Friday, October 11, 2013
Thursday, June 6, 2013
Wednesday, May 29, 2013
My beautiful friend Tracy(and yes my name is Tracy too so we started out on a good note!) wrote this post for me. Her words make me feel like there is real hope for an Autism enlighten world. This all happened about a week and a half ago, right after we saw too many Autistic children in the news for elopement and drowning.
OK, so they weren’t actually the worst five minutes of my life, but that’s just luck.
Something has come to my attention, and I can no longer stay silent. First of all, I am a parent of two wonderful girls, and no, neither of them is autistic. I do not live in the world that most followers of this blog live. I follow Mommy Buddy, because she is my friend, because I adore all of her children. I love to engage Emerson and see how he interacts with the world. I laughed out loud when I found him dancing in my shower, well, after I got the razor out of his hands. And that is the thing about autism that I am learning with Emerson. Where they go can, and will simultaneously make you smile, change your thinking, and terrify you.
After months of my promises to help, Tracy relented and joined us at a pool party. Our older girls were celebrating a classmate’s birthday and we all had a great time, end of story, boring guest post.
Except the happy ending was pure luck. Towards the end, after we moved from the pool to the clubhouse (with a locked gate between us and the pool), Tracy needed to change a diaper, Emerson was happily eating pizza. She asked me to watch him.
This was the “hand off.” If you don’t know what I mean, you probably aren’t a parent, and definitely not the parent of an autistic child. http://www.heartofsailing.org/Docs/Autism%20Safety%20Toolkit.pdf describes this as the moment that responsible adults change who is monitoring the autistic child. This is not someone asking society to take responsibility for her child, this is one parent to another, or in our case, one parent to a trusted friend who has offered to help “in any way.”
And now I am going to interrupt myself. According to http://nationalautismassociation.org/resources/autism-safety-facts/, In 2009, 2010, and 2011, accidental drowning accounted for 91% total U.S. deaths reported in children with an ASD ages 14 and younger after wandering/elopement. I knew this when I took responsibility for Emerson (Tracy told me before she gave responsibility for him to me, so that I would understand my responsibility better). And while I knew wandering/elopement was a potential issue for Emi, I later learned that Roughly half, or 48%, of children with an ASD attempt to elope from a safe environment, a rate nearly four times higher than their unaffected siblings (taken from the same web site).
And back to my story. I started strong. I was in it to win it, this was my chance, I was gonna prove that I am helpful and trustworthy. I stared at him. He didn’t seem to be aware of it. I stared at him some more. I knew he could slip away at any moment and I was ready. Then his sister got up to get a piece of pizza, and I helped her out. He was still there. I resumed staring. Then the woman next to me asked me a question and I answered her. When I looked up later one minute, two minutes, three?, Emi was walking into the building with his mother.
It isn’t so much that he got away from me but that I didn’t even KNOW he got away from me till he was back.
Have I mentioned there was a pool on property? Have I mentioned that 91% of U.S. deaths reported in children with ASD 14 and under were due to accidental drowning?
His mother found him standing at the gate to get into the pool area. And I can guarantee one of my nice neighbors would have let him in. He was dressed for a swim and there was obviously a kids party, which would have made strangers comfortable letting a child into the pool area.
I inherently understand that to call that the worst five minutes of my life is melodramatic, but my brain can create so many other scenarios where the cards did not line up right for us. The “what ifs” that play through my head are dark, and scary, and leave me unable to look a friend in the eye because I have let her down in a way that NO parent should EVER let another parent down.
And yet, she is still speaking to me.
Because he has gotten away from her too. Because she knows how hard it is to keep track of an autistic child.
And anyone who thinks you can monitor the safety of another human being 24/7, regardless of effort, is fooling his or herself. Or just plain mean (I have not ruled out crazy), and completely ignorant. All any parent can do is her best. And with Autism there is a steep learning curve. And we give thanks when we get to call it a learning experience and move on to another day.
I know my friend has been under attack for her views on this matter, and I could not stay silent. I have five minutes of experience in being the sole protector of an autistic child, her autistic child, and I just thank God he survived me.
And our hearts are filled with compassion for those who are not so lucky.
For additional support/resources. Try http://awaare.org/ for help in creating a wandering emergency plan, brochures to share with neighbors, and preview questions that could help first responders in the event of an emergency. And remember: “Search Water First!”
Now, if someone could help me down from my soapbox, it is pretty high up here . . .
Monday, April 22, 2013
I remember back a million years ago, to the end of 2008 or so. My son was about 16 months and it was becoming obvious...he was different. He was so laid back and not at all demanding so it was easy to brush off my fears and say "He's fine. Boys are just less clingy right?"
These were the early days. My mother was pushing me to find out what was up with him. He wouldn't really respond to his name and wasn't talking at all among other weird things. His babble was this crazy alien babble and bar codes were like the coolest thing on the planet. Something was going on, but what?
"I just need something I can google!!"
My mother would chime over and over again.
Finally she usurped my authority and emailed Easter Seals. I'd like to say I was a graceful, proactive mom who called ECI myself about my 18 month old and my concerns, but no. My Mama did. He started services immediately, January of 2009 at 19 months for speech delays. He soon qualified for occupational therapy and the A word started floating around. Again it was my mom who kept going back to it, while I tried to ignore it, like a buzzing gnat. I have to say my mom kept me sane in those days. I started getting google happy myself. It seemed like the only outlet to the HEAVY question mark that floated around my sweet baby boy's head. What was going on with him??
In those early days I tried so hard to find people going through the same thing. Having the same fears. I know lables Get a bad rap but It's almost like a kind of purgatory not having one. Not knowing why your baby isn't like all the others. Feeling that crushing question mark permeating every aspect of your family's future, because let's face it, your mind will go to the worst possible place when given free reign.
I would write here and there when I found that the pressure was going to make me burst or pop some other much needed valve. We ended up lucky and only had about a 6-8 month wait to get in to see the developmental pediatrician. My sweet 27 month old BABY was given an official diagnosis of High Functioning Autism and Sensory Processing Disorder. I can remember after they told me, looking at me I guess waiting for me to break down. All I could feel was this inappropriate laughter bubbling out. That question mark was gone!! Albeit replaced by a puzzle piece but that at least meant a direction to move in, a group of people to seek out... Something to freakin GOOGLE!
