, that should be addressed, ASAP, for everyone's benefit. It's not a good thing for the other children and it's not a good thing for the child in question, either.

ETA: And why they are punishing your son? That doesn't make any sense to me at all.

tjwriter
11-21-2008, 09:12 PM
On the one hand, if the school knows that CM has outbursts when provoked, and the students are provoking him, they have a responsibility to punish those students for bad behavior. Why they are punishing your son when they say he is innocent is beyond stupid and I'd have their ass for that one.

On the other hand, if CM's outburst are that dangerous, a regular classroom is probably not the right environment for him and I believe that law dictates the school has to make an accomodation for him or pay for him to go to school where there is the type of environment he needs.

So something needs to be done. The school and the parents need to work it out, but they need to create the best possible environment for everyone.

CaroGirl
11-21-2008, 09:22 PM
I'm just curious why the parents have chosen to keep him in an environment that I, personally, don't think is good for him. If it were me, I'd move heaven and earth to put my child in a school with a low teacher/child ratio, with teachers on staff who are specialized in dealing with students who have Asperger's. In a low-ratio classroom, he would also receive, I think, a more enriched education for his highly developed interests and aptitudes. As is typical of Asperger children, he's gifted in subjects like math and physics.

I know several families in my area that have chosen to send their kids with ADHD to private school. I don't know if we could afford it, but I'd do it with the aid of a loan or cutting back or a job knowing I won't get called to pick up my child at any given time (which is why the mother does not work).

Cranky
11-21-2008, 09:31 PM
Yeah, sorry, CaroGirl. I saw that I had misread your post and deleted that part of my comment. My apologies. :(

As for the rest, again it's just not that simple. Sure you can move your kid to a private autism school...if you have the money to pay the tuiton until the school agrees that the placement in the school district isn't appropriate. The tuition at a lot of these school are more than twice what my husband makes in a year...and we don't have that option in this area. Your area may be a different story on that score.

Anyway, that's what I'm trying to say. You can't just move the kid, unless you have the means to pay for it privately and/or pay for a lawyer to get you reimbursed if the school doesn't agree. And they often don't agree. It's not easy to prove that a placement is inappropriate and there is a whole series of hoops you have to jump through to make it happen when you and the school disagree. You have to ask for an Independent Evaluation, and then you have to pick doctors and other experts on the school's list of approved providers or at least ones that they agree are qualified. Then there are more evaluations, and getting that done isn't always easy. Then, there is a fight over whether or not the conclusions are valid. If there is a disagreement there, then you have to go to Due Process, and in come the lawyers.

It's just not easy to fight. I'm on the edge of asking for another placement for my own child, and there is a lot that has to be done first, and rightfully so. If he can make it in a mainstream environment, then I should allow that to happen. He's not going to be in a cocoon for the rest of his life, and neither will this kid.

CaroGirl
11-21-2008, 09:38 PM
Thanks for your thoughtful answers, Cranky. If it were me, I'd even consider homeschooling rather than put a kid like CM in a toxic (to him) classroom. As for not being in a cocoon, I agree, but a classroom isn't much like adult life either, is it? I don't go to work expecting my co-workers to pelt me with spit balls, trip me on the way to the water cooler, or pull my hair and run away. And they rarely make fun of my appearance. Classrooms aren't the real world either. When I read about the frustration, anger, and rates of suicide among school kids who struggle to fit in for whatever reason (particularly ones with complex organic disorders like aspergers/autism), I feel like crying.

Cranky
11-21-2008, 09:47 PM
Homeschooling might be appropriate, if the parents are able to do so. But it sounds like he's got a lot going on. Twice exceptional kids like CM are a big challenge. How do you support their disabilities without ignoring their capabilities?

Are the parents able and qualified to teach their child? Do they have access to the various therapies he will still need? Will they be able to get services in their home from the school district? (This is sometimes possible with some districts, but it varies wildly) Can they also meet his academic needs, on top of everything else? Is homeschooling really going to be beneficial in the long run? It may very well be, IF the parents are able to do it.

However, that still doesn't address the reasons why the classroom is toxic for him. Is it simply because he can't cope with a mainstream environment, or is everything that can be done to make this a success for both him and his peers being done? Those are all questions that should be answered.

ETA: I forgot. Yes, school is not "real life", but that's where people learn the skills they need for it. If you can't cope in school, then you're not going to get a job, etc., or at least it will be a great deal more difficult. School IS training for real life in a lot of ways. Learning to work in groups, how to interact with others, etc. The thing is, it's just very, very complicated, and what works for one kid won't work for another. It's challenging for everyone involved, for sure.

Cranky
11-21-2008, 10:05 PM
One other thing, since I got so caught up in explaining why the child might still be in the classroom:

I can understand why you're upset. I would be upset, too! I am not trying to say at all that it's acceptable for these outbursts to continue, or that he should be allowed to stay in the classroom, period end of story. He may very well need another placement, and I think the school owes it to all the kids to find out what's going on and find a way to fix it. If that means another placement, then it does. But it shouldn't be allowed to go on the way things are now.

CaroGirl
11-21-2008, 10:12 PM
It's a bit of a balancing act right now between transparency and privacy. They say things like we're looking into it, it's being dealt with, and so on, but they don't go into specifics for parents like me who want to know what, specifically, is being done. I want assurance that my child is safe from harm. Period. And I don't think they can give me that.

I'm of two minds as to whether to join the movement to remove the child from the classroom or not. Like I said, I like the family and would, ideally, love to trust the school to do the right thing. No matter what, I want to do right by MY son, who has his own academic issues (also diagosed ADHD).

Thanks, Cranky, for outlining your perspective. It helps me to more clearly see the other side of the story.

Beach Bunny
11-21-2008, 10:44 PM
The worst thing for me is that my son, a bystander, has been fingered and punished for CM's behaviour. Twice. I met with the teacher and principal last week and both said my son has a good heart and did nothing wrong in either incident, yet he's had to spend entire periods in the office doing "reflection" and has been removed from the lunch room, having to eat alone, for the past week (along with four other children who may or may not have been involved with provoking CM).

Regardless of whether CM gets removed from the classroom or not, this bit needs to stop immediately. If your son did nothing wrong, then he should NOT be punished. period. end of story. It is so wrong for the teacher and the principal to do this to any child, that I think I would complain to the school board.

Cranky
11-21-2008, 10:45 PM
You absolutely have to put your kid first, I agree.

Maybe the school is dragging their feet, I don't know. Do you know how the parents feel about what's going on? Do they think it's an appropriate placement, but that he needs more support? If so, maybe if enough parents go to the administration, along with the boy's parents, it might get some movement on the issue.

It's not an easy situation to resolve.

Cranky
11-21-2008, 10:46 PM
Regardless of whether CM gets removed from the classroom or not, this bit needs to stop immediately. If your son did nothing wrong, then he should NOT be punished. period. end of story. It is so wrong for the teacher and the principal to do this to any child, that I think I would complain to the school board.

Yeah, this bit doesn't make any sense to me, either.

CaroGirl
11-21-2008, 11:16 PM
They claim, get this, that my son needs to stay out of the lunch room for the good of CM, who needs to feel safe from bullying while easing back into the routine after his outburst. No matter that my son wasn't involved in this whatsoever. They say he's "perceived" to have been involved (some of his friends were), but aren't they reinforcing the perception by lumping him in with the kids who were involved? This shit really burns my britches.