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

Archive for the ‘Individualized Education Program’ Category

Public School Goodies Coming to a Behavioral Charter School?

After a zillion really terrible IEP meetings as my son was getting kicked out of public school a couple of years ago, I’ve been content with his new school— not THRILLED mind you, but content. A lot less aggression as he has very few students in his class and there are maybe 40 students in the whole school with an amazing student:staff ratio. Everyone is trained in TCI, everyone knows what to do in case of meltdown, and there are plans for dealing with aggression stemming from autism. But I’ve had two problems with this school— the lack of gifted services, and the gym curriculum or lack thereof. As far as the latter goes, there is NO adapted phys ed and therefore there are no gross motor skills on the IEPs for this school’s students. It doesn’t matter that he’s always had gross motor goals and adapted phys ed at his previous school. Furthermore, gym class is simply run by the intervention specialists— they do kickball, dodgeball, defend the castle and that’s about it—- VERY different from the diverse phys ed curriculum of public school. I asked about how we can get one of the public school adapted phys ed teachers down to his school if not to see him once a week and get gross motor goals on the IEP, then at least evaluate him and tell me how to focus his gross motor for the next while because I’m no phys ed teacher and there is very little this boy needs more than gross motor work. Last year I got a lukewarm apology— sorry, that’s not done, no gross motor goals on IEP, oh well. This year…… success! Fred’s first gross motor eval at this school is coming up and it looks like he’ll be able to have one of the adapted phys ed teachers (ironically… his twin sister’s!) come down to his school to work with him! All I had to do was ask nicely two years in a row. More info about the gifted stuff to come— basically they HAD been individualizing his math and science work but they had reason to stop doing that. In my next post I’ll tell you what’s up there.

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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?”

 

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)

 

Pharmacy Hour

Some nights I just want to chuck the risperdal, vitamin D, multivitamins, probiotics, fish oil, geodon, adderall, colace, NAC, tenex (gotta crush that one of course), and last week benadryl (but no more albuterol because I was told maybe THAT caused more aggression) (Fred was sick- he’s fine now, but every time he gets a cold he gets R.A.D.) ………..out the window and just tell the kids to go to bed. There are families out there who don’t have pharmacy hour between exercise time and bedtime– amazing.

Med update:

risperdal—–  WAS working well for Fred.  Until now.  He’s now at the highest dosage and he’s been suspended from school 5 days out of the past 6 weeks.  Emergency IEP meeting—- I asked for a 1:1 aide.  Denied because “he has more good days than bad”.  I asked that they stop suspending him because you can’t suspend impulse control into a kid with autism.  Denied.  I asked for another FBA– got THAT rolling.

Vitamin D—- Wilma is low.  Duh, we’re in Ohio.  Why is Fred not low?

Geodon— working fairly well— she’s having a good year.  Today I was told at her anal manometry that they’ve not usually done manometries on kids on such strong anti-psychotics.  yeah, ok.

Adderall— working super well—- she always does homework nicely, and always sits through class well, needing just a few breaks per day.

Tenex— just added it for the finger picking and forehead picking…… she gets one pimple and spreads it into a little colony by picking and picking.  Fun times.  Tried tenex before and it did nothing, but that was years ago.

Hurry Up and Wait… No More

Now that Wilma’s medications are under control and her behaviors are starting to improve, and many times we can go places and trust that she won’t throw shoes at strangers’ heads, we can finally begin intensive behavioral therapy. After years of insurance won’t cover it and the school district doesn’t provide it, we sat on waiver wait lists. After getting approved for SELF waiver we waited some more. Our enroll date is Jan 29th. FINALLLLLY this coming Tuesday, April 8, we will begin services— part of the FBA that will lead to ABA. Do a dance of joy with me. Will ABA be the magic bullet? Maybe not. But to be able to access it and try it before shrugging it off as “well, she’s high functioning, so it’s probably not for her” is a blessing. Now to get Fred off the wait list. When I called and asked why she was approved first I was told it was because he “ONLY” has autism. ONLY. HAH. She’s got autism, adhd, ODD, megacolon, encopresis….. and a partridge in a pear treeeeee. At the moment, his behaviors are more severe than hers. But SHE’LL get the intensive therapy.

