Saturday, May 17, 2008

Dear Noah........another rough day for you Friday....

When I picked you up I knew you did not feel well and had a rough day.  You complained of a really really bad headache first of all.  AND I was informed you had a bad day....hitting another student during a competition game your class played with Legos.

Friday morning on the way driving you to school I talked to you about this LEGOS competition you told me would take place in your class....because I KNEW it was an event that could potentially set you off to REACT before thinking or remaining calm.....because I KNEW if someone TOOK your LEGO s or WON over you.......came in FIRST......you would lose it.  So we talked ahead of time about how you SHOULD react.....what you SHOULD DO and not do....etc.

I guess the other team won....and you told me you get tired of ROBBIE always being first.....and so you apparently pushed him or hit him because his team won.  Now ROBBIE is also a boy who causes his own problems and I don't know what happened in the class or if he instigated anything or not.  I got a note from the teacher in your ledger that said your reactions were UNPROVOKED....but I guess she still does not understand that your reaction WAS provoked......by exactly the scenario I was afraid would play out.  

I am not sure how I can make them understand that ANY social situation has a potential for explosive outbursts from you....A) if someone beats you or wins or comes in first over you....B) if someone looks at you the wrong way.....C) if someone says something to you that you don't like....D) If someone laughs at you....I could go on and on.  The point is......anyone coming in first over you bothers you.  TREMENDOUSLY!   HAD I been there.....I would have been in the sidelines and when the other team won BEFORE you reacted like you did (as I am sure if they had really been watching they could have seen you starting to boil and react). ...I would have held you and said to you "that is okay......we need to clap Noah because the other team won...YEAH ....and that is okay!  EVERYONE can take turns at winning.....you don't always have to win.....it is OKAY for someone else to win too sometimes."   Just saying the phrase to you "IT's OKAY!" works so well with so many things!

The teacher PUNISHED YOU however....by removing your noon recess.  I am not sure what you did instead.....but they still don't realize the importance of you receiving SENSORY STIMULATION throughout the day to help you remain calm.   DOCKING you your recess time and not allowing your BODY time to MOVE does nothing but add fuel to the fire.  YOU NEED that time to move.  In the past all the behavioral experts have told previous teachers this.  That you cannot punish a child for doing something they cannot control.....it is not like you are doing something or choosing to do something WRONG over something right.  These are impulsive behaviors you cannot control.  YOU CAN LEARN to control them better with time and  you have made progress....but they are still things you must learn.  They will never come instinctively to you.  Try as I might I don't think I am getting this across to the teachers.

SO she had punished you in school....and then told YOU that she was going to tell me about this and tell me to also punish you here at home which only upset you even more....so you cried and had a hard time and ended up with a really bad headache.

I know you must learn there are consequences for actions.  However......punishing any special needs child for behavior they cannot control is not really correct either is it?  I mean you don't  really even get all this.  You know you should not push or hit.....but you don't really understand the reasons WHY and you cannot always stop yourself from reacting that way.  It is a process....and ongoing one...one you will continue your entire life. 

SO these teachers are trying things the old teachers did.  Punishing you for behavior you cannot easily control.   This always happens.  It always ends up like this.  Somewhere along the way they start assuming they can and should punish you like they would another student who understands these sorts of things....I have already been informed by the staff that next year in 4th grade the teachers may not be as "understanding" or "knowledgeable" about your autism and special needs as your current teachers.  That they may not be as easy on you...etc?  BUT isn't that the entire reason for your IEP?  AND if the staff does not understand you and your needs.....how can they best provide you with the best of anything you need in their school?  AND would it not be appropriate that the staff then be required to receive proper training and education regarding autism?  I mean you are not the only child in that school with that diagnosis.  IGNORANCE on a teacher' s behalf is totally unacceptable to me.

I have thought and thought about this.  I am going to write a letter to the staff this weekend and send it with you on Monday to school for the  principal and all your teachers.   I know it is the end of the year almost but it is never too late to hopefully teach them a little more. 

