Tuesday, October 02, 2007

There Were Circumstances

So, let's get the totally awesome out of the way first: Aide T is coming back on Monday!

And...(trying not to get my hopes up too high here, but) there's a chance she won't be student teaching in the spring after all.

(Pardon me while I heave a huge sigh of relief.)

Anyhow, Bulldozer apparently realized he was back at school today, after a relatively peaceful day yesterday. He had two pretty intense meltdowns -- the first of which resulted in him yanking our map off the wall, and the second of which resulted in him ripping the paper behind the map off the windows.

However, during the second one, he looked at me with that look. He pointed at me and said, "Mmm mmmm mad!" (Which is his way of saying "Miss ____ mad!") In other words, "Ha ha ha, I'm making you mad."

Yeah, kiddo...when you tell me what your bad behavior is trying to get...not gonna get it. Sorry.

So I kept my poker face and said quietly, "I understand that you want to make me mad. But instead we're going to write a note home to mom and dad. If they're mad...that's up to them. I just want you to do your work."

Suffice it to say, he was a bit stunned.

(Haw haw.)

I wasn't going to stay today and put the map back up, but I changed my mind. However, it's now back where it was last year (slightly out of arm's reach when he's at the table he's at where he has his meltdowns)...plus, there is masking tape all around the edge of the paper.

(Haw haw.)

It's a bit childish, I realize, to feel kinda vindictive about this, but it's not going to work. He has a communication device, break cards, a picture schedule, and (currently) a touch more freedom than the rest of the kids. He's following a work-then-break one-step schedule which results in him getting more breaks than the rest of them. Bless their hearts, though, they get it, and don't complain.

Meanwhile, Speech Aide A came in to do speech with him, and sent my blood pressure skyrocketing. She was immediately confrontational with him (yeah, good plan, that) and when he did try to smack her, she said loudly to me (twice), "He can't be allowed to get away with this."


Don't ya think it would be easier to let him get away with this? I mean, seriously, do you think I like getting tables shoved at me, getting kicked, having my glasses thrown across the room, and having a 9 year old boy trying to tear my shirt? I wouldn't be going through all of this if I was letting him "get away" with it.

The kid is primarily trying to escape tasks. So, just like all the head honcho behavior people say, he is removed from the situation to calm down in a place where both he and I are safe, and when he is calm, the task is presented again. His meltdowns do not allow him to escape tasks. They (and I) follow him. I don't give him stuff when he's inclined to tear it up and throw it away, but it remains in view, and it doesn't go anywhere.

And, ya know what, it works. His Tuesdays are as good as his Fridays are at the beginning of the year. I am already considering which tasks to add a second step to his picture schedule for -- in order to delay his reward/break. Aside from today, he is hitting less, and crying less. When he does cry, it is for shorter periods of time, is generally quieter, and he refocuses better.


'Cause he hasn't been allowed to get away with it. Because his escape behavior isn't earning him escape -- completing short tasks and/or asking for a break is getting him a break.

Then, as he begins to calm down, she presents him with his first task. It is not a particularly engaging one, and he tries to throw the pictures away. So, I try to ease him into it. Instead of pointing at "she is brushing teeth," I ask him if the pictures are girls or boys (his favorite thing to name) but she brushes me off, sending him into another 5 minute long tail spin.

I was actually so bothered by the comment that I asked DFT to talk to her about it. She (DFT) has been remarkably pragmatic about the whole thing. She came back to do speech with him after he hit Speech Aide A the second time, and when he began hitting, allowed me to redirect him to the safe chair, sat a ways back, and did just what I was trying to do today -- namely, start off slow, start off easy, ease him into the hard stuff.

And, of course, in the morning, I hear the continuous chatter from Aide L (despite both Aide S and Aide J -- hooray for them -- brushing her off and answering as vaguely as possible) about how he didn't do this last year (of course, she subbed from winter break on, after Teacher M had already fought this battle, albiet with parents that sort of reinforced her at home, at least), and how it must be the age, 'cause her son has been scratching, yadda yadda yadda.

My response? I paraphrased an episode of Buffy: "There are circumstances." (For the record, the actual quote is, "Buffy wouldn't do something like this. It's just not in her nature. Well, I mean, there was that one time where she disappeared for several months and changed her name, but there were circumstances then -- there-there's no circumstances!")

It's kinda like last year, when M had some trouble adjusting from lots of play time to ohmigod-I'm-in-fourth-grade-and-I-have-to-work?!?!?! All I got from otherwise-wonderful Aide L (who works in preschool, not sub-aide L) was, "Wow, M wasn't like this last year."


However, we had a great sub for Aide B this afternoon -- although since Bulldozer's meltdown began about 5 minutes after recess until more or less the end of the day, I only got to chat with her after school.

Still, she was telling someone about how she was explaining to someone working with her son (who, I presume, must have disabilities of some sort) that if he spits at you, redirect him once, otherwise just move away from him -- 'cause he's doing it for attention.


So I praised the thought process up and down right in front of Aide J (I only with Aide S could have been there) because she still makes that mistake with E, even though she doesn't anymore with Superhero.

Anyway, after school, I told her that I was glad she understood that, because often people don't get it and continue redirecting. Her response was a totally awesome "Well, I would too, if I wanted him to spit at me more!"

Hee hee hee.

It might have made some impact on Aide J, though. While waiting for the bus, E hit her on the arm, and she simply turned away (keeping E in her peripheral vision, of course) and said, "I'm not talking to you while you're hitting."

Much, much better than, "Ouch! That hurt! E, there is no hitting! Stop!"

However, I must say, the class handled Aide T's visit very well -- despite swarming her in a massive group hug the moment she came in the door. :-) M had a bit of a problem, but she calmed down fairly well until Bulldozer's second tremendous meltdown -- but the OTs took her outside, so yay!

Meanwhile, Superhero started crying at recess and even using his new communication flip book, could only tell me he was "sad." A bit later, he started sneezing, coughing, and felt warm, so my suspicion is that he's catching the epidemic that M and Bulldozer have already had, and that Angel has now (and that I avoided only by the grace of lots of vitamins, horrible tasting zicam mouth spray, and lots of sleep).

How many seconds till Monday morning? :-)

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