Balancing needs

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-26-2009
Balancing needs
5
Wed, 04-28-2010 - 2:01pm

Anotherheather's post about the in school suspension brought up a subject I've been kicking around lately.


How do we, as the parents of kids with spectrum disorders, balance the needs of our child against the needs of those around them or our other kids? Clearly in the case of Heather's kid the student is NOT getting the support he deserves at school and there's a problem there that needs to be addressed and the ultimate fault is with the system. I think we've all been there at one time or another and this story is probably a familiar one to just about every poster here. This is not about fault and blame, it's about how to deal with the fallout.


That said, when things fail and our kid is throwing things or exhibiting dangerous or disruptive behaviors, how do we cope with the fact that our child needs something that is maybe at odds with the needs of the rest of the group? Is it "screw the rest of them, mine comes first" or is there a way people have found to deal with this conflict?


What works for you? What tips do you have to share for helping our kids deal with needing something different from those around them when the system isn't managing to support them? How do you as a parent deal with the "we can't handle him today" phone call that I suspect most of us have gotten at least once?


 

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-28-2008
In reply to: just_elsa
Wed, 04-28-2010 - 3:25pm

I've gotten those type of phone calls - I go and get him.

Safety is non-negotiable. Everyone has the right to be safe. That being said, Renee likes to remind us that 'behavior is communication'.

When your kid is out of control, he/she is not getting what he/she needs to feel safe and secure too. It's not that the behavior is right or to be tolerated, but the need for additional support needs to be recognized. Just like a tired, hungry toddler can be expected to melt down, our kids are developmentally delayed and continue to melt down long after others have out grown it. Giving additional support is not rewarding the behavior if it can prevent the behavior from occurring in the first place.

They can be taught to communicate in different ways - verbally instead of physically etc. But it takes them longer to develop that skill. Graham, at 11, no longer attacks other kids but he does yell at them. Eventually, I hope, he'll learn to express himself in better ways. We're working towards that.

In Heather's case, suspension in and of itself is insufficient. It does reward Tom's behavior. There needs to be more effort put into looking at what precedes the event so that he feels safer and secure and no longer needs to act out. That's where the school is failing. Saying 'he's a menace' is a cop out. He's a little boy who is acting out of despairation. He needs help - not time out of school.

So that's my take on the whole 'balance of needs' thing. Of course, I'm biased...lol.

Andrea, mom to

Graham
Miles
Anson

Andrea, mom to

Graham
Miles
Anson
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2003
In reply to: just_elsa
Thu, 04-29-2010 - 9:18pm

I don't know if I'm a good one to answer this because of course I have the kid who got 10 days of suspension (as it allowed by law for a kid who is a danger to others).


I agree that kids and teachers need to be safe.

                                

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-07-2008
In reply to: just_elsa
Fri, 04-30-2010 - 6:16am

Actually, as the mother of an ASD and 2 NT kids, I deal with this *every day*. And I used to teach preschool with special needs kids and I dealt with it every day then. So I'd like to think I am not biased or only there to look out for the interests of my own child. I'm a momma bear protecting "my child", sure, but "my child" is also the 2 year old with bite marks on him from the 6 year old trying to kill him for jostling...! (I tell this to teachers all the time so they know where I am coming from).


First and foremost, *everyone* has the right to personal safety. If my ASD child attacks another child then you *have* to remove my child from the situation and keep *everyone* safe. But my ASD child also has the right to his personal safety. He usually is attacked because he feels attacked. It doesn't matter that the nature of the attack is not one that we NT folk recognise as being life-threatening. WE might not think a change in routine, or someone breaking the rules, or someone teasing us is a life-threatening situation. But if you think about it, if someone hits your kid in the face, and your kid hits them back, no-one is going to blame your kid for hitting back. Everyone will get a nice talking to about how violence-isn't-the-best-way-to-solve-our-differences blah blah blah. When your ASD kid lashes out because something has gone wrong, and he just doesn't have the skills to cope a different way, it's just like he's been punched in the face. The fact that the 'punch' is probably not a real punch, but some other kind of threat that we NT folk don't interpret as a threat does not make it any less of a threat to the ASD kid.


Secondly, the medium-to-long term impact of my ASD kid being a danger to others is that he is a danger to himself too. You go around lashing out at people, sooner or later someone is going to hit you back. You hit a cop in anger/misunderstanding etc they aren't going to give a rats arse that you are ASD and don't have the skills to cope in other ways, they are going to haul your ass to jail and you can argue til you are blue in the face to the judge that you need help, not punishment, it isn't going to wash. So while you need to remove them, and sometimes punish the

"My definition of housework is to sweep the room with a glance"


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iVillage Member
Registered: 09-22-2004
In reply to: just_elsa
Fri, 04-30-2010 - 11:26am

When this occurs, which it does once every few months (my daughter just turned 5 so she is still young), I go and pick her up. They will remove her from the situation and give her one-on-one, to ensure her safety, until I arrive. Playing with water usually soothes her so they will take her to a bathroom in an empty classroom and let her play in the sink, if she has a minor meltdown during the day, and then when she is calm they return her to class. When this doesn't work, they will give her feathers to manipulate and this has been successful. This works for us right now, however next year going into kindergarten will be a different ball game.

I don't think that the needs of one child should trump those of the others. Now I am going to be eating those words come fall. However, there should be a safe environment for the child to go and calm down instead of calling mom. For Aria going home would reinforce the behavior, because she loves her home the most. I don't want to punish her for behavior that she can't control, however I do not want to reward inappropriate behavior, there needs to be a middle ground (like a safe room). I live in FL and here they can strap your child down to a table on their stomach if they are posing a threat. If something like that were to happen to mine she would be home schooled from then on, which would be hard because I would be really busy with all of the lawyers meetings that I would be having to go after the school system.

I have never understood suspension even with typical kids. How is it a punishment to send the child home?

Kerri

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-26-2009
In reply to: just_elsa
Fri, 04-30-2010 - 1:48pm

TEN! Are you f'in kidding me?! TEN days! That's obscene!


Sorry. But in response to the rest, I think you're an excellent person to answer this. You know what the issue is and you know what *doesn't* work which is the first step to figuring out what does. You know they had to do something and you know what they did isn't it.