As most of you know my younger son Luke is autistic. He's mod-severe in his functioning; think Rainman, verbal but with a lot of that repetitive speech, hand flapping, head tilting, and WAY overly focused on a few idiosyncratic topics. Oh, and way cuter than Dustin Hoffman. When you first meet Luke, he'll ask you your birthday, what street you live on, and where you get your hair cut. He'll ask those things over and over and over, even after he has the answers firmly fixed in his long term memory. That shit takes up a lot of space in his head.
So, he's been in inclusion classrooms since kindergarten with a 1:1 aide at all times, and the first few years this was ok. He learned reading skills and math computation pretty readily. As the work got more difficult more and more of it basically just started going right over his head. This is a kid who even when HIGHLY MOTIVATED, like, for instance, we're going to a carnival or something and he's just beside himself with excitement, will need 20 reminders to keep getting dressed because he'll get one leg in the pants and then ask me when Aunt Reen's birthday is or some shit. And he has virtually no comprehension of abstractions, no ability to draw inferences, etc., so 3rd grade reading material was like Greek to him.
This year, after looking at his new psycho-ed eval and talking with his IEP team at his old school, we concluded (sadly) that he needed to be in a specialized, autistic support classroom. After a ridiculous amount of bullshit from the school district we got him placed in what by all word-of-mouth accounts was one of the better AS classrooms in the city. Of course, his inattentiveness was one of the first things his teacher noted as an issue and after a week he implemented a positive reinforcement schedule, so when he "caught Luke paying attention" he'd get a sticker or something and if he earned 10 stickers in a day he could have free time on the computer to look at Google maps. (w00t).
Today in the communication book he wrote that Luke's behavior specialist, the person who supervises his 1:1 aide, came in and after talking with him, the teacher decided to implement a "consequences" program so that when Luke ISN'T paying attention, he'll get a sad face on his chart, and after a certain number of sad faces he loses something like SNACK or something -- I don't have the note in front of me but it was really really punitive sounding to me, especially since as far as I'm concerned we still don't really have a handle on exactly WHY Luke is inattentive. He's got HUGE sensory issues, he has issues with executive functioning, much like a traumatic brain injury patient, and his psychiatrist thinks he might also have ADHD on top of being autistic so hello?? Let's start punishing him for not paying attention. Pretty much the best thing he has going for him education-wise is that he still likes school. Taking away snack for something he doesn't really seem to have much control over seems a little counterproductive.
So I responded that I didn't give permission for him to implement this plan, that his father and I had concerns about his attention problems that we planned to discuss at his IEP review (and btw, as much as ex-husband is a total dickhead with day to day dealings with me, he's aces at being the hardass at IEP meetings, and he copied a bunch of academic literature on executive functioning in the autistic population that we're planning to bring to his IEP review in a month) and that I didn't think punishing him for something that may well be beyond his ability to control was a suitable response.
OMG. I'm sorry, I basically just vomited up a huge vent here. But the thought of him getting denied SNACK because his mind wanders, and probably wanders because he knows the birthday and hair salon of every person he's ever met and can't help it, almost had me in tears. I know some of you are teachers, at least one is a special ed teacher (HI HOT MAMA) and some of you have kids on the spectrum. What do you think? Did I overreact?
P.S. didn't even re-read to edit. I'm dealing with laundry, my car accident issues, my lawyer, bathtime, and a raging headache.