OK so what do I ask for?? Help me think...

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by buddy, Feb 21, 2012.

  1. buddy

    buddy New Member

    So, if you could design a program for a 15 yr old 8th grade child who does not fit into general education classes but needs some general education peers, needs people who understand autism and brain injury without getting overly sensitive when they are teaching him, who needs life skills and functional skills to help him get a job even if a supervised/coached one, who does well with his horse therapy, has serious language processing problems, sensory sensitivities and sensory seeking issues... really loves to be with people but has no clue how to maintain without help, loves fun and games and tries and tries and tries over and over.????

    What would a fantasy day look like for Q?? I know in the end it has to be realistic but maybe a brainstorm session will help me. she (advocate) wants me to come with a list of what I want...not only for Q

    BUT also what do I want to happen to the people at the middle school for allowing all of this to go down this way.

    Go ahead and feel free to say whatever.... :check_writer:taking notes......(ok this check writing smiley was as close as I could come)
  2. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Love that smiley... 'cause it's the school district's cheque book that had better get ready...!

    JMO... and it would probably take too long, but we can dream, right?
    The school district needs a NEW school with a NEW program. Just for Q. Well, not quite. You see, there is a way to do this so that it works for everybody...

    This new program would have to be in a separate building, somewhere.
    There would only be two kinds of students.
    1) First would be the kids like Q - high-needs, complex, kids who have "thinking" and "behaving" challenges but NOT "behavior problems" (Know what I mean??) Very high adult-student ratios, sensory room, all that kind of stuff.
    2) The rest of the school - probably several classroom's worth - would be next-to-NT kids with specific but severe learning problems, who need an intensive boost. These kids might come to this school for 6 months, or maybe a year or two, but the purpose is to turn them around, build up their skills, identify and implement accommodations and interventions, and send them back. Behavior problems will NOT be tolerated.

    Then... you have built-in role models of "good citizens" who can interact with the high-needs kids, a school where everybody needs help so no stigma for any of them... a place to get as good as you can.

    I'm not a Special Education teacher. I don't know what all you would need for programs, staffing, etc. But... you need a different model for a school, and it needs to be a school "just for kids like Q"...
  3. buddy

    buddy New Member

    really interesting ideas.... gets me thinking so thanks..
  4. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    A 1 on 1 aide who "gets him" and can help him stay on track but also help him advocate when things start going off track. That's the best guess I have and what I would shoot for if it was my son- and I'm talking about someone there throughout the school district day. Plus- this person would be a male and could somewhat double as a mentor.
  5. whatamess

    whatamess New Member

    Your child would join peers for lunch and 'specials' with an aide. Your child would go on community outings with his own teacher/aide to volunteer, learn about jobs in the community (go behind the scenes at McDonald's, library, animal shelter, etc), and participate in rec and leisure activities (bowling, swimming, going to the mall, movies).
  6. TeDo

    TeDo Guest

    Curriculum/Lessons and work that he will use in "real" life....telling time, using money (math)....reading & understanding community signs such as yield to pedestrians, street names, handicapped accessible (reading)....get the idea? Also, proof that the person working with him is certified CPI trained and Certified in Autism and has had acceptable training in brain injuries as well. Any subs need to also be "qualified" and be able to show proof.

    As for the staff, well....psycho HAS to go! You know Q probably isn't the first and won't be the last "victim" of his. Principal needs to be held accountable in some way...not sure how....mandatory certification training in Autism, brain injuries, intensive training on IDEA/FAPE/LRE/etc. Sub NOT allowed to have anything to do with SpEd kids until PROPERLY trained and monitored with CPI procedures, various disabilities, etc. Not sure who else was on "their" side through all of this.

    No more "offices" or at least not for more than 1/2 the day and even then must have movement/exercise/social breaks every 30 minutes. More sensory areas for kids with sensory needs to be used AS NEEDED not as convenient for staff.

