Musings from an Orthodox Jewish work at home mom of twins with Autism Spectrum Disorders.

Archive for the ‘Fred’ Category

Playing Catch Up

Trying to catch up on this here bloggity thang.  Looks like I never updated y’all about the school situation?  Wowza.  Was too busy living it to blog it.

Fred was kicked out of public school.  Suspension after suspension after suspension— multiple emergency IEP meetings where they granted us a 1:1 aide just for 30 days even when I warned them it should be an rBT supervised by a BCBA and it should be the same aide…..  suspension was not a deterrent, his impulse control got weaker and weaker, and his desire to GET to stay home from school got stronger so he would punch teachers on purpose to GET suspended.  “Our policy is” are my least favorite words.  The district now spends thousands to send him to a behavioral school.  I LOVE his new (not so new anymore!) school.  THEY NEVER SUSPEND.  THEY WORK WITH BEHAVIORS.  I’m thrilled.  This school goes through 12th, but they’ll attempt to pull him back into public much sooner.  Momma bear will be ready to fight again for no suspensions for autism related behaviors.  Suspend a kid in a wheelchair for not trying harder to walk, why don’t you?

Wilma is doing great in public school.  So great that we tried to put her in a Jewish school with just a 1:1 aide.  Medicaid would have had to pay for at least 20 hours a week of the ABA aide— they weren’t willing.  Our state’s autism scholarship can’t cover a full time rBT and she can’t handle just ANY aide— she needed a behavioral aide if she was going to be in a school with no trained intervention specialists.  So— she stays in public.  GREAT, but her new middle school will be 1200 kids.  Already had the transition meeting and I’m cautiously optimistic.

Fred is on depakote and straterra currently.  Wilma is on adderral, geodon, all the junk through her C tube, and……..  birth control.  We had to stop the heavy periods.  On depo-provera she gets a normal period every 3 months instead of a heavy one once a month— it’s working fine and now she can wear underwear and pads during her periods and go to school and camp instead of stay home and fill pull ups with bowel movements that go completely whacko during heavy periods.

They’re in camp for six weeks— the ONE daycamp on this side of town that takes their medicaid waiver, works with kids like them, and is right for them.  He was suspended today and I had to have THE TALK with the director.  PLEASE PLEASE don’t get suspended again, kid.

 

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ABA Update

One of Wilma’s therapists is off our case for good and it’s a welcome relief.  Already have someone else in place a week later.

If you want to work with kids with autism and you’re asked to give 2 weeks notice of an occasional absence, and your job with us is 4 hours a week, you can’t be absent at least once every other week and give less than a week’s notice about two week absences over and over AND complain to your family about our family. (HIPPA anyone?) Don’t screw with my kid’s’ mental health.

Wilma’s other therapist is growing on us and Freds’s therapist is really quite good. Their supervisor is EXCELLENT—- so I think with this change we’re in a good place.

Summer. Autism Doesn’t Take a Break

There are far too many families dealing with similar crapola….. 9:30 pm, both kids are sleeping, and I’m cooking Shabbos because I’m out all day tomorrow. (I wrote this Thursday night).  All of a sudden I hear a sweet “can I come downstairs and tell you something very quickly?” I say sure, but then please go back to sleep. She tells me she has a loose tooth and she wants me to look in her mouth— I had no idea she’d start screaming her head off. She’s terrified it’s an adult tooth. I have no idea whether it’s a kid tooth or adult tooth— I can BARELY get in there— I got a half second peek before she started screaming her head off, waking her brother and then I was treated to another lovely double meltdown right as I’m supposed to be making Shabbos and my husband is out at daf. yay. Full physical prompting up the stairs with a kid who weighs 110 pounds isn’t fun. Guaranteed that when my husband is in charge of getting them on the camp van tomorrow she’ll scream at him that she’s not going to camp and she demands an emergency dentist appointment. If she’ll calmly simply let me LOOK…… but nothing ever happens calmly around here. Autism, thanks for striking again– hadn’t seen ya in a couple of hours.

And…. Well we made it almost to week 4 without getting suspended from camp. Fred will be home with us Monday without his sister. Not. A. Deterrent.

And….

Wilma: “can I call the police department and let them know that fireworks can’t go off tonight because I have daycamp in the morning and I need to sleep?” Me: “put on your fan and let’s hope for the best.”

Every year I say that noise free fireworks need to become a thing. Autism, PTSD, veterans, pets….. there are a lot of reasons not to have big loud bangs after bedtime, yo.

And…. Why is the guy who gets ticked off at my husband that he doesn’t bring our son to synagogue in the evenings (after he likes to be asleep) the same guy who’d be royally pissed off at our son’s behavior if he did?

