Wednesday, May 12, 2010

They don't get....




Thanks to early detection and early intervention, many of our special needs children are going to school everyday with almost invisible disabilities. Deaf kids talk, blind children use the computers, kids with autism can sit (and tolerate) much of the classroom activities...
So when a child with these almost invisible disabilities misbehaves, how is it handled? Here in Alabama, in most schools it is legal to paddle children. I found out the hard way when my son thumped food in the lunchroom a couple of years ago and got paddled for it along with another child. Right then I knew I wanted to protect my children...

At school, we push for our special needs children to be treated no different (with respect to their individual disability or disabilities), but then occasionally when they are treated no different, we get upset, mad, pull out that invisible "special needs card" we carry in our hearts and flash it before their eyes. We want them to briefly see what we see. They don't get the child who comes home everyday, putting stickers behind her dolls' ears because they are all deaf like her and wear hearing aids. They don't get the child who knocks 'goodnight' on the bedroom wall because brother can feel it, but not hear it. They don't get the child that needs you to flip the lights on/off in order to say 'hurry up and get out of the shower!' because they can't hear your urgent voice. They don't get the child who worries how she's gonna hear her unborn babies cry at night....they don't get that. They get the child who walks thru the door, smiles and says good morning, who makes 100's on all her spelling tests, who can raise her hand and ask "May I go to the restroom?"...your average child...who happens to have an IEP that states they are special needs.

I feel like some things kinda build up, like a kid not listening, not following directions, etc. and then when the teacher's had enough, it could warrant a paddling. However, the unseen for us, is the not listening, not following directions, 'disruptive' behavior when they are divided in groups, all could be hearing loss, not behavior. I want to ask all the right questions prior to my child getting popped like, "Did you ask him/her to repeat the instructions so you know he/she actually heard them? Is your mic working, did you do a listening check like we showed you?" or even when a class is divided into small groups so the teacher can do reading at the varying levels of her class, "Did you turn your mic off before you sent him away from your group so he can actually follow the other group activity w/out your voice reading a different story to a different group directly in his ear?"

I took appropriate precautions and added this to his future IEPs (Individualized Education Plan). My severe mistake, was not double checking to make sure I had added it to my daughter's also. Once again, I have a child paddled, without prior phone call, who is special needs. The short note stated she had touched 2 girls while she waited to use the restroom and blew paper at the lunch table and she got in trouble in small groups. Well, obviously the lunchroom paper does not warrant a paddling so I swipe that right off the list. Small groups; I need more detail...what exactly happened, did you have the mic on...give me more!  Restroom, she swears she didn't touch those girls' hands as she was accused of (??) ... and also Brook states that she didn't even see the principal (don't we go to the principal first?). She hasn't been sent to the Principal's office (to my knowledge) since the beginning of the school year. She had not even received a check mark for conduct in a couple of weeks! She's no angel, I'm fully aware, we have worked really hard and even the principal had bragged to me (a while back) how proud she was of B's improvement! My fatal error is not having had this preferred punishment process listed in her IEP! I find out when I get home last night after meeting w/Children's Hosp. all day on this PEEPs advocacy training!! No phone call. I'm disappointed. But my intention in putting this up is for all you who are in the process of IEP meetings to BE SURE you find out what your school's policy is on punishment and decide what is suitable for your family. Our special children can seem average in most every way, but they come with papers...

...papers that you sign. I'm sad, Brook's sad, I have to straighten it out, amending the new IEP for next year has already been set up. I will not receive the Mom of the Year Award because I got too comfortable, I didn't double check myself, and all I wanted was a phone call. I intend on speaking in more detail to her teacher tomorrow, asking the questions I wanted to ask PRIOR  to a paddling.

6 comments:

leah said...

Wow. I would be pretty upset- especially since her "offenses" are not really big things. Touching two girls' hands? Why is that "bad?" Especially if she was trying to get their attention or something of that nature (and especially if the other girls were trying to get B in trouble- you never really know what happened). Blowing a paper at the lunch table certainly doesn't seem like a behavior deserving of spanking. And I wonder what the issue in the small groups was?

I would want each "problem" written down with the specifics...

Hearing is invisible and people don't get how much it can affect a little one (especially in a noisy situation). Nolan gets very clingy an uncooperative in noise, and can't localize sound well. People who aren't "in the know" have no idea how much hearing can affect behavior!

lbre969903 said...

My heart is breaking for you Val.. I can tell in your writing how upset you are with yourself! I want to personally thank you tho for writing this b/c E's CC is coming up in a couple of days and this is something I plan on asking. I know they can't paddle and our current school personal are great but what if we get someone new? So thank you so much for this and I sure hope and pray you get this figured and this becomes a distant memory for B...

Anonymous said...

This affect children of deaf adults too. if their deaf parents are not signing parents, They tend to touch people, repeat themselves until you look at them and made sure you understood them, talk loud, and sometimes act like their parents. They are very visual learners. My son got in trouble in school because of that. Teachers get very annoyed.

They can't help it, That's how they were raised. It's too bad that some teachers can't adjust to that.

Anonymous said...

btw, I think paddling really should be left to the parents. The school have no rights, really.

MB said...

I would flip my lid if a school paddled my child, special needs or not. Don't they realize this is why people accuse Southerners of being backwards? Paddling isn't helping matters!

Val said...

I especially think, special needs or not, that ALL parents would have expected a phone call.......I'm confused on how you can paddle a child, a kindergartener at that, w/out a phone call or even a trip to the principal's office......really scary!