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.



One day, Nugget came home with a suspension slip. It said he had kicked a peer in the face during recess. Being a little confused at how he managed to kick a peer in the face, I casually asked him how recess had gone that day. He did not know that I had found a suspension note in his backpack. To the contrary, I don't believe he even knew that he had been suspended, or even what suspension meant. He proceeded to tell me that he had kicked a girl at recess. I acted surprised and confused about this. He said that he was going down the slide doing a "penguin-slide" and when he laid down on his belly to slide down, he had accidentally kicked the girl in line behind him. I asked if she got hurt and he indicated a "yes" by nodding his head. He then said that she was crying. At this point, I was confused about why he would be suspended. It did not sound like he had purposefully hurt his peer, or attacked this peer, rather that he was not watching behind him before going down the slide. I was confused how something like this could happen since he was supposed to have a paraprofessional with him at all times. Either way, I did not feel a suspension was in order. This would not teach my child any replacement behavior. It would, however, teach him what he would need to do to get out of school, a place he already dreaded going to, and yes, hated.

I wished that I could be a fly on the wall at school. Only then would I be able to determine exactly what was happening to my child. I found myself parking in the school parking lot next to the playground every day. I may not have been able to see him inside the school and this was my only chance to observe without the school knowing. Every day I would pack a lunch, binoculars, and camera. I did not feel guilty doing this. I had to know. I had to protect my son.

Nugget's IEP clearly stated an all-day, one-on-one paraprofessional. His ABA therapists had suggested that Nugget have the opportunity to work on social skills during more unstructured times, such as recess. I watched as his one-on-one para was not anywhere near him most of the time, rather had his back turned to Nugget while conversing with another para. I watched as Nugget went down the slide on his belly doing the "penguin-slide" alone, I watched him run to areas on the playground, clearly out of his paraprofessional's site. Not that it seemed to matter to the paraprofessional. He was still busy socializing with his co-workers. I watched Nugget swing, alone. I watched as he parallel-played next to a peer. Why would the school suspend my child for kicking another student in the face, but not even pay attention to him during recess in case he would attempt to kick, or show aggression towards a peer again? It made no sense. I would be right there with him, taking advantage of the time to work on his social skills, and to be proactive in heading off any potential aggression towards a peer.According to the school, had he not already purposefully kicked another peer in the face?

A week had already passed, and I continued my "spying" routine. I had taken pictures of how far Nugget's paraprofessional seemed to be from Nugget, not even paying attention to the potentials of flight-risk or aggressive behaviors. Not being proactive, and not working on social skills. During the entire week I had been conducting my "spying" routine, I had rarely seen his paraprofessional anywhere near him. Until one time. I remember the day very clearly. It was a Tuesday. I saw Nugget's paraprofessional at the bottom of the slide. Nugget was, once again, doing his "penguin-slide". When Nugget reached the bottom of the slide, he proceeded to climb up on top of one of the tunnel slides on the play ground. I observed Nugget's para grabbing for his leg. Nugget tried to shake off the paraprofessionals grasp on his leg, when his paraprofessional forcefully yanked Nugget by his leg, and onto the ground.

Stay tuned for Part 6 and 7 - The Finale of "How the Educational System Failed my Son with Autism"