Catching You Up On The Hilarity Around Here

#youmightbeanautismparentif your ten year old, at 6:45 am, is working on memorizing all the counties of Texas.

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Me rushing Fred through the bath time process…. “ok strip and get in the tub”. Fred: “but I don’t want to become a stripper….”

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Me to Wilma: “I’m not going to want you in my bed watching the news tonight at 10:30— sleep, please.” My smartass ten year old: “I don’t think the news is on tonight– it’s going to be football.”

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#youmightbeanautismparentif your ten year old can calculate sin cos and tan but still manage to put his underwear on backwards.

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one thing we’re working on in ABA is dinnertime conversation—- instead just yammering about whatever is on our own mind, we are supposed to ask each other questions. How was your day? (for example) and ask questions about what someone just said, etc.

So Wilma just came home and with no prompting asked “how was your day?” I started to answer and she said “I asked you now so I won’t need to ask you during dinner…..” HAH!

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#youmightbeanautismparentif you’re woken up on Shabbos to a ten year old perfectly singing an Irish drinking song in your ear.

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In discussing with Miss thang that her cecostomy flushes haven’t been effective for the past couple of days, she said and I quote…. “my colon is on a coffee break”.

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#youmightbeanautismparentif your kid goes to mincha with Abba, davens nicely, then waits till the end to announce that the prayers are about loving HaShem….. breaking into Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” in front of all the kollel guys.

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Me: “when are you going to start bringing home homework this year?” Fred: “I don’t give a monkey’s gluteus maximus”.

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“Mommy, can I play with the computer?” “No, sorry.” “Why not?” “You were hitting and screaming”. “But mommy, aren’t you used to it by now?”

Ch-Ch-Changes

Fred now has new meds on board— no more seroquel and we’re weaning COMPLETELY off the risperdal.  His new med?  Depakote.  No behavior changes yet (not good ones at least) but…… NO MORE ABSENCE SEIZURES!  I was on my way to the EEG merry go round but depakote saved us from THAT fun rabbit hole.  They just….. went away!  Ok so he still screams, bites, kicks, hits, screams, and …. yeah he SCREAMS…. but he’s usually in our world and not completely in la la land!  Those seizures were scarier and scarier as he was getting older.

Fred now has a new school on board— basically, he’s been kicked out of public school.  More suspensions since the last time I wrote.  More IEP meetings.  More frustration.  More “I want to AVOID due process” in my nicely worded letters.  He’s now in a small school in a small class….. which SPECIFICALLY works with kids with behavior issues.  It’s not a permanent fix.  The district likely won’t pay for this forever.  But for at least the next year, school is going to be a-ok.

Fred now has new therapists on board.  He got his waiver in July so this week we finally dropped his old ABA company for his sister’s company who hired a therapist for him who ALREADY KNOWS AND LOVES HIM!  Hoooooray!  Trying to get up to 8 hours a week.  Currently at 4, but better than nothing!

Wilma has her cecostomy surgery scheduled.  MOST days she isn’t crying from the anxiety of it and sometimes she’s even excited about an upcoming hospital stay.

Wish me luck— two weeks of winter break now, otherwise known as “can’t these people get along for 6 minutes?  And when the heck am I supposed to get anything done?”

 

(Not The Only) IEP Meeting Where I Cried About My Son’s Behaviors

So here’s how it went down.  In writing, I asked once again for a 1:1 aide and for them not to suspend him.

I got three things…..

 

A trial period of a 1:1 aide for 30 school days.  It won’t be HIS aide, but the intervention specialist gets a second aide for all of her kids.  So in all functionality, he’ll have a 1:1 all day long— he will no longer be un-shadowed in specials, lunch, recess.  S/he won’t be an rBT… might not have experience with autism or behaviors…..  but s/he will be a warm body willing to learn about him and his behaviors so I have to say it’s a step in the right direction.  If he doesn’t get suspended again within the next 30 days, we reconvene to talk about how it worked out and then I have to fight to make it more permanent.

 

If he DOES get suspended again in the next 30 days, we talk about alternate placement.  There is another school within the district that has more of a behavior program.  Someone explain to me why any school with an autism program doesn’t also have a BEHAVIOR program?  But being with other students with similar issues and teachers with experience with these issues can only help him.  He’ll be likely to have fewer transitions as he can perhaps be in the behavior classroom most of the day instead of general ed and perhaps social skills and behavior interventions are done within the classroom… we didn’t get that far yet.  But we’re eons away from placement in a private school.  He hasn’t exhausted the district yet— just perhaps his school.