I got you your KFC on the way home from school anyway for your supper and you were so afraid your punishment from me would not be to eat out because your teacher told you she would tell me to NOT take you out to dinner....and once home and after you ate and had some Motrin for your headache...you crawled into bed and slept for a couple of hours.  I am sure your blood pressure elevated at school today.  ANY time lately when you get mad or upset you end up with a really bad headache.  AND then are wiped out.  NONE of this surprises me.  However, if tomorrow was a school day and not Saturday I already know you would not be going as it will likely take you the better part of the day to recover from this latest episode at school. 

Here at home you are so sweet and good and kind.  EVEN if you get upset you do not act out like you do at school.  I have so many questions and want to do the very best for you.   I am not so sure still about the public classroom setting. 

BUT I AM SURE I LOVE YOU.......and understand  you.....

(we are planning a sleep over for you.....you have requested a sleep over in MY bedroom Saturday night to Sunday morning.  I have a couple of treats in store as I ordered a PLANETARIUM and MOON to put in my room so we will be sleeping under the stars and moon that night.  How cool is that? I cannot wait!)

Noah......don't worry about anything.  It will all be "OKAY".......I promise you that...because that is my job for you as your mom.  To make sure everything will be okay.

 

Love you!

Mommy

XOXOX

14 comments:

- Lynn - said...

I'm not trying to imply anything but am simply just curious... how do you tell if a child actually REALLY understands or do not understand something?

I've met so many children who KNOW they are not supposed to do some stuff.. (e.g. hit people) but they still do it anyway cause they know their parents will just blame the school for the child's behaviour or for the punishment they give out. (Have seen so many cases where parents shout at the teachers for punishing the child and insisting the child is not to be blamed. The parents then proceed to shout at the teachers for not doing a good job.. which is why their child misbehave) These parents NEVER blame the child for it and in fact, spoil them rotten. And the outcome of these children is that they become bullies. I understand parents always think of their child as the "perfect one" but...

Like I said before, I'm not trying to imply that Noah is a bully. I'm just curious as to why are you so sure Noah doesn't understand he has to react in an appropriate way in different situations?

Melissa said...

I don't understand why the woman who is assigned to him isn't around when things like this happen. If she is around, she is surely doing a poor job. None of the staff seem to be doing an outstanding job in my opinion. If the 4th grade is going to be "harder" on him, it sounds to me like the 4th grade staff doesn't want to try and learn about autism and just be set in their ways. I would have major issues with all of these things, and I know you do too. I love you both.

Melissa said...

Oh and the stars and moon sound really cool too!

Melinda said...

because when I or the teachers ask him WHY he does what he does he cannot tell anyone. He says "I don't know" and when we tell him what IS the correct response or action he acts totally clueless....and when I or the teachers then also ask him WHY the correct response or behavior would be the best choice he also cannot tell anyone WHY again. He doesn't get it.

Not sure if you have ever been around AUTISTIC people or not.....but that is how it is.....I am not using that as an excuse for Noah.....but it is a reason I understand why he does not GET certain social situations and what is or is not appropriate at all.

I or the teachers can explain to him over and over what is or is not appropriate responses or behavior to an upsetting situation for him.....but about half the time now (maybe more or less but this is still an improvement)....he will revert back to his old impulsive ways of reacting.....because he still cannot verbally express his feelings as well as his peers....so he acts like a child would much younger than his 9 years of age. How do younger kids resolve conflict? They scream, kick, yell, bite, pinch. Sometimes for no reasons he will do this.

I am not one who BLAMES the school or his teachers for anything. I know they have to have him suffer consequences like other kids when he does the inappropriate behavior. However....there are proper ways to do that with an autistic child....and removing his recess when he REQUIRES that movement just to COPE with his school day so he can AVOID outbursts is not the way to go as far as I am concerned. It has never been a good idea as I said in my post even from the behavioral specialists point of view.

He has to suffer a consequence.....but that does not really help him learn to NOT react the next time...like other kids will instinctively avoid a situation again to avoid the consequence. Noah most times will not even be able to RECALL what I told him even a few moments before...let alone have it stored in his brain somewhere to pull from later.