After that, over the years I kept thinking about that awful time, before the diagnosis. That was the loneliest, most frightening time of my life. After that I would randomly meet a new parent, see the effects of the heavy question marks that had so recently been all over my face and end up pouring my heart out to them, knowing exactly where they were and just how hard not knowing was. I would describe our experiences and see how just hearing that truly helped. It made me want to help more.
It wasn't until 2011 that Mommy Buddy from the planet Autism was born. I would call Emerson buddy so much that one day he looked at me and said "Mama... Buddy?" He always seemed like an alien being, to be figured out, but bound to me, like I was supposed to be his liaison to the world and help him understand it. And vise versa.
So I finally had a place to compile all of my word doodles and observations in one spot, rather than lose sheets of paper that ended up as the back of scribble MASTERPIECES.
Over the last year and a half I have connected more than I ever thought possible. I had no idea Mommy Buddy would become my life line. I have met SO many wonderful people and formed REAL bonds. Whenever I see a brand new page start I feel overwhelmingly motivated to help them. Give them the opportunity others gave me, because I can see that they too are addicted to that feeling of need. NEED to help the parents still in that purgatory, still living shrouded in the worst fears for their child. And the ultimate feeling of community and FAMILY that comes from being a member of the "I love an Autist" club. Like any family we have our issues, we fight over things we all feel passionate about, but we support each other like nothing else. I'd say that is the very most unsung benefit after diagnosis. Our community makes me feel like I have an army behind me where ever I go and together we can truly change the world for the better.
Friday, March 15, 2013
March 1, 2013
Reported by Mrs. G
"I arrived in the classroom around 9:35 AM. Another instructional assistant took Emerson to Specials because I was working with another student that was having a melt-down and needed my attention. When I arrived, the IA told me that Emerson had a wonderful computer class and that she would bring me his point folder in a little bit because she forgot it.
I had another student with me in the classroom that was calming down, so I distracted him by allowing him to participate in the lesson that I was presenting to Emerson. The goal right now for Emerson is to work on comprehension of reading and to do this, retelling stories is a good way to practice. The Kindergarten students were reading a Dr. Seuss story as per there lesson plans for ELA, so we did so as well.
I turned on the computer to show it via YouTube, but had complications with the technology. I thought I had it fixed several times, but called both students back and forth from the kidney table and my desk because I thought they were going to have to watch it from my laptop. Emerson was doing very well. He was listening to what I asked him to do, and was patiently waiting at the kidney table for my instructions.
I was finally able to fix the technology problem and both students watched the read-aloud of Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who. After watching the story once, I asked comprehension questions to both students. I realized that Emerson was only able to tell me parts of the story, so I decided to let him listen to it again. At this point, I was still trying to maintain my other student, so I brought the bean bag over for him to sit on and watch the story again.
When I sat on the floor beside both students, I got a phone call from Mr. S telling me that Mrs. Quigley was sitting outside my classroom door on the floor. He said that she had her ear on the door and was on the phone. He was worried about the way she was acting and if anyone knew about it, so he told me he was going to tell Mr. H. I asked him if he could stop by the classroom before he went downstairs so that she would stand up and possibly come inside to observe instead. He agreed and quickly came down the hallway.
When he arrived at the classroom, he told me that she didn’t budge and that she was trying to ask him questions that he didn’t feel comfortable answering. I told him that he didn’t have to answer them if that was the case, and e could direct her to either me, Ms. R, or Mr. H. He told me that he was going to get Emerson’s folder from PPCD and to tell Mr. H and that he would be right back. He did this quickly. When he came back, she was still attempting to ask him questions outside the classroom. He brought the point sheet in to me and then left the classroom to go work with another student. Mrs. Quigley remained outside the classroom hiding from view.
I continued on with my lesson. Through-out this whole time, I was using choices to help guide Emerson to re-tell the story and to give me details of what he watched. I would give him two answers, one was right, and one was wrong. He did very well after he watched the story the second time.
After this activity was over, we moved on to working on Lexia. At first, Emerson didn’t want to work on Lexia, he continually said that he wanted to play on cool math. Even though Emerson said no, he eventually complied with my directions and sat at the computer. It took several times for him to keep the Lexia program open, be he finally did and we began working on the next section of the program.
In the middle of the activity, he started to make noises and cover one of his ears. I gave him time to process and I asked him to use his “big boy words” and tell me what was wrong. I gave him choices to pick in order to express his feelings. I asked him if it was loud, if it was too much color, did the noises bother him, did he want to take a break, etc. He continually said no, but complied and opened the program back up. He started making noises again after starting Lexia and I gave him time to process and take a break at the computer for about a minute or so. The entire time, I was sitting about a foot away from him.
He continued to make noises with his hand over his ear. I explained to him that he had done a wonderful job at computer class, at re-telling the story, following directions, and he only had to complete one lesson and he was free to play on cool math before we went down for lunch. He continued to make his noises and say no... at this point I hear Mrs. Quigley behind me and Mr. H came rushing up behind her. She began to yell at me saying that she knows her son and this was a full- out meltdown and that I obviously did not understand what was happening. She picked him up and she put him in her lap after she sat in the other chair at the computer station. I did not feel comfortable. I stood up and told her that he had been telling me that he wanted cool math and he was attempting to escape the given activity. She yelled over me telling me that my statement wasn’t true and that he wasn’t escaping. I looked at Mr. H and backed up telling him that I was extremely uncomfortable. I stood by him at which time he told me that I was okay.
Both Mr. H and I stopped talking and I listened to what she was saying to Emerson. She was asking him if he was okay. He told her that he wanted to go home. She explained to him that he needed to stay at school. She then asked him in specific words if he was trying to escape the task that I had assigned to him. His response to her was, “Yes.” She then explained to him that he needed to listen to everything Ms. G told him and that he needed to follow directions. At this point he was calm and she put him down. She explained to him that she was going to talk to Mr. Halbert out in the hall and that she would see him in a minute.
