Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Progress is Not Always Seen in the Eye of the Beholder

As our ASD kiddo's grow, their needs and challenges will change. As parents, sometimes we may be so focused on the current challenges, that we forget about the how far they have come.

"Mom, I need your help!". Nugget was yelling from his room. I knew he was working on coloring a color-coded multiplication sheet. I answered him with, "How can mom help you?". He immediately corrected my pronoun usage. So I apologized and said, "How can I help you?". This has been a challenge for me. Still in a "baby-talk" mode", sometimes I forget in that moment, the progress he has made.

However, this immediately got me chuckling to myself, thinking back to when his speech was emerging. When he would fall down, he wouldn't say that he was okay, rather, he would say, "Are you OK?" echoing what he had heard me ask him on previous occasions, whenever he would fall. At that time, I remember wondering how I would get him to understand proper pronoun usage. It seemed impossible as he would just always echo what I would say. Hubby and I would model for him the difference between saying "You", while I would point at hubby, and "me", while pointing at myself. Then we would switch. They would work on pronoun usage during ABA.

I can't tell you when he learned this difference, and I can't tell you that it was immediate. What I can tell you, is that sometimes we are so focused on what our children are unable to do, that we forget about what they have accomplished, and how at one time, we may have believed that progress would not be possible.....and then they prove us wrong.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

How the Educational System Failed my Son with Autism - Part 5

By now, it was apparent that when Nugget was having behavioral challenges in the classroom, he was either restrained or taken to a seclusion room. We had not given our approval for either of these interventions. To the contrary, we had already confronted the school about the amount of unnecessary restrain that had been occurring. Nugget now hated school. Any motivation he had, was now crushed. His behaviors at home had started to increase. He was now also showing new behaviors, they were turning more self-injurious.

Monday, October 6, 2014

How the Educational System Failed my Son with Autism - Part 4

We never received a response to our email, or apology, from Nugget's Kindergarten teacher. We figured the truth must hurt. However, I will never forget her demeanor and threatening me at a parent-teacher conference when she made the comment to me that the school shouldn't have to worry about a lawsuit from other parents, when she was referring to Nugget's "naughty" behaviors. Her very negative attitude towards my child will never be forgotten. As a parent of two ASD children, you might get thick-skinned to the glares and the negative remarks from strangers. They don't matter. They are not a part of your daily life, but for a Kindergarten teacher to have this attitude, is just baffling. She is currently still teaching at this school, and it is our hope that she at least learned something.

Over the summer, Nugget attended ESY. Not without incident. I was informed of yet another restrain. The class was going to walk to the local park one day. This entailed crossing rail-road tracks. Evidently, Nugget escaped the adults and went running for the tracks. They chased after him and restrained him. My first thought of course, was that I was relieved to know he was safe. I then wondered what made him bolt? He was a flight risk, a wanderer. The staff knew this. It was in his IEP. I trusted them to be proactive knowing this.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

The Liebster Award

Liebster Award

I would like to thank Hardly Bored for awarding me with the Liebster Award. I feel priviliged and have accepted this award. The Liebster award is an award that was reputedly started in Germany in order to give smaller bloggers recognition for their hard work. You receive this award from a fellow blogger that feels your blog is both worthy & important to them.

Since I have accepted this award, I must answer the ten questions posed to me by Hardly Bored and I must also nominate 5 fellow bloggers who I also feel are worthy of this award. I have listed my nominees at the bottom.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

