Words of Wisdom

Youth is wasted on the young.

Monday, 26 September 2011

Kid Wrangling:The Week From Hell

Monday's focus was: 'crash tackling the teacher'. Apparently he does this because he loves and and wants to keep her for himself. The nett result however is a terrified teacher, a traumatised class and an angry frustrated little boy.

Tuesday: two letters of complaint, more crash tackling and some intervention attempts which were moderately successful but required my full attention, talking the teacher through her responses. A crisis phone call to the funding authority and specialist consultants. Lots of paperwork for me, tracking events and making an 'escalation and response' timeline.

Wednesday: He doesn't come to school. A two hour 'crisis' meeting and a discovery that the funding we believed we had been given was actually about a third of the requested amount! Phone calls to arrange a meeting with mum. Mum too busy to attend. Breaking the news about the funding over the phone. Mum hanging up. Grandma phoning back to berate me. Mediation and explanation.

Thursday: Meeting with the other parents who , rightly, wanted to know what we were going to do to deal with the traumatised children who had been witnessing the aggression. Work on that problem. Mum agreeing to come in for a meeting after all. Dealing with Slugger and keeping him away from the other kids mostly. Writing an action plan.

Friday: BIG meeting with Mum and her advocate. Good meeting. Consultants in working with Slugger. Some success. Kicking at the classroom door. Slugger running his own agenda again. Break for holidays and the knowledge that we are really not equipped to deal with this young man's issues but that we have to try and we have to provide support for all the others at the same time.


What To Wear When You Realise The Party Is 70s Fancy Dress At 6.45pm.

It's amazing what one finds in one's wardrobe.

Although, to be fair, they weren't actually in my wardrobe, more in my dressing up bag...

That shirt has an interesting story though. My dad bought it for my Mum in China. Yes....I know. She was going to send it to the Op Shop but I rescued it for my collection. I mean, it's just too deliciously awful to throw out! Her comment at the time was "What in the world made you think I would EVER wear a shirt like that!" Dad looked mournful, "And I made the lady in the shop climb up a ladder to get it because it was the last one left on a model right up on the top shelf!"

One does wonder what was going through his mind at the time, however, I think I may have solved the problem. A careful look at the front placket will reveal three, what appear to be, soccer balls! And my Dad has always loved his football....... Happy Birthday Dad! I will always think of you when wearing this shirt :-D

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Messing About With Boats

Because, if you've got a new boat and it isn't sailing season yet, you have to make sure it all works!

Monday, 19 September 2011

Knee Deep in Chaos

I suppose I must be seeing other children. I am certainly turning up to the classes. I think I'm teaching some of them. My brain however, is totally on...let's call him Slugger! I'm sorry but you have to laugh, otherwise you'd cry...

The day of the observation by 'The Funding Authority' saw Slugger giving a sensational performance. He shouted at everyone, ran up and down the corridor, crash tackled the teacher and eventually had to be taken home by his mother. We got the funding.

The following day he doesn't usually come in so we had a reprieve. The next day he had a headache and so it wasn't until Friday that we got him back. I sauntered down to the classroom mid morning to see how it was going and found his Minder sitting on a chair near the door. He seemed to be sitting in the midst of an up-turned box of toys.
"So, how's it going Minder?" I enquired cheerfully. He turned a long suffering face towards me and replied," He's in the corridor behind you...."

In one of those scenes from a movie, I withdrew my head from the classroom and looked up and down the corridor.
"Errrrrrrrrrrrrr, no, I'm afraid he's not...."

Therein ensued a mild panic until Minder located him, downstairs, playing nicely in the sandpit.

I stood upstairs watching out of a window as he busily dug and built sandcastles. His Minder stood under the shade of the verandah nearby and nothing seemed to intrude on his little world.

What do you do with that?

What do you do with a 5 year old who has his own agenda and will give no quarter in its following. He was as happy as a sandboy (pardon the pun) in that sandpit.

I watched him for a while and noticed that he began to look around. Finding his Minder unresponsive (we have agreed not to make the 'out of the classroom' time too much 'fun') and seeing a year 12 student studying in the sunshine nearby, he started digging in a more and more aggressive manner, turfing the spadefuls of sand over his shoulder in a spectacular arc. I watched to see if it was a one off and whether he would stop but the arcs kept coming and their dimensions were growing. Finding my Flaming Sword suddenly in my hand (I think it is related to the Sword of Gryffindor ie it appears when it is needed) I marched downstairs and silently but purposefully took the spade and bucket away from him.
"HEY!" he bellowed, in his gravelly little voice," GIVE ME THAT BACK."
I stood my ground and eyeballed him.
"No, I'm not giving it back to you, because you weren't playing with it properly. You don't throw the sand out of the sandpit like that." As I strode away I heard him start to wail and felt the handfuls of sand he was pitching at me, brush the back of my shirt. I made my way over to his Minder under the verandah and consulted with him.
"I'm not putting up with that," I said, "that was quite deliberate."
His Minder looked uncertain. The howls of anger echoed around the playground as Slugger lay prostrate in the sandpit drumming his feet and hands.