I continued to work with Emerson for the next 5 or 10 minutes on the activity. I shortened the lesson and allowed him to only complete a part of it. At one point, he asked to take a break on the bean bag. I praised him for using his words, and allowed him to sit on the bean bag for a break. I set the timer for three minutes, and explained to him that after it went off, we would complete the activity. He said no several time, but eventually got up when the timer went off and sat down at the computer again. It took a little while, but when he was done with the activity, I praised him for doing a wonderful job and that I was so proud of him for following through and completing his assignment. I gave Mr. Halbert a thumb up because he was looking through the window on my door.
At this time, I asked Emerson to get his folder so that we could go to lunch. He stood on the blue square and I waited until it was clear to open the door. When we walked out, I praised his choices to his mother and she seemed happy. She explained to him that she was going downstairs to talk with Mr. H some more and that the silver car would be picking him up when school was over. She then corrected her statement saying that she was wrong, and the van would pick him up. She told him to enjoy his lunch and have a good rest of his day. He said he wanted to go with her several times, but after she reassured him, he began to walk with me down the hallway.
We then walked down the hallway to the elevator. I dropped him off at the cafeteria with PPCD and came back to my classroom."
"At approximately 10:30 am on March 1, 2013, Mr.S (IA assigned to BMC) came into my office and reported a concern. He stated that Mrs. Quigley (parent of Emerson Quigley) was sitting down in the hallway outside of the BMC classroom with her ear up next to the door. He also stated that Mrs. Quigley had asked him multiple questions about Mr. Salas’s role on the campus and about Emerson’s behaviors. Mr. S stated that he answered the questions about his role on the campus and informed Mrs. Quigley that the answers to her other questions could be best answered by Ms. G (BMC Teacher) or the campus administration.
After speaking to Mr. S I went upstairs to speak with Mrs. Quigley’s and answer her questions. As I came around the corner in the hallway I saw Mrs. Quigley crouched by the door to the BMC room with her ear pressed against the door. I witnessed a few students, who were coming in and out of neighboring classrooms, looking in her direction with expressions of concern. When she saw me she stood up and we greeted each other. I asked how her day was going and she responded that it was going well. I invited Mrs. Quigley to feel free to enter the BMC classroom and stated that she was more than welcome to observe Emerson as long as it does not intervene or disrupt the instructional environment. She stated that she was fine with staying in the hallway and listening in through the door. Mrs. Quigley stated that she wanted to see how Emerson interacted without her present.
Mrs. Quigley and I conversed in the hallway calmly and civilly for several minutes. Throughout our conversion Mrs. Quigley went to the BMC classroom door multiple times and pressed her ear against it to listen in. On one occasion she was standing in front of the door with her ear pressed against it as Mr. S approached escorting a student with special needs towards the BMC entrance. The student acknowledged my presence saying “there’s Mr. H.” He then slowed his pace and anxiously said, “Uhh! Who is she?” pointing at Mrs. Quigley as she stood at the door. Mr. S calmed the student by saying “she’s ok and we are going inside.” Mr. S and this student were in the BMC classroom for a short period of time before leaving.
During our conversation Mrs. Quigley expressed concern that she was dissatisfied with the communication log the school had been using to document Emerson’s behaviors. She also expressed concern that Emerson may be getting hungry in the later hours of the morning due to an IEP schedule that had been implemented after his annual ARD that was held on January 24, 2013. I validated her concerns and suggested that she review Emerson’s current IEP and BIP before next Friday (March 8, 2013) and annotate her concerns so that she can address them during the ARD. Mrs. Quigley commented that she thought my suggestion was a great idea.
At about this time Emerson became upset in the classroom. Mrs. Quigley became emotional and with tears in her eyes she rushed toward the BMC classroom door. She paused momentarily and I said, “Mrs. Quigley I know that this has to be difficult for you but...” Mrs. Quigley interrupted
and said “No!” and opened the BMC classroom door and rushed towards Emerson and Ms. G (BMC Teacher). She sat in a chair with him in her arms and asked him several questions. Ms. G stepped back and said, “I am uncomfortable with this.” I told Ms. G “it’s ok, I am here.” Mrs. Quigley asked Emerson if he was hungry or if he was tired and Emerson said “No” to both of these questions. Mrs. Quigley asked Emerson if he was thirsty and he said “yes.” Ms. G went to the classroom sink and got Emerson a cup of water. After several minutes, and a few more upset statements from Emerson refusing to do his work on the computer, he calmed down and began working on the computer with Ms. Guller.
At this point I calmly asked Mrs. Quigley if I could speak with her in the hallway. She said “sure” in a calm voice and walked out of the room with me. When we got into the hallway I said, “I know that this must be very difficult for you and I cannot begin to imagine what it is like to be in your shoes, but it is really important that when you come to observe Emerson that you do interfere with-” as Mrs. Quigley interrupted me.
At this point Mrs. Quigley raised her voice and became very emotional. During this time multiple students passed near us coming in and out of neighboring classrooms and up and down the stairs. Mrs. Quigley continued to talk at me with a loud and angry tone in her voice making statements indicating that she would continue to interfere with instruction when her son is upset. I told her that it would be best for us to continue our conversation in my office as she was now disrupting the instruction of multiple neighboring classrooms. She stated that she would not leave her son. I suggested that Emerson could come down to the office with us if she would like, but the conversation could not continue in the hallway as it was disrupting the educational environment for many students. I asked her “please” multiple times and reiterated that she could bring Emerson with her if she was uncomfortable leaving him.
Mrs. Quigley began asking questions that challenged my authority including “What are you going to do? Call the cops? And have me arrested!” I told her that was the last thing that I wanted to do but that I could let her continue to disrupt the instructional environment of the school. She continued to challenge me in a loud voice and made threats to withdrawal Emerson from the school. I informed her that was her right if so chose, but that I did not think that it would be in Emerson’s best interest. I also informed her that I would have to call the police if she refused to leave the hallway. She made statements that she wanted me to call the police and further refused to leave the hallway. I radioed the office to request that NISD Police report to the campus. For the next several minutes Mrs. Quigley continued to ask me questions in an elevated and angry voice in the hallway outside of the BMC classroom. Each time I reminded her that she was continuing to disrupt the educational environment of the school.
