therapeutic programs or curriculum?

Discussion in 'Special Ed 101' started by cfa3, Dec 20, 2011.

  1. cfa3

    cfa3 New Member


    It has been a while since I have been to this forum, I miss it! I am here as I continue to do battle year after year with the school system. My son's complexity requires such specific interventions at school and they are a one size fits all situation. However I am determined still to try and make it work because ironically, despite his severe issues, my son does SO poorly around kids with the same issues! He acts and feels MUCH better on the whole with kids who have better social skills. He falls apart around kids who act aggressive etc. It is ironic but true. He cant be around kids like him day after day, he starts to act out with them, get angry at them for not responding appropriately to him, etc.

    Anyhow, I am wanting to find info on what I am calling "therapeutic curiculum". In other words, at our public schools there is really no mental health support. There are autism classes (my son is Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) not otherwise specified on the spectrum along with major mood, emotional, self etseem, immaturity, and severe impulsiveness issues) but they even are mediocre in terms of teaching the kids social skills and coping skills and they do NOTHING regarding mental issues such as impulsivity, mood, irrational problems. I have worked some mental health type things into his IEP but it never manifests in much day to day. What I am looking to do now is find some therapeutic model such as one would have in place maybe in a private school or residential facility to introducde to the school district and try and get it into my son's IEP.
    My son needs so much help, he is so extremely emotionally labile, he misperceives his peers alll day ("you hate me" when some kid doesnt answer him quickly enough or doesnt want to play with him one day etc), is irrational, extremely oversensitive, peers and adults must respond and act a very specific way or he becomes unhinged, he is very depressed with lots of self hatred and biting self, low self etseem, and very immature/emotionally delayed. He is also impulsive and has little to no coping skills emotionally and poor self regulation. also his skills go up and down dependent on how unstable he is. I KNOW there are private facilities out there across the country that are "therapeutic" and address these issues and teach the skills needed. My son also has the autism side of things where though he is super friendly and social and hates to be alone, he has personal space issues, wants everyone to love him and doesnt understand when they dont, and need social skills interventions.

    Does anyone know of a program or programs (curiculums) that I could look into? For example when he was very little we learned about Love and Logic and that was helpful. We love ross Greene and The Explosive Child idea of how these kids need to be taught the lagging emotional and cognitive skills (coping, self regulation, thinking clearly, working through irrational thoughts), BUT he never says HOW to teach the skills. Thats the part I need to find, there must be some programs out there.

    Now at this stage, 12 yrs old and starting middle school next fall, we need something geared toward mental health issues, some program I can introduce at the IEP and ask to be implemented for my son either with an aide or having the teachers trained etc. Any knoweldge of ideas of how to search tihis is appreciated. ALSO comments about what you have in place for your child at school would be helpful. Thank you!
  2. TeDo

    TeDo Guest

    We had a 1:1 aide for my difficult child 1 to help with the daily struggles of impulsiveness, organization, social interactions, appropriate emotional expression, etc. Our school's SpEd resource rooms are a lot like what you describe. The teacher was "obsessed" with social stories whether they worked or not and it was the kid's fault if they didn't work. Needless to say, difficult child 1 was one of those kids. It was too abstract for him and he didn't generalize any of it. That is why we had a 1:1 to teach "in the moment".

    I will be watching this thread for ideas because now that he does school at home (online middle school) I am the one that needs to teach him. It would be easier if there was something specific to at least try. Sorry I can't be more helpful but I hear you and completely understand your concerns.
  3. cfa3

    cfa3 New Member


    Thanks so much for your reply. I do like the explanation of the need for a 1:1 you gave, I jotted that down for my meeting. As I find anything I will posy it! Thank you!
  4. TeDo

    TeDo Guest

    It worked because even the SpEd teacher (somewhat of an autism "specialist"...I use that term VERY lightly) said that no matter what she taught, kids on the spectrum aren't able to generalize so even the generalization needed to be taught. All the other stuff was just....DUH! Hope it works and glad I could help SOME. :)
  5. buddy

    buddy New Member

    TeDo, If those were social stories they had to be lousy because the whole point of the social story is to be specific and directly teach to the child's need. I wrote one one time for a kid who refused to wear undies to school even though he had been potty trained for the most part. My boss laughed her had off (not an autism teacher at all) and it had pictures of undies, he is a big boy now, pictures of each of the other kids who he loved who had undies and the next day...guess who brought 7 pair of undies to school! LOL... I think canned socal stories, canned social skills curriculum, are so pointless. I HATE it, I mean Q got kicked out of social skills class! How the heck does a kid who does not get social skills so needs the therapy get kicked out of the class that is meant to help with his skill deficit??? It was so dumb I thought I'd lose my mind.

