Considering placement in ED room

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by tictoc, Jan 14, 2011.

  1. tictoc

    tictoc New Member

    I haven't been around for quite a while...I didn't have internet access for a long time. A lot has happened with us in the past few months. difficult child now has a diagnosis of BiPolar (BP) 1, along with Tourette's Syndrome, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), and ADHD.
    He is in a mainstream second grade class with a full-time, 1:1 aide. That worked well last year, but this year is not going well at all. He does well academically, even though he spends a lot of time outside the classroom (taking sensory breaks, re-regulating after a meltdown, going to Occupational Therapist (OT), etc). BUT, he consistently has huge fits about doing the required work, even when it is work that is not difficult for him. This week alone, he has thrown chairs, tipped over a desk, and kicked his aide.

    Overall, the people who work with him are very good. They are caring, compassionate people who put a lot of effort into helping him succeed. But, it just isn't working. We have had modest success with medications and his moods aren't cycling as badly as they were in the summer, but he is nowhere near "stable." We have a long way to go.

    So, husband and I are beginning to consider the possibility of an ED classroom for difficult child. His self-esteem really seems to be suffering in the current setting and he has started to hate school. However, he has friends his class and he doesn't want to leave them.

    Do any of you have any experience with ED classrooms at the elementary level? My gut tells me that difficult child needs more help than he currently is getting. But, I fear that putting him in an ED class means that we are giving up on him.

  2. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    In NO way is putting him in an ED class "giving up" on him. It is giving him the help he needs. He will be in a smaller setting so there may be less reason for so many breaks. He should get work that is on his level in every subject. If that means kdg in one subject and fifth grade in another, then they should be able to work with that. They will also teach him the things he cannot learn by osmosis - the social stuff. They will be far more understanding of what he can and cannot do. I was one who thought that my kid just wouldn't need it. Then he had a couple of disastrous years in a very uncaring, rigid school. After we moved we went to talk to the school about enrolling him. I started asking about it in March or April the year before. I watned to know what they could and would offer. We had homeschooled for 2 years prior to moving and it was very intense in many wyas. Thre was no way he was going to sit through a boring lesson - he would walk away or go read a book. I didn't think it fair to him to suddenly have to learn entirely new patterns that fast, nor was it fair to the teachers and other kids to deal with him because when he is bored he was incredibly disruptive and he was almost always trying to cause trouble. We got blessed, honestly and ttruly blessed. He was in a class with 2 other students and 2 aides and a reg teacher. The teacher was amazing. She KNEW those kids and what they needed and she LOVED them (in a healthy way, of course). At the start one of the aides was male and cool. Just graduated with a degree in sp ed teaching and hadn't gotten his own classroom yet. Tall, played basketball for a small jr college before going to our college, and was happy to bring in his playstation to let the kids play games as a reward. He was also the FIRST adult male that the other 2 boys had ever had in their lives that behaved well. He took that in stride, showed them how to be respectful to women, to others and to themselves. He left for his own classroom right after the winter break, but flew back twice to see the kids. No family in town, a few college buddies, but would spend a full day with the kids. The other aide looked like a bleach blond rocker. She was incredible - scary smart, loved the kids, took just about anything they did in stride from kid things to boy things to abused kid things to mentally ill things. Nothing but knowing a child was being abused really fazed her. She and Wiz connected on a deep emotional level because she saw a lot of herself in him. The teacher was in her early 30's, funny, flappable but in a way that taught the kids how to handle getting upset, and just incredible with the kids. Really saw them as real people, not mini adults, and never as something to "manage".

    That year did a whole lot to help Wiz learn that he had the power to control his behavior and his choices, even if he was mad. The class had 7 by years end and a total of 3 restraints were used that year with ALL of them. They did more academics than many of them had done in 2 or 3 years before then. they also learned to "roll with it" - that just because it wasn't what you expected to happen didn't mean it was going to be awful and a disaster. And even if it WAS awful and a disaster you could laugh about it later and stay calm and learn that you can get through things you don't want/like/expect with-o causing major outbursts and disruptions. The class even went on its own field trips to small museums and to the huge masonic temple half an hour from here. The teacher took the kids out to a fancy fancy restaurant as a reward (on her own dime) and let them eat whatevr they wanted. They had all eaten bfast, snack and lunch together to work on manners and none of them was less than beautifully mannered at the restaurant!! It was the most amazing year. It was the best placement we ever had for him and it was incredible.