At approximately 10:50 Emerson and a staff member left the BMC classroom to go to the cafeteria. At this point Mrs. Quigley walked with me down the stairs towards the office but continued to speak at me in an elevated and angry voice while in the presence of several classesof students who were walking in the hallway. I reminded her several times that she was continuing to disrupt the educational environment of the school.
When we got to the office I again listened to Mrs. Quigley’s concerns about Emerson’s behavior communication log and his new IEP schedule. She also expressed concerns that teachers on the campus had not been communicating with her adequately. I expressed that her concerns were valid and that they should be addressed during conferences with the parties involved or in next week’s ARD. Mrs. Quigley also stated that she was upset that was no longer receiving replies to text messages she had been sending to Emerson’s teachers. I informed her that the campus administration had recently discouraged staff members from communicating with parents via text messaging as it is not as comprehensive as communication via face-to-face conference, phone, or email.
At this point a NISDPD Officer stepped into the office. I briefed him on the events leading up to his arrival. Another NISDPD Officer entered the office a short time later. The first officer spoke to her calmly stating that while on the campus she was required to comply with the directives of the campus administration. Mrs. Quigley challenged the authority of the NISDPD and asked why the Sheriff’s Department had not been called instead. The officer answered that if the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office had been called they would have told the office staff to call NISDPD. I told Mrs. Quigley the officers in the room were certified peace officers and that the NISDPD does have jurisdiction over this campus. I asked that she leave the campus and not return today. I told her that I would seek guidance from the NISD Central Office regarding the events that had transpired. The officer informed her that the administration could decide to issue her a CTW for her refusal to leave the hallway when directed by an administrator.
During this time Mrs. Quigley made statements using an elevated and angry voice that she wanted the officers (calling them “fine gentleman”) to be called every time she comes on campus. She also asked them if they had autistic children. The officers remained calm and expressed concern for her situation throughout the conversation. The first officer stated several more times that while on the campus she had to comply with the directives of the administration.
Mrs. Quigley stated that she wanted to wait to leave the campus until her son finished his lunch in the cafeteria. I told her that this would not be a problem and asked that she wait in the school office waiting area so that I could contact Central Office and update them on the situation. She expressed discontent with this request but walked out of the office without further discussion other than shouting “I’m arrested!” in the office hallway.
Mrs. S arrived on campus and we (Mrs. Quigley, Mrs. S, Mr. H, and the two officers) went into the conference room. During this time Mrs. Quigley spoke to Mrs. S in an elevated and angry tone. At some point Mrs. Quigley indicated that she was ready to take Emerson home with her and the office staff was contacted to have him brought to the office for checkout. Emerson entered the conference room a short time later. Mrs. Quigley asked me to comment as to whether this was the most enraged I had seen her [Mrs. Quigley] all morning. Mrs. Quigley wanted me to validate that Mrs. S had made her reach her highest point of anger and frustration since the beginning of this incident. I commented that she was very emotional and that I did not feel that continuing the conversation anymore would be beneficial to anyone. Mr. Quigley (father of Emerson Quigley) had entered the conference room by this time. He was asked to please have a seat. Mr. Quigley was then directed to have a seat by one of the officers after refusing to sit at the officer’s first request. Emerson had entered the room by this time and I did not feel that it was in his best interest for the conversation to continue.
Mrs. Quigley continued to shout at Mrs. S asking, “Why are we still here? You [Mrs. S] are telling me everything he [referring to Mr. H] just said!” I stood up and said “Mrs. Quigley, please” and motioned towards Emerson to express my concern for Emerson’s wellbeing. Mrs. Quigley said, “I know! It’s for Emerson! [in a sarcastic voice].”
Mrs. Quigley and Mr. Quigley left the campus at this point and began taking pictures in front of the school building. I left the campus a short time later to attend an afternoon staff development. I was notified later when I returned to campus at approximately 4:00 pm that teachers on the second floor had called the office to express concerns about a parent (now believed to be Mrs. Quigley) walking through the hallways looking into multiple classrooms."
Here is what I received in 3 parts(it's long....but lacking so much)
"March 13, 2013
Dear Mrs. Quigley,
This letter serves as my response to your inquiry about the events of March 1, 2013. I understand that you are unhappy with the events of that day, as they relate to your visit to the campus, and Mr. H's ultimate decision to contact law enforcement that morning. In an effort to fully understand what occurred, and to provide you with a response, I have investigated this situation. As part of my investigation, I reviewed the statements of Mr. H's, Ms. G and yourself, the NISD police report, and also spoke with other staff members who witnessed or reported some related events. Enclosed with this letter are the statements from Mr. H and Ms. G.
Review of Events:
I determined that on Friday, March 1, you checked in with the office staff at 9:56 am and received a visitor’s badge from the Raptor system per NISD policy. You indicated that you were going to observe Emerson in the BMC setting. At 10:19 am the office received a call from a teacher stating that an adult whom she did not recognize was walking the hallway and looking in classrooms. This hallway is not located near the BMC classroom. Upon inquiry I confirmed that the reported individual’s description matched your appearance. Similarly, there were no other authorized campus visitors at this time.
At approximately 10:30 am, Mr. S reported to Mr. H that you were sitting on the floor outside the BMC classroom listening at the door. He also stated that you had asked him questions regarding his role on campus and Emerson’s behavior. Mr. H then proceeded to go upstairs to speak with you and answer any questions you may have. He reported that he offered you the opportunity to enter the classroom, but that you preferred to remain in the hall.
After a few minutes of conversation between you and Mr. H, you overheard Emerson became upset in the classroom. During our meeting on March 5, 2013, you stated that you also overheard Ms. G's tone and direction to Emerson to “sit down” and to “get to work” and you believed that it was necessary for your to enter the classroom at that point. While you reported that Ms. G's tone was “harsh,” Mr. H did not perceive any reason to enter the classroom. Against Mr. H's request for you to remain in the hallway, you entered the classroom. Once in Ms. G's classroom you interacted directly with Emerson, lifting him onto your lap and holding him and speaking with him. Ms. G indicated that she was uncomfortable with the situation. Mr. H advised her to step aside and allowed you time to comfort Emerson. Once Emerson was returning to instruction, Mr. H invited you to speak with him in the hallway.