    I like many of the RDI principals I think the website is at or .org??? anyone know the site? We had discussed the relationship of this and collaborative problem solving in recent threads. It is easy to bring into a class, is very very individualized to the social skill level of the child and teaches intrinsic rewards for communicating and interacting with others.

    I am sorry you have such lousy services. He sounds like he would fit into my son's class way better than my son does because it is mostly full of kids like yours, aspergers/Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)-not otherwise specified types with social skill issues, anxiety, etc. One minute ok the next flipping out over something. Entire room is set up for taking breaks, learning relaxaton techniques, social poblem solving skills together, identifying feelings and keeping a journal of sorts for what helps and what makes them upset. (they have CIP which is communication/interaction problems class for kids who for whatever reason have disabilities that interfere with those areas, run on an Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) model and they ahve CID which is communicaiton and interaction disorders, those are the kids who are less verbal and less interactive, also run on an Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) model but bot classes include any child that has issues in those that interfere with those areas. Occupational Therapist (OT), speech, psychiatric, counselor and teacher all do joint classes along with DAPE teacher throughout the week). There are no schools that have any kind of "higher functioning" resrouce room like this? Most of these kids are in gen ed for at least 50% of their days (not mine). We have charter schools for kids with Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)/not otherwise specified and Aspergers or High Fuctioning Autism too. they have reverse mainstream... gen ed kids enroll. I haven't looked into it because it is pretty far from us....

    just throwing out names of programs to search in case it gives you ideas... just awful that you have to invent a program, he just can't be the only kid who needs better than that.
  6. slsh

    slsh member since 1999

    The one program I'm familiar with (or was - I've forgotten the specifics now) was called Circle of Friends.

    My experience was that it was very easy to get lip service to social skills during IEP mtgs, but the reality of anything functional ever being implemented was that ... it wasn't.

    We had a bit more success in looking outside the school for socialization - community rec. programs, art, etc. Especially when the kids involved were not from the same SD. My difficult child's behaviors in school made most local kids steer clear of him. Going outside the community gave him the chance to start with- a clean slate.
  7. BloodiedButUnbowed

    BloodiedButUnbowed Active Member

    As you have likely already found, the complexity of your son's multiple disabilities require very specific interventions. If he were mine, I would document document document and push for a residential placement. Public school systems are not set up to handle your guy's issues. At the absolute minimum, he would benefit from a therapeutic setting with the full battalion of therapists, psychologists, etc and very small class sizes. Have you begun thinking about his transition to adulthood and what services he may require? With state budgets shrinking every day it is never too soon to begin planning. If you do not think he will be capable of living independently, he needs to get on a waiting list for a group home sooner rather than later.
  8. buddy

    buddy New Member

  9. cfa3

    cfa3 New Member

    Thank you for your reply. My son is already on a state waiver should he need that support when he is an adult, now we use it for some behavioral services etc.

    I am not sure what to push for. Getting residential in my district is like finding a needle in a haystack - no one gets it. I am now learning to document better. I just requested my second IEE for my son, hoping I get it and I can find an outstanding evaluator. I agree, public schools are intrinsically not structured for kids like mine. The thing is my son can be so functional when he is around typical kids. He spands the whole spectrum of functional and appropriate to a total mess. His psychological needs are way beyond what the district can handle and I just dont know what to DO. yes residential would probably be great but that is probably not an option so I am trying to focus on more realistic options that have a better shot.

    Do you have any specific recommendations as to what I could ask for, how I can document their failure on his part etc? What is a therapeutic setting specifically? He does very poorly in the "behavior" classrooms which are just rewards, consequences and negativity, my son cannot handle those point sheets etc. you seem to understand our situation, any more comments you may have would be appreciated, thank you!
  10. cfa3

    cfa3 New Member

  11. cfa3

    cfa3 New Member


    If I may - i just noticed Ritalin in your sig line, wondering how you child responded? We tried stims for my son and even tho some of the effect was nice (zero impulsivity) his anxiety, which is already so severe, became unreal! I was terrified. He began to have like thought attacks, pacing crying, obsessing like i have never seen, shaking with worry. Had to stop ASAP.
  12. buddy

