"new placement" for difficult child

Discussion in 'Special Ed 101' started by zoo_keeper, Dec 15, 2011.

  1. zoo_keeper

    zoo_keeper Member

    When this school year started I thought we had turned a corner. Finally were in a district willing to work with us. difficult child 1 got an IEP, BIP and 1:1 "behavior buddy." Its still been an extremely rough year. The roughest yet. He had a delayed reaction to abilify and has been hospitalized twice in the last two months. School uses a demerit system. He is extremely defiant/resistant to anything that has to do with his behavior buddy because it singles him out and all he wants to do is be 'normal.' Very long story short, difficult child has been suspended for 14 days this school year already (been medically excused for 22) which prompted an iep meeting and the school recommending a change in placement. The district's sp ed director and pschologist are talking up this new therapeutic school that difficult child is now eligible to attend. I'm riddled with anxiety about it even though I realize difficult child needs a more specialized environment. I'm told that this school has experience dealing with behavior problems of all types of different backgrounds (including mental illness). difficult child will be assigned a team that will come up with a plan to create positive school experiences and the ultimate goal will be to become stable enough to reintergrate back into mainstream classes. I have serious doubts as we have been railroaded by school administrators before. husband and I are touring and meeting with the people who run this school tomorrow afternoon. I'm concerned about additional behaviors difficult child will pick up and academics being pushed to the wayside along many other unknowns. difficult child has been through so many tramatizing school experiences I just don't know how if he can take another failure without sustaining permanent psychological damage. Any other parents experienced with these types of alternative placements that can suggest questions to ask that I might overlook. It feel like this is the last of our last chances before we have to remove difficult child from our home. :sad-very:
  2. TeDo

    TeDo Guest

    Wow. I can understand your anxiety. If he wants to be "normal" what do you think this change of placement might do to him? Just asking. I realize something has to happen and yes, your concern about learning new behaviors is VERY real. That is why I refused to put difficult child 1 into a "therapeutic" school (aka warehouse for out of control teens). Academics probably will be put to the wayside because they will focus on making him "teachable" first.

    I really do hope it helps difficult child and that you finally get some peace of mind. Pretzeling that it works and sending supportive (((HUGS))) your way.
  3. zoo_keeper

    zoo_keeper Member

    thanks tedo. I don't think we have any other options at this point. Unless we petition for homebound AGAIN. I'm deluding myself into hoping that once he is surrounded by his new 'peers' that he will feel more normal and it will boost his self esteem.
  4. buddy

    buddy New Member

    I completely can relate to all of your fears. I will say, when you said this school uses a demerit system I thought I wouldn't want ANY chlld there. That is such old thinking. But I get your fears of his being with other kids with behavior issues, is he a kid who copies other behaviors? Is he someone who gets upset when other kids meltdown?
    I ask these questions, among others:
    1. what do they do if a student is having a meltdown/rage in a class with other students?
    2. is there a relaxation/sensory room that is NOT a punishment room (in other words where they can choose to go and relax or take scheduled sensory breaks, sometimes these rooms turn into neg. because people say to the chld, "you need a break! " in an angry way. and they go AFTER behaviors.
    3.Do they have a locked isolation room, in my humble opinion if they do RUN. They are not allowed in our district but Q was contracted into another district when he was in 1st grade. they told me they hadn't used it more than 3 times at all the year before and showed me the log (empty). The year Q started, he was put in there several times in a month. the law is if more than 3 times in a month then the home district has to come and bip has to be changed, tehy lied about everything. The reports I got showed they violated mn rules and he was put in for power battles like tapping his foot and not stopping so EA put him in there... and the doctor said NO to any alone time at that point because they were worried about ptsd and abandonment issues. IT was NOT in his bip to use this room. I went to the state of MN and they ended up in trouble and their whole district had to change policies (q was all of 30 dangerous lbs at the time).
    so, what are their policies if he has a meltdown, do they restrain, do they isolate, do they have the class move out and let him ride it out, does he still get suspended over and over when the point is to be there to help work through these issues?
    5. waht kinds of equivalent activities do they have to the gen. ed. school if that is something you need or he likes, like clubs or sports or activities? If not there can be be bussed for equal access...(I think they are supposed to if the rest of the district gets it.)
    6. what kind of training does the EA staff get?
    7. SHOW you every single space you child might actually end up in...not just the class room, the lunch room gym, chill room, library, computer, etc. Think of your child, how close the exits are, is it near a busy street.
    The level 4 school q was in had 10 kids in his class and 10 in the older. the next school in this little mall (connected) was a teen program for addicted kids and conduct disorders. I showed up one time and they didn't knwo where my kid was. They had two classrooms, a cafeteria/gym, an isolation room, a couple of small resource rooms for computers and meetings. then a teachers office. REALLY? It was rented space in a MALL, he could have been on a highway and killed. I was livid. I searched the dumb school and found him. The fact is they didn't even know he was missing.

