Wednesday, October 27, 2010

2:43 p.m. - My cell rings, playing the Death Star Imperial March music. That can only mean one thing - the middle school is calling to tell me my 11 yr old with high functioning autism has had or is having a bad moment and both staff and he need me NOW. You'd think after years of getting these kinds of calls I wouldn't automatically have heart palpitations and sweaty palms....

Today's issue revolved around his not complying with a teacher's request. When told that the consequence of his choice to continue playing on the computer instead of doing what the teacher asked was not being allowed to bring the teacher's Mr. Monkey stuffed animal home, he hit the floor, fetal position, crying.....full scale meltdown. Which then lead to him missing the now he's upset he missed the bus. "Can you come and get him off the floor and take him home?" Do I have a choice? Didn't think so.....

I'm in his classroom within 10 minutes, he's still on the floor. Let the Mommy Magic begin. "I'm counting down from 5. If you aren't on your feet by zero, you lose all video game privileges for today." He's standing up by the time I get to 3 :)

Now, the hard part - I have to piece together his version of what led to his meltdown and make it jive with what staff members have already told me. Then I have to help him recognize where his "bad choices" started, when he stopped using learned coping skills and why there must be a consequence for his choices. Envision a scenario similar to trying to get a dog to meow....yep, that pretty much sums up our first 10 minutes of discussion.

Luckily, this is old hat to me. This is familiar territory, and I know better how to avoid the potholes now. We walk down the nearly empty hallways side by side and I search for a distraction - something to talk with him about while he regains his composure. Success!! Within a couple minutes the tears are gone, yelling has ceased and he is back to "normal".

Tomorrow, I'll hoist him back into the saddle and and tell him to try again.  Tomorrow I'll spend time off and on during the day worrying about how his day is going, and waiting for the Imperial March to play. For today, I'll just be thankful that it wasn't worse....


  1. If you are getting calls to come deal with him, that means his BIP is either ineffective as written or there could be some issues with implementation (need for further training). You should not be having to go to school to deal with him. Didn't you tell me once that's reinforcing for him? While you may not have had a choice in the moment, this cannot go on long term. It's a vicious cycle. Been there done that, have the legal paperwork to show for it! Talk to you soon....

  2. No choice in going this time - it's a long walk home! And yes, I agree sometimes that by going in I could be reinforcing his negative behavior. The flip side of that is that when the staff has done everything they know to do and haven't had success I believe it's my job to go help him before the situation escalates to Red Alert.

    I got the most reassuring and wonderful advice from our pediatrician years ago: "NO ONE will ever know, love or care for your child the way YOU will." Sometimes, regardless of how well a team is trained and educated, they need guidance and help from the "expert". And when it comes to my kiddos, I'm the expert.

    Sure, it can throw a real kink in my day and cause me to have to change plans or make a trip I didn't expect, but it's my job to advocate, teach and demonstrate what works and what doesn't for all my children. If I don't do those things, I've failed my children and the school staff who are doing their very best to teach and understand my babies.

  3. I believe it is only my job to educate the staff to a point. And if they have done everything that they know how to do, they need some additional tools at thier disposal. When I have tried to be the "expert" and what I advised did NOT work outside of my presence, my words and advice got twisted back around and used against me and my son faster than a tree limb in a tornado. It's not about the inconvenience. Just sayin'.


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