Reviewing the IEP

Sunday 12 June 2011

Our sons IEP (individual education plan) has been the same for the last year; two objectives that are quite broad in area and not being met or achieved.

These objectives are:
1. To get dressed quickly – put clothes in order and follow the pictures.
2. To complete a piece of work on his own – listen to the task, repeat it to an adult, complete the task and work towards the reward.

We need to change these goals so that they are achievable but I don’t know what should replace them. As you have all probably read by now (if not, then go check out my pages, there is lots of info in different sections to piece together about me and our life. We’ll be here waiting) our son has Autism but high functioning with bad attention and sensory issues to sound, temperature etc. which affect him daily. So while these objectives might seem like something to work on because he needs to learn, he can in fact do them, he just has trouble with the sensory side of life which I’m sure as he gets older he’ll learn to cope with, I hope!

Should we keep the ‘getting changed’ task on the IEP but maybe break it down into chunks so that only the bottom half needs to be achieved first? Do we replace them with more academic type objectives, such as, reach reading level 5 by July, learn 6 x table by end of term?

What kind of things do you have on your IEP?

At the moment the IEP seems a pointless exercise, but as we are on the path for Statement assessment, we really need to work this out.

I’ve been told that the IEPs need to be SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, recordable/relevant and time-bound). For example task 1 should have a time frame to achieve rather than the basic ‘quickly’ along with the help he will receive from a teacher or support assistant and maybe the reward. However, a mixed response on the academic targets; if a child doesn’t have any issues in that area then the IEP is only going to show issue relating to social/self-help skills!

There are a lot of things to learn regarding IEPs and how each person believes the system works.

Your Direction

28th November 2011

Apart from last week when our son was very ‘tactile‘ (as his teacher called it), wanting to lean all over the teaching assistant who wasn’t used to this side of him and didn’t know what to do with herself, he has started eating his top again. He put three holes in his top that following investigation we established he had done using a pencil. He was pushing and pulling on me when we walked, directing my path or dragging on my arm and requesting a carry. I should point out that he is seven years and if a neurotypical child he wouldn’t need carrying nor a parent even consider it, yet I resort now to piggy-back rides in time of need.

We are rarely out of school before 15:30 and today I had to go into school to find him. He was still in class but his teacher and another parent were standing in the doorway talking, they saw me but didn’t move so I had to wait for ten minutes so that I could rescue my son from his classroom! Eventually I got in class to help and I found he had no socks on – he’d accidentally dropped them in a wet patch during swimming this morning (spare socks are now required, in case)

On the way out of school he was joking and pushing me in circles, this is something he does occasionally some days more than others. Once out of the playground he was pushing and pulling me, directing me in zig zag paths yet a little sensitive if it wasn’t going his way. Once we were in the village shop he plodded along slowly, in a day-dream but he had to touch all the labels that were sticking out of the aisles as we walked down, then swinging anything that was hanging up.

I don’t know what they are doing in school that is so different to the infants but they definitely aren’t recognising his overload signals or in the last 4 months he’s managed to completely change his way of coping (I don’t think) and he’s now holding it all in.

Ha! Holding it in, gets me thinking on another area of when he joined the Juniors and I was told ‘they grown up so much during the summer holidays, he’ll be fine’. That laid back approach soon changed when they found that maybe they should have read up a little more and taken more interest in his history.

Taking Control

On the way home from school, our daughter was being rude to her brother, arguing with him, telling him what he shouldn’t be doing, taking control and bossing him around. When I explained she was doing what we’d discussed not do to in our morning counselling session, she exclaimed she was in a bad mood and it wasn’t her fault. I suppose I can be thankful for her ability at that point to explain her feelings. I explained that while it wasn’t her fault for being angry, it wasn’t right for her to take it out on her brother – obviously she stormed off heavy footed.

As I’ve said in earlier posts, just through trial and error and experience, I learnt how not to react, although there are occasions when I still lose my temper but generally I’m more in control with my calm side, being very self-conscious on how I react. When I lose control and can feel it coming and sometimes at that point I think its going to tip and I’m going to spill – yes I could stop it, I can stop it, but sometimes I need to vent too and bottling up all that frustration dealing with her isn’t always a good thing!

When we got home she said L & J had made her cry… I managed to get her to write this in her mood book (with a little coaxing). This mood book we created so that she has somewhere to exert all that pent-up anger and emotion without the need to bombard me minute after minute with her rants; although this has been a hit and miss task. she still likes to spend hours ranting about this and that, rarely leaving me alone and I carry on with what I’m doing listening calmly trying to give positive responses. Sometimes when it comes to bullying I don’t know what to say? I can only offer the advice to ignore them, tell your teacher, answer back with this etc.. I try to comfort the best I can but I can’t remove the bullies and believe even with a change of school she will have the same problems. She’s different, doesn’t fit it, doesn’t like what they like, doesn’t react like them, doesn’t talk or feel like them… its hard!

