Restaffing students in threapeutic schools


New Member
difficult child 2 is in a therapeutic school and is in full on defiant mode. The school is unable to handle him and I don't know what to ask for in way of help. He needs the therapy, but they think he needs to be in a different school that emphasizes behavior modification. I am not pleased with the one that difficult child 1 is in so I am not up for moving difficult child 2 to the same kind of setting.
Also, difficult child 2 is learning that if he acts defiant, eventually the school will give up on him and move him somewhere else (this is his 3rd school in 2 years). He walks out of the classrooms, disrupts his classes and other classes and refuses to do any school work at all. They have no consequences for him and nothing I do or say is getting through either.
Does anyone have any advice on what I should be asking for that might help in these behaviors? A separate classroom, a one on one aide, duct tape (just kidding) or what?


New Member
I'm not sure about what school or classroom but I have been a personal care aide for 5 years and have worked with autistic children. It does really help to have a person one on one with them to keep them on task and set limits.



member since 1999
K -

Outside of the therapeutic schools connected to thank you's various RTCs, we haven't had a whole lot of luck with- them. *But*, and this is just my opinion, it seems like the ones in my area all operate on the same basis. Reward systems, positive reinforcement, and somehow expecting our kids to own their behaviors, which in good old thank you's case is a pipedream. thank you was essentially expelled from his last therapeutic school ("change of placement" in their terms, but there *was* no other placement so I homeschooled him for 3 months) for disruptive behavior. Disruptive behavior? In a therapeutic school? From a kid who's got a list of hospitalizations, diagnoses, and medications longer than my arm? Go figure.

To me, there is something seriously wrong when a therapeutic school states they cannot handle a disruptive student. Seems to me that the behavior intervention plan needs serious remodifications, with emphasis placed on the *student's* needs, rather than the school's usual mode of operating. Just because they use a reward system and positive reinforcement with- every other kid in the school does *not*, in my humble opinion, mean that they have to use it with- a kid for whom it doesn't work.

I think what you need to ask for really depends on your son. I know with- thank you that a school more geared toward behavior mod was an utter disaster - if behavior mod worked for thank you, we wouldn't be where we have been for the last 6 years. Some kids just don't give a rat's posterior about cause and effect or consequences. It's not unique, and again is something that a therapeutic school should be able to recognize and deal with-.

So... what *does* work for your son? Does he thrive on attention (positive or negative)? How specifically do you want the school to hold him responsible for his work? What would work, without creating major meltdowns? Would a 1:1 aide be of help to him? Does the school need to ignore certain behaviors, or remove him from the classroom until he gets it together? I'm really grasping at straws here - I know what has kind of worked for thank you, but I also know that school staff quickly fall back into some really bad habits that only reinforce some of thank you's more outrageous school behaviors. It's really hard to think outside of the box of the standard reward and positive reinforcement line of thinking, but it sounds like some very different strategies need to be tried with- your son.

I do think a straight behavior mod program can, in some impulsive kids who just don't seem to get it, escalate the very behaviors they're trying to modify.


New Member
difficult child 2 is a master at getting attention, good or bad. I know part of this has to do with learned behaviors while he was living with DEX, but I can't get him to see that what he is doing is wrong. He wants what he wants and nobody else matters. If things aren't going his way, he blames everybody else. Things are NEVER his fault. Thanks DEX for teaching him THAT lesson. My ex is the master of avoiding blame at all costs and running away from problems. :rolleyes: And of course DEX is encouraging him to come back and live with him and difficult child 2 thinks if he acts bad enough I will let him. Hmmm let him go to a home where he will move and change schools and "Mommies" every 6 months...I don't think so! Of course DEX just misses my child support check! JERK! Sorry, I could ramble on all day about him!

The biggest problem is that they have no consequences for him if he misbehaves in school. The just send him home! And he is a master at ticking people off. He knows how to push buttons in everybody. His Case Manager/Therapist at this school has been pushed too far and has gone so far as to swear at difficult child 2! Now difficult child 2 knows exactly what to do to get sent home or get the CM riled up and get any reaction he wants. I think his CM needs a big lesson on DETACHING! :Funny:

I know school doesn't start again until Tuesday, but I am dreading it!


A therapeutic school has the right (and in my opinion the duty) to staff out kids that cannot be controlled with the structure and security at the particular school or facility. The SD does NOT have the right, as has happened to some members of this boards, to simply "give up" and not find a suitable alternative placement BEFORE "restaffing." There SHOULD be a clear distinction between restaffing and expulsion--which, with a student with an IEP, is never legal.

If facilities cannot restaff, then the people who work there and the other students are exposed to a level of disorder and violence that makes the school/workplace intolerable. ANY child can be controlled but you need the right student:staff ratio and the right administrative structure to insure the safety of all. Placing all students in very high security facilities (which therefore would never have to "restaff" anyone because all controls would be there for everyone) also violates "least restrictive placement" because it subjects the other students to measures of control that they do not need.

I am speaking here in principle (and law.) Kim, your difficult child may well have gotten to the CM who now can not handle him. If so, the CM is not doing his job and does need professional objectivity and detachment. That said, the school STILL may not be equipped to handle your son's problems. It is not possible for every school to handle every child.

The idea that there are "therapeutic" schools and "get tough" behavioral schools disturbs me because there are inequities in who ends up in which program since good therapeutic programs are more expensive to staff. However, speaking from professional experience, it does not work well to mix the populations because anxious, depressed kids, who act out against no one except themselves, are made significantly worse by trying to educate them in the presence of severely aggressive, acting out students. At least one board member has an anxious child who cannot attend the only SD placement offered because the child is an internalizer and the school has predominantly externalizers and a very punitive atmosphere.

In my ex-difficult child's situation, his egbs promptly removed ANY student who was physically acting out--for any reason-toward another student or staff. The place also was unlocked. So, it clearly was not the place for kids who attack others physically or are runners. However, the egbs had the right policies for their population: MOST of the students were internalizers and more students broke the "no harm" rule hurting themselves than attacking others. If my son had been in a place where there was physical violence and restraints used, he never would have opened up in therapy even if he was never hurt or subject to any punishment. Just the presence of this type of structure is harmful to many internalizers.

Did I feel badly about the 2 boys who were removed from his peer group (and the school) for physical violence? Yes, but not enough to want the therapeutic atmosphere destroyed for the rest of the students and staff.

SDs have an obligation to place students at the appropriate level of control--not just "one size fits all" at whatever level of structure and limits happens to be their "policy." Such a OSFA procedure is illegal and not helpful.

Parents have a responsibility (in my opinion) to know what their child needs AND the advocacy skills to keep their child out of an unsuitable placement. I say this knowing how difficult it can be to do it. However, if the parent doesn't advocate, the child will lose. That's not fair--but that's the way it is.