Any advice exp w/ aspie child rejecting classroom helper

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Sweetleaf
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14 Mar 2012, 1:10 pm

Just another thing to add, maybe the suggestions about getting a different aide could help......I mean from what I saw at the school I went to some of the aides seemed very over-bearing and critical towards the special needs kids they 'helped' I just could not help thinking it was probably doing more damage having some strict lady with a nasty look on her face hovering over someone while they are trying to do their classwork to nag them every time they do something abnormal.

So it could be this aide specifically is the problem and not having one in itself.


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BroncoB
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15 Mar 2012, 10:20 am

A small update. We have an appointment with his teaching team this afternoon. We hope to hear what ideas they have as well as making a few suggestions based on this groups feedback.

We don't expect resolution of the issue to happen today but we do hope to have some possible plans to discuss and put in place.

Thanks again for everyone's thoughts and ideas. I will post what we find today either tonight or tomorrow morning and hopefully get more feedback from all of you.



BroncoB
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16 Mar 2012, 6:15 am

Here is what the team is planning on doing:

A few logistical changes:

1. At the end of each day our son will meet with his aide to discuss the schedule for the following day in private. This will hopefully alleviate a lot of the feelings he has with regards to the aide always stepping in during the day to help him redirect.

2. He receives study guides for subjects that he needs help with. He was very concerned that people see him getting them. Now the school will email them to the house to remove that concern. The team also told us that roughly 25% of the kids get them, even though he never sees anyone getting them.

3. They are going to take a list that they already track and identify one class and one issue. As he reduces instances where that is a problem, for example needing prompts to transition from one task to the next then the aide will be faded from that class. Hopefully he can work on this and get the aide to fade as much as possible from his daily interactions.

4. What was interesting was the teams input that the main drive behind his threats is issues he is having with his math instruction. Last year they moved him one grade ahead and tested him for his math abilities. He tested into middle high school. So this year he is using a computer driven math course that goes at his pace. Anytime he has issues with not 'getting' a concept in the time he feels he should get it he gets upset. That is when the threats start. Math and music are the only subject he professes to like. He doesn't complain or make those threats when having issues in other subjects.

We wonder if this is because he is known throughout the school as a math whiz and here at home we compliment him on his abilities. We've 'pumped' him up and now he feels like he is failing if he doesn't get 100% on every single test or assignment.

We told him multiple times before the meeting that there wasn't going to be a 100% solution, that we didn't know what the team would say but we would see. He was disappointed that the news wasn't a 100% removal of his aide.

5. Our son has complained several times that the aide hovers and sits close to him. According to the team that is not the case and that unless he needs assistance the aide is not near him and is usually assisting other children. Not his perception, but good to know.

The team did indicate that he needs the aide for two main reasons:

1. If the subject isn't math he needs the aide to prompt him to follow along with what the class is doing and to prompt him to take notes.

2. When he has an emotional outburst - to help him outside the classroom. Additionally, because he has made threats of suicide they won't leave him alone in the hallway or any area of the school.

3. They all agreed that it is very important that they work to help him eliminate the need for the aide - like many of you have said, he won't have one forever and the sooner he learns to do without the better.

When we asked him if he thought he could focus more in non-favorite subject areas he said - 'I'd rather think about being at home than pay attention to social studies or science.' We explained that if he wants the aide gone he needs to focus on those subjects like he does math.

They are doing standardized testing currently and by the end of next week should have the goals in place for him.

This is the first time I met a few of his teachers for this year (my wife has plenty of phone conversations with them and has met them all before). What really came across to me was just how much this team has invested in him. One of the teachers in particular, you could see how emotional she became when speaking of him. She really is an advocate for him. Nice to see.



BroncoB
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16 Mar 2012, 6:22 am

Sweetleaf wrote:
Just another thing to add, maybe the suggestions about getting a different aide could help......I mean from what I saw at the school I went to some of the aides seemed very over-bearing and critical towards the special needs kids they 'helped' I just could not help thinking it was probably doing more damage having some strict lady with a nasty look on her face hovering over someone while they are trying to do their classwork to nag them every time they do something abnormal.