 

On the note of fewer transitions—- he’s currently doing fine academically being pulled for gifted ELA (English/ language arts) and gifted math.  But there is lots of anxiety and screaming about gifted ELA.  We might just pull him from gifted ELA— we don’t need to make the decision right this minute but I asked him if he’d like to leave gifted ELA and he said yes.  His behaviors are trumping his need for advanced academic support especially in ELA which he HATES.

 

Let’s see how the 30 school days with additional aide support helps…. I’ll keep you posted!

Fourth Grade

Haven’t written in a while because as usual, August was pure hell.  I HATE August.  It’s the end of summer and all they need is to be apart from each other—- he is soooooo sick of her every August.  Then they go back to school and all is right with the world.  Until he gets suspended…. again.  To review— he was suspended five days at the end of third grade for three separate incidents.  We upped the meds again over the summer….. now he’s on the highest dosage of risperdal for his weight… PLUS we added Seroquel (with the hope that if the Seroquel gets to a good dosage we can wean down the risperdal).  Nope—- seeing the psych again on Monday—- he is NOT. DOING.  WELL.  Mid September and he’s already been suspended for two days of fourth grade.  So I wrote a letter (see below) and had an emergency meeting.  Trying NOT to get to manifestation determination.  Trying NOT to go to due process.  Trying NOT to get him placed in an autism school.  Just trying to get him more support at the school he loves.  The meeting was this morning.  Short on time now so I’ll post meeting results another time (I hope tomorrow)… but here’s the letter.  🙂

September 21, 2016

(Fred), a 4th grade student on an IEP at (school), was suspended 5 days at the end of third grade—2 of those days were in school suspension.  He was suspended for impulse control and aggression issues— these are known issues in his ETR and IEP.  Some years are better, some years are more challenging.  Once again, he was suspended at the beginning of fourth grade for two days.  At the end of third grade I requested and was denied a 1:1 aide for him for the safety of himself and others in the building because he has more good days than bad days.  I also requested that he not be suspended anymore for issues that are clearly representative of his diagnosis.  I am once again requesting the following:

  • That he not be suspended for impulse control or aggression issues. We did an updated FBA— now let’s make a BIP based on the recommendations that note 8-10 things we can do with him in the building (sensory room, walk outside with his aide, write an apology letter, role play with Mrs. R what he can do instead, etc).  Suspension for him is NOT A DETERRENT.  He ENJOYS being suspended.  His favorite thing in the world is to be home without his sister, away from the chaos of school.  He is overwhelmed by all of the other students and we never know when aggression will strike.  Further, I predict he will continue to act out IN ORDER TO try to get suspended again.  Suspension gives the school a break from him but does NOTHING for HIM.  Suspension is just showing him that school can’t deal with him when he acts up, that he’s BAD and should be kicked to the curb when his behaviors hit hard.  Do we suspend a blind student for needing Braille or a student who can’t walk for needing a wheelchair?  He needs more behavioral support, clearly.

 

  • That he have a 1:1 aide who is a registered behavior technician (rBT). Mrs R and Ms. H are wonderful but they are not superglued to him 100% of every day because there are other students on their case load.  Each act of aggression is proving that Fred is becoming more and more of a danger to himself and others.  My understanding is that last Friday’s incident happened when Mrs. M was the only adult in the room.  Clearly, it’s not safe for any teacher or therapist to be alone with a group when the group includes Fred.  We cannot predict when aggression will hit.  Putting a 1:1 aide on him who has experience with autism behaviors, can take data, and can be supervised by a BCBA will allow him to remain in the school he knows and loves.  I don’t WANT him to move to an autism school—- he and I are very happy with (school), but he needs more support. Giving him a 1:1 aide will certainly be less expensive to the district than an alternative placement in a private school.  My hope is that this necessity is temporary and after some time of 1:1 support we can scale back if his behaviors stabilize.  I am concerned for the teachers, therapists, and other students in the building.  I know how it feels to be “Fred-ed”, and he is getting bigger and stronger.  We can not suspend impulse control into him, but we can provide much needed support for his growing needs.

Please refer back to the Social/Emotional/Behavior section of his ETR (starts on Page 12), a document compiled by the district, and see the frequently observed behaviors from the Autism Rating Scale that he has been observed/reported to engage in and how this relates to the situation and also the description of educational needs and how they relate to the situation.  Clearly, the issues he is having are stemming from his diagnosis.  He deserves a free and APPROPRIATE education.  If he keeps getting suspended because of lacking support for his growing behaviors, how is this appropriate?

With the greatest respect for (school)’s team,

Me (Fred’s mom)

 

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