First of all, Friday was chaotic! Ginny, my boss, another paraprofessional (my job), the principal and vice principal were all out! Bear with me as I run down the insanity that was my Friday. At the end, I explain why success is stress for some of my students and how it used to be stressful for me.
Both Sean and Adam (a student we think had a traumatic brain injury because previous IQ tests placed him in the normal range, but recent ones place him in the intellectually disabled range) had multiple instances of major property destruction (flipping desks, breaking things, kicking walls). Sean went to the Quiet Room. Adam did not and he got his special end of the day break for having a safe body. I disagree with that because major property destruction counts as unsafe. However, Claire, the assistant behavioral analyst, made that call.
Gage had a tough morning, lots of inappropriate language, aggression, and property destruction. Apparently we started tracking inappropriate touching, he had 6 at the end of the day. He went to the Quiet Room in the morning because of uncontrollable aggression. I can count on one hand how many times Gage went to the QR in the past year and a half.
Cory had lots of non-compliance, but stayed safe, which is awesome progress! David had one episode of major property destruction, but when prompted, he sat in his chair until he was calm. Twice in Music he ran to the quiet room because he was mad Mark wouldn’t play his inappropriate song. John screamed A LOT and basically had to be blocked from aggression towards Gage, but maybe he stopped short of his staff because they prompted the calm down room (He gets in trouble at home for going to the quiet room. So, if he is upset, but safe, we tell him to go to the calm down room). He had to be helped there, but had no other behaviors.
The other 3 students were fine all day.
11:30 – 11:40 was touch and go because only 5 staff worked during the kid’s lunch and first 10 minutes of recess and only 3 of us are trained to restrain. One of the 3 trained staff was outside the Quiet Room waiting for Sean to calm down. Sean was in the QR, Jacob was mad we didn’t go outside and Cory was antagonizing David. Cory and David arguing usually ends up in one or both of them aggressing. Cory wasn’t bullying, but he continued insisting we couldn’t play foosball and saying we’d get in trouble, even after Claire prompted him to stop talking about it. Eventually, he got bored and left. Jacob got over it. Thankfully Sean walked to the QR because apparently Ashley didn’t know what to do when restraining someone taller than you, now she knows because she asked once he was safely in the QR.
Because so many people weren’t at work today, we thought some people would have to work both lunches. Ginny, the principal, and vice principal all work both lunches every day. Somehow we figured it out and I didn’t work two lunches, even though I volunteered.
I had SIB urges when distraction was used to get John out of an episode of screaming. We try to problem solve and offer coping skills, not distract (Ex. What is your Mario costume like?). We don’t try to distract him because it usually didn’t work. The angst was still there bubbling under the surface because nothing was actually resolved. I got over it, well, not completely. I got over the urges.
I also had SIB urges when Cody was laying his head on a co-worker’s lap and happened to brush against her bust once or twice before putting his hands down his pants. At which point she made him sit up. But I said and did nothing, go me…?
On Thursday, Jacob had a major episode where he BROKE part of the quiet room DOOR!! He also ran away a few weeks ago. I think he is afraid to go back to his old school. We started talking to him about that and his behaviors sky rocketed. Sean is also afraid to go back to his old school. They want to transition him back by January. Since learning this, his behaviors also increased. Poor kids! I’d be anxious too.
In fact, I was out of school for a few months in high school for eating disorder treatment. I didn’t want to go back. Most of me wanted to go back to school, but I was scared. There were new people, my friends had new friends. I had new teachers. I wasn’t sure I was up to speed on work, even though my high school faithfully sent work to the facility, etc.. That was the same school, over a period of 7 months, as opposed to years. Both Jacob and Sean have been at our school for years. Both came in late elementary school and now they’re either in middle or high school. Therefore, the building, students, and teachers are all different! Also, none of their home school districts send curriculum. As a result, they are WAY behind academically even though they’re on grade level intellectually because my boss wants us to have the kids in rotations like a normal school. However, that means we’re grouping kids of vastly different cognitive levels together for core classes like Math and Language Arts. Thankfully, Ginny agrees with me that this is unacceptable and is talking to my boss about getting rid of the rotations.
However, even if they were on par with their typical peers academically, they’d still be anxious about returning to school. We need a way to make it less scary and more of something to look forward to. I’m not sure how. Perhaps they could go to their old school for a fun elective and start doing that as soon as they have less than 7 episodes a day. That way they’ll never lose touch with their home school. Or maybe they could participate in afterschool activities and clubs.
Do you have any ideas for how to help the kids stay involved in their original school or how to make going back more motivational and less punishing?
Side note: I’ve noticed I’m less jealous now that Ginny is supervising me. I’m not sure why. Thoughts?