Creating that new SYNAPSE for lack of a better word.....in his brain that holds the proper information....so he can pull it up one day and say to himself BEFORE reacting (like "oh wait...in this situation I am supposed to do this")...takes TIME. SOMETIMES MONTHS to years before he can retain and learn that new information.

Autism and sensory integration are very complex issues. Not easily understood by most.....and most who do not understand it at some point usually do end up with the same questions you pose here.

I live with Noah and have only been apart from him a couple of times since he was born. AND those times have only been recently. I understand what makes him tick and not. I tried preparing Noah the morning of this COMPETITION at school because I knew it could be a situation that would set him off.

The teachers have all said they honestly also believe he just does NOT have a clue about most of these situations when they happen. They can even tell this. His homeroom teacher has been very good with him and working with him trying to teach him the appropriate responses to situations that are upsetting to him. I know it is frustrating because you can tell Noah over and over but he sometimes will still revert to his old impulsive behavior to express his displeasure with something. He has to learn there is a time and place for everything and how to appropriately respond to things that upset him or make him mad.

Noah does not ever hit anyone on purpose. The school knows this. The principal who is also a child psychologist even gets that. She observes what happens and can tell it is not something the sets out to do intentionally. These are all moments that happen very quickly and he REACTS impulsively.....something that he has to learn to control better.

Not sure what else I could say to make you understand. If you are in it you would or will.

Melinda said...

and these are kids who do NOT understand that you don't do certain things to people because it could hurt them.....they do not understand that emotion from other people very well. He does not understand abstract anything......so concepts like "you can kill someone doing that" makes absolutely no sense to Noah. You can say it will make them not breathe or make them cry or make them hurt....and he grasps it for that moment.....RIGHT then.....but to recall that later is what we are striving for....because to be able to recall that information later he has to LEARN it.....it is not the same as other kids who instinctively know you don't do certain things.....and telling them once is enough.

With Noah he can require hundreds of prompts over and over before his learned response will appear to come natural (even though it is something not natural to him)

ALSO Noah enjoys body slamming and many things that cause him sensory stimulation. SO he oftentimes thinks other kids will like that too. It took him a long time to learn not everyone wants to be body slammed into a wall...but he DID learn that and now does not do it.

kristi said...

I totatlly understand where you are coming from. TC needs this too. As a matter of fact, in his IEP that we just had, they have it set up for work/ play, work/ play. They so need the sensory input!! And people who don't deal with an autistic child don't and can't understand.

Melinda said...

yes Kristi I think it is more difficult for those not around autism to understand. I am not sure if Lynn above has any experience in that area or not...she/he might. You cannot find out anything by checking their profile.

AND I know when someone starts out saying "I'm not trying to imply anything" unfortunately it usually means that is exactly what they end up doing.

BUT to give Lynn the benefit of the doubt and only really wants to understand this all..I am not sure how to make anyone understand it. There are times I myself have to wonder why Noah does not understand what he does not understand. Perhaps if we knew those answers their issues (or most of them) would be solved and we would not have these problems to deal with. I hesitate to call them problems but I guess they create problems so they most likely qualify.

Anyway....I remember many times my own family asking me "can't you make him (Noah) understand NO?"

If only it were that easy ...because while they might know what NO means.....sometimes..having them RETAIN that information to pull upon later is difficult....especially to put that before their impulsiveness.

ALSO...this morning is a good example. I was changing Noah's sheets on the bed and had piled all his bedding and stuffed animals in one big pile on top of his chair...and it was sitting precariously....and his jeans he needed for the day were there on the chair....and I told him I would get them so the pile would not fall over.

Now HE thought the pile falling over would be FUNNY.....and a FUN thing to DO. When I asked him WHY that should NOT be funny....when someone was working hard on something and had placed those items there to make it easier for them to complete that project....he could not give me an answer as to why it would not be appropriate to not make everything fall over.

