I wanted to pop in and give folks a follow-up on the Meeting. This was not an IEP meeting, but one to discuss "discipline." And I have a few important things to say about it.
For one, I am totally and completely grateful for the people who work directly with Joey, or as I prefer to call it TeamJoey. We only as the New Autism Person, the WonderPara, and Dr. Awesome (the vice-principal) from TeamJoey at this meeting, but we also had the other vice-principal and the principal at this one, because it was a discipline hearing. Also, I took my friend, who is acting as Joey's advocate (and is doing a FANTASTIC job keeping things moving when all I want to do is scream and sob wildly, and who knows what questions to ask), SuperDude. And the best thing I can say for all of these people is the highest praise I have:
They all love Joey.
So that's a good place to start. The problem is they have no idea how to help him. I came out of the meeting much happier with New Autism Person, because I felt there were lots of ideas coming from that quarter this time, and that they were definitely against this being a discipline issue. Its a disability issue, not a discipline issue. But I think I've already discussed that, right?
Finding that professionals do not know what to do in their professional capacity, however, is something I always find disturbing. Yes, they asked questions. So did we. The principal was accommodating, but a bit on the boast-side of being so, since I had specifically met with them before the year started about this exact very possible problem, and was told everything would be oh-so-fine. And I did get to look them in the eye and say, "you know, at home, every time Joey has a meltdown, I did something wrong. Every. Time." Because you know what? You don't punish someone else when you make a mistake. And Joey is the child. I am the adult. Doing the right things to de-escalate and support him is my job. Not his.
Teaching him to self-regulate and cope, so that when he is an adult and it does become his job he can do what is needful, is also key. It's also in his IEP. Punishing a child for failing at a lesson before he's been taught it is also wrong.
This is why using positive, proactive strategies is so critical. Try not to have the meltdown in the first place. If it starts, be ready. Try to counter-act, but be ready in case it spirals to a Level 10. KNow what to do to keep everyone safe.
This is what I am asking for. Don't suspend him. Teach him.
Now, we move on to another IEP (we already have the FBA underway). So I am putting together a Manual of Joey, to do some JoeyTraining, since what I've done so far has been... not ignored, but not taken to heart, either.
I'm a teacher, after all. I can do this.