Trying to Teach my Kids this one

Earlier this week, we had a tough day. Joe ran out of the build and almost made it to the street! As he ran down the hallway, I ran after him, and yelled, “JOE, FRONT DOOR!” into my walkie talkie. Immediately, 6 or 7 of my male co-worked dropped what they were doing and ran after us. Joe is 19 now and easily more than double my size. I don’t remember if I posted about this before but… A few months ago he eloped, but waited for  me to catch up and make eye contact before running out the door! When Danielle got in front of him, he started punching her. I thought I could calm him down because we have rapport, but he tackled me and bit my face. A male co-worked arrived and pulled him off me. I went to urgent care… Anyway, now a walkie talkie warning about him eloping out of the building gets an immediate response!

Back to this week… Once two men passed me, I stopped running because I knew they could handle it and I was useless for helping to restrain him anyway. However, this time it took 4 men to carry him. Usually, once someone gets ahold of his arms, he walks back. This time, that wasn’t enough. We put him in the biggest Quiet Room because supposedly it is too wide for anyone to climb. We found out that was false. Joe can still climb. He reached the sprinkler and tore a piece off. Idk why there are sprinklers in the QRs when the doors only lock when someone is standing there holding a magnetic button. Anyway, the principal of the school opened the QR door and told him to get down. He did… and then he tried to hit the principal. But we shut the door quickly enough. Joe continued trying to climb, but every time we opened the door, he jumped down. He rarely curses, but this time he was cursing at us and threatening us. It is the worst I’ve ever seen him. 😦

A lot of stressors are happening though… We’re getting a new student in the fall. Barb finally left (she worked at our school for 7 years and Joe has been there most of that time, her departure was tough on him), but on Monday she returned as a substitute. Also, our internet was out all week and his favorite break choice is surfing the web. Moreover, he thought he lost a break when he ran (he did not).

So, we didn’t get out of the QR for over an hour. By the time he was out, it was time for lunch. A few minutes after we get to class, Jacob starts leaving the room (they’re supposed to stay in class for the first 20 minutes of lunch), and doing minor property destruction, all while staring at me. He desperately wanted my attention. At one point, I offered to play a game with him when he was back in class being safe, but he ignored me. I was positive he’d elope too. When it was time for recess, he had a 5 minute delay for not following directions. Amazingly, he walked back to class and sat in his desk!

I internally did a happy dance and externally, praised him once the 5 minutes was up for making the next right choice!

do the next right thing

Maybe I should make this poster for my room! Except, not in pink. 😉

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Goodbye Meds, Hello Warm and Fuzzies

I skipped one too many psychiatric appointment and now I’m running out of meds. My next appointment is on Memorial Day, so I don’t know whether my pdoc will be in the office. The following week, I am out of town. I’m using this opportunity to titrate (or go cold turkey on the meds I’m completely out of) off meds.

It turns out my “self-control” is all about amphetamines at the moment! I only started Ritalin and then Adderall in college, so I successfully restricted without meds in the past. However, my lack of self-control over food and studying is hurting my self-esteem.

My parents commented that I “look better”. Argh, thanks guys. In my head, “you don’t look like you’re starving anymore” is an insult.

On another note, I’m on a two week break from work and this is something a student turned in on Friday:

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The Icy 7 Hour SPED Bus Ride

Oh wow!! First of all, the kids didn’t get home until past 1 AM. Second, that bus driver and bus aide are saints!! I can’t imagine diving in an ice storm, with those 3 kids (John and 2 from another program), for over 7 hours!! People at work who didn’t stay said we’re awesome, but we had internet and toys to keep the kids entertained. We had McDonalds to feed them (food soothes ~almost~ everyone 😉 ) and a better than 1:1 ratio. They had one bus driver and one aide!

I’m going to make them cookies and get some type of gift.

Hmm, what should we get for them? We don’t know them well enough to get a gift we know they’d actually enjoy. Personally, I’d prefer money to baked goods or a random gift. Yet putting a cash value on their amazing work seems awkward. How could we possibly quantify that?!??