    They are not all like this. But the right placement makes a HUGE difference in a child's life. Your difficult child doesn't learn or function or think the way the other kids do and clearly is having a lot of problems. A placement is NOT giving up anymore than going to a different college from one of your friends was giving up. It is simply about finding what is the best fit. I took a lot of heat when I left a huge school to go to a smaller one to finish college. I needed the smaller atmosphere and the different things offered and my friends at the big college needed what that school had to offer. This is the SAME THING. Check out the class ahead of time, spend time in the class when your child is there. Be a room mom if you can - in 12 yrs of teaching I was the first room mom the teacher had ever had. The other moms were not high functioning or mentally healthy and when they did try to contribute it could be really strange in a bad way. So help out. If the class needs something and you know someone who could donate it, do what you can to arrange it. My dad was clearing out some things because he was a teacher who had a LOT of tools but was going to retire, so I passed what I could along. It really helped the teacher and it helped us work together as a team.

    Give it a chance. If it bombs you can always change it again, back to the classroom or to an even better place.
  3. slsh

    slsh member since 1999

    I would strongly recommend that you look at the ED classroom before you make any decisions. I would also recommend that you have an iron-clad IEP in terms of academic goals, as well as a plan for reintegrating him back into mainstream. In addition, I'd suggest that you get him involved in as many extra-curricular activities, either in his home school or in community rec programs, as possible if you do go the ED route.

    It's a difficult position to be in when you have a really bright kid who is unsafe in his current placement. My son also liked to throw furniture and books - my greatest fear was that he was going to really hurt someone. In the ED setting, he at least had staff available who were better equipped to deal with his behaviors. The academic portion of every ED program he was in (in-district class, out of district class, and 4 Residential Treatment Center (RTC) programs) never met his needs. Part of it I'm sure is my fault for not being a better advocate. The programs basically taught to the lowest common denominator in the class, which was always far below where thank you was. Plus, a huge portion of the school day was spent simply trying to contain my kid... so not a lot of teaching was done.

    I wish I had a 20/20 hindsight suggestion. I really don't. I've thought about it a lot - what could we have done differently to have a better outcome for thank you??? I just don't know what would have worked better for him - other than perhaps heading to OK so he could go to school with Susie's kiddo, LOL!!!

    I do *not* mean to turn you off of an ED placement, especially since it sounds like your son does have some potentially dangerous behaviors. I do think you need to make sure, as best you can, that there is a balance of the therapeutic component, behavior management, *and* continued education at his appropriate skill level.

    I wanted to add that considering an alternate placement is absolutely *not* giving up on him. You're trying to find a program that will help him learn how to function in his home school environment. That's advocacy, not throwing in the towel.
  4. nvts

    nvts Active Member

    Have you looked at a 12:1 program within the General Ed environment? It's a smaller class and you can still have a 1 to 1 para in the room for him. In NYC, ED will mess you up as far as moving around within programs as he progresses. I didn't know any better and allowed my oldest 2 to be classified as ED as opposed to Autistic and it was a nightmare to have it corrected. It had a lot to do with funding (that's what I refer to as the true "F" word!).

    I agree that you really need to observe the ED class before you put him in. You don't want him picking up other behaviors to add to what he's already doing.

  5. tictoc

    tictoc New Member

    Thanks for your replies! We are supposed to start looking at ED rooms in the next couple of weeks. At this point, the SD isn't really pushing for an ED placement, but we don't want to wait until we are in crisis mode to start looking around. I think my big fear is that if we place him in ED, he will never get back to the mainstream.

    Beth: I've never heard of a 12:1 placement. Where can I find more information?

  6. april222999

    april222999 New Member

    Wow this is similar to my son hes also 7 and in 2nd grade hes diagnosed with adhd mood disorder Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) and who knows where they are going with it. he takes concerta, risperdal, and zoloft. He is having similar issues in school but he has no iep as of yet he has been through it all. I am currently starting a new school district and I just know things will be better here.