So it could be this aide specifically is the problem and not having one in itself.


After having a few more discussions with our son we believe that the root issue is him coming to grips/realization that he isn't NT and while that never mattered to him before - it suddenly does.

The aide is just the biggest real world manifestation of it - an in your face 'you are different'. Helping him to be OK with this seems to be our current goal.

I have first hand experience with not being happy with self - it can take years to come to accept that sort of stuff. My pre-teen, early adolescence was a mess too. Hopefully my experiences will help me to help him.



BroncoB
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16 Mar 2012, 6:40 am

bethaniej wrote:
I like the ideas of smen and jagati. It may be that he's telling you it's time that he be responsible for himself. This is not to say that there won't be fall-out if the aid is gone, but I think it will give him the experience of learning how to handle himself.


When we discussed the possibility of the aide simply being 'gone' every person on his team expressed serious concern, that by totally removing his 'net' that we'd be setting him up to fail. They suggested a system to slowly remove it based off of his efforts in the classroom. We haven't seen the details yet so we will see.


Quote:
She takes medication for distraction....that helps some. She thinks it helps a lot, so I think the combined actual help along with the placebo effect...she is able to do okay. She's not great at school, but she knows it's important, and she loves going. She really loves the social interraction.


Can I ask what she takes? Our sons team suggested that we do a survey (Cooper maybe?) to see if he has any attention deficit issues. We've tried really hard to stay away from medication and view it as a last ditch thing.

Quote:
I think if he instists, you aught to respect his wishes. Like smen said, put something in place, Like if you can keep your grades above C's you can be without an aid, but if you can't on your own, we will reconsider. Maybe get that deal in writing even. Then see how it goes. If he's distractable, consider medication...it may help. My daughter feels smarter (her words) when she's on it because she isn't always losing her train of thought or forgetting what she's going to say. I think if it's this important to him, and he's the adolescent (and I think we have to be aware that noticing how others see you and wanting to socialize successfully is important right now), then see if it can work. I used to get so worried, but sometime just this year my brain switched over to realizing it was soo important to her that I have FAITH in her abilities instead of always worrying about her disabilities/weaknesses. I've been working on that one, but it's a hard one.


Hopefully this plan his team is working on will have goals that he can achieve and work to remove this on his own. I've yet to see him fail at something he sets his mind to doing - so we will see.

Thanks for your thoughts - really appreciate it and those of everyone here.



momsparky
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16 Mar 2012, 8:39 am

Bronco, I really do recommend the books by Kathy Hoopmann on autism: http://www.kathyhoopmann.com/books.html She does a very good job of de-pathologizing it for kids, in a very matter-of-fact light way. In particular, "All Cats" is a great place for anyone to start, but the "Mice" series (which I recommend you preview first, there are some upsetting scenes with a teacher) is also very good for boys - I have not yet read the one for girls or the teen one.) She actually posted here once looking for feedback from the autism community!

I know I sound like her salesman, but I have no relationship other than, on the recommendation of a poster here, we bought these books for our son and they made a HUGE difference in our lives. There are other books with autistic characters, but thus far I haven't found any that helped my son connect the way these ones did. They're written at about a second- or third-grade level, but they can easily be read to younger children and they've held the interest of tweens I've loaned them to.

(A couple other series that I want to try: Al Capone Does My Shirts - any feedback? and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time...there's a whole list here that I hope parents and posters can comment on: http://www.autism-resources.com/childre ... ction.html)

I didn't really like "Rules;" one that's recommended but it's really from the perspective of a sibling who isn't happy about her situation.



bethaniej
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16 Mar 2012, 1:23 pm

I like what the team came up with and I hope it's successful. I think it could be a very good thing because it lets him know that responsibility for getting rid of the aid rests with him....and it lets him know very clearly what needs to happen for him to be without the aid. I think it's a great solution. He may resist at first, but I think ultimately he will try and work toward being aid free.



