Autistic Child Ruining Class for Others

Discussion in 'General Education' started by sixdeep357, Sep 1, 2011.

  1. sixdeep357

    sixdeep357 New Member

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    Sep 1, 2011

    My wife teaches Jr. High and every night for the past few weeks she's complained about an autistic child who makes it nearly impossible for her to teach. The child wanders around the front of the classroom during lessons, sticks pencils in his ears (the tip), shouts words over and over so that my wife has to stop teaching until he finishes, tells my wife to shut-up, pulls things off the walls, goes into the hallway and walks around shouting, etc. According to my wife, the child's parents claim their son must be allowed in regular classes by law. From the reading I've done, I'm not so sure that's true. The law seem very vague...

    "The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (“IDEA”) provides that each state must establish procedures to assure that, to the maximum extent appropriate, children with disabilities... are educated with children who are not disabled"

    Key words - "maximum extent appropriate"

    I understand Autism is a terrible thing and these parents only want the best for their son. But at what cost to others? My wife can't even teach. She feels so far behind and worries the other kids aren't learning. How far can this go until the other children's rights are violated?
     
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  3. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Sep 1, 2011

    I have no special ed experience or background.

    But it seems as though your wife would probably be best off speaking to the special ed team in her school. This boy has been in the system at least 5 years; I'm guessing they have some strategies and coping mechanisms that would help.
     
  4. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Sep 1, 2011

    The short answer is no - children with Autism must not automatically be included in regular education classes according to federal law. You're right - they must be given access to education in the "least restrictive environment," but that includes a consideration for the child's functioning level. So, if a child were unable to function in some capacity in the regular education environment, then a more restrictive environment would be appropriate - both for the student and the class.

    What probably makes sense as a next step for your wife is for her to talk with the special education case manager/teacher/coordinator who is responsible for implementing the child's IEP, and ask for more information. Hopefully that person would be able to do 2 things:

    1. More information about current placement (i.e., why is the child in the regular education classroom), and what additional placement options are available.

    2. Provide strategies that might help your wife before additional options can be considered.

    It's worth mentioning that often children with Autism have a hard time adjusting to new routines and environments, and it's entirely possible that the child very much could be functional and productive in your wife's classroom, but will need a few weeks of intervention/support to fully adjust. In that case, it would be helpful for your wife to talk to the special ed teacher/coordinator to get assistance with a plan that would facilitate that transition.

    It's unfortunate that someone hasn't been more proactive with planning for that transition, or assisting your wife. Typically, a good special education teacher/coordinator would have met and prepared the general education teacher before school would have even started.

    Finally, this whole post is assuming the the child has been formally diagnosed - not just by an outside professional, but by the school system. If not, moving in that direction (evaluation) would be the most appropriate.

    Good luck!
     
    Backroads likes this.
  5. sixdeep357

    sixdeep357 New Member

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    Sep 1, 2011

    Wow thank you. I'm going to copy this for my wife. I'll keep you posted...
     
  6. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Great - fingers crossed on this end :)
     
  7. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Virtuoso

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    I wouldn't necessarily call it terrible. Autism has such a wide range that it's impossible to say that every child would need to be in the regular classroom. I have had a lot of students with autism. They all had their quirks, but they all generally did well once they got established in my routines. The adjustment period varied. One year we had identical twins who were both autistic. One was in all regular classes, and he did really well with me. The other was in a self-contained FMD special education classroom. Some receive no services at all. Plus, they are also KIDS in addition to having Autism, and some of them are just as ornery as other kids.

    My husband has Aspergers. A lot of the challenges I see at school are also evident in my DH, although getting older does help with the maturity part.
     
  8. Grammy Teacher

    Grammy Teacher Virtuoso

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    I hope you get the help you need so you can teach. One year I had a child with Downs Syndrome and I couldn't teach the class at all. I felt as though all my lesson plans were in vain. She would run away (out the door,) use markers all over the walls and tables, tear up books, throw rolls of toilet paper into the toilet and flush. I wasn't given any support.
     
  9. pete2770

    pete2770 Comrade

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    Sep 2, 2011

    You'd think the child would have a para with things being that severe...

    Having someone there to know when the kid needs a break or is about to have sensory overload goes a long way.
     
  10. Maryhf

    Maryhf Connoisseur

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    Sep 2, 2011

    Several years ago, I had a similar problem at the beginning of the year. At one point, my student started a tantrum while the learning support aide was present. The behavior escalated and so the aide called the LS teacher. then he autism support teacher was called. It continued to escalate until the assistant principal was called. In the end I had 3 adults (other than me) better experienced than I who could not contain the student and all the while I was attempting to teach this class of 24. In reality, they were all there to observe and document. As the weeks went on, we really thought he would be placed in a special autism school nearby. Then out of the blue, he settled into the routines and became perhaps not a model student but definitely a productive one. My best advice (the advice I gave the 7th grade teachers the next year) was to just follow your instincts about how to deal with the student. I was so busy trying to follow the advice of the experts who had him in 5th grade that I didn't follow my own advice. He needed guidelines and less leeway.
     
