Joey’s schedule got thrown through a loop. We had Thanksgiving break, my dad was here for a week, and we had some snow days. A lot of days were not consistent.
On Monday, December 16, I went to pick Joey up from school. His teacher stopped me and told me Joey had a rough day. She said he was clawing at the other children in the class. I said ok, I would talk to Michele. I assumed that maybe she was giving Joey a time out when he did this and maybe the time out wasn’t working.
I emailed Michele, as I always did when Joey was having a rough time, since she saw him at school on Wednesdays. This was the second time I heard of Joey not being nice to the other children. I always got reports back that he had a good day at school. When I conversed with Michele she suggested they use the crash corner when he got out of control. On Wednesday morning I suggested to Joey’s teacher she use it. She looked at me like a deer in headlights. I asked her if she had a beanbag chair. She said she did, and I said use that. She said okay.
Wednesday night I received an email from Joey’s teacher asking for a meeting.
Here is her email.
“I just want to make sure and touch base with you regarding Joey. Can we set up a meeting between Dr. G, Michelle (his therapist who comes to school), myself, Miss Millie and Sharon? If there is anyone else working with him, they could be included as well. I think it is imperative that we are all on the same page regarding his educational curriculum and other needs. We all want what is best for Joey, but we need to be cohesive in the decision-making process(es). And I know I have questions on how to handle certain things like whether he should have a toothbrush in the classroom, etc. I am also looking forward to a follow-up from Dr. G on the assessments that both I did as well and what she has done as well as Michelle and other therapist(s) or doctor(s) who work with him or have seen him.
I know it will be hard to find a time that works for everyone, but maybe we could try for a Wednesday since Michelle is already at school on that day. I think the sooner we schedule it, the better for Joey’s sake.”
My thought was, ok, let me see what his other therapists can do. They all agreed they could meet in early January and I even asked if his ABA coordinator could be there as well. I was very confused as to why she wanted the psychologist there.
I received a call from Michele on Thursday letting me know there was more to this story. Apparently Michele and Joey’s teacher were butting heads. His teacher was not giving timeouts to Joey for being naughty in school, but when the other children were naughty they received timeouts. When the kiddos went to chapel, Joey was asked to sit with Michele and be quiet. The other kids were standing, crawling under the pews, and running around. So, Joey was getting treated differently.
I called our ABA coordinator and she and I agreed that if the meeting in January did not have a good outcome, we would pull Joey from the school and increase his ABA hours.
That Friday, we had our meeting with the psychologists to get Joey’s evaluation results. Joey’s teachers were anxious to know the results, they reminded me to let them know that Thursday at Joey’s Christmas program. Here is what I told them:
“I wanted to give you an update on how our meeting with A.I. went yesterday. Medically, they are saying Joey is mild to moderate autistic. Having this diagnosis is great for Joey as it only helps him to more services, but having this label for him only breaks my heart. I see Joey as Joey, not as a kid with special needs. I see him as my loving, smart, funny little guy who has a speech delay and some sensory issues; after all, he is just a 2 year old boy who still does 2 year old things. The last thing my husband and I want is for Joey to made to feel he is different than his peers. I treat Joey at home the same as I would my daughter, my niece and nephews, my friend’s kids. If Joey is naughty at home, he gets a time out. If he wants to bake with me, I let him bake as I have with my nephews. If he runs out into the street and not hold my hand, he gets punished for that as well.
I enrolled Joey at school for Joey to gain social skills. At the time of enrollment I had no idea his life would be as it is today. I still want Joey to be in a “normal” environment, its good for him. He has gained so many skills from being around “normal” kids. I never want Joey to made to feel he is “special”. He deserves to have the same opportunity as any 2 year old out there.
I have arranged for Joey’s therapists including his ABA therapists to attend the meeting on the 15th (time TBD) so we can get a better understanding of what will be best for Joey. I feel it would be good to have all his therapists at this meeting to answer any questions either of you have.”
And her response:
“I cannot speak to what you are going through, I can only say I want the best for Joey and to me, he is also a loving, smart, funny little guy. Miss Millie and I do not treat him differently, but we do address each child’s wants and needs, personalities, and learning capabilities differently and individually. At this age, we have a wide range of what each child can do, as well as who is speaking, fine and gross motor skills, social skills, capabilities, etc. We work with each child when doing an art project for example, and some children need more help and/or want more help than others. Some children excel in one area and not in another, but no doubt, each child is individual and special in his or her own way. They are all a blessing.
But we also look at the classroom as a whole. And each child must adhere to certain guidelines in the classroom. One concern Miss Millie and I have with Joey is that he has hurt other classmates and we have to always ensure that each child is not biting, hitting, pulling hair, etc. And if a child does this, we need to make sure it doesn’t continue to happen as the safety of all children is paramount. We are unable to focus only on any one child as we must focus on the classroom as a whole.
Miss Millie and I have noted how well Joey does when working one-on-one with his therapist. She is able to give him exactly what he needs, the whole time she is working with him. He looks forward to her visits and used to cry when she left. The other children gather around as they want to do what Joey is doing!
I look forward to meeting with the “Joey Team” so that we can all do what is best for him. And we do need to all be on the same page so that he gets what is best for him.”
Based on this email, since they were concerned for the safety of the other children in the classroom I pulled Joey from their program.