    I have no problem placing him in a Special Education class even though hes super smart and I know it feels like taking a step back in a way. I am all for the help he will be getting and also knowing he will have teachers that can handle all his behaviors and not call me everyday like they do now. I say do it the 12 to 1 my kindergardener is in a class like that its great alot more focus on the kids individually. I do have multiple kids with similar diagnosis.

    from reading all these posts I feel a little ignorant going through the system blind. I have never argued with them they made all the placements and I just do what they say. The parent advocates they never had any. I was from a big city and they just couldnt be bothered.
  7. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Don't feel bad if you have to push the teachers to provide work that is on his level. If you have ever had any standardized testing that shows achievement or grade level in academics, use that to push them to provide a truly individualized educational plan - one that has work on the 3rd grade in language arts, 5th grade in science and kdg in math if those are the levels he works on. Our program was a blessing, as were the teachers. Other teachers did NOT like that I pushed for education on my kids' levels regardless of what the class was doing. Oftne they lerned that if they just gave difficult child the class assignemnt he was done in three minutes (max) and then was causing problems because he was bored. WOrking him at his level meant he was busy a lot longer and caused a lot less problems.

    I once was told that they "couldn't" let my difficult child work with the 3rd gr class even though he was in a combined 2nd/3rd gr class - he sat next to them while they did 3rd gr work, helped them with it, but could only do 2nd gr work himslef (and he was used to help teach the older grade by the teacher - which infuriated me because he did both the 2nd and 3rd gr work then but only got credit for the 2nd gr work and if he didn't get 100% right then they made fun of him - the teachers did along iwth the students!). I told them that the school could get work from another school for him when he was in 3rd gr (school only went k-3) because the 4th gr class was only .3 miles away and I would CRAWL to get it and bring it back if needed. That REALLY upset the principal because I "implied" that they wouldn't od their job. I didn't immply i t - I said it straight out. What other conclusion could youdraw?? (School Board head agreed with me, by the way. helped that he was my great uncle, lol, but he agreed for other students also.)

    Just because they don't WANT to challenge him doesn't let them off the hook unless you agree. So give them textbooks for the levels he is on. Check out and other used book sites. Textbooks are often cheap if they are a couple years old. The info is still valid and still the same. You can even get teacher guides so the teachers can grade easily on those sites. It is HARD for them Occupational Therapist (OT) continue to refuse if you have given them the approp level books. Esp if it goes to due process or arbbitration - they often will ask the school why using this material given to them for free was a problem when it provided what the student needed to make academic progress. Refusal to do that flies against common sense and logic and is NOT looked on favorably.

    If you need ideas of what level your kid is working on, check out . It has math and a few other subjects for various grade levels. A year's access to one subject for one grade is about $15. They had placement tests at one point, but if you think he is ahead have him do a sample on the grade level ahead of his. See how he does. It is a great site and is approved to meet the standards for the state of Michigan so it meets at least 1 state's criteria. I found it helpful because kids can do unlimited problems, print unlimited worksheets and lessons are broken into very small chunks so it is easier to learn. Jess really enjoyed the math and the reading.
  8. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Remember one thing. My friend is an aide in an ED classroom and the kids are badly behaved. They could pick things up from one another.
  9. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    Tigger is in an ED room right now (middle of 4th grade through 6th grade now). It was the best decision we made. I am hoping that he has learned enough skills that we can move him to the Learning Disability (LD)/EMH room for 7th grade but the ED room was critical to providing a safe environment for him at school.

    That being said, the 3 months he was there in 4th grade were horrible. The teacher was awful. The admins almost as bas as the teacher. Luckily, the higher ups saw what was happening and fixed it (all while praying that I didn't sue them - that's how bad it was). A new teacher (with 17 years experience in ED rooms) and the place became the wonderful room he is in now.

    If you are considering an ED room placement:

    1. Go observe the classroom.
    2. Ask the teacher how she would handle your difficult child's top problems at school.
    3. Ask how often are children restrained and for what reasons; how often are children suspended and for what reasons.
    4. How many kids, what grades, and how many aides
    5. Speaking with the social worker - how often is she in the room. how many other classes does she supervise/work with? is she available during a crisis?
    6. How are academics handled? Are there any other students at your difficult child's academic level?
    7. What are the opportunities for mainstreaming? what type of support is provided during those times?

    Follow your mommy gut!