You accepted Mr. H's request to leave the classroom, but refused Mr. H's request that you leave the hallway area and accompany him to the office to discuss your concerns further. You were adamant that you did not want to leave the hallway. Mr.H attempted to further explain that your actions were disruptive and that you should leave the area. You became defiant and raised your voice to a level such that other students in the hallway appeared to be alarmed. You stated that if Mr. H found it necessary to call for NISD police support, it would be the only way you would leave the area. You confirmed this when we spoke on March 5. During this time your tone was angry and you used a raised voice. Mr. H contacted the office staff and a call to NISD police dispatch was made. A few minutes before 11:00, I received a call from the office staff alerting me to the situation. I left a District training to return to campus.
At approximately 10:50, Emerson left the classroom for lunch and you and Mr. H began the walk to his office. During the walk your tone tone was angry and you continued to use a raised voice. Upon reaching Mr. H's office you expressed your concerns about campus communication and Emerson’s IEP schedule. The two of you conversed about your concerns until the police arrived. The police officers advised you that your compliance with administrative requests were expected. The police officers concluded that your conduct in failing to comply with Mr. H's directive while on campus would support the issuance of a criminal trespass warning or arrest.
When I arrived on campus, you were waiting in the office lobby. I reported immediately to Mr. H's office and spoke briefly with both the police officers and him about the events. Mr. H and I asked that the police offers not pursue a Criminal Trespass Warning. I concluded that the sitautation would best be handled if you were asked to leave campus for the remainder of the day and we could speak after the weekend and reschedule the conference we had planned for 2:00 PM that day. It was not my intention to ban you from the campus or prevent you from returning for the remainder of the year. I asked you to join me in the conference room so that I could explain this to you. The police officers and Mr. H were present as well. I attempted to explain how the behavior was disruptive to the school environment. You stated that you felt Mr. H responded inappropriately. Emerson was brought to the office during our conversation. Your husband also arrived on campus at around this time and joined us. During this time your tone remained angry and loud, and as you acknowledged, more angry than it had been in your earlier exchange with Mr. H. I indicated that it was time for you to leave. Your husband indicated that he would return at 2:00 so that we could hold the conference with Emerson’s teachers as planned.
In considering the totality of events that occurred during your visit on March 1, I believe that you did not immediately report to the BMC classroom, although you had indicated that was your intended destination. This was a violation of our campus expectations for visitors. Once you arrived at the BMC classroom door, you did not enter the class, but instead chose to sit in the hallway. The presence of a unfamiliar adult, sitting on the hallway floor, listening through a classroom door would be disturbing for some students and creates a distraction and concern for other teachers and administrators who may have observed you. When you were given the opportunity to enter the classroom by Mr. H, you declined.
Once you and Mr. H overheard Emerson, Mr. H concluded that your presence in the classroom at that moment woud interfere with Ms. G's efforts to redirect Emerson. Mr. H appropriately directed you to remain outside the room, but you did not comply with this.
Although you acted against Mr. H's request, once in the classroom, he permitted you to interact with Emerson even though it intered with Ms. G's efforts. Once Emerson was re- engaged in the classroom activity, Mr. H appropriately requested to talk with you at another location, rather than the classroom.
You defied Mr. H and indicated that the only way you would leave the hallway would be with the involvement of law enforcement. Upon my review of all the information, it is undisputed that you initiated the discussion of law enforcement’s involvement. During this time you continued to disrupt the school environemnt through your tone and volume. Particularly in light of recent events concerning school violence it is impossible to disregard the impact your conduct in the hallway had on the campus and that it may have been concerning to students and teachers.
Although your conduct was in violation of the NISD Board Policy for visitors, as your conduct interefered with instruction in Emerson’s classroom and other classrooms, no action was taken to restrict you from the campus beyond asking you to temporarily leave the campus that day. In light of these events I have concluded that Mr. H's conduct was appropriate to maintain order on the campus. Further, I have concluded that you were not treated inappropriately on that date.
While I understand that you may disagree with my conclusions, I trust that we can continue to work together in your student’s best interest. Likewise, I trust that the events of March 1 will not be repeated. Prior to that visit I have had no concerns reported concerning your visits to the campus and so I have no reason to anticipate that they will recur. Please be advised, however, that in the future I do expect you to limit your visits to the specific destination identified upon sign-in and that you respect the authroity of administrators and teachers to maintain order on the campus.
Vice principal Mr.H's statement:
BMC teacher Mrs.G's statement:
And my statement since we're getting all stateMENTAL here:
Oh! And my nice letter informing them I was coming to observe 2 says BEFORE this March first event.
Sorry if the links don't work. I'm on it!
Monday, March 4, 2013
What about the children who are still THERE??!! What about the parents who don't know their rights?? What about the kids that already left? or worse, are stuck in some back classroom because they've been deemed UNTEACHABLE??y'all are MY media. I am taking my son to school. He is not sick. I refuse to face any kind of HINT of wrongdoing. If I keep him home, it will be an unexcused absence. It will be because other people are standing in the way of his right to a SAFE education. He is entitled to that by federal law and anyone who gets in the way of that is breaking it, including me.
No. NO. This has to stop. If I have to sit there all day to ensure that he is not harmed, I will. It's come to light that many if his educators do not have autism training.....forgive me but how does THAT happen?? Like a lout, I assumed that he was being CARED FOR by people who had training in his medical disability. I assumed there was a rule. There is not. Or if there is I have not found it, and it's been broken. This has to change.
Okay, I want to make it very clear that what happened with Emerson on Friday was new. He had only been going to this class with this teacher for 3-4 weeks. His school experience, and the people he worked with were/ ARE his family for the last 3 years. We have an ARD on Friday to address his education and if an official from the school can sign off on suspending his IEP to return to his old schedule than I feel he can safely return until this is resolved. Right now I'm waiting at the school to talk to someone.
I will let you all know what Mrs. S decides.