We decided to write the mood book in the evenings when we had our Mummy/daughter time, but this was only completed when I wrote in the book as her scribe while she told me what she wanted me to put. Eventually she’d pop into her bedroom and scribble something angry and then leave it but I was finding that she wasn’t really using it to her advantage and I didn’t want to force her and feed into her anxiety and frustration. I needed a log of her moods, behaviour, anxiety and frustration without prompting her – yes I got all that from her coming to me everyday but that was what I heard, no one else hears it or sees it other that my husband and son.

So, I now keep my own log on various behavioural issues and to try to help her, I read on Science Daily about Blogging may help teens dealing with social distress, I created a blog for her, with her, that she logs into and types up her thoughts, hopes or days events whether they are good, happy, sad..etc.  It helps her feel a little more grown up being able to do what others do, it allows her to interact with the world with positive feedback and comments (although we are yet to build up a following) and she has had a few likes to her posts which are good. Nothing gets posted without my approval and no comments are read unless they have been checked by me first.

I think she is slowly starting to get the hang of it, to use it more and its also helping with her creative writing.

Stupid Stickers

28 November 2011

I gave our daughter a packet of stickers for being good this morning. She went downstairs to open them but came back up five minutes later saying she was stupid and couldn’t do anything.

‘Stupid’ is a banned word in our house, I was always referred to by my father as a ‘stupid child’ but not so much in a horrible way just if I said something weird or just not right. I don’t think it gave me a complex but its a saying I remember very well so refuse to have it used with my family and they were told to use the word ‘silly’ instead, to me that has more meaning and doesn’t knock confidence (at least that was the idea!).

When I asked her ‘why?’ she said she’d ripped the stickers when opening the packet. To calm and prevent any further reaction I gave her another pack, helping to ease the situation.

Since the date of this note in my log book, she has ripped many stickers when opening the packets. These were Moshi Monster stickers (I say were, because three months on from this date and we have finished our stocks) and within a pack you get an extra sticker that is a larger size to the rest of them. She was having difficulty opening the packet carefully so as not to tear into that extra-large one. We believe she has a form of hand-eye coördination issue but this is still to be reviewed further via the NHS Occupational Therapist – when that will be?!?

Bursting with Frustration

28 November 2011

Our daughter had to revise her spellings as both children do every week, and like me, to remember them we verbally read them and test as we’re going along. When I was told as a child to go away and revise, that never worked, I need to discuss what I’m learning to be able to remember it so I make sure both children are never told to ‘just go and revise’!

One of the words she had to spell was ‘protected’ and upon telling me how to spell it, she completely mixed up the letters – ‘proceted’. I gave her one of my looks which usually means ‘are you sure’ and she said ‘procteded’. I tried to get her to slow down and sound out the word as I knew she could spell it, she started to get agitated very quickly without even attempting to try to listen, shouting at me and repeating the spelling over and over and over. She then stormed off shouting out that she knew how to spell it!

I’ve learnt over the last year that her over reaction to anything is something that we have to ignore and not react to ourselves, I’ve tried many forms of behaviour management and this works. So I left her to go downstairs and waited for her to calm down and come back on her own accord. Five minutes later and she came back giving the same incorrect spelling so we moved on and she did the same on another word. She was starting to get frustrated and I managed to speak softly and calm her down; this is another thing I’ve had to learn to make sure I don’t impact on her meltdowns.

She slowed down and we established that in her head she was spelling it right but when she was saying it, it kept coming out wrong which was causing such frustration. At this point there was nothing else I could say that she was going to listen to and she started to get upset, angry and stamping her feet.

These reactions are becoming more and more regular as she gets older, with more intensity and closer spurts. The stamps are like little on the spot stamps with flapping hands and arm movements that I have great difficulty in explaining to people, occasionally they also include her pulling at her fingers/hands as if trying to get rid of invisible items on her! If she is on the floor, instead of stamping they are leg flicks where she will either kick out or scrape her feet back and forth across the floor pushing her legs out and back in. Sometimes I can cuddle her to help calm and ground her, although this has only been in the last month or so and we have to ask first or it makes her worse.

Its makes me sad – when you don’t know the main cause of your childs issues its harder to understand their reactions. I understand her in the sense of sensory overload, anxiety frustration but without a diagnosis whether ASD, Social Anxiety, Sensory Processing Disorder, OCD… etc… you hang there in limbo not able to fully appreciate their discomfort.

My thoughts & emotions

A while back now, I created a post on the short-lived diary I was keeping on our son. While clearing away some bits today I found the notepad I started to write in and it has a little more detail on my feelings and emotions at that time.

