And so happy that it’s Friday.
So after my cryptic post yesterday, today was better. I still feel completely empty and drained of all emotion and energy but it’s Friday.
As some of you know, the nature of my job is very draining. I work at a school for students with exceptionalities with a high focus on students with Autism. Not all my students have an ASD diagnosis but about 80% of my small class does. My class is currently 8 students, 6 who come in the morning and 7 in the afternoon. 3 of the 8 are only half day.
In November, we gained our 8th student. And I have written about that student before.
Since the holidays have ended, their behaviour has become more intense, more destructive, and now violent. This student had made so much progress before the holidays! It was so amazing to see! We don’t know what happened over the break, but now instead of just not listening and a little bit of OCD and defiance (which was massively improved!) there are outbursts literally every day.
It started as just crying. Literally crying over everything. Now it’s eloping again. Even to just the corner. But if it’s more than 5 metres from an adult without permission, it is eloping. And new behaviours are emerging like biting. And classroom destruction. And “gaslighting” the adults in the class afterwards, acting like nothing just happened. It turns on and off like a switch. There are manipulative behaviours coming out. Like bating an adult with their eyes, daring them to even try to correct the behaviour. This happened to me today as a first and I was shocked that it was coming from the student. Or laughing after their destruction and saying “oh this is fun” and then playing shy and coy and asking if you “still love me after I destroyed your classroom”
With the increase in violence comes an increase in their behavioural safety plan. They have a new senior therapist and now CPI holds are being put in. We are getting direction that we can remove the student from the class, and a properly trained adult is allowed to restrain the child until they are calm. Today that happened, and the child was kicking the adult and said “oh you’ve made a mistake” as they kicked. Yesterday was the first day they were restrained and they had to be restrained twice. In one day. Their dismissal from the school was traumatic for the therapist who had to take over from the EA and bring the child out to their mother. For someone who has been trained to work with children who have violent tendencies to say they were acting out of survival mode at the moment was a lot to handle and process.
So today, things were set in motion to get new evaluations started and a better program for this child. At this point, they are saying that it is more psychological than behavioural but we won’t know until these evaluations are completed. What was said today was that the child can not stay in my class with such violent actions. So thankfully that is happening. Because it was a lot this week. We had 6 violent tantrums in 5 days where we needed the assistance of a senior therapist. On top of that, we have had countless other behaviours that did not need assistance from someone more trained than the adults in the classroom.
And that was just one student. Not to mention the other little darlings who needed my love and attention. Thank God that they are all such sweet children and when the adults had to react to a violent situation, they were able to move quickly to a safe place in the class (we have a 3/4 wall which decides the front and back and creates a safe space) and switch activities to something else altogether. Usually colouring or something easy to keep them happy. I have not been able to finish a full morning of lessons all week.
Then of course other behaviours are brought out in other students when this child is violent in the class. Crying and acting out. An increase in anxiety. A reluctance to come to school (which I would attribute to these incidents) And other students have other behaviours totally unrelated to the outbursts. Both of my mostly non-verbal students had at least one day each where they were inconsolable.
Today, the new student was picked up early. They tantrumed around 11 and because of the trucker rally in Ottawa, their adult picked them up at noon to avoid the traffic since they live downtown. Thankfully the student was easily transitioned into being picked up, after being assured that it wasn’t due to the tantrum earlier. They would be missing at least 3 preferred activities after they left and I was anticipating a full meltdown. The student’s EA also went home at lunch to have a mental health half-day after having to be involved in every single tantrum all week long. As the classroom teacher, my main job is to keep the other students safe and keep teaching if possible. We have trained professionals to come to support when needed. But the EA is the one who stays with the child during any situation. IF they need support they get it.
Then this afternoon one student who has been exhausting this week for unknown reasons wasn’t in class. I had 4 bodies in my class instead of 7. After lunch, their French class was a video day, then a block of yoga. Then recess. We have had indoor recesses all week due to extreme cold weather. Today was nice. So we went out for last recess and just stayed out for the last period. It was a calm and lovely afternoon and we needed it.
We are hoping for a better week next week since there will be meetings with parents and then recommendations and observations and hopefully a safer classroom moving forward.