bethaniej
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16 Mar 2012, 1:27 pm

My daughter takes adderol. Of course it isn't a magic pill, and I think she is starting to see some of the side effects as a hinderance. She's recently asked for a decrease, which with some discussion with the dr, we decided to do. But I think it really depends on the person...not all drugs work for all people, and it's a pain to 1) find the right med and 2) find the right dosage. But...over the last several years, I think the benefits have outweighed the drawbacks. It's something to look at anyway.



jat
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16 Mar 2012, 1:48 pm

Was your son part of the meeting? If he wasn't, perhaps there should be another meeting, where he is involved, and where he can be part of the conversation. The result might be the same, but if he is an active participant, if he feels heard, and if he feels like his feelings and perspective are valued, he might be more willing to hear other people's views as well. He may also be more able to see where he needs to work, and how much everyone wants to work with him. It can also be very helpful for him to see and hear everyone in the room hearing everyone else - so he knows that everyone is hearing the same things from each other - including from him. He doesn't have to wonder whether people are saying one thing to one person and something else to someone else. It can be very powerful. But everyone has to be willing to come into the room with an open mind - maybe they overlooked something, and there could be a change that no one had considered. If, instead of saying "but you can't ...," people say "how will we support you to ..." solutions might be found. Or, your son may figure out that what the team already decided is the best interim step, and that there should be another meeting, to assess things, in three months, or two months, or whenever. But if he's part of it, and he doesn't feel like people are devaluing him, he could feel like he has something positive to work toward, instead of like he's just lost again.



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16 Mar 2012, 7:54 pm

I almost went through the same situation as your son, but I was given a choice as to what happened to me (I was 12 when diagnosed with a learning disability that affects my math processing). I was given something called 'Adaptations' where I had chosen what areas I want help in and what can be done(ie, do different work, have the teacher keep me on track every so often, separate room to work in, given notes when the teacher does verbal teaching rather than visual, etc) these are all quite helpful. I don't know if your son needs an aide so much as simple adaptations and maybe a meeting every so often with the school guidance councillor.
Also, in my experience, I have found aides to be quite condescending and harsh on the students they're helping, but maybe that's just my area. So he may not like/be comfortable with the aide he has.
Hope this is at least mildly helpful. :D



BroncoB
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19 Mar 2012, 12:04 pm

jat wrote:
Was your son part of the meeting? If he wasn't, perhaps there should be another meeting, where he is involved, and where he can be part of the conversation. The result might be the same, but if he is an active participant, if he feels heard, and if he feels like his feelings and perspective are valued, he might be more willing to hear other people's views as well. He may also be more able to see where he needs to work, and how much everyone wants to work with him. It can also be very helpful for him to see and hear everyone in the room hearing everyone else - so he knows that everyone is hearing the same things from each other - including from him. He doesn't have to wonder whether people are saying one thing to one person and something else to someone else. It can be very powerful. But everyone has to be willing to come into the room with an open mind - maybe they overlooked something, and there could be a change that no one had considered. If, instead of saying "but you can't ...," people say "how will we support you to ..." solutions might be found. Or, your son may figure out that what the team already decided is the best interim step, and that there should be another meeting, to assess things, in three months, or two months, or whenever. But if he's part of it, and he doesn't feel like people are devaluing him, he could feel like he has something positive to work toward, instead of like he's just lost again.


These are all very good points. Unfortunately they can't make any rapid changes because they are doing standardized state testing currently so he isn't even in a normal school day. Last night after dinner he and I spoke for about an hour about the aide. He is having a very difficult time accepting that this is going to probably be a gradual process. Building up the time he will be without her and making it dependent upon his progress in eliminating the issues that he needs her for is the best course of action here versus just removing it and letting him sink or swim on his own. I tried using a flowchart as a good example for him to understand the process of when the aide would be removed. He wasn't happy with the process but understood it. My wife and I spoke with him again at his bedtime rehashing it over again.

