Monday I wrote this grand post about changing how I view Howie’s days at school. Focusing on the academics. The positives. Not running right to the behavior sheet. And not using that to determine the success of the day.
I hit publish on that post on Monday and Howie was home 15 minutes later. And I tried. I really did. I waited to check his log sheet, going first to the work. I asked how his day was and got the standard answer of “fine”.
And then I went to the log sheet.
I get a record of how he did on his behavior plan, separated out by each hour of the six hour day. Only once that day did he “earn”.
The other remarks were “vocal outbursts at work requests”. “Hit another child”. “Scratched me.” (from his aide).
When I ask him about it, he shouts “I don’t remember!” and runs away.
Yup. Right back again.
So there’s my confession. I couldn’t even last a day without using his behavior as a measurement of success.
I had our regularly scheduled monthly meeting with his teaching team and BCBA yesterday.
They’ve taken weeks (months) of data. We’re in crisis mode now.
His triggers are unpredictable. All steps to keep him in the inclusion classroom full time have not worked. His sensory toolbox is still being refined and he’s just learning to use it.
But it’s not quick enough for them. They can’t identify what will cause the outbursts or aggressions before they happen, so they can’t help prevent it or even teach him how to prevent it.
And sure, we can look back and say “Oh well, he was getting sick so that’s why he was off that day.” Or “Daylight Savings Time throws him off every year.” Or whatever we define as the trigger after the fact.
But it doesn’t – and can’t – excuse the violent and aggressive behavior.
If we can be honest, we’ve been in this crisis mode since October.
It’s March. Eight months into the school year. And all the tweaking and fine tuning hasn’t worked.
Socially and behaviorally, he’s made no progress on any of his IEP goals. None. He’s actually regressed.
So here we have a kid who academically is shining. But as I wrote on Monday, he just can’t be in the classroom to do it. The large group time is just too much for him.
Too many distractions? Sensory overload? Not enough good peer models? Something else?
I told his team that I’ve basically put this year behind us. That I hoped we’d start summer school and first grade fresh with a new plan and new goals.
The proposal now is pulling him out of inclusion for some portion of the day for direct teaching of behavior modification. “Compliance training“.
I told a friend those were my two least favorite words in the English language now. Like, that’s the best name they could call it? Couldn’t we call it something more positive?
Maybe “Say Yes To The Dress?”
The team told us to think about it. That we would need to sign off on the pull out of the inclusion class for the work.
I told them that he was already being pulled out of the classroom because he can’t be there. Right now, it’s in response to inappropriate or aggressive behavior. So if he can’t be there, why not have it be for a positive teaching reason? And perhaps the inclusion model isn’t right for him right now.
But that’s the hardest truth to swallow. That’s the part that gets me. My kid can’t be in the classroom. He needs to be taught how to be in a classroom with 20 other kids.
The behavior that comes so naturally to other children is a constant struggle for Howie. The other kids need the academic instruction, my kid needs the behavior instruction. The social/behavioral goals are part of his overall educational success.
So while I’d really like to be that mom from Monday, the one that praises and focuses on the academic successes and accentuates the positives?
I can’t. I just can’t.
The truth is much more complicated.
And if we’re being honest, I really really hate that.
“Honesty is such a lonely word.
Everyone is so untrue.
Honesty is hardly ever heard.
And mostly what I need from you. ” – Honesty by Billy Joel