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Promotion Pros & Cons

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Despite the above quote and the desire to be brave, this doesn’t look good! There are twice as many cons as pros.

Pros:

  1. $4,000 raise
  2. Practice managing people
  3. Practice teaching
  4. Practice giving people feedback about their behavior plan implementation
  5. My opinions might be listened to more/ have more weight/ be better respected
  6. I can ensure the behavior plans for the kids in my class are implemented with as much fidelity as possible and reasonable
  7. I won’t feel inferior to Ashley anymore
  8. It looks good on my resume

 

Cons:

  1. Stress because of increased responsibilities like lesson planning
  2. I might not be as good at teaching as Ashley. More than that, I might be bad at it! Therefore, I’ll look inept and stupid. Even worse, everyone will realize I’m unintelligent, inferior, and simply not good at my current job.
  3. I’ll never believe I deserve it because my boss refused to do interviews because of me. She wanted to hire me in June, but everyone else thought Ashley was better after her interview. As a result, she didn’t conduct interviews and just gave me the job.
  4. Lesson planning will take time. Knowing me, it will take lots of time (Ex. I planned lessons on Thanksgiving last year while I was a temporary classroom supervisor)
  5. I’ll feel responsible if the paraprofessionals in my room mess up implementation of plans or forget to fill out IEP data.
  6. I’ll have to wake up earlier
  7. Lesson planning is really hard when you have no idea what you’re doing! Incorporating state standards, etc. seems overwhelming.
  8. Plus, I’ll feel the need to make it interesting. I might take it personally (meaning, I did not do a good enough job making it fun and interesting) when kids have behaviors during my class.
  9. The way the kids’ academics are structured by “grade level” will mean I’m never satisfied with how hard it is for the kids (either too hard or not hard enough).
  10. A $4,000 raise isn’t that much of a pro because I’m a pathetic human being and don’t actually pay for most things (Ex. Rent)
  11. Parent-Teacher conferences
  12. I’ll be stuck with the same 3 or 4 kids forever, or at least, for many, many months, since we seem to switch up groups twice a year. I suppose I’m with the same 4 kids now, but I like working with those 4 kids the best! I’ll be stuck with kids I find boring.
  13. I know I’m good at my job. I’m secure in my worth compared to other people with my job. I might be the worst classroom supervisor!
  14. I won’t be able to be second on a kid to gain indirect experience hours
  15. I’ll have to teach topics I don’t really know much about. I don’t actually want to teach these subjects. I enjoy teaching reading and math, but that is it. I’m mad at myself for agreeing to let Ashley teach Math and I’d teach Science and History.
  16. I’ll be judged by higher standards as an employee and I might not meet those standards, which has a negative effect on my employment
  17. My boss won’t think well of me if I try this and crash and burn and have to ask to step-down. She might refuse to write a later letter of recommendation

At least Monday is almost OVER

Today started off bad and got worse.

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First, my mom asked to weigh me and I’ve lost weight since she last weighed me. She didn’t yell; she just said, “Don’t die on me.” Consequently, I felt guilty. I blasted music and air conditioning on my way to work. By the time I arrived, I felt better.

When I got to work one of the HR women was upset about her sister’s hospitalization from being beaten. That made me want to cut. I’m not sure why.

It took about 10 minutes for that urge to go away. However, once the kids arrived, my mood darkened. I was not with John, but I watched him all day. Apparently, they’re only blocking attempted aggression and neither taking him to the Quiet Room, nor taking away his all access break or end of the day treat. For every other kid, 1 attempt towards another student = QR, 1 attempt toward staff = prompt to use a coping skill or ask for help, and a 2nd attempt towards staff in the same episode = QR. Therefore, Ashley blocked him from attempted aggression ALL DAY without consequence, until he FINALLY succeeded in hitting someone. I understand that his aggression is often escape motivated because he wants to get out of class. However, I still feel there should be a consequence!!!! AT LEAST take one of his break checks away!! Also, how many times are you going to block him from the same student?? It was ridiculous!!!!

Ginny will argue his increase in attempted aggression is an extinction burst, but I think he realizes he can get away with it! I’m frustrated with Ginny, the new BCBA, and my boss.

