Wednesday, December 23, 2009

C1 as the Focus Child for START

Photo: C1 can be a willing worker, though it has to be his choice. Sometimes, as in the case with the raking, his willingness to work doesn't last very long.

As I mentioned before, my oldest son who has Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), was chosen as a focus child for his school for the START training program that started in September and will conclude in March or April (depending on winter weather). One child with ASD per school was chosen to be the focus child.

I'm not sure about the other focus children in the START program, but I can say my son was chosen for a particular reason. C1 hasn't been the easiest child to educate over the years, and this has been especially true since about last Spring. We did have a grace period in September when school started up this fall. At one point he told my husband and I that he loves school and that it was the favorite part of his day. (I believe he was happy to have some structure after summer break concluded.)

Around mid-October my son had a complete attitude change about school. All of a sudden he "hated it" and started to flat out refuse to do work. My husband and I were both called in to help out on the worst of days.

We have several theories as to why C1 started to hate school, but cannot be really certain what caused such a complete attitude change. It could have been that the novelty of the new school year wore off. It could be that he was reacting to the weather change that came about mid to late fall. Or it could be the stomach irritating bactrim we were giving him for a kidney condition and have since discontinued.

It's hard to tell. All we know for sure is that his refusal to do his work became our number one concern in October. His behavior escalated to the point he started to tear the room up when challenged.

Thank goodness for START or we be could very well be in the middle of a nightmare right now in terms of school. Fortunately, around the time his behavior started to deteriorate, the START trainers presented a module on Educational Strategies.

We learned how to use breaks, special interests, and gadgets such as the P-touch (for typing up work instead of writing) to inspire a child to comply in the educational setting. C1's teacher, who has worked so hard to help him, created a froggy basket (my guy is all about the froggies) for him to dig into during breaks, gave him the P-touch we received at the end of the module training, and put a bean bag chair by his desk.

The good news is that my son stopped being disruptive in the classroom as soon as his teacher put some of the strategies in place. The bad news is that despite liking the P-touch, he still refused to do work for several weeks in small group settings. He ended up spending a lot of time in the bean bag chair.

We've since had Module 3 which focused on Behavior and learned even more things (which I hope to discuss in a future post). Further, my son's special ed teacher, also was able to have the behavior consultant for our special education district come and observe my son. The behavior consultant was also able to provide very good ideas during a team meeting I was invited to attend.

Ironically, my son did his all his work with very little intervention the second day the behavior consultant observed. It might be that my holiday loving son knew he was being watched or it might be that he was just excited that Christmas break was just around the corner as there were only two more days to go at that point. Whatever the case, I hope C1 will continue to be a willing and compliant student once school starts up in January. My fingers are crossed!


Casdok said...

We have to be like detectives - dont we?!
Am glad to hear all the intervetion is beginging to help. Hope it continues.
Merry christmas to you and your family x

Julie L. said...

We certainly do. I hope he continues to have good days too! Merry Christmas to you, C, and the rest of your family. : )

Jon G said...

I tell everyone, there's a world of professionals out there. But not a one has what I have: a PhD in 'My Child'. So if I don't know what's going on with him, how can anyone else. You're a great supporter Julie. Keep up the good work.

mommy~dearest said...

You? Are describing my son and his affinity for school. Seriously- my kid has been "difficult to educate" as well, and spends most of his time finding ways to not do his work (ie. tearing apart the worksheets, or just drawing all over them). I can't wait to hear more of the interventions!

Marla said...

Wow. How awesome that this program made such an incredible difference. Like Casdok said we certainly are like detectives. I hope this program continues to make school a lot more fun and educational.

Beans said...

it makes a difference with great strategies. teachers are often at a loss for what to do and often they have their walls up to our help as parents.

we went from a school where my asd child hated it all (not writing, reading etc) to her thriving at a different school and even being the master of ceremonies at her end of year do! It is all in the strategies and the teachers attitude. good luck....i hope things get better from here.

Julie L. said...

Jon: thanks. : )
Mommy Dearest: Yep, me too. Sometimes when I read your blog, i think our guys were cut from the same mold when it comes to school... Hopefully, i can get more posts done soon about educational strategies. Have lots of ideas, but not much time lately...
Beans: we are so lucky to have a great teacher who cares about C1, and a really good team overall. Her dedication has paid off. He's doing better now, but I'm still holding my breath... Am glad your daughter is doing well. : )
Marla: Yes, we can definitely add detective duty to our mama to do lists! I've been impressed with STARt. So far, so good...