    buddy New Member

    I can really relate to your story. My son is on a waiver too and if we need it then I will go there but only as a last resort because the problem is that residential settings are very behavioral. If your son is anything like mine being around such intensive behavior challenges (though he may be even worse at times) always makes things worse. My son copies behaviors when around them (many Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) kids do that) and as you said, the points system, earning things etc. is just futile for my son. It does not work for a lot of kids with Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)/Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). They need autism placements. People who understand the underlying issues are their unique type of thinking, the sensory issues, the social skill deficits that need direct teaching. My son's brain injury results in a tic disorder (doctor recently just said to tell people he has Tourette's so it is clearer to people who dont get it) and these behavior settings just do not seem sensitive to the neurological issues that they really can not help but also understand we want them to reach their potential in controlling their behaviors as much as possible.

    Can you start from the beginning? What areas in school is he not doing well in...... maybe we can help you brain storm that way. Does he need prompts to finish assignments, to raise his hand, to not blurt in class, to turn things in, how is he doing on standardized state wide testing... etc. How does he do in the halls, working in groups with peers?

    Does he have a place to go to chill out? Does he have support to help him identify his feelings and triggers? Does he need any kind of figit or comfort item, does he have a sensory schedule to maintain a level of calm throughout the day...not only when they see him starting to get anxious which is sometimes too late to help?

    Has he had a complete functional behavior assessment with a POSITIVE behavior plan written? so many times they focus on getting rid of behaviors rather than developing the skills and behaviors that are needed to succeed. the triggers and skill deficits need to be considered more than just counting negative behaviors during the day. This should NOT be done by a psychologist only.... it needs to include an autism specialist. Does your state have an autism teaching certificate? (for the teaching/school part the Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) diagnosis trumps things in my humble opinion)

    Just throwing things out there.... may not apply but just offering ideas that may help you to think of ideas that apply to you more specifically.
  13. cfa3

    cfa3 New Member

    Thank you so much. It has been hard for me to dissect but his biggest issue in school is definitely his reaction to peers. I think he may have an attachment disoder because he needs SO much from his peers - if a peer doesnt love and adore him and care about him he flips out! If a peer doesnt want to play with him one day he becomes very angry and says that person hates me. It would never occur to him that, like himself, other kids like to play with many people, not just one. It never occurs to him how the other person may be feeling or thinking. Another example is if he is crying and the peer doesnt say whats wrong are you ok, he flips out and becomes very angry at the child for not caring. Its just endless all day. I called it irrational and misperceiving all day. If a student doesnt respond to him exactly how he needs he becomes angry and it affects his whole day. He thinks kids hate him, are ignoring him, are never going to play with him again, etc over any tiny little thing that doesnt not results in the other child just adoring my son and wanting to be glued to him all day. It unreal! And its getting worse over the years. If I had to invent a new diagnosis I would call this "disorder of perception". Maybe it is the Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD), the only thing is that my son doesnt fit alot of the autism diagnosis, only a few things, hence Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) not otherwise specified. He HATES being alone, he is extremely friendly and social, he loves playing with kids, he is not withdraw,he shares and compromises really well, but then there is this whole other piece. The other night we were outside with a group of people including some kids watching fireworks and he was mingling nicely, hanging out with the kids, all girls. One of the kids counsins came over and so some attention shifted to the newcomers, and a little clique type action started. Well my son instantly becomes furious AND crying at the same time, saying "well now they all hate me!" I mean it is so irrational it scares me! He wouldnt consider for a moment that what was happening wasjust normal of the other kids joining the group and all he needed to do was be friendly say hi to them. His night was ruined. Thats a perfect example of the problems at school. At starbucks when he is with me, if i stop and chit chat with the barista too long he starts to cry and says I must hate him now because I needed someone else to talk to. I am very worried, can this possibly be just autism when he doesnt really fit the autism diagnosis? he has reciprocal play, he doesnt view people as objects etc. Ugh so confused. So this is the main school issue! Social stories dont help, my son like yeah duh i know all that.

    I am in the proces of requesting an independent ed evaluation which i think will help all of us and an FBA. The thing is he has a really good IEP, I worked so hard on it, he has like 3 pages of accomodations, everything from breaks, snacks, no time out, fidgeting allowed, on and on and on. I think he needs a one on one for the above issues ! someone to be there and help him through those misperceptions because they are leading to him hitting and kicking the "offending" peers...he is very high anxiety and just spends all day worrying about everthing but especially about peers/friends. He is obssessed with other people and has no self esteem.