Here are my thoughts from one day back in January: –

11th January 2011
Note to self – Try to learn about ways to interact and manage one child while learning therapies and behavioural routines for the other. Reading books on Autism, communications, behavioural concerns, meltdowns etc.  I have until end of January to complete all before commencing on the 4-5 year gruelling degree.

Study material for intro course one (of many) already received.  Generous help offered by Mrs T, but as much as I want to accept and greatly appreciate it, I don’t know how to approach and ask! Besides once I get to July and the residential part of my course, our son will be on his way up to the Juniors. I suppose I can expect further teacher stresses and strains, lack of experienced teachers in special needs.

Our son has started his football after school (at school) – he wet himself!

Not sure what stresses me more:
– the need to leave my current job, yet being stuck financially.
– trying to work out our son and increase my knowledge about his condition.
– my job work load.
– commencing my course
– not knowing and understanding the sporadic uncertain behaviour of our daughter
– or maybe all of it?!
I suppose you can add the strains from a spouse who suffers from depression – the needs and wants of everyone.

My head is full of air, yet at times it feels like sand – a dead weight. In need of someone to confide and just unload even if twaddle, without feeling guilty.

One day the head will explode with the greatest amount of emotion. The flood barriers will drop and the heart will ache, vibrating with an immense wave of loneliness, sadness, self-pity… until that time I will continue to fight my emotions, stresses, daily strains and load. I’ll keep pushing forward to provide a balanced life for my children.

A diary of a little boys Autism

In January, following various issues at school with our son, I decided to keep a little diary on his behaviour.

13th January 2011
A relatively slow day, but enough about me.
Tuesday Mrs T pulled him in at break time because he looked too cold. He’s been a little more grumpy this week with tummy aches and general feeling of unwell. Tuesday evening he managed to go to the toilet (eventually, after a few doses of lactulose) but on Wednesday complained again of feeling tired. Mrs T wasn’t sure if this was due to the day before?
I wrote a note to Mrs T saying it could be a number of things including the change in daily activities and to allow a week or two to settle back in and we’ll check in a week or so.
This morning however was a slow one for our son, he felt tired, tummy ache, etc. which could be a sign of overload? He managed to pick-up a little and was okay in school; Mrs T said he hadn’t mentioned his tummy.  However, on the way home he got a little aggressive when I had to stop him to allow others past! At home, he went straight upstairs to changed and played with his cars for a while but popped back down in his t-shirt and shorts (a good thing – he got changed without too much prompting) He then had a long crying spell because he wanted to use his sisters Jujitsu cards and the codes. Obviously she refused which he didn’t like. This outburst, while not uncommon, isn’t a usual aspect of his personality. I managed to calm him and allowed him time to watch Lego on my iPod touch. For the rest of the evening, things were fairly okay.

14th January 2011
He was good this morning. He brushed his teeth with minimal shouting, got dressed by himself and went into breakfast club fairly easily compared to late. When I picked him up from school Mrs T said he’d had a slow day, not great at all. She asked him about the SEN class, he said it was boring – so not as much academic stimulation for him? Yet we find the Mrs Ts class has too much stimulation for him. To think and read for ideas. Touchy, feely…

15th January 2011
A good day – He lost his temper with his sister and the Wii this morning but managed to calm him down. They went on the laptop together to play for a while and in the evening we played Top Trumps before dinner. He went straight to bed at 20:40 (when we said) after they’d been watching the school play in her room.

16th January 2011
Generally okay, a little cuddly throughout the day. Ate breakfast, lunch and dinner – played upstairs and down. Went to bed without problems but turned foot end, snuggling into all his teddies!

17th January 2011
NOT opened bowels yet since Sat morning. Not too bad this morning, a little tired, but not too many arguments considering. Walked to the Dentist from car park, but on the way back was a little drag on the arm! He ate dinner, went to bed okay, although turned foot end again to snuggle into Treelo.
Toast, Packed lunch, Chicken Goujon, salad and potatoes.

18th January 2011
He wasn’t tired this morning; brushed his teeth okay with his Club Penguin cards held back until done but then it all went downhill. Screamed when I used the deodorant, kept flopping on the bed and diverting attention away from what was required. He had football after school, so no collection until 16:15, BUT he got dressed on time).
Persuaded, whilst going along, to complete 5 of 8 from his maths homework, plus reading. We clapped hands and hands to table to spring him into action… worked a little. He was then allowed to play his one week day Wii session (we’ve limited it for a while), then had dinner and bed. He kept getting up, but eventually slept. I checked him about 22:00, a little teeth grinding was going on
Breakfast, Packed lunch incl. smoothie, Couscous, salmon and potatoes – yum.

19th January 2011
tbc…