The light at the end of the tunnel….

Yes, we have finally reached the light at the end of the tunnel…. both figuratively and literally. After this school year starting off much like I thought it would; two suspensions, several behavior write-ups, 4 (or was it, 5?) looooooonnnnggggg IEP meetings (totaling around 15 hours) and many phone calls later, we finally have a plan of action and it’s already in place. 🙂 Ashton’s not just changing classrooms, he’s changing schools! I won’t go into the nitty-gritty of things (if you’re really interested, feel free to email me) but the last two weeks have resembled something much like this….

We initially thought everything was cleared for the transfer (he’s going to an out of zone school, but still in the same district), after a particularly lengthy IEP session totaling 6 hours in one day! Come to find out a few days later when I was calling to check on things, things were in fact not cleared for the transfer, and was in fact told that we were going to be told to reconsider a move to the adjacent classroom to his current one. Well, that in my book, was no longer an option I was willing to consider and the school was insistent that that placement wasn’t a good match for Ashton anyways. At this point, I was confused and exhausted and just tired of dealing with all of the stress. Not to mention that his behavior was/is deteriorating rapidly. He received two suspensions (both for “attacking/going after” a staff member). I also just learned that he bit another student yesterday. He’s never, ever bitten anyone (to the best of my knowledge), except me – and that was when he was on Paxil, which so obviously didn’t agree with him. It’s a sure-fire, clear sign that he doesn’t like this class (whether it be the students, staff, or both, doesn’t matter) and needs to get out of there, pronto! We had another IEP meeting last Friday and decided that a same-type of class placement in another building, is what would meet Ashton’s educational and behavioral needs and meet the requirement for Least Restrictive Environment (LRE). I think (really) that it’s just well, it’s not a good fit. Not sure what else to say about it. It’s obvious he doesn’t want to be there (refusal to do any classwork, refusal to comply to any demands placed on him, his aggressive tendencies, etc). He needed to be moved…. I put on the table that I want the move completed by November 14th, as that’s when the new grading period started, and so it was agreed. I started that meeting feeling nauseous and sick to my stomach and so incredibly ready to vomit. I walked out of there, substantially less stressed and feeling very positive about the upcoming change.

He starts at the new school on Monday, November 14th. I took him over to his new school this morning so he could see the building, meet his new teacher and meet the special ed assistant principal over there. He loved it! The school is substantially bigger than his current one, and at least the small part of it that we saw, seems quite a bit newer. The “campus grounds” are so nice – spacious and open, and way off the main road. Some of you may remember that Ashton had become a runner during his time at his current school and I was always afraid that he was going to get out of the building (which he did on one occasion) and get lost in the neighborhood that his current school sits in. The “vibe” I got when I walked in was one of no-nonsense…. but still warm and welcoming. The asst principal was very nice and kind, she was actually standing in the office and waiting for us. His new teacher seems very caring and willing to explore new ideas and work with us. As she said, we as the parents, are the experts on our kid. In order to form a good relationship, we have to work as partners, which means, educating her on Ashton and his personality and his behaviors, etc. To help with that, I had made up a list of “Things to know about Ashton and School” and another list of “Interesting Facts about Ashton”. Just lists things that can be triggers for meltdowns, some of his interests and of course, talks about his love of going to the movies and watching YouTube videos! I also gave her our contact information along with a copy of the current IEP, all meeting notes pertaining to that IEP and all modifications that have been done since implementing the IEP in May. It gives her a headstart on getting to know him before he officially starts in her class.

The plan was originally for him to start on Monday and that I’d be driving him to school (to facilitate his transitioning to the new building with new staff and new classmates). Well, the teacher called me earlier this afternoon and asked if I minded bringing him in tomorrow so that he can meet his new classmates and classroom staff and hang out for a little bit! I ALREADY LIKE THIS WOMAN and I’ve talked to her for all of about 15 minutes 🙂 So we’ll see how tomorrow goes. I’m excited to see how he reacts to the new classroom and staff/classmates.

I will say, that once Ashton realized I was taking him back to his old school, after visiting the new one, he was very unhappy with me 🙁 Poor guy. Hopefully he’ll do better with it tomorrow, as tomorrow his his last day! Our school district has off on Thursday (end of grading period/teacher work day) and Friday (Veteran’s Day). He’ll start next Monday off with everything a-new! Wish him luck!

As for me, I’m glad the roller-coaster is just about over. I know that not every day is going to be a happy, cheery, perfect day. But dangit, he deserves to have so many more good days than bad, and that’s not happened since he’s been at his current school 🙁 I’m ready to not have to stress every moment he’s at school about what he’s doing/not doing and whether or not I’m going to receive a call to come pick him up. I’m done with it, and he so obviously is too.

So onto the next chapter….. 🙂

Jennifer McCormick
From a non-verbal, severely autistic two-year-old little boy to a happy-go-lucky, social, verbal and friend to everyone fifteen-year-old teenager. Add in the little brother who struggles with ADHD and we've got some craziness going on! The journey has been well-worth the ups and downs and the heartbreaks are all worth it when I see my sons overcome the "impossible" and defy all odds. I couldn't be more proud. Buckle up and enjoy the ride!
Jennifer McCormick

Jennifer McCormick

From a non-verbal, severely autistic two-year-old little boy to a happy-go-lucky, social, verbal and friend to everyone fifteen-year-old teenager. Add in the little brother who struggles with ADHD and we've got some craziness going on! The journey has been well-worth the ups and downs and the heartbreaks are all worth it when I see my sons overcome the "impossible" and defy all odds. I couldn't be more proud. Buckle up and enjoy the ride!

2 thoughts on “The light at the end of the tunnel….

  • November 25, 2011 at 7:48 pm
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    @Jonsmom01 – Sorry I’m just now seeing this. Old school DID do an FBA and came up with a BIP. However, just the nature of the personalities of the classroom staff and administration, it was NEVER going to work. We suffered through it for over a school year and it was very apparent things were just going to continue on a downward spiral. 

    Luckily though….. his new teacher and school are AWESOME. He’s adjusting well although he is testing boundaries. He’s got a lot of behavior patterns that are just such typically “learned” behaviors from the bad placement that it’s going to take time to unlearn them and have a more positive behavior pattern emerge. 

    His new teacher has such amazing and wonderful ideas… she’s so innovative with her thinking and knows you have to “think outside the box” with these kids. I really think it’s going to work. The fact that he’s constantly asking to GO to school now and doesn’t want to come HOME in the afternoons is a HUGE step forward! 

    We are even contemplating holding him back a year, but we’ll see how much he’s caught up come spring of ’12. He can do it, and with the right environment, he will. We’re going to re-do all of his IEP goals….. the new teacher just isn’t feeling the goals. She wants to totally redo his IEP. We’re also waiting for the educational and psychological evaluations to take place as he hasn’t had retesting done since Spring of ’07. 4.5years. I want an accurate picture of where he’s at NOW. 

    Anyways …. thank you so much! 

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  • November 12, 2011 at 8:58 am
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    I wish you and your son the best at his new school and with his new teacher. Will he have a new IEP team as well?  Do audio record your IEP meetings?  I would assume that he has a Behavior Intervention Plan? Did they follow it at his old school? Have they ever performed a Functional Behavioral Assessment to determine why he does what he does?  I really hope that things are better and your son will do great at the his new school but I would guess there will be the need for ongoing discussions and work to be done to help him adjust.       

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