    Thank you for your help, this is confusing. He has been in every type of class and none fit him - in the autism classes he doesnt fit in well because he is so detaile orientated that he cannot handle when a child is rocking or shrieking or wont look at him or answer him when he talks. In the behavior rooms, well, that is the worst with all the charts and points, thats a no way. Maybe reg ed with an aide? I dont know. Seems if he had an aide in a high functioning or aspergers setting that may work for him. Thank you.
  14. buddy

    buddy New Member

    There are rigid views of the criteria and less. I worked with this amazing Speech Language Pathologist (SLP) from Brazil who was just the best and sorting through this with parents and she taught me a lot. People with autism dont really veiw people as objects, it is that with the communication challenges, some people who can't communicate through words (signs pictures etc) will take your hand and use it to pick up what they want etc. He should not be in an autism class for sure if he is that sensitive and distracted, but that very thing shows he needs autism teaching. Does that make sense. That is where the in our district the CIP class comes in because it is those kids who are verbal and many seem typical to outside folks, but they have these things that set them off and interfere with social situations which then makes it hard to get through school. My son is so set off by kids and he also sets kids off (sounds like yours does too when he is upset or misperceiving things) so he has his own little "office" in the school. He has a desk, table, computer, mat, one of those media floor rocking chairs, weighted vest, etc. If a classroom full of distractions is not right for him then an accommodation is to find a safe/quite chilll place. One school I was in was so limited and unaccommodating to one of my kids (who was really smart and did well in school but got so frustrated with other kids and what they did to him, lol) that I said he could go under my desk for his chill spot. I found him there many times, lol. SOunds like a HUGE part of his IEP needs to focus on social skills training and many of the behaviors would be supported then. (not gone, but then he would get the support and help to move forward). It really does not matter the specific diagnosis in terms of that...what matters is his learning style and skill level. The teachers who get that are the ones who get Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) as a spectrum disorder....even the kids who are mixed diagnosis as ours are. (and those who have only a few symptoms so do not qualify...mine was labeled Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)-not otherwise specified at first too)

    Keep throwing out stuff, we will throw back so you can write notes. I really strongly believe an FBA with an autism and communication specialist would help you...but that is only if they are available to your area! My son is super social...wants friends all around him and is on HIS terms. To understand their perceptions is very tough for him but he is improving with the social stories, comic strip lessons, social skill groups , etc. he has had over the years. We now have started a group of mainstream kids whose parents said they can work with Q in school... they are having little social times with him with an adult to help work on skills.

    The reason Autism looks so different in individuals is that out of the lists of symptoms in each cluster of diagnostic groups, there only have to be one to a few to meet that group. So with the huge variety of combinations that leads to, it really can be confusing.

    He really does sound as emotional and rigid in his views of how people think ... like many of my students with Asperger's. LOTS of people with Aspergers and Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)-not otherwise specified can share well, work with others, have jobs and families!

    His inability to take their perspective is a classic Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) symptom. the anxiety is also very very common.
  15. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Anxiety is extremely common as a secondary diagnosis... it almost doesn't matter what the primary diagnosis is (or multiples) - if the accommodations, interventions and/or medications are not working well, the kid becomes anxious.

    It doesn't rule in or rule out anything... but it does help if school can acknowledge that the anxiety is secondary, and put the emphasis on the other stuff.
  16. cfa3

    cfa3 New Member


    thank you. Viewed that way yes I can see the role of autism in my child's life. I guess the trouble I have always had with autism is that we have never fit in in any autism "Stuff", i.e., support groups, classrooms, online groups. i NEVER relate to the things the autism parents discuss. My son never fits in with kids with autism in support group meeting respite etc. confusing. I am also a part of a bipolar support online group and relate more to that just in the sense of the severity of the emotional issues, but dont relate in the sense that their kids are often "fixed" with medications, and mine is way off typical even at baseline, and sooooo immature, so I see us as in between and generally have related more to mental health stuff then autism. Anyhow, my son needs to be taught specific skills. Emotional coping, recognition, learning others' points of view, self regulation. We are now finally at the point that my son will accept taking deep breaths but thats it. He is very immature, ALWAYS being silly and goofy in an ADHD type way and so you cant just sit and talk to him. He will start poking at you or just get angry.

