Sunday, April 7, 2013

Special Ed, the old guard vs. the new.

Autism and Behavior therapy to manage it are relatively new phenomenon in the educational system. Like... the last 15 years, with them being more prevalent the last 5.   Lots of the special ed teachers and para's (at least in our school system) predate the concept of using ABA as an educational tool.  Their training for special ed was with kids who have CP or Downs or MR, not with kids who self injure, are aggressive, are tremendous sensory seekers, or who require tremendous postive reinforcement/redirection to function.

Dominic's current SPED teacher (and the one before her who retired at Halloween) is trained and certified in using ABA, specifically to administer the ABBLS curriculum.  He is currently the only child on the ABBLS at his elementary school.  The preschool autism coordinator so many years ago started it, and the district has had to keep going.  Which is not a bad thing.  The ABBLS curriculum requires a para who is trained in using it (there's an autism lab in the District, and they teach the para's how to use it) and basically requires 100% one on one.   Dominic does great with this kind of structure.  This particular special ed teacher will not be back to our elementary school in the fall.  Technically, Dominic could transition to the secondary SPED teacher since he'll be in the third grade, but she's not trained in the ABBLS.  So we are hoping that whoever they hire to replace our current primary SPED will be.

At any rate, the para that he is with most of the time (except for her lunch breaks, for all intents and purposes) is fantastic. I liken her to a cross between a grandma and a drill sergeant.  We adore her.  We have no idea if she'll be around next year or not, but we hope...

So remember when I told you all about the chicken before spring break?  I didn't tell you the whole conversation because I was still mulling it.

Apparently Dominic was in the special ed room under the eye of "old school" para's who don't normally work with him while his para was on her lunch break.  They were halfway watching him, and he decided that he was going to be in charge, and he was going to open and close the microwave door repeatedly, while laughing at them.  They did the "old guard" response of both yelling "NO, STOP,. BAD" kinds of things and he just laughed and kept going.  Our SPED teacher came in and apparently came unglued at them for handling him inappropriately.  The proper way to manage Dominic's negative behavior would've been to provide a redirect to a more appropriate activity.  (And in fact, redirection is in his IEP).  Instead, they were reinforcing his negative behaviors by paying huge amounts of attention to them.

After a long phone call with me, in which I requested a conference with her, the principle, her supervisor, and the secondary special ed teacher to discuss continuity next year, and appropriate training for all people working with Dominic, his special ed teacher discussed the problem with the principal and has gotten a 2 hour training for all SPED staff (including paras) by the district Autism guru in April.  We are still having the meeting. I made the point that if D11 cannot provide an appropriate learning environment for him (structure, redirection, etc), then perhaps we needed to talk about the district paying for someone who can provide that environment.  So we'll see.  A lot hinges on the training level of whoever they bring in to be the second sped teacher at his elementary school, and if we can keep him there instead of moving him to a different teacher who doesn't have the training required.

The meeting is scheduled for tomorrow.  It should be very interesting.

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