ABA is what I THOUGHT would be part of Fred’s autism classroom in preschool. Though I LOVED that class for him, it wasn’t ABA. Some kids get ABA tutors in public schools— but I’ve been too happy with the district to fight them. For what they DO provide, they do an awesome job and really love and know our kids. ETR/IEP meetings are a breeze. But I’ve been wanting to try ABA and had no way to do so. Until now.

The Crazy World of 2E

It’s official. They finished their 8 million tests and Fred is officially 2E, twice exceptional. He’s identified for now in three categories since they didn’t test for all categories. We are NOT grade accelerating but we ARE subject accelerating, just in math. At this point what that means is that they are moving him from first grade to fourth grade math starting in January. They want to move him for science too if that goes well. It’s not my job at all, of course, but what I’m doing right now during winter break (have I mentioned these monkeys are HOME for two weeks?) is going through each unit of the second, third, and beginning of fourth grade curricula to see what skills he’s missing. Printing out worksheets on those skills, and getting him ready for fourth grade math. If I don’t finish, he’ll struggle— which means he’ll scream and cry and freak out in class. If I do it, he’ll academically be okay, but he’ll still struggle— which means he’ll scream and cry and freak out in class. (The zoloft increase isn’t going well and his anxiety is at an all time HIGH now). So really, nothing I do matters. But it will make me feel better to know that he’s prepared. He can either be bored out of his mind and scream like a banshee during school or he can be academically challenged and still scream like a banshee— so I’m glad we’re doing this— but I’m not certain they’ve ever had another kid in this school subject accelerate so many grades at once. They don’t have a self contained gifted program until fourth grade which means he’ll do fifth grade math in second grade at this school and then we’ll have to decide what to do with him for third grade— I don’t think they’d bus him to the middle school for math and back and I AIN’T homeschooling no MATH, no sirree. I trust the school— they’re GREAT with him. Does he need better meds and better anxiety control? You BET. But academically and socially they’re doing all they can for him as he continues to tumble downwards away from his peers socially and run rings around them academically (particularly with math). This kid is a CHALLENGE. In the same week we did his new IEP and did his gifted scores, we also did a 28 page FBA on his biting behaviors.

Wilma school update

Quick IEP amendment this morning!

Yes, they ARE starting a class for a handful of kids with behavior issues at Wilma’s current school.  I met the teacher today and she’s young and spunky and has already met and fallen in love with Wilma.  Most of the kids are in the room for the full day.

But Wilma doesn’t need to be placed there all day every day.  Her newest med combo is working well enough, for now, that she can stay in gen ed and treat the new class as a resource room.

We swtiched her from Vyvanse to Adderall.  Vyvanse was GREAT in the morning but she metabolized it super quickly and by 11:30 she was a mess again.  On adderall, she’s a lot less aggressive and more cooperative ALL DAY!  So she’s now doing abilify and adderall.

So, she’ll be in her old resource room for morning and afternoon routines, her new resource room for math (yay for small group math—- she’s been mostly doing math individually) and lunch (she needs a small group for lunch!)…. but she’ll be with the large regular class for everything else.  Including (at this point) specials: art, music, gym, library— she’ll have an aide with her there, but if this new routine is going to fall apart, specials is where it will happen, so I’m hoping plan B will be to have Wilma visit specials with the new class.

With fingers crossed, we’ll see how the new setup works out for her!   I’m super impressed that the school is able to personalize this for her so well— instead of JUST saying it’s gen ed with an aide OR it’s a special ed class, they’re creating and re-creating (this is not our first change this year!) a schedule based on her needs.

Today’s meeting was quick and optimistic, as opposed to the FBA meetings we’ve had recently which were a lot more involved and pessimistic.  I’m putting high hopes in adderall that Wilma can stay even keeled for the rest of the school year and we don’t need to make more changes!

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