We continued to talk quietly about our next move, all the while watching him out of the corner of our eyes. He quieted. He sat up and looked across at me accusingly. I glanced back.
"STOP LOOKING AT ME!" he bellowed.
"Stop looking at ME." I retorted, somewhat peevishly.
He sat for a little longer and then got up and walked to the box of sand toys, giving the Minder and I a large berth as he did so. He helped himself to another bucket and spade and made his way back to the sandpit, watching all the time to see how we would react.
"Let's just see what he does," I suggested.
He climbed into the sand pit and began digging again. Sensibly. Occasionally he looked up and glowered at me. I flicked him the thumb up sign.

After awhile I wandered over, ostensibly to speak to the Year 12 studying nearby. He glanced up at me again and I smiled at him.
"Well, done, you're playing really nicely now."
A brief shadow passed over his face and then....he smiled at me.

The Minder and I decided that after his 'very bad day' with the observer from the Funding Authority, we would let him have a chill out day where he could do a few calming things and get himself back on an even keel. The danger of course was that he would think this was the norm and this has proved to be a real fear. On Monday he spent most of the day taking his Minder on walks around the school. He fronted up in my room more than once and nagged the Minder into playing football with him on the tennis courts. No work was done.

On Tuesday, it was more of the same, culminating in an outburst where he thumped another child quite soundly and had to be sent home. Tonight I am writing 'social stories' about the consequences of thumping someone and ways in which we can resolve conflict without punching someone.

Wish us luck....

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Who Needs the Gym? *pant pant*

I have been 'kid wrangling' again recently. Our new Mid Year reception class has another autistic boy on board. We were kind of unprepared for this one as his diagnosis came through during the holidays just before he started. Previously we had been told by an assessment team at the local General hospital that he was definitely NOT autistic. Now we have an Ed Psych report and a speech therapist's report which say he is! Whether he is or isn't ...his behaviour is keeping us on our toes.

He started 'running away' in week 2 although we quickly realised that he wanted us to chase him. Now we all ignore him when the bell goes and he doesn't come to line up. We've employed a lovely young man as his 'minder' and he sort of lurks around and shepherds him up the stairs. Once you're behind him he runs in the opposite direction, which is kind of where you want him to go :-D

Sometimes he doesn't want to be in the classroom so he kicks at the door and roars 'Get me outta this place' in his funny little deep and throaty voice. If there are any children, or adults around he has no compunction about kicking them too. Last week he punched me in the nose! (that will teach me to get down to his level! :-D) Not hard fortunately, but enough for me to tell him 'I didn't LIKE that' and put on my angry eyes!

Last Thursday was a concert in the Performing Arts Centre....an area of the school he hasn't been to before. We decided that without preparation, it was probably not a good idea for him to go with the class and were prepared to divert him to another activity but unfortunately he twigged that the class was going somewhere and he wanted to come to!!! I was busy wrangling another young man who has been following the lead of the autistic boy and throwing himself on the floor when he doesn't get his own way, so I remained in the classroom, ignoring the screaming and crying coming from the beanbags in the corner until the pile of cushions had quieted to a shuddering sniffle. A bit of TLC and a quick look at the drawings around the classroom and cushion boy was ready to go to the concert; unfortunately, the other lad had already made his way back to the classroom with his minder in tow. Apparently he had decided that he wasn't sitting in that big place without his 'shark books' to protect him. We all headed back together.

Once back in the performance space, he sat himself on the floor right at the front and spread his books around him. After a few moments he became interested in the choir in front of him, so he got up to take a look. He walked across the stage area, eyeballing everyone and everything, completely unaware that he was the centre of attention. The whole scene could have been a static display at the museum as far as he was concerned. Afterwards he collected up his shark books and proceeded to tramp up and down the stairs trying out all the spare seats in the suditorium...it was moderately amusing when we weren't trying to do anything about it (ie trying to herd him into one spot, stop him running out the door, collect him from the backstage area, follow him up and down the stairs to ensure he was safe....). Of course it was very distracting for all concerned, especially when he covered his ears and called out 'This is going to be LOUD!!' when the music started....he has sensory issues....

Eventually we got him out with suggestions that he might like to play on the playground, but he was back as soon as he realised no one else was coming; then the whole performance repeated itself. The Principal, who was in attendance at the concert, rolled his eyes at me as we left and said "That was very enlightening!". I guess he realises what we are trying to deal with now.

We had been funding the special 'minder' from a Government grant given to the family until the Government told us it wasn't for use in schools (grrrrr). Today we have an observer from the funding body coming in to observe him to see if they will give us some emergency funding to keep the 'minder' in place. We intend to take the minder out of the classroom and let the observer see what the teacher has to deal with. The teacher is terrified. I'll let you know how it goes.....

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Take THAT! And THAT!!

I am entering a new phase in the Flaming Sword stakes. The sword is getting heavy and seems to be burning my hand.

So I put this to you. Are these unreasonable parries?

1) I am uncomfortable with unsupervised (that's right...you heard me) sleepovers where boys (and probably alcohol) will be present.

2) Boyfriends do not need to visit on week nights (and no, I don't think he was helping her study).

3) On the majority of school nights it is advisable to come straight home through town without stopping for a 2 hour tryst with boyfriend in the Botanical Gardens, rendering arrival home at circa 7pm and in the dark!

4) Boyfriends, whilst welcome to visit on Friday-Sat nights, do not need to be entertained in the bedroom. There are two large living areas and the adults are usually in their study.

What do you think? Should I be 'chillin' the sword' at 16 years and 4 months?