    Obviously not every program is this terrible but they really snowed me. They couldn't understand why I pulled him out! That was 7 yeas ago and much has changed, as I said we can't even have isolation rooms so??? In our current district they have two programs that I have talked to parents about and they like but their kids dont copy behaviors. I dont mean to scare you, just giving you what to look for (by the way, there are isolation rooms in some of the therapetuic schools with truly violent kids and they try to set them up as a safe place to have a meltdown, I went to a cont. ed. seminar where they talked about it, but they truly sounded like they used it as a tool and it seemed very different, and these kids did need it so if yours does that is different...that is why I say to ask. In our case, it was misused (only supposed to be for imminent danger of hurting self or others, not a power struggle over a tapping foot).

    OH...if it is not in a typical school building, how do they do lunch??? this dumb school had pizza like 3 times a week becasue no kitchen!
    do they have a llbrary, gym, outside space??? if not what do they do to meet these needs?
  5. zoo_keeper

    zoo_keeper Member

    jeez buddy, so sorry to hear what you and your difficult child went through. Thanks for sharing tho, it is always better to know what you could potentially be facing vs going in blind. I'm writing your questions down in addition to the two pages of my own to ask tomorrow, so helpful thanks. The key for my difficult child is stoping him before he goes into meltdown mode. When in a comforting enviroment and when medications aren't a problem meltdown mode isn't a daily occurance although he is provoked easily. Especially when teased. So his possible interactions with other volitile difficult children scares me. Full blown meltdown mode is dangerous tho. Does he need some type of isolation room? It tears my heart to admit it, but I don't know. As for copying...my difficult child marches to his own beat but, as with any kid, if he sees manipulation that works he might give it a go. If after the visit tomorrow I decide that this is NOT an option what courses of action am I able to take? He is protected by an iep but I'm not sure how far I can push the protection, Know what I mean?? Thank you again
  6. buddy

    buddy New Member

    And that is exactly where I am.... that is not an option so what next. What the lawyer said we do first is to request an independent FBA. The district has a list but are open to any we suggest too. This will give us a fresh set of eyes, often the district folks do not look at how much the environment, including the people are triggering our kids. Plus, at least for our case, they are not experts in his disability area so we needed to find someone else.

    In addtion, I am adding some things that we will purchase thru his waiver and he can use at home and school, including an auditory/visual relaxation-neurological calming kind of thing, eeg/biofeedback, and an auditory trainer. I should find out next week which things are approved.

    Our kids sound very similar in many ways. What works for Q is to know the triggers and reduce them. To help navigate those social triggers, he is so easily provoked. He verbally threatens (if you dont let me I will hurt you) but doesn't do it unless he is in a panic. then he will grab or if they are coming near him he may scratch. He has never seriously injured anyone but certainly as he gets bigger the chance of an accident can happen. He has a private space in his current school. It is set up for him to have a meltdown, relax, do sensory activities or to be if he is too blurty but he can still do his work there. It has a window which is not in his class and that is a relaxation thing HE uses...he sits and counts planes or busses. since we have adjusted a little even before the independent fba, we are already seeing more work done. When the admin stays out of it..... they are following the plan better. It is amazing what happens when the right thing is done. the panic over moving him settles a little. Now if we can get admin to SEE this.