    I could go on and on but don't want to write a book. I could have a BLAST coming up with things that are realistic but not "currently available" at the level they should be.
  7. KTMom91

    KTMom91 Well-Known Member

    Voc training, mentor/ job coach, basic life skills (counting change, reading recipes, looking up phone numbers)...
  8. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    iPad with all the disability apps on it. They have them now for kindergartners so obviously they can be used for Q and they come in a case that is childproof.

    I also agree with something I think IC was trying to say. I believe you could integrate some very highly skilled students, such as gifted students in maybe their junior or senior years of HS, who are on a track in HS who want to go into health care in college and have them take a few classes in a school for kids such as Q. These students would be more apt to be gentle and accepting of kids with disabilities. They would have to be pre-screened of course.
  9. buddy

    buddy New Member

    Excellent everyone... I incorporated this into my list.... I also retyped the whole set of brain injury symptoms so they can see in black and white that this is not an excuse for poor behavior, it is the honest to goodness issue. I should print autism symptoms too, you would think they would know this stuff but ..uggg

    Cant eat, have a headache but I feel strong anyway... just what anyone would feel....anger mixed with nerviousness.
  10. SearchingForRainbows

    SearchingForRainbows Active Member

    There was a public school program for high school students that wasn't in my school district (unfortunately), had some flaws, but was on the right track. The program was located in a separate building from the high school and had an apartment connected to it. The students spent half of every school day, the mornings, in a "typical" high school taking the necessary courses to get their high school diplomas. They spent the other half of every school day, the afternoons in this program. They were brought to the program by cabs but had to be picked up by parents, guardians.

    The whole purpose of the program was to provide them with social skills, ADLs, vocational training, and employment upon graduation. Two days out of the week, they were taught a lesson, for example, how to do laundry. They practiced this skill in the apartment. Certain lessons were taught and constantly reinforced such as crossing busy streets, crossing parking lots, etc. In the nice weather staff had them make picnic lunches in the apartment and then walk to a park to enjoy them. They had to cross several busy streets to get there. Every Thursday they prepared dinner in the apartment, ate it there, and cleaned up before going home. Every once in a while parents, caregivers, etc. were invited to join the students for a meal.

    Every student was assigned to a job coach. The job coach assessed their strengths and weaknesses and found businesses willing to have the students work one day a week for several hours stocking shelves, sweeping floors, stuffing envelopes, etc... The students took public transportation to get to their jobs even if the job was only a block or two away. The students had a job coach with them and were paid for their services.

    There were also social activities scheduled on weekends and there was a calendar on the wall so the students knew what activities were going to happen in advance and could plan for them if they wanted to attend. The students paid for these activities themselves, the price wasn't included in the program. They went to movies, bowling, out for lunches, etc... These activities reinforced what they learned in the classroom too. For instance, when eating out, they were expected to use good table manners, had to decide how much to tip the server, etc.., etc.. etc...

    Although this sounds like a wonderful program, and in many ways it is, there are still some issues with it. in my humble opinion, the biggest issue is that students with all kinds of disabilities are mixed together. For instance there might be a few students who have Downs Syndrome, a few students with severe mental illnesses, a few students who are Aspies, etc. All of these students while having some needs in common, such as needing to learn ADL's, had needs that I don't think were best addressed or even could be addressed, in this kind of mixed population.

    Another problem is that students attended "typical" high school in the mornings. They still have the same problems there that they would have if they attended a full day. I do not believe that a student, by the time he or she is in high school, is going to learn acceptable social skills by being surrounded by "typical" students. (If this were the case, then why do they still lack appropriate social skills after being surrounded by "typical" peers from preschool till now?) In some ways, I think by this time in a child's life, he/she knows he/she is "different" and knows he/she doesn't "fit" in. in my humble opinion, depending on the child, it can be very damaging to self-esteem.

