question about autism

Discussion in 'Special Education' started by stepka, Dec 8, 2011.

  1. stepka

    stepka Comrade

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    Dec 8, 2011

    I'm a TA at a large high school and we have just gotten a young man of 16 in who is wildly out of hand. Like a pirate's parrot, he knows just a handful of phrases and most of them aren't very nice. He constantly chatters while the teacher is talking and there isn't much we can do to get him to be quiet, even with a full time TA posted by his side. Some of his behaviors have improved already but I have a couple of questions since most of our teachers have no experience with someone like this boy either.

    My first question is this: he has the typical behaviors of head banging and grabbing your hand and putting it on his head. Obviously we don't want him headbanging and will do what we can to prevent that, but what about his putting your hand on his head? May I assume that we want to discourage that behavior? Or is it a comfort mechanism that he needs and we can use it as a reward? My gut instinct tells me that we want to discourage that behavior at school as inappropriate, but that it would be appropriate for close family members to comfort him in this way so we should try to teach him the difference? Also, would it be appropriate to let him do this to stop the headbanging?

    The other is that sometimes he will jump up and run out of the classroom and down the hall and will not listen when we try to call him back. If we want to get him back, we have at times had to bribe him and this just doesn't feel right, esp since his favorite reward is candy and I'm against using candy as a reward and we're not supposed to do that anyway, due to allergy laws. Anyone have any ideas? I have talked to teachers but we're all feeling our way thru this. I don't think any of us have ever had a child so severely handicapped and when he was young he was raised by a very elderly g-mother who pretty much let him do what he wanted.
     
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  3. bros

    bros Phenom

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    Dec 9, 2011

    Does the student have any evaluations that can be referred to? Preferably ones performed by autism specialists
     
  4. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Dec 9, 2011

    Going along with what bros had said, those are great questions you're asking, but probably not ones that have uniform answers. Typically in the context of a special education evaluation, there would be a more extensive behavioral assessment that would identify purposes of behaviors, effective responses, etc. In an effective system, if a child were to be in a general education setting such as the one you are working in, there would be a special education case manager that would be working closely with you, providing you information about the evaluation, strategies identified as useful, and providing assistance when the behaviors become to extreme.

    Because you feel less than equipped in this situation, it sounds like the special education teacher/case manager isn't doing his/her job. I'd approach that person, ask for advice/support, as well as a way to get in touch when the behaviors occur. I can't imagine that person wouldn't be located on school grounds and available to provide support when needed.

    If you find that you are continually not able to meet the child's needs and not provided any additional support, it's probably an inappropriate placement for the child, and at the next appropriate meeting, having him move to a different setting should probably be discussed.

    My only specific suggestion about the behaviors/interventions you mentioned would be to stay open-minded. You are right in that tangible rewards such as candy aren't always the answer, but they sometimes are, and if you are successful in getting the case manager/special education teacher to provide the support they should be providing, I'd give those strategies a shot, even if they may not make sense at first. At the same time, you are the eyes and ears of the case manager in the classroom, so vocalize your observations and thoughts - realize that you each have something the contribute. Unfortunately, it sounds like you're the only one contributing right now!
     
  5. stepka

    stepka Comrade

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    Dec 9, 2011

    I am very familiar with the case manager but she seems to be just as clueless as I am about how to handle this and to be fair, she's had a big project that she's been heading up and he's new to us and to his family as well.

    Yesterday I took the young man down to a classroom to work with him independently b/c there was a lot of noise in his regular classroom, which made his behaviors worse. While there he kept grabbing my hand and patting his head with it and I would gently pull it away but didn't say anything. I believe I've heard that this is a self soothing thing but don't know that it's a good idea to let it go on so was wondering how others handle this behavior. After about 20 minutes with me he just jumped up and ran out of the classroom before I could stop him. Obviously this is a behavior that we want to correct so i went after him and tried to cajole him into coming back to class and explained in as few words as possible that he could not just leave class. He kept saying "I'm done." He was not getting overly agitated though he did start grabbing at my arm and it could have escalated from there as I was physically blocking him from going where he wanted to go, which was back to the noisy classroom. There was no reason to stop him from going there except that I wanted to work with him on the behavior of just leaving class whenever he feels like it. One of the teachers said it was ok for him to come back and called him over and I was furious b/c it was undermining what I was trying to do and shows me that we are far from being on the same page about correcting these behaviors. I was not nearly as upset with the boy as I was with her, b/c he obviously has not had much of any kind of training.

    We are all in agreement with you all that our school is not the appropriate placement for him--he's in all self-contained classes, but needs very intensive one-on-one therapy. However, my boss is a yes woman and has taken on many more projects than we are equipped to handle and then they use us in such an inefficient manner. :|

    Bros, I'm assuming that if there are evaluations, which surely there are, the case-manager has access to those and should be using them to guide decisions and to create a behavior plan. But, I'm just the TA. (Who is certified to teach sped, btw)
     
  6. bros

    bros Phenom

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    Dec 9, 2011

    The IEP team would create a Behavior Intervention Plan based on a Functional Behavior Assessment.

    Are you a TA or a paraprofessional? It sounds like you are a para. If so, you should at least be able to view the pages of the IEP pertaining to behavior and any behavior plan, if any, that is in place.

    For instance, the running out of the room is a behavior that must be discouraged. In order to stop this behavior, the root cause of the behavior must be determined. Is it too much noise? Too much stimulation? Diet? The lights in the room? The color shirt the teacher is wearing?
     
  7. stepka

    stepka Comrade

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    Dec 10, 2011

    I'm a para. We also say TA here though it can mean either aide, or assistant which is what we are.

    Anyway, yes, I'll be curious to see if they do the BIP but they haven't shared with me if they plan to do that. It's silly though, b/c who better than us to collect data? As near as I can tell though, the only reason he runs out of the room is b/c he gets bored and wants to do something else. We were in a quiet room and he was doing a quiet activity that he enjoyed and I was working next to him on my own activity. Come to think of it though, he may have gotten frustrated with what he was doing, as it was a small puzzle.

    I hate to say it, but communication is not very good at our school, and with certain teachers, there is a high degree of snobbery towards us paras and this case manager is a young hotshot who seems to think that she can handle everything all by herself. Well that's a topic for another thread I guess.
     
  8. bros

    bros Phenom

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    Dec 11, 2011

    Okay. So if he gets bored, set up a system for him to tell you. Perhaps a card he can raise when he feels like running out of the room (Then you can either provide him with an activity, or take him for a short walk through the halls)
     
  9. stepka

    stepka Comrade

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    Dec 13, 2011

    Yes bros I like that. Turns out we have an autism expert on staff but the CM has not asked for her input. :rolleyes:
     

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