Thinking outside the box... school's solution for difficult child 2's social issues...

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by gcvmom, Apr 7, 2008.

  1. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    Well, just when I thought it was safe to stop holding my breath...

    difficult child 2 came home early Friday feeling kinda icky -- stomach ache he said. Said he felt icky when he got up, too.

    Apparently (I learned from his teacher this morning) at the end of morning recess that day, he decided to tap another kid in the head several times with the eraser end of his pencil. Totally unprovoked. He just got a wild hair/hare and impulsively did it.

    Since he left school early Friday, the principal didn't get a chance to "chat" with him about it. His teacher gave him a demerit (whoop-dee-doo).

    Today the assistant principal met with him. difficult child 2 apologized to the other student and was very honest about what happened.

    The AP decided that from now on (at least, this is according to difficult child) he would help out in the library during lunch recess, and at morning recess, he would help out in one of the lower grade classrooms (reading to kids, etc.) He still gets to eat and have his snack, but it sounds like he's not going to have regular recess with his peers anymore.

    I've got to get the low down from the school tomorrow. I guess I have mixed feelings about this right now. I can see how these jobs would have a positive impact on difficult child. I can see that he has had nothing but problems with his peers at recess and feels very alienated (mainly because of his behaviors). Maybe they're thinking that if he has some successes socially with younger kids, he will eventually learn the right way to interact with kids his own age.

    It's really tough. Right now, he's really down on school and has told the school psychiatric he hates school, he's bored with school, nobody likes him there, and he just doesn't like being there anymore. :(

    Meanwhile, we've applied to transfer him to the GATE magnet school for his last elementary year in hopes that he'll fit in a little better with those kids. Hopefully they'll have a spot for him in the Fall.

    I'm SO glad he'll have his IEP done by the end of the year!
  2. LittleDudesMom

    LittleDudesMom Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Hey, sorry but I don't think working with younger kids will help him deal socially with kids his age! The boy is socially behind his peers. Taking away his recess with his peers because they can't supervise him is a bummer. He knows he's being punished by missing out on both times to "let loose". It may actually have the opposite affect on him. Without an outlet to run around and burn off steam from sitting, his energy level may be highter in the afternoons which usually leads to impulsive actions.

    If it were me, I would insist my son had recess, even if they need to provide someone to watch him.

    Another consideration. Part of the "No child left behind" program, if your school has a certain percentage of children on the free/reduced lunch program, the school must provide physical recess every day.

    I feel really strongly about this loosing recess issue. With the arts and pe being the first things school boards cut, our children miss the physical exercise and the abiity to express themselves through creativity. Removing recess is pure torture to some kids. Myself, along with two other mothers, actually appealled to the fourth grade teachers (when my son was in elementary school) to find an alternative to giving consequences to kids for no homework/classwork rather than loosing recess. We succeeded!

    Hope you find a happy mediam that allows your son to have that free time with his peers. It is important for his social development.


  3. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    An alternative could be either tighter supervision, or structured activity during recess. having an adult supervisor getting difficult child 2 involved in kicking a ball around, for example. he's still getting physical exercise, you can involve other kids, and he's also getting carefully supervised. This is what we did with difficult child 3 one year, for the last term. I wish I could have insisted it continue.

    I really get annoyed with the attitude that kids with social interaction problems will catch up if only they are surrounded by other kids. The implication is that it's always best for such a kid to be thrown into the social mix at school, than to be isolated from them.

    In fact, as we found with difficult child 3 and as others before us have found, a lot of kids, especially the Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) kids, can't learn social skills by osmosis. Simply shoving them into a crowd of kids the same age just doesn't work. In difficult child 3's case, we tried to ease the way by educating the other kids about autism, but he was still a target of some bullies. Even the kids who always looked out for him, who showed consideration, eventually left him behind socially to go play with their friends' difficult child 3 simply couldn't interact with them without a lot of hard work on their part. Every lunchtime and every recess, you would see difficult child 3 walking around the edge of the playground, on his own. Even if other kids invited him to join in a game, the rules could easily change through the game without him realising or understanding, and there would often be explosions as a result. Kids who were fed up with playing t he game with him would also sometimes change the rules just so they could be rid of him.

    I allowed myself to be convinced by the teachers and education officials who insisted that for an autistic child (and for any child with delayed or impaired social skills) the best place for them to deal with this was in a large mainstream group.
    Then not long after I found this site, I stumbled on the website of James Williams, an autistic teen who wrote eloquently about this very topic, and just how wrong that opinion is. To find it, I Googled "James Williams" and "autism", in one search window.

    We have an organisation in Australia called Family Advocacy. I sought help and advice from them, and at times I got some seemingly odd reactions from them when I was wanting their support in getting difficult child 3 into correspondence school and out of mainstream.
    It took me a couple of years to discover that their mission statement is along the same lines as "no child left behind". Their aim is for all people with disabilities to be included, and that ANY attempt to segregate people with disabilities is by definition, wrong. They were not happy with my campaign for a Special Education autism class in a mainstream setting - they feel that ALL students with disabilities should be accommodated in mainstream.

    I agree that removing him from recess is wrong. I think it's too harsh for something like this. Our kids are always doing impulsive things. Take away their opportunity to burn off some of that exuberance and they are MORE likely to act impulsively.

  4. Christy

    Christy New Member

    I can understand your mixed emotions. The plan has good points and negatives. I guess I have the opposite thinking of those who have posted so far. It sounds like you difficult child has difficulty controlling impulsiveness and getting in trouble frequently which obviously equates to him hating school. He might enjoy these jobs at recess and it may help build confidence and maybe a more positive attitude about school. It gives him the opportunity to do something right. He will be looked up to by the little kids he is reading to. A negative is losing the opportunity to interact with peers in an unstructured environment. But ask yourself, has this been going well so far? Also, you are hoping to trasnsfer him to the magnet school so he will be with a new peer set next year if things go as planned. Perhaps a suggestion is for the school to find another same age peer who would happily volunteer to do these jobs at recess and he/she could partner with your difficult child. This would be a positive peer interaction if the school makes a good choice (maybe another magnet school canidate). My son had a friend in the mainstream class (a little girl) who just seemed to understand him. She was very tolerant and alwas kind. She was an excellent student and role model and this relationship did more for him than anything te school system could put into place. Just a thought.
    Good luck and let us know how it goes.
  5. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    Learning Disability (LD)'sM & Marguerite, your points are well taken, and those are the reasons for my reservations. I'm going to ask for a one-on-one aide for him for recess times with his peers in his IEP. We'll be meeting to hammer out the details in a few weeks.

    Christy, those are exactly the positives I could see with this situation. And he has a horrible track record with his impulse control on the playground with other kids, so no, things have not worked well for him in that environment.

    He's supposed to be starting social skills training until his IEP is in place.

    Since my knowledge is limited to what difficult child 2 has told me, I clearly need to give the AP a call and find out exactly what's going on.
  6. I completely agree with finding another solution other than taking away a child's recess. Last year my difficult child was constantly losing recess because of unfinished work, his teacher was awful. Recess was the only thing that difficult child could look forward to in the school day and then to have it taken away most of the time, he got to where he really resented school and the teacher AND it didn't accomplish anything - he still didn't complete his work.

    There has to be another solution.