Then during Music, Gage sat on a staff’s lap, which is not okay. First of all, he should ask. Second, he is 12. Lastly, it is unacceptable for a kid with inappropriate touch issues to be that affectionate with staff. Oh, AND he had aggression and no one reacted. Although, his plan is different. They might have been active ignoring, but somehow I doubt it wound up on his data sheet.

We switched students after lunch. I was with Cory. I knew he’d been to the Quiet Room in the morning, but I didn’t know if he walked on his own. He did not. However, it took me 5 minutes to locate someone who was there in the morning. Additionally, the person I finally located didn’t know whether he lost his treat or not! I had to go find the new BCBA. He did lose it. You know why?!??!! He threw pencils across the hallway (property destruction) and then refused to walk to the QR. So, staff had to help him. That doesn’t bother me; that is the plan. What DOES bother me is that John attempted at least 10 times to hit or kick someone else and there was no consequence. He did lose his end of the day treat, but only because Ashley failed to block one attempt, whereas Cory lost his because of some pencils?!?? I understand that different kids need different behavior modification plans, but John’s new plan infuriates me. I hope the new BCBA’s idea is right and this is an extinction burst because he is no longer escaping class with aggression, but I doubt it. I’m actually okay with the plan, in theory. We used to do it with Cory (but only for attempts towards staff. 2 attempts towards students still resulted in the QR). In my opinion, you have to draw the line somewhere! It was the complete lack of consequence that bothered me. Cory at least still lost a check at the end of the work period, even if we never had to prompt him to the QR.

Finally, I went to my psychiatrist appointment. It was okay, but I worried him because of my weight and now I feel guilty. AGAIN.

I also feel guilty about my plan to fast while house sitting because I know Ginny will worry and I know my family and psychiatrist will be angry when they realize what happened.

I had cutting urges basically all day and urges to binge and purge. I acted on none of them, but I let my annoyance show in front of my boss (twice) and the new BCBA. Worse still, I complained to someone else about the new plan!!!! That is unprofessional and unacceptable! I failed. I feel additional guilt about that.

It seems I NEED behaviors to keep my emotions in check. I still haven’t acted on my urges, even though I am still upset and I still want to hurt myself. But these feelings suck.

Moreover, I’m alone tonight. My mom is out. Plus, Ginny is busy with out of town family. My inpatient friend is still inpatient and really, really struggling.

 

Edited to add: I did one thing right today. Maybe. It doesn’t feel right. I planned to restrict today. I knew Ginny wouldn’t be at lunch. There goes my motivation. However, then I saw her on my way to grab diet coke and I felt guilty again, thinking of my mom this morning. So, I ate lunch and did not purge. Even though I wanted to not eat and purge when I did eat.

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Best Halloween EVER

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The kids were great, but I had lots of cutting urges and some suicidal thoughts. I’m trying my best to NOT message Ginny because it is Halloween (duh) and she is taking her daughter Trick or Treating.

Usually, I hate holidays at work. We try to do “fun” things for the kids and it goes poorly. They can’t handle the stimulation or lack of schedule. Oddly, today it went well! That was nice. None of the kids in my room were aggressive or unsafe. Hell, Cory told John calmly, “I’m not arguing with you about this anymore.” and then John moved on! So, the kids were awesome. They were excited all day and wore their costumes. It is the first work holiday I remember without the Quiet Room. Now I’m scrolling through cute FB pictures on the school’s page. ❤

I was not awesome.

I had a bunch of urges when adults’ choices bothered me or I was jealous. I actually talked to my psychiatrist for once. I resisted a binge urge. That was positive. I feel pretty good right now. I think I was vulnerable because I didn’t sleep well last night after my parents’ fight. On my way to my psychiatrist appointment, I caught myself thinking, “This is all the food’s fault. I’m in a bad mood because I ate all day. I’m suicidal because I’m not using behavior.”

I was in a bad mood until I played with my dogs: The BEST coping skills ever 🙂

 

Happy Halloween!

Success Equals Stress!

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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?