    However, there was a private program, the one we wanted difficult child 2 to attend, (went to hearing, and while given some "crumbs," didn't get enough of the pie, because he was too high functioning academically), that was similar to the above program but addressed the flaws that this program has. The students didn't attend a "typical" high school and were grouped with students having disabilities similar to their own. This program had OTs, SLPs, sped teachers, psychs, all working together in the classrooms. Students either lived in apartments that were supervised 24/7 and attended the school during the day, or lived at home and were bused to the program.

    Students had to be accepted into the program. Students had to go through an extensive screening to make sure they were a good "fit" with the other students who would be their apartment mates, classmates. difficult child 2 spent an entire day at the program, going to classes with the other students, being observed and evaluated by an Occupational Therapist (OT), SPL, psychiatric, several sped teachers, etc... husband and I met with the staff and went over difficult child 2's evaluations with the staff. difficult child 2 was accepted into this program. It upsets me even now, that he wasn't able to go there. Although difficult child 2 is doing well now, "crumbs" were not enough!! He really needed the entire pie!! I'm getting off topic - Sorry!!

    When students needed a break, there was a huge gym filled with swings of all sorts, huge balls, etc., a "cube" sort of thing where a student can be alone with weighted blankets if necessary, etc., etc., etc. One important thing I forgot to mention is that the building that housed this program is only several years old and was built to take into account all kinds of sensory issues from the lighting, the color of the walls, the way the auditorium was set up, what was on the walls, etc...

    The classes were small, no more than 6 - 7 students per class. There were always two specialists in each class plus an aide. There were lots of after school activities, opportunities for social interaction. There were also monthly activities planned for the entire family. In nice weather there were cookouts scheduled on Saturdays.

    The vocational piece was amazing. There was even a "store" inside of the school where students worked, bought food, drinks, played games together during free time, etc.. Students had hands on experience doing clerical work in the office too. They were also placed in jobs outside of the school setting.

    Guidance counselors and vocational rehab counselors, depending on the student's needs, either helped them find employment upon graduation or pick a suitable junior college or college to attend. There were also apartments available for graduates who needed additional life skills training or who were going to need life long supervision. Not sure of all the specifics of this part of the program.

    Didn't realize how long this was getting. I could "talk" about this subject endlessly, lol...

    Hope there are a few things here that might be helpful as you decide what is best for Q.

    As always, thinking of you and Q... SFR
  11. Rabbit

    Rabbit Member

    I just wanted you to know that I was thinking of you and Q.And Praying for u both. Hugs Rabbit
  12. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    Tossing in..."an environment that is physically and emotionally safe" utlizing "fully qualified and understanding personnel with specific training to help difficult child reach his goals of successful incorporation into our society". Perhaps ? "difficult child will only be served but those staff members with documented understanding of his disabilities and the appropriate means to redirect behaviors".

    I don't know if you have had contact with Voc/Rehab. The services are not great where I live but I know that in some communities there are valuable supports available.

    The only other thought I have is to explore the methods used in the "out of District" school that you have been told about. Perhaps becoming familiar with that operation you might find some creative, helpful and protected programs that could be incorporated for your son. Hugs DDD

    PS: Have you been in contact with the Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) groups? They "could" be of help, too.
  13. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    SFR brought up something that clicked a memory for me. Actually a few.

    Number one, I think at this point we have to be fairly realistic at this point in looking at Q's future. Are they attempting to put him in a slot where they are supposedly pushing him towards a HS diploma that in reality wont mean a darned thing? With all respect, with his disabilities, he isnt actually cognitively able to graduate with a regular diploma.

    Number two, I think we need to look towards his future so he is able to be able to take care of his basic ADL's with the least amount of intervention as possible. I tend to think Q will always need some sort of intervention at least for the foreseeable future. Maybe as he ages he will be able to learn rote care. That is possible. Some people do learn how to have strict schedules in a structured living environment. I think he may need that.