I hope he is having a good day today in school. His team should have something drawn up by Wednesday which is when they return to regular classes.

Thanks for your input. I'm going to ask that he have his entire team present to go over all of this with him together. Hopefully we can get one of us parents there as well.



BroncoB
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19 Mar 2012, 12:07 pm

TheBookworm wrote:
Also, in my experience, I have found aides to be quite condescending and harsh on the students they're helping, but maybe that's just my area. So he may not like/be comfortable with the aide he has.
Hope this is at least mildly helpful. :D


Our son has stated that his new aide is very difficult to deal with. His teachers state that she stays far away from him except when she sees him drifting off or having emotional difficulty.

Perception is in the eye of the beholder so while the reality may be what his teachers say - he feels that she is acting as he sees it.



momsparky
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19 Mar 2012, 12:18 pm

BroncoB wrote:
TheBookworm wrote:
Also, in my experience, I have found aides to be quite condescending and harsh on the students they're helping, but maybe that's just my area. So he may not like/be comfortable with the aide he has.
Hope this is at least mildly helpful. :D


Our son has stated that his new aide is very difficult to deal with. His teachers state that she stays far away from him except when she sees him drifting off or having emotional difficulty.

Perception is in the eye of the beholder so while the reality may be what his teachers say - he feels that she is acting as he sees it.


We struggle with this all the time. There have been times when DS insists something is true, I observe, I get teachers to observe, we don't see it...and later we find that it WAS true (he told me the recess supervisors make the boys sit out. I asked about it, was rebuffed...until I walked past a row of boys sullenly sitting on the playground curb one day.)

Another situation: a boy my son really, really struggles with who likes him and advocates for him all the time. DS maintains "He hates me, he's mean to me all the time!" I finally figured out that DS was reacting to a pragmatic difference (this boy uses friendly teasing, which DS doesn't interpret appropriately) and was just not seeing the friendly approaches of this kid. Didn't mean he was wrong, just meant he needed more information.

Kids with autism spectrum disorders struggle to express things exactly and clearly. I'm not saying your son's perception isn't wrong, nor am I saying that it's isn't right, but I would say that the information you have on both sides is pretty non-specific. How often does he "drift off or have emotional difficulty?" What does your son mean by "all the time," and what does the teacher mean by "far away?" The answer may well be somewhere in between the two statements.

The amount of detective work this takes can be exhausting, but I've found that if I can chase down what my son MEANS and address it, it really makes a positive difference.



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19 Mar 2012, 1:48 pm

One concern I have for your son.... If the aide causes an additional stress for your son, he may never be able to get past the goals. I know that when my son had an aide with whom he was not compatible, his behavior was much worse.

I'm wondering if you can have the aide collect data for a week with no interferance at all. She would only engage with him upon his request, and collect the data about how often and why he did, also collecting data about how the other kids are served. At the end of the week you can then talk about the results.



BroncoB
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20 Mar 2012, 7:12 am

Kailuamom wrote:
One concern I have for your son.... If the aide causes an additional stress for your son, he may never be able to get past the goals. I know that when my son had an aide with whom he was not compatible, his behavior was much worse.

I'm wondering if you can have the aide collect data for a week with no interferance at all. She would only engage with him upon his request, and collect the data about how often and why he did, also collecting data about how the other kids are served. At the end of the week you can then talk about the results.


We've asked to see the plan before they present it to our son. This past Friday they did what you recommend above for a subject. He missed 2 out of 3 transitions completely and was out of the loop when the class began instruction for 66% of the class time. When they told him this he said 'Well that's not good.' and seemed more receptive to the aide sticking around. Then when he got home he had his back up again and the aide just 'needs to go'.

What everyone on his team needs to see is that this is an opportunity. He wants the aide gone. The team wants him to increase his independence and ability to transition without prompts. If he didn't care if the aide was there and he didn't care about getting rid of her, then we wouldn't have this opportunity to help him learn this necessary skill.

Hopefully we will see this new program in writing by the end of the day tomorrow.