Friday, March 1, 2013
Me and Vice Principal Mr.H are walking down the stairs to his office. I was totally blown away that I had remained as calm as I had, meaning I had not cursed and had not raised my voice to ANYTHING it was aching to do.
"What do I do? Withdraw my son?"
"You have that right but you have to leave after the campus police get here."
"If I'm banned then they are too."
I look at him and say, stone face, "You have made a huge mistake Mr. H. This is a collosal overreaction on your part...."
He refused to talk to me again until we reached his office but the look he gave me....I don't think he had let it sink in. I had challenged him, and then called his bluff.
He made sure to inform me that I would not be allowed on campus until/if the administration for the district decided to let me. He said that I was facing criminal trespassing charges. He handed me a tissue.
As we sat down he started to go over, a little, the reason I had come, the communication...or lack there of.
"You see the sheet you sent in is just not the right format. We need to have a conference with everyone involved so we can determine what will work best."
"Oh you mean the conference we(Meaning the principle, his boss and Emerson's teachers) are having a two? The one that I can no longer attend without further breaking the law?"
"Yeah you're going to have to call Ms.S(principle) and work that out."
"...You want ME to call her and tell her we can't meet? because you decided I needed to be banned?? You want me to ask her if we should MEET AT Starbucks or something??"
"...Or I could call her."
...no. On second thought, my husband will be attending THAT meeting, ya know since I don't want to be arrested."
At this point the two nice officers came in.
"Ma'am you understand that you broke the law and are being charged with criminal trespassing?"
"I guess....but if I was really in trouble why didn't you call the real cops? Bexar county sheriff?"
"Ma'am we are the real cops. If Bexar county had been called they would have wanted to know where we were."
"Well you can charge me with whatever you want. I didn't do anything wrong."
"But you did ma'am. This man here is pretty much the law. If he tells us you would not comply with him then we do what he says. The law gives him that right."
"Do you know what Autism is."
I explained what happened
"...I did nothing wrong and I'd do it again."
"No ma'am you won't. You will be charged and arrested."
"Okay so this back and forth? We are arguing about my OPINION?? You're not going to change my mind. I did nothing wrong. Period.You can not arrest me for my opinion. Arrest me if you want but my opinion is not against the law."
We all fall silent for a few minutes...
"This is comical..." I say quietly, sort of to the chair next to me as I dry my drippy face.
"I disagree Mrs.____"
"Well, I guess I'm just more morose than you Mr. H"
A few more min pass...I turn my phone on silent and take a picture of the officers. I still can't believe this is REALLY happening....
"Okay I have some things I have to take care of so you need to wait in the lobby."
"...okay..." I get up. I see one of Emerson's aids. She gives me a look like "What is going on??"
I walk into the hall with both cops behind me, "I'm being arrested!" I say loudly, the loudest I have spoken as of yet and probably the only time up until now that could be considered impulsive.
The "younger" gets in front of me, my nose to his chest.
"That is your SECOND warning. You won't get another."
"I'm sorry....where are my children? I thought I was banned?"
I go to the lobby and wait for the kids. From my text I know my husband jetted out of work and is on his way.
Now I have to sit and silently cry where people can see me. Great.
Emerson arrives. He doesn't like seeing me upset so I try to hold it together. We just need Meadow and then we can bolt.
The principal surprisingly arrives and calls me back to the conference room. I have Emerson in tow. The officers are in there and so is Mr. H. Mrs.S starts going over how I was wrong, but I am NOT banned from campus, just for the rest of the day, she can not stress that enough....about as much as Mr. H stressed that I was banned and being charged. This is bringing it all back, threatening my fragile calm. It's a blur after this. A few minutes later my husband shows up. This is where I start to loose it.
The VP and the principal are both trying to convince me that I was wrong and that I was being confrontational. They continue to talk over me, but I'm the one being confrontational? I asked the principal if she were in my shoes, would she have been able to just walk away? She agreed that she probably would not have been able to.
The next few minutes are a bit of a blur with the two of them trying to get me to see their point. A point I don't agree with. After it became clear to them that their approach STILL wasn't working,
the principal said something like
"Well I tried." with a hint of irritation and superiority.
"Are you kidding me?! You tried? You TRIED?? ((I)) TRIIIED!!!! These fine officers back here are a very LARGE reminder of THAT!!"
Now the principal is telling me that I need to calm down. I turn to the VP and talk directly to him. I tell him that I need him to answer a question. I asked him if my level or irritation and my behavior RIGHT NOW in the moment inside the conference room was the worst he had seen from me. I was trying to prove a point that I had BEEN calm. All Mr. H. could do was stare, then say "I don't see how that's relevant right now."
I told them both "I WAS leaving! I was TRYING to leave, but you had me come back into this room, just to re-open a fresh wound?"
Both the kids were ready and the conversation was CLEARLY not making any progress.
I knew it was time to leave. My husband and I grabbed our kids and left the school, trying so hard to keep my composure until I was in the van.As we walked outside I saw the police car and decided to take a pic of myself in front of it. I let my self cry with that symbol in the back ground so I will never forget how today felt.
I got in the van and called MY mama.
I signed in. The receptionist directed me to the BMC room. 223 on the second floor.
I slowly walked by the window of the door. The room was dark but I could see 2 students and the teacher Mrs.G. I heard them talking so I sat, to try and observe what was happening without interfering.
I hear Mrs.G asking questions about a movie they had just watched. Horton hears a who. She is asking comprehension questions to Emerson. He asks if he can have a snack. She says after he finishes the questions. The other boy gets up. She yells a little harshly at him and tells him that she is trying to help Emerson learn. He gets upset and says "You hate me!"
"No *other child's name* I love you. But I need you to sit down. Do you need to hug?" He cries for a little while. She keeps asking Emerson questions about the video but he isn't answering them so she asks him if he needs to watch it again. He says yes. He asks if he can have lunch.
I see another teacher walk down the hall toward me. He says he is the other BMC teacher, Mr.S. I tell him I'm trying not to disturb Emerson, just observe and I would love to talk to Mr.S about any interaction he's had with Emerson. He also walked me through the model of BMC. I was in info gathering mode. We talk and walk down stairs. Maybe 10-12 min pass. I go back upstairs. I listen for 5 or 6 more min. Mr. H the vice principle walks up.