SO I switched it around on him and asked him "well how would YOU feel if YOU had placed a bunch of stuff in a pile so you could do something else and I came along and knocked it all over?"

He said he would be very very angry and push me over and kill me with a gun. Disturbing.....yes. I told him that is how he would make someone else feel.....if he did that to them......ANGRY.....and SAD.

I then had to go over the entire DEATH and KILLING subject again...as that is still pretty abstract and he does not really take it for reality in any sense. This is VERY important for me for him to learn.....because he has to take that entirely serious and realize the seriousness of it and anything he might do to hurt anyone....etc. In time as he gets bigger he MUST learn to do the right things ALL THE TIME and pull upon his stored/learned information quickly and not act out irrationally. The process of learning these types of things to make it look natural to someone is time consuming and lengthy...but it CAN BE DONE!

Noah knows KILLING and anything to do with it is wrong....bad....that people who are DEAD go to the cemetery....that is the end.....of their bodies....or in other words they would no longer be breathing and moving alive in THIS world. I go over all the time that hitting or pushing is not appropriate behavioral responses to anything that ticks him off.....that he should only ever do that if he is fighting to defend himself from some sort of attack...and even then he has to be careful.

But the STOP AND THINK FIRST switch seems to misfire many times......and he will many times REACT before thinking through.....and then again when he thinks through....that information that should be there sometimes just is not.

Scary yes. Is he a danger to anyone? I don't believe so.......however......if he cannot learn these things NOW and retain them and have them come naturally.....he could end up hurting someone as he gets older and bigger and or end up in juvenile hall (which I HAVE talked to him about)....and then more nightmarish possibilities arise.

This is why I have not been able to stress enough to the school how Noah NEEDS behavioral/social skills classes or help. The WAIT AND SEE if he does something and then try to deal with it or PUNISH him afterwards by removing his MOVE time is wrong. That just does not work.

Melinda said...

AND TO BE FAIR TO NOAH HE FIRST SAID HE WOULD JUST GET VERY VERY ANGRY..if someone knocked his stuff over.....then he turned to me and said he would push me down and kill me. Now he was being somewhat silly at the time....relating to a computer game......but......he still has to learn that is wrong!

- lynn- said...

Hmm... Blogger wouldn't let me login. But anyway, thanks for the reply. I guess its really hard to understand if we are in different situations.

Hope you don't find my comments offensive. If you did, sorry. But I wasn't trying to pick a quarrel or anything... My english isn't that good so my phrasing might not be very appropriate. Sorry again.

Melinda said...

Lynn.....I did not take any offense...so no worries.

It is difficult to understand even when you are right in the middle of it.....so don't feel bad for not being able to understand it either. There are times I shake my head...cause I have no explanation as to why Noah will do what he does.

Anonymous said...

did the fact that the teacher told him that she was going to tell YOU to not take him out to dinner not bother you? I would have been pissed. I am not a big fan of punishing a child at home for something that they do at school-just like they would not punish him for something he did at him. School and home are separate.
I would work with the school to come up with something else as far as punishment. When situations get that bad-he should have someone really work with him to try to help him break it down.

Melinda said...

anonymous:

YES I was ticked off...and I did address all this in a huge e-mail to the teachers and the principal.....expressing MY feelings about how the teacher should not also ask for PUNISHMENT at home if they already punished Noah at school...and how he felt PROVOKED because of how he INTERPRETED the entire situation..etc. I am not sure everything I said will be understood but trust me...I made it very clear how I felt. AND I also asked that they not PUNISH him in the future by removing his recess...but that they give him a special JOB or CHORE to do instead...he needs that recess time to MOVE to provide some sort of a sensory diet to his day at school which will allow him to SIT and be more calm throughout the day and have less explosive moments.

THANKS for the visit and comment!

Anonymous said...

I meant to say "did at HOME" I am sure you got that. And good for you!!! is his school almost out for the year?

Melinda said...

Anonymous.....

yes...I got that! ;)

AND YES...he gets out June 4th!