    Number three. When I was on the Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) unit after my meningitis, they wouldnt let me leave until I could do certain things which I think could be relevant to his schooling. I think they are things he should be taught at this time. I had to show that I could remember how to dress myself again completely including socks, I had to show that I could cook a simple meal and trust me that wasnt as easy as that sounds...I burned my first attempt...lol, I had to show that I could go up and down steps, show that I could get in and out of a car correctly and how I would buckle up, I had to show that I knew what a washing machine was, I had to show that I knew what each coin and dollar bill was. You get my drift.

    Now as far as when he gets a bit older...Fran sent her son to a place somewhere on the east coast that dealt with aspies and some even less functional autistic people that gave them some training. I have no idea where it was but you should PM her to find out the info on it and you could contact them for some input to see if they have any ideas for you. I know when she sent her son I wished I had had the money to send my older son there because while her son is more severe than mine, they also had a more traditional tract to graduate students with actual degrees. This place was quite unique from what I could tell.
  14. buddy

    buddy New Member

    I love the sound of so much of what you guys describe. Janet, in our state, the kids who can't meet educational standards for graduation can graduate to their IEP goals. So, he will receive his regular diploma based on what he can do as long as he sticks with it and works on his goals. (which he does). Yes, there is no doubt he will always need supervision and support. He may get to a place where he can have some time alone in a supported apartment etc. but he wont be a person who can fully handle money, shopping etc. On the other hand, he would be able to handle learning a specific job and do very well at it if he had the training and patience from someone... he would need a support person if a problem happened of course but would not likely need someone right next to him all of the time.

    So at the meeting I pretty much said similar to what you guys said. The academic gap is widening, not that we give up because he likes to learn about science and social studies and he consistently makes progress in his reading, writing and math. He actually has better functional skills in those areas than academic skills (like could figure out lapsed time using a digital clock when quite young... or could say we have 18 minutes until.... again using a DIGITAL clock..so he was doing the math in his head...but if you ask how he couldn't tell you. He does very well with adding, subtracting and understands the processes for mult. and division but his memory problems means he does need to use a calculator to make sure things are right... that is FINE. He does well with money... like would give a 20 if something cost 16 dollars and knows he should get change. He even knows if he is too close to cover taxes. He sometimes gets nervous but he always goes and orders or pays himself (I have always encouraged him to do that because it is such a huge part of being independent).

    I think we may be able to get him to start high school THIS year. I am still looking at all programs and will make sure, but the idea may be he spends 3.5 hours at the SUN program without the peer models but working on academics and direct teaching of skills...probably his speech and DAPE there too, then he is bused to his high school to do functional skills with the CIP and Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD) classes including off campus transitional activities as you all discussed... independent living skill stuff etc. I will explore it all and see if they are all talk and no chance to really do it or what. He would be THRILLED and it would reduce a transition if we ultimately want him there. May need to go the other way because SUN starts late and HS ends early. But if it is less than an hour off his day I am not so sure tha t is a big deal since we would still have after school appointments and it would be easier on him. I am still checking out two other districts close by, one is an independent Special Education district (not thrilled by the distance but??? if it is good???) and the other is to open enroll in the next town south of here.

    I stood firm on not being thrilled by their stance he needs only 2-3 kids... that has never been the case it is just what they are DOING right now because they can't pull it off. and the fact that they squished 13 kids into this tiny new room with no separate sensory room does not mean that he didn't do well other years with 6-8 kids and he needs those kids to be with emotionally and to learn appropriate skills... and yes he is a kid who does learn from them... of course with support. He needs help to learn, but he does amazingly well because he is so motivated. SO for example I would coach him on what to say if someone wanted to play searching for a diving toy in the water... I would remind him to take his turns etc... and he did well. Eventually was going underwater and playing games back and forth together, even new games and I have video to prove it! I know it can be done. Just throwing him in with peers does not work as it doesn't with most Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) kids but he really does learn when coached using visuals and prep work and practice ahead of time. Some of those skills can make the difference between being able to work in a car wash with others and not being able to do so.

