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.....