    It is really hard. And heart breaking. of course we dont want to do the wrong thing, we lose so much time that way. but if it is really NOT working...then what???
  7. TeDo

    TeDo Guest

    NO kid needs an isolation room. A relaxation room yes, isolation room NO. You mention he has been suspended for 14 days already. Have you had a manifestation hearing? They legally HAVE to have one at 10 days. If it is determined his behavior is a result of his disability, changes need to be made to the IEP. If they haven't done any of that, they can't force him out. I would HIGHLY recommend you get an advocate as soon as possible. It does sound like they are pushing him out the door without trying anything different on their end. Sounds like you need to talk to your state's Dept of Education for advice and an advocate. You should also check out manifestation hearings, change of placement, suspensions on Wright's Law. I have gone through this fight with our SD. It is nasty but if they haven't done everything they can, they need to be held accountable. If you don't stick up for difficult child, who will. My advocate was AWESOME and made a huge difference. Good luck! {{{{(((HUGS)))}}}} to you all.
  8. jal

    jal Member

    I am a parent that agreed to an alternative placement for my difficult child in first grade and it has been successful. He is now in 4th grade and is on track to transition back to his mainstream school next month. He has worked very hard & come such a long way. The placement was the best for thing for him. Our SD has been wonderful and supportive. Everything we asked for they gave us, we'vve never had to fight. We were lucky.

    It is an awful feeling to have to place your child in an alternative program. husband and I cried after we toured the class. His program is in a wing of a mainstream school. Since last year he has been doing inclusion with the mainstram class and continues to this day, taking more and more subjects with the class.

    I recently enrolled him in the after care program at the school he should actually be in and he's doing very well. One child commented to the teacher that they remembered difficult child from earlier years and that he is so different from the way he was.

    I would want to know who is on staff, (teacher, psychologist, etc)
    Have they been properly trained in restraint.
    How will they collect data on difficult child's behavior?
    What behavior model do they follow? Boys Town, etc.
    How academics will be handled? How is the class taught if there are different ages in the class?
    Will there be a para or multiple aides in the classroom?

    Academics was a worry for me too. Our difficult child excells at math. He has a high IQ and no Learning Disability (LD)'s, behavior and impluse has always been the issue. But he is on par with the mainstream kids in his grade terms of testing.

    difficult child's placement has a room. Not an isolation room, but it could be, yet that's not how its used. But if a child is raging and is a danger to himself or others there needs to be a safe place for them to cool down.

    Its hard to have to do this, but if the program is a good one it can be successful.
  9. buddy

    buddy New Member

    Te Do I mostly agree that isolation rooms are awful...except for one case... when a child needs multiple restraints, over and over. That is what this man who talked at my seminar was talking about. That they found it was much more humane to provide a truly safe room where people and mechanical restraints are not needed....some of these kids were so out of touch with reality and even when small could do serious damage to someone or themselves which then they end up feeling terrible about. So, I learned that there is always an exception to the rule. Our district does not allow them. If a child is like that, they are somewhere else. It is too scary and can be abused. that is what happened with Q, they had it so it was too convenient. NOT used as a sensory or chll out room, it was abused for sure.

    With a child who sometimes has a rage, I dont think an isolation room (I am talking locked, eyes on, safety rooms here) are a good choice. better to do an in depth FBA, discover triggers and lack of skills and work on those. They need to learn how to handle those rage storms, how to calm themselves and they need staff comitted to helping with that, not who want to take the easy way out and shove them away until they exhaust themselves and then come out.

    I would also, under NO circumstances, even if the child is very violent, allow it for a non-verbal child. too easy to not know what is really happening.