Yes! I think, someone who wants to talk to me!
We chatted in the hall for a bit. The other child leaves? I duck to to the side so Emerson does not see me. I tell him I've heard Emerson ask for a drink or snack 4 to 5 in the past 50 min I've listening. I tell Mr.H that if he is hungry and thirsty he is more likely to have a melt down.
We started to walk down the stairs to go talk in his office. We started down the stairs, maybe 12-15 ft from the door. At this point Emerson was alone with Ms. G for at while, since the other boy left. Mr. H is talking to me.
I hear Emerson wail.
I rush back to the door and just listen for, I swear, EVER, but it may have just been a couple of min. I'm airing for her to back off, so he can recover. She keeps pushing. Mr. H told me to stay outside, while I heard Ms.G trying to continue to get him to do the reading lesson on the computer, even though he is completely inconsolable, sobbing. Major meltdown.
Mr.H," I know it's hard... - I don't think you should go in!-"
I ignore him and go in. Emerson is draped over the chair covering his ears and eyes. His head is buried in the crook of his arm, sobbing and wailing.
Ms.G "He doesn't want to do his work."
Me(I think, I was seeing a lot of red) "This is NOT okay. Absolutely not!"
I touch him and start talking to him. He doesn't even register it is me, he is that upset. He is breathing hard, heaving. He's having trouble talking, tears streaming down his face. I pull him in my lap and hug him while he wails and sobs for about 5 min. I wipe his tears away and ask if he wants a snack?
"Do you want some water?"
"Okay are you ready to do your work now? Let's do our reading and then you can go to lunch?"
I looked at the clock. It was 10:40am
We tell him it is 20 min to lunch. Mr. H has been hovering near the door, in the hallway.
Emerson gets on the computer. He closes out the program more than once. I redirect him. I tell him to keep working and then he can go eat.
Mr. H asks me to go to the hall. Emerson gets upset because I'm leaving. I reassure him.
"I'm just going outside. I'm not leaving, I promise."
"Okay..." but he sits to do his reading.
I go to hall with the vice principle. He tells me,
"we have to go to my office now."
"I can't leave until I know he is okay."
I'm telling you now Mrs. Quigley, you have to leave and go to my office."
"I told Emerson I wouldn't leave. You want me to break my promise?"
"I'm sure he'll be fine. You have to come with me now though."
"I'm not leaving. Are you going to make me? You'll have to call the cops."
"Okay, I will." He gets on his radio and calls for campus police.
We stand in the hall way for a while longer. Mr.H tells me that I do not have the right to interfere with an ongoing lesson. He tells me that if I do not leave I will be banned from campus and face criminal trespassing charges. I told him I will not leave without my children.
My husband texts me:
Mr. H offered to get Emerson right then. I tell him I want him to eat and go to lunch. I know he is hungry. I'm trying my hardest to NOT disrupt his routine even after all of that. I only interfered when he was in massive distress. I understand meltdowns but pushing while they are in the throws of a HUGE breakdown??! That's just cruel. I will NEVER sit by and let that happen. The fact that was turned into a criminal act just.....ah.... I'm at a loss for words!!! I mean when did this turn into the twilight zone???!!
Emerson comes out because it's time for lunch. He's happy to see me but I know he is hungry,
"It's time for lunch but I will see you later okay? At 'goodbye time' we will get in the van with Meadow!"
"Okay! Bye momma I love you!"
" Alright Mr. H we can go to your office now"
To be continued...
Okay I wrote this letter after being ignored by so many people at Emerson's school and sent it to every email I could muster from my contact list. I sent it off without proof reading it so I apologize for any typos but it had already taken me 2 hours to write so i was just wiped. My mom said it was a little too tame lol
"Dear educating staff of my son,
I have a problem. A major problem.
My concern is on a quite a few different fronts, mainly the level of communication between myself and Emerson's teachers, as well as the communication between his educators to each other.
I require drastic improvement in the communication of Emerson's school experience on a daily basis. I have been calling, messaging and texting at least 4 people all week and have had less than satisfactory response (if any) and no where near the level of comprehensive information that I require to address things when he gets home. I can't talk to him if I don't know there is something to talk about.
Since his ARD a couple of weeks ago Emerson's behavior has degraded dramatically though I feel the full extent of his aggressions toward teachers and fellow students has been largely ignored (for months if not a full year) until this recent culmination of multiple severe incidences.(since Friday that I know of) since the ARD he has been going to BMC for part of the day which is the most dramatic change in his school schedule since 2010.
I require to be notified EVERYTIME he harms someone. He is having these behaviors at school for quite some time, apparently,(i have not been being notified) but not anywhere near that level when he's at home. That is until Monday.
He attacked Meadow that evening. She had the iPad after he had it taken away for chewing on the stylus and breaking it. He came at her hitting hard open handed with both hands on her head and face. We stood and talked about how she was sad and she was hurt. We talked about how what he had done was mean. He then asked if he could tell her he was sorry. He apologized unprompted and gave her a hug. This is the first time he has hit like that. Usually he will just hit once with an open hand and run away, always provoked by a toy being taken or someone singing. This was an attack and seemed very impulsive, something he usually doesn't have a problem with at home.
Our normal discipline technique at home is time out on the couch until he apologizes and can be nice and happy. He also looses privileges with tv, the iPad, and toys and can earn them back by being nice or by sharing unprompted.
If it is a meltdown opposed to a behavioral issue, he can go "to bed" until he calms down. He frequently requests that form of self regulating.
His aggression is getting pretty extreme as already stated. On friday he attacked a student and bit him on the scalp. He has fixated on this child for over a year, i just was unaware of how often( and frankly still do not know the full extent) i was informed on friday and when he came home I put him in time out to talk about what he had done. He wanted to appoligize to Evan and asked "You want to go to school to say sorry to Evan?" I told him we couldn't because Evan was at home and it was the weekend. I told him he could write a letter apologizing. He did. It took quite some time(over an hour) but he accomplished it.