    I will keep exploring and I have printed these ideas and really pulled them together under one document but I will keep checking or PM me if anyone has ideas....I am considering ALL of it. I think I am too emotional to remember all of the things I want to say so that is why I am really loving that you all are sharing... thanks!
  15. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Buddy - Its just another form of "board power"... asynchronus brainstorming!
    So often, any one of us doesn't have "the answers" for our own problem(s), but... we do have ideas - some we have tried, some we have researched, etc.
    On a day when everything else is going wrong, and sometimes one wonders why we even exist... we get a chance to help somebody else in some small way.

    Thanks for creating opportunities to help...
  16. TeDo

    TeDo Guest

    <Like> <Like>
  17. Our school is pretty much a dream. Your son sounds like the typical student at my son's school.

    We do have small structured classes with about 2 teachers to 12 students. Cameras everywhere, because kids don't always tell the truth, so it helps to have record of things. A place called "GAG" (get a grip) where kids can request to go at any point in the day if they are having a hard time -- they can lie in a dim room on a comfy couch, or get help from the school counselor.

    They have TAG -- an in school suspension -- that kids go to for a breakdown in rule following. There is very little anger. Very matter of fact. "You do this, you don't get to do that. You do this again, you go to TAG for two days. It's up to you to make your choice, not us." Nothing psychologically punitive for the kids from the staff. It is amazing how they do that. The stuff my son has done there and he is still loved and treated with respect...whew.

    They have a way of charting behavior even on an hourly basis, which ties in with a reward system that includes dress-down day on Friday, cool field trips, movies. They have video game systems for down time -- because a lot of these kids are video and film responsive. We get graphs of the behaviors, so we can see triggers for meltdowns, hard times of day, or times they are with certain students that trigger them.

    Onsite therapists, tutoring, different diploma options ( college, trade school, regular HS diploma, special diploma). Classes for kids who are going to be in special diploma category...no stigma attached. It is amazing how the attitude of acceptance is really alive there.

    Lots of activities that our kids can do well.....photographs and visual records of everything they do. Photos everywhere! Our kids featured on the website, amazing IT teacher -- they are learning basic web design even in middle school, and can do what they are able. Computer time as reward.

    Perhaps I could PM a link to it so you could take a look, if you promise you won't come down and stalk me. Like you have time to do that, yuk, yuk, yuk.
  18. buddy

    buddy New Member

    Yeah, I pretty much have a 45 mile radius around my home for travel these years! LOL Thanks for the info OVB! I am looking at and listening to everything because whether a good fit or not, it helps me to see what can be and what might not ever happen. Thanks! I'd appreciate that.

    PS It is so interesting to me how different states/districts etc. handle diploma situations. In MN you are not even allowed on report cards to mention if a student is in special education. All diplomas look the same between gen ed. and sp ed... even if a student can't meet standards. They simply have to do the IEP work... If he didn't show up and do what he can do then of course that would be different. I see the point....not like having the diploma is going to give him an edge in life (getting a job they should have had, or getting into a college, LOL) on someone else who earns it through traditional education. No one would ever know anyway and it does not diminish anyone else's accomplishments. So, why not reward them for doing the best they can. They are very protective over not having people categorized and labeled for public view.

    Not saying it is right or wrong either way, just interesting.
  19. Not sure the kids know what "track" they are on. It is kind of an educational plan that the kids can fulfill according to interests and abilities. The diplomas look the same. This is also a private school, so the school can do whatever they want, I think. Not sure what the state does.
  20. buddy

    buddy New Member

    Wow, that is a private school? sounds cool. You know, even if a parent does not love all the things a school does, when there is respect for the child and their mistakes are viewed as learning opportunities not character flaws it is really an amazing thing. Sounds like the staff have it right in that sense especially. If you pm me the link that would be great.