Friday, March 1, 2013

A fluffy little letter to my sons school

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.

Thank you
My name
And number


  1. ... Really, this just... is NOT okay... which you already know. I have a lot to say, but feel like no words could really help at this time. I do know that you have a lot of people behind you... and the law on your side. Never forget that.

    And a phrase you could add on the next letter (because there will be a next letter)...

    "If you feel you can no longer accommodate his needs and our family's participation in his education, please let me know".

    Email me and I'll tell you why (if you don't already know). editor -at- specialhappens -dot- com.

  2. I live in NY and while things are far from perfect, it is clear, by NY standards, that your district is not even close to providing him the proper education. It appears to be neglectful. Do you have a professional advocate. You need a lawyer and you need to get him out of there. His entire future depends on this. You have to realize you CANNOT fight this alone. I will pray for you and your family. This autism thing is hard enough as it is. You don't need this on top of it!

  3. I am having the same problem with my son. Conner is 12 and weighs 250 pounds and his school and I battle weekly because they think its ok to hold the information back from me. Conner is on a point system but they only take 1 point away when he gets aggressive so there for me grounding him when his points are still high makes him think I am unfair. I had to make several appointments with the school and the IEP team but never seem to get anywhere. They also reward him daily even when he has a bad day. I don't understand how these schools get away with all of this.

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