How the Educational System Failed my Son with Autism - Part 3

I arrived early at the school for the IEP meeting, feeling alone, tired, and frustrated. The people who I had looked at as a team and trusted in helping our son succeed in school, I now felt were enemies. I saw no solution that could possibly make me feel any better about Nugget attending this school. I did not know how to work with the team with these strong emotions. I took a deep breath before walking in. I noted that everyone was already present and took the first available seat. No body said a word. I am sure they could see by the look on my face that I wasn't interested in small talk anyway. I was handed the attendance sheet for the meeting and tried to sign it. I was so upset that my hands were shaking as I tried to sign my name and hoped nobody noticed. Nugget's Special Education Coordinator started the meeting by handing out an agenda. As she started talking, I interrupted her and pulled out the pictures of Nugget's bruises and demanded to know who was responsible for hurting my child. The room went quiet, as I made a point to look at each and every person at the table. It seemed like 10 minutes had passed, by the time the Principal spoke up and insisted that no one at school had caused the bruises on Nugget's arms. He further insisted that the "basket method" they used was safe, and an approved intervention. I was quick to tell him that we had never approved to this intervention and it was not in his current IEP. With that, the principal added that they were allowed to use this method if they felt he was endangering himself, or others. It was evident we were not going to agree on this. It was clear that it did not seem to matter that the restraining that had already been occurring had affected Nugget both physically and emotionally.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

How the Educational System Failed my Son with Autism - Part 2

By now, I knew that I needed to get absolutely any communication with the school in writing. Otherwise, it would just be a case of "he said - she said". I needed to document the incident of Nugget's bruises that he came home from school with. I kept Nugget home from school the next day. He did not want to go to school anyway, and we were not going to force him. I needed to find out what had happened. I did not want to "lead" Nugget with my questions, so I would keep my questions rather short and not point fingers at the school, trying to sound as objective as possible with my questions, Nugget told me the whole story. He had been trying to escape some "mean teachers". He ended up running to the library where one of the para's with him had attempted to restrain him. He got scared and tried to "escape school" by running to the front doors. The Principal came out of his office at that time, saw Nugget, and restrained him by "squeezing" him. I was furious and could feel how upset Nugget was by this entire event. I tried as hard as I could to not show my negative feelings about the school around Nugget.

Later that day, instead of replying to my email, the Principal called and explained what had happened. According to the Principal, they had only restrained Nugget once, and it was because he had been kicking the front doors of the school, which are made of glass. The Principal said they had no other choice. Immediately after I got off the phone, I typed up an email to confirm everything the Principal had said about the incident. I then emailed it to the rest of the IEP members, as well as the Principal himself. I felt they were being deceitful about their actions. I believe Nugget had been restrained twice, once by the paraprofessional and once by the Principal. Not to mention, that we had never agreed to such intervention in Nugget's IEP. Next, I called the MN Department of Education, Student Maltreatment Program, and reported the restrain incident. I spoke with an investigator who asked me to send the pictures of the bruises and an investigation would be conducted. I compiled an email and, in addition, I sent a copy of the email I had sent to the school confirming the conversation with the Principal regarding the incident. We were relieved thinking justice would be served.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

How the Educational System Failed my Son with Autism - Part 1

When Nugget started preschool, I was that mom who always brought a box of doughnuts or cookies to an IEP meeting. We were, after all, a team and I wished to show my appreciation for everything the school staff would do for my son. At that time, I was not interested in education laws, such as the Individuals with Disabilities Educational Act (IDEA). I looked up to school staff, I trusted them and I was very appreciative of their efforts in providing for Nuggets needs - and he had lots of them. As educators, I thought these individuals had more knowledge than I did about autism. I thought that I should be able to trust that they knew how to effectively help my child in the educational setting. Equally, they seemed interested in how well I knew my son and seemed appreciative of the tips I could offer on how to work with Nugget.

Nugget was diagnosed with autism and global developmental delay during his preschool year. His speech was significantly delayed. When requesting milk, he would often just utter a "k" sound. Otherwise, he would often just grab my hand and pull me to the refrigerator and point to what he wanted. In addition, we had tons of behavioral issues that were often expressed in the form of severe aggression, including hitting, kicking, and biting. The aggression would often occur when we would request him to do something as simple as sitting at the dinner table with us, or try to engage with him. It seemed he just wanted to be left alone and play on his Nintendo DS.  I can't tell you how many times I took a shower, just to be able to have 5 minutes alone, so I could cry. Emotionally, I was overwhelmed with exhaustion and devastation, and I knew my son needed help. Physically, I was being attacked and beat up by my son. His behavior was out of control.