Meltdowns not being managed at school

Tiffany - posted on 03/20/2013 ( 10 moms have responded )

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Hi my son is 7 and in first grade. Recently he was suspended from school because of a meltdown. Usually they send home a referral and he loses recess. I was very upset because aggressive meltdowns are part of who he is and how he communicates. Does anyone have any advice on what I should do ?

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Karin - posted on 04/09/2013

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OMG I don't know where to start!

For starters...he NEEDS that recess to let off steam so the last thing they should be doing to "punish" him is take that away!!!!

Next- it is against the law to punish kids for manifestations of their disability! He needs behavioral intervention, not punishment! Autism cannot be punished away- it teaches nothing and frankly it's mean. He can NOT be suspended for this- they should be giving him an FBA (Functional Behavioral Assessment) by a trained autism behavior specialist (BCBA) to determine the cause of his meltdowns, and then a behavioral plan needs to be worked out for him that does NOT include punishment of any sort, including suspension!! He needs to be taught how to communicate appropriately in some way, and punishment isn't teaching!

If your school district doesn't have a trained behavior specialist, then they will have to pay for an IEE (independent evaluation that you are entitled to at public expense) to have one done for him. "Independent" does NOT mean the school district picks the specialist- you pick the specialist!!! Then he will need a behavior plan written up and followed.

Melanie - posted on 03/20/2013

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Hello. I don't have any advice in particular but I will share my experience, hopefully it helps. Every child is different. (I apologize for the long read.)
I also have a 7 yr. old with ASD. He has been attending regular classes and is in 2nd grade now. Your son's school sounds rather strict. My son has a meltdown at least once a week. There's usually something that triggers it. (Either he's unable to do something perfectly, the period ends but he isn't done with his current work, or a classmate touches him, etc.)
In first grade, his teacher would send him home. But because he started to miss too many classes, she tried a different approach. She would have him sit in the back of class to take a break. When he's ready, he returns to his seat. He started to speak last year but his comprehension is still pretty weak.
In his current class, his teacher would use a "guilt trip" tactic, asking him how old he is. It doesn't always work but he does calm down a bit. It's hard to reason with him during a meltdown.
It's also difficult for him to distinguish right from wrong. I find it harder to correct his behavior now that he's older. He needs extra time to do things, some guidance, and lots of patience.
He gets frustrated easily. Sometimes I feel like I'll be having a meltdown myself. But you know, don't give up and don't give in. They're counting on us whether they realize it or not. Stay strong.

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Brenda - posted on 09/09/2014

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I found this post googling for meltdowns at school. i have a hard time understanding how my school system does not know how to deal with my son's meltdowns. he's in kindergarten. just now the school called, telling me that if he cannot "regroup" he will have to come home. that really is not sending the right message to my son. "act up and you get a day off." I'm beyond frustrated. he is not like this at home, bc i know his triggers and cut off meltdowns before they start. just so frustrated with the education system right now.

Tiffany - posted on 04/16/2013

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I live in CA. Specifically San Diego county. I spoke with an advocate yesterday and she wants to help but her rate is 180 an hour. She does pro bono cases but there is a long wait list for it.

Karin - posted on 04/16/2013

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A parent advocate is a great idea- what state are you in? I'm in PA so I know the organizations here that have free advocates, but I can check around and see if I can find an organization in your state (when you tell me where you live!)

Tiffany - posted on 04/16/2013

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Thanks again Karin. I will definitely do those things. I want to try and see about getting an advocate for my son before we go to the meetings but since I don't work I can't afford their rates. Any ideas on how I can get a free one ? Thus far you have been very helpful and I greatly appreciate it.

Karin - posted on 04/16/2013

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Tiffany, I know this is stressful. They need to do a Functional Behavioral Assessment to determine what exactly is causing him to have these meltdowns- there is a cause down there somewhere! Is someting bothering him, like a sensory issue? Does he need help w/ communication?? This needs to be done by an experienced behavorist, like a BCBA. If your school district doesn't have one in-house then they will need to bring in one from outside. Then after that is done, they will need to create a behavior plan for him and the BCBA needs to do this!!!!! This is not about punishment...this is about teaching him the expected way to do things and express thoughts and concerns (rather than meltdowns and throwing things) and POSITIVE behavioral reinforcement is used. Not punishment. His teachers, aides, and whoever else works with him will need to be trained to support this behavior plan appropriately :-) Hang in there!!

Tiffany - posted on 04/09/2013

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Thank you Karin. I will definitely look into that. I may need to schedule a meeting at his school. Just yesterday he had a meltdown and destroyed the classroom. They had to take all the kids out. I'm at a loss and don't know what to do.

Michelle - posted on 04/01/2013

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I am a single mom to 2 beautiful boys, who are 11 & 6!! I also work full-time!! My 11 year old plays every sport that there is at the YMCA so I'm a sports mom also lol. I also have no kind of family/friend support. My only break that I get is when I go to work!! Ok so here is where I need some advice PLEASE. My 6 year old son (soon to be 7) has autistic characteristics but has never been completely diagnosed with anything. He is none verbal and can't dress his self or even potty trained. He can eat by his self if its finger foods. For the past month or so he's been fighting me at bath time and I've tried everything but nothing has helped!! :(:( he doesn't understand commands or anything but he's getting a little better. Now baseball season is here and I have no clue how I'm gonna be able to keep him contained during games and practices because I can't just let him down for him to play like the other kids. He will run off and he doesn't understand if he runs in the road he will be hit etc etc. SOMEONE PLEASE HELP!!

Tiffany - posted on 03/20/2013

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Thanks. I will keep that in mind. I forgot to mention that my son is in a special day class at school. There are only eleven children in his class with a mixture of first through third graders. He is the only first grader. He has had plenty of meltdowns at school. Some worse than others but now all of a sudden they suspended him. I came upon this website when I was searching for information on ASD and aggression. I've been looking for something like this for a long time

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