    Seems for those very rare programs one way to help ensure safety to some degree and proper use, would be to put a secure video link, which can be taped, so parents and state can monitor live 24/7.
  10. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    Most kids do not need an isolation room. Some kids, like Kanga, need an isolation room as an alternative to being in a four hour restraint. It is much safer for her to rage in a padded room than for her to have to be held in a restraint for hours: safer for her and staff.
  11. zoo_keeper

    zoo_keeper Member

    Hi all. The visit to the alternative school went ok. I'm not as vehemently opposed to difficult child going there as I was in the beginning although it still has major drawbacks. difficult child would be the eighth student in the class (all in sixth grade). There is one sped teacher and two ea's in each room and he would swap into another room in the afternoon but the ea's travel with the students. There are 2 three hour blocks of class with an hour being spent on life skills in each block and one 45min of individual behavior modification per week. The plan for meltdowns is removing the kid from the room if possible otherwise evacuating the other students from the room. They have what they call 'crisis workers' which basically just means trained security (with state department of ed cert). In crisis situations there is a 3:1 staff to student ratio and a quiet room is utilized. There is no isolation room but they do want me to sign paperwork that oks restraints in extreme situations. I told them that will absolutely not be an option and they said they couldn't guarantee that 911/police would not get involved if I refused to sign for permission. I told them that was fine. difficult child had an awesome day at school on friday. at this point I still don't think that the school is doing everything they can to ensure that difficult child is getting his fape in the least restrictive enviroment. am contacting a ed advocate. I see both the pros and cons of a change in placement but am filled with uncertainty. I just want to make the best decision for difficult child. Thanks for listening
  12. buddy

    buddy New Member

    That permission to sign is the exact thing that the MN dept of ed changed after what happened to Q. the lawyer has now told the team that it is against the law (and I dont know if it is federal or state) to even put in crisis management that includes seclusion and other conditional procedures.

    They told me that I couldn't have him at the school if I didn't sign it even though he had never needed it and it was not a part of his BIP. Then, once they had permission they used it.

    There are procedures thru IDEA to end it... so the advocates told me to write a letter and not mail it because then days would pass, but to take it in and have it stamped and copied right there.... they were then not allowed to use any conditional procedures.

    The law allows emergency use of conditional procedures for any child by trained personel if there is a situation where the child or others may be seriously hurt or serious property damage is going to be done. the law even defines serious. THAT have looked up and it is part of the federal law. So our attorney explained that having any kind of conditional procedure in Q's plan in this kind of setting was not allowed. (there are medical permissions etc. for a whole different level of care for a child...but not as a routine thing like they are asking you)

    Like I said, this changed district policy in Q's case.

    I think you are smart not to sign. I let them intimidate me into it...but they lied... we never do it but just in case...ummmmm not what happened and he was their littlest kid. The size of a preschooler.

    That intimidation that they might call 911 instead of doing what they legally can do without your permission, gives me ptsd. Just saying.... could be fine but......

    Their goal should be (and probably is, again, just my ptsd over this) to de-escalate things before they go that far. Their crisis team should be called to help calm things not to 'take control' etc. Did they describe how the team works? IF these incidents do happen then are the kids sent home or do they work through it?

    That said, the things that seem really good... the ratio, the goals to work toward re-integration to a gen ed school (and if that is not possible it is fine, sometimes these schools are the ticket and really are "least restrictive" for a child....but the attitude that they are not being warehoused there to get them out of the gen ed setting is really good). The crisis team? Are they licensed teachers? or school police? In our schools we all had CPI training (any of us who worked with behaviors) and same at Q's school. I was told that the school they want Q at has a team like this too... they have the training to de-escalate things and unlike Q's school, a school like that probably has better experience using the tools in the way they are intended, to keep hands OFF of children. I was told of a child who ripped posters off a wall while our DAPE teacher was observing...they called the crisis team, evacuated the other kids (how often that happens I would want to know, and where do they go??) and she watched as they calmed him, then by the end he was laughing with them, he cleaned up, and they just went on. That does sound really good. (again, for me, that would be great for my son, but notgreat for him to SEE another child go thru because he would then DO it).

    I am 100% not against this type of placement and think it is amazing for some kids. I just know now, that we have to go in with wide open eyes (as you have said, you have been snowed before0 and asking all the hard questions.... over and over , even after the placement.) If you can volunteer there even once a month...might be good to see how the inside works on a routine day.

    If it seems like a good match, and you are not able to think of options, it could be good. How did you feel about the teacher he would have? THAT is a really huge piece.