  11. shouldbeasleep

    shouldbeasleep Enthusiast

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    Sep 3, 2011

    Amen to the following your instincts when working with some kids. I had a special needs child 2 years ago who had a full time aide. When the aide and I followed the behavior plan set up by the "experts", nothing got better. The disruptions were incredible.

    One day, the aide and I were both on the verge of tears and were talking about the rough day we had had. I then said, "screw it" and stopped trying to have him sit with the other kids. He couldn't keep his hands to himself, he couldn't keep from talking to everyone and antagonizing them, he couldn't focus on what he was supposed to be doing.

    So I made a 1,2,3 list of short assignments for him with two built-in breaks on the computer that he could look forward to. He needed structure and a routine. He needed to visually see what he had to do. He needed his back to the other kids so he couldn't use them as a distraction.

    I needed to pare down the requirements and stop thinking that I had to get him to pass the 5th grade state test. (I was teaching Science and Social Studies with him in the classroom and he was self-contained the rest of the day.) I concentrated on 2-3 of the standards for the unit and he made flashcards and wrote simple summary statements of events and then drew them. He participated in the science experiments and observations. He put on an interview skit in which he was interviewing Rosa Parks, and his aide was Rosa. The whole class loved it, and he was beaming from ear to ear.

    Forget that all the experts said he needed to be 100% physically in the group with the other kids and I shouldn't let him be isolated. He didn't learn that way.

    The aide and I had the best time after that. I enjoyed finding ways to get the kid the information he needed, and she began to enjoy working with him. She could show him the list of what needed to be done and he would check it off as he progressed.

    Mom wanted to have him retained that year so he could spend another year with us. Uh, no. He was almost as big as I was and still growing. Physically strong, too. Another year, and I would have been teaching a 5th grade offensive lineman.

    And by the way, he didn't pass reading, but he did pass Social Studies that year! He apparently had just enough of the basic information to eke out a passing score.
     
  12. kpa1b2

    kpa1b2 Aficionado

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    Sometimes the "experts" don't know what's best for a child. They don't work with that child on a day to day basis, to see what we see. Or to know what will actually work in a classroom. We should take their advise, but sometimes we need to tweak it to make it work for us, the child & the class.
     
  13. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    And sometimes the "experts" aren't really experts they just get stuck with that label because they glanced at a book. We have staff that have become the "experts" in different areas, but it came about because they needed SOMEONE to be the "expert".
     
  14. MATgrad

    MATgrad Groupie

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    My experience with expert advice is this I read it, think about it and usually end up throwing it out. Kids on the spectrum respond to routine. Least restrictive environment does not mean everybody gets a general ed setting. Task checklists for this one to follow, visual prompts for behavioral expectations and social stories are a good start. There should be some case manager for this kid that can help with that.
     
  15. jwteacher

    jwteacher Cohort

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    I used to work in special education for a few years, and I agree with what was said. Talk to the special education department and submit a referral for a review of existing data. This would be a good time for the IEP team to get together to explore why they think this child is getting a FAPE in the general education setting. The LRE does not mean the general education setting, but one that is most conducive to that child's education in the least restrictive way. That could mean a self-contained room as far as we know.

    If the IEP decides they need to hold an IEP meeting to discuss new placement, could the parent object to her child being pulled from the general education setting? Yes, but it is a team decision. If the team feels that a self-contained environment is the best option, they can override the parent's objection because an IEP is already in place for the child. The parent could appeal the decision, but she would most likely lose in due process if the school could provide documentation and data supporting the move to a self-contained environment.
     
  16. CFClassroom

    CFClassroom Connoisseur

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    Sep 4, 2011

    My advice would be to document all of the student's actions along with how each situation was handled. If your wife approaches administration verbally it will seem like a complaint. It would be in her best interest to document what is happening and be prepared to speak about the strategies she has used to assist the child in meeting with success. It would also be helpful for her to reach out to other professionals (sped team, student's past teachers) and seek support from them.
     
  17. BioAngel

    BioAngel Science Teacher - Grades 3-6

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    Sep 4, 2011

    Your wife can also ask her principal or the learning specialist if her school has one to come in and observe these actions. Then she and the admin/learning specialist should talk to the parents. It is not fair to the rest of the class if one child-- who deserves a great education as much as the rest of them do-- is ruining the class from their learning.
     
  18. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    A change in placement requires an evaluation of some form to prove this placement is not acceptable. Many parents don't know this and those that do that believe that the new placement is better typically won't care about another evaluation.

    Now, the BIG question is in the times of budget cuts - who was pushing for the gen ed classroom with NO support? And is it just a temporary reaction to a big change in the student's routine?

    Talk to the case manager, call an IEP meeting if you need to.
     

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