It may seem like "too much work" or that I'm not fully aware of what im asking, but my fine educators, hard work is the very boy you see. He was evaluated at age 2 as severely Autistic and non verbal, on the low end of the spectrum. He made little to no eye contact and was uninterested in anything other than the credits at the end of a movie or the ceiling fan. Every emotion, every eye contact, every inflection in his voice was taught to him because what we are dealing with RIGHT HERE is the basis of his disability.
He HAS to be the biggest participant in his behavior plan or it simply won't work. The quality of his whole future depends on him learning the price of aggression and violence now, when he is an innocent 55lbs, 5 year old boy as opposed to a hormonal teenage man bigger than everyone around him.
I created a communication form that I have sent to everyone involved. It is a bit simplistic but I feel it's the basis of the behavior system I want implemented. I will continue to work on perfecting it and changing it as he changes. I feel that Emerson's aggression has been merely managed for quite sometime and steps need to be made to teach him that that behavior is not okay.
This form is to be filled out by Emerson but since he does not have this skills to do that himself ( a long term goal to be sure) I require the person in charge of him at the time, help him fill it out. Ask him what to say, ask him what happened( I also want sequence of events to be a major theme in lesson plans to help support the concept of accountability of his actions) if he can write some thing thats great. Ask him"what do you want to tell Mommy about hurting *insert name*?" Even hand over hand would be fine as we start but, his level of emotion withstanding, the very least is having him read what you write. Write it in a format for HIM. Example: "Emerson grabbed Evan by the neck a bit him. Evan was very sad. Evan felt hurt." If you can not use a child's name write "a friend." Play up the emotions involved and put the event in terms he can understand. Simple sentences with descriptive emotion. Believe me, he understands or more importantly is capable of the understanding I'm expecting of him. Adding the good points of the day should involve him as well, to help teach him self pride.
My goal is to have him read it to me when he gets home so we can discuss it. That way he will remember the event, and writing about it and we will have created a strong basis for him reviewing past actions and understanding they always have consequences, wether they are good or bad is up to him.
Writing out his own goals for the day may be useful as well.
As with every single skill we have worked on it will take time and dedication. Starting Just after he turned 2 We worked on simply saying the word "go" ....for 10 months. We lived ate and breathed "Go". That turned into an exercise in eye contact and closing multiple circles of communication. Early turn taking and even the very start of his love for numbers. It was "ready set "go" and the 123 go. It even lead to reading. Stop and go. Recognizing a stop sign while riding in the car and then spelling it out with magnetic letters on the fridge to his bewildered grandmother at the age of 3.
Believe me, this boy is capable. This is just the next hurtle. Now how invested will each of you be?
I have felt utterly ignored and brushed aside all week. Do you really think ANYTHING will change with him without my full time dedication. I need to be the FIRST person you call. Period.
I feel like his disability is being mismanaged and the last thing he needs is baby sitters. To be swept away to a secluded room on the second floor. His behaviors are forefront here but the price of these events can NOT be his chance at typical peer socialization. Not addressing them and resolving them will make it impossible for him to get the education he is entitled to by law. Neglecting to address it now will sabotage his whole future.
I look forward to a conference with everyone involved as soon as possible. I am available every Friday and will be there this Friday regardless of who is available.
Thursday, February 14, 2013
Thursday, January 24, 2013
Sunday, January 13, 2013
Lead in accomplished, I was driving to the grocery store on Friday evening, BY MYSELF. My sister came and stayed with my kids so I could fill my Yaris to the brim with the seat down instead of the micro trunk it usually has when you cram 3 small humans back there. Plus getting out without kids? That never happens!!
As I was driving, listening to my much denied NPR, I sort of glazed over the car ahead of me. I live, eat and breathe Autism Awareness so imagine my surprise when I realized I was looking right at a puzzle ribbon on the back of the SUV in front of me. I had this overwhelming desire to wave my hands at them, and honk. Roll down the window and shout "Look I have one too!," like a crazy person. Or even more lunatic, follow them. Yeah my heart sort of sank when the flipped on their turn signal....OKAY before you judge me, I assure you the feeling was fleeting. Also look me in the face and tell me that you haven't seen a fellow Autism Awareness magnet in a parking lot or on the highway and felt the same thing.
It's encounters like that that make me look at every stranger I pass, scrutinizing every screaming child I see in a basket at the store. Listening to screaming that sounds just like my little guy in the middle of a meltdown, and wondering.
Well today we decided we all needed a treat. We don't go out to eat as a family often, but when we do its pretty much CiCi's or Cracker Barrel(unless you count the random fast food or Uhg Chuck E Cheese) we decided to treat ourselves to Crackle Barrel tonight. When our super nice server came to get our drink order, we hurried and ordered Emerson's Chicken strips and fries, probably throwing her off but the key to a successful dinner is minimized waiting time for the little man. I have to say I think this was our best family dinner outing ever. All the kids were awesome!
At the end I decided to stop our server. Something made me tell her that Emerson is Autistic. Now I'm on the fence about telling strangers he is Autistic, especially when say he has had a good outing and the average person would have no idea. Not because I don't want them to know (let's face it, I seriously want the world to think of HIM when they think of Autism) but because I don't want to tell everyone his business. He is only 5 and still has speech issues as well as comprehension of social interaction but someday he will be self aware enough to understand what I say to people. I want him to be proud of his Autism, but its not my place to "out" him. I'm aware of this even now, though it seems like light years away. Anyways I told her.
I went on to say:
"You really wouldn't know because of how good he has been this visit. I just wanted to thank you for being patient with us and doing such a great job."
She sort of looked at me for a second and said:
"My daughter is Autistic."
Whatever your faith may be, or not at all, that my friends was a Devine moment!! After that I hugged her. I mean what are the odds?(shut up, of course I know the odds but it still blew me away!) Her daughter and Emerson are only 11 months apart. I was not pushy in my hug. It was very natural. Not the hug of strangers, but of allies. Kin. (I may be kind of theatric..but...whatev. Go with it)
We wrangled the kids into the car, and I sent the husband back in with an envelope. In it, a nice tip, a $5 Starbucks gift card and a little note just for her. Hillary, server at Cracker Barrel that I met for the first time tonight, wether you knew it or not, you have a built in family of people like me! Maybe I WILL get that coffee pal after all....