    He is VERY emotional, omg everything is a 10x magnified reaction, and extremely rigid. What I need to figure out how to plug in specific interventions into the IEP. Be it different approaches, therapeutic approaches, interventions, social skill building etc. The thing is my son has good social skills, in other words he knows and gets how to approach a child, make friends, he is always like "what do you want to play?" very giving and compromising, but emotionally it all goes downhill. Wish I could research all school districts and find the best one for him because we have nothing like you describe! I will do more thinking and see what else I am looking for, thank you!!!!!!!
  17. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)-not otherwise specified is a different beastie than Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)... which may be why you're finding autism support groups etc. to not be helping you.
    Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)-not otherwise specified means... the child does not meet the definition for Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), or even for Asperger's... but does have "pervasive" issues that fall within certain bounds.
    So... it would make sense that your child could be more socially aware etc., and maybe even a tad less rigid than an Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) kid... and still be a handful.

    Our family didn't even get Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)-not otherwise specified... difficult child doesn't meet diagnostic cutoffs for most things.
    But I can feel for you - because our difficult child is also considered "unique" (I don't believe he is... rather, schools and docs just aren't recognizing these kids yet...) - a combo of dxes that work against each other, and it makes it really tough to get services etc., because no one diagnosis is severe enough to "rank" for funding, interventions, and so on.

    It would be easier to get some services, with an Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) label - but we'd never get the right services, and never enough anyway... so I'll take what I have and do most of the work ourselves (until the money runs out)
  18. buddy

    buddy New Member

    Yes! I totally get that. It really does sound like he has such a mixed bag and that is why I think looking at the skills he is missing (when it comes to school and the things you are asking for) will be very important to check out. Because he does have some issues that cross with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)/Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) and those shared things are the social misunderstandings and not taking other's perspectives the ones who deal with that (and the meltdowns that result) are the Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) staff. But he really sounds like he would be set off by kids with Autism or even kids in any Special Education class except maybe an Learning Disability (LD) resource room (some schools have a general Special Education resource room). Ask for what HE needs, not what programs they have. I have a friend with a child like yours who has no diagnosis but people say has some autism traits, he does have a genetic thing but not a sp ed category for it... he can be very aggressive and loud and destructive. She finally had to do the home school thing and her lawyer got the district to PAY her for teaching because they could not come up with a program to meet his needs. They did finally contract with an independent district on the other side of the cities just for kids who have meltdowns for a variety of issues.... and they use EBD adn Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) techniques, varies depending on the needs of the kids... Not many programs like that. I remember her saying in his first week he nearly destroyed their smart board, but there was never a thought he would be kicked out. Just worked on it with him... There are a few out there, but sadly not enough.
  19. cfa3

    cfa3 New Member

    Yes Buddy, he is in a program and school where he would NEVER get kicked out, I have a relationship and am known as a tough cookie in our district here, but nice so even though they dont provide what he needs, they get that he is suffering and they dont punish him. I am a parent resource specialist myself for a non profit disability organization so luckily I have some good background on sped law etc and yes absolutely the law states a program must fit to the child not the other way around so I always try and think in those terms: what does HE need to benefit from education? Its hard because then I have to come up with the whole plan by myself because the district has no mental health stuff. They do OK with autism because thats the most popular, but EBD/mental health they are clueless. What I need is an ed consultant who specializes in thinkikng of programs that can be created or curriculums/interventions they can apply but I cannot afford such a person. That or a million dollars to send him to the best therapeutic residential I can find lol! anyway I am finding it difficult coming up with all thsi on my own. I am good at coming up with little modificiations/supports/accomodations for the IEP but a whole program? Eh not so good at it so far. Hence my post here. And yes he is set off in almsot any sped class. He is part day in a High-Functioning Autism (HFA) class and is doing OK, the kids dont really have much behaviors but also are not so social....but its better then the behavior or other classes. So, as you say, i need to figure out specifically what he needs, and some people like myself are better at working with material once its given and not inventing the material. I dont know what to ask for - a one on one perhaps trained in EBD and Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)? A teacher trained in XYZ program or curriculum? etc. Thank you for your posts, very helpful in getting me thinking.
  20. cfa3

    cfa3 New Member

    Exactly! Excellent description. My son does happen to have Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) label as he was diagnosis this at 2 years old! But he changed/blossomed so much over the years it became evident he didnt really fit Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) but yes does fit Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) so thats the new label, but we do receive services for thr Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), or are eligible for them but here in FL the services either arent very good or dont really fit his needs. He doesnt need ABA or floortime etc. He almost needs more cognitive therapy type stuff. And I agree too, I always say my kid is one of a kind unique but really its just that our more grey area kids arent recognized the way the more fit in the box black and white kids are.