Here follows some embellished truth.
Sitting in the conference room I nervously twiddled my thumbs. These meetings made me nervous because I was the minority – the mom of a difficult child. And they were the majority, the people with power, the teachers and administration involved with my child’s education.
Things had not been going well at school. Kiddo had been in constant meltdown mode, spending more time in the isolation room than in the classroom. Even in the small resource room with only three or four other kids, the room was regularly being evacuated due to his melt-downs. No one was learning much of anything, except maybe how to avoid being hit or kicked by Kiddo.
Today’s discussion was going to be focused on yet another potential solution the school wanted to try. Two years of potential solutions had not had much success, so I did not have my hopes set very high.
Solutions steadily progressed from a simple behavioral plan with minor modifications to a full-blown Individual Education Plan (IEP) with 75% regular classroom time, to an IEP with 25% regular classroom time. There were minor adjustments throughout the two years, such as eating lunch with a staff member, being allowed a break with the school counselor (if he asked properly – with no melt-down), occupational therapy aids like a pressure vest and other stress relieving tools.
The solution I had in my mind was one that the school promptly declined because it would cost a lot of money. And in their opinion they needed to try EVERYTHING else first. I wanted a full-time helper for Kiddo. I envisioned someone who could be dedicated to him to help redirect him when needed. He needed a LOT of redirection. He was easily distracted and not interested in doing the work. He also needed a great deal more attention than the average kid. When he felt he wasn’t getting enough attention, he would be inappropriate because that got the attention quickly.
In my mind I wondered how a full-time helper (who I suspect gets paid significantly less than a licensed teacher) could cost more than a school therapist (which Kiddo’d been seeing for several months once or twice a week)? How could a full-time helper cost more than all of the lost learning time from Kiddo and the other students? How could a full-time helper cost more than the stress on the resource room teacher?
The proposal on the table was to transfer Kiddo to a different elementary in the district where they had special rooms set up for disruptive students. “Hmmm,” I thought to myself, “so they’re going to hide him away? They’re writing him off. He’ll fall through the cracks. He’ll graduate HS with the rough equivalent of a 3rd grade education.”
As the details of the plan were revealed, this transfer looked better and better. Kiddo would start out in one of the special rooms with a teacher and a dedicated full-time helper. Once his behaviors started to improve, he would be able to spend small amounts of time in his regular classroom – still with his full-time helper. Once he was doing well with that arrangement, he would be able to participate in special classes (art, music, gym) with his regular class.
I was pleased with this plan, especially since it hadn’t come to the point where I felt I had to fight for it.