I haven’t written too much about this school year. I am as happy as a clam at my new school, and as I’ve mentioned before, so relieved to no longer be part of the angst and drama of previous years. This year’s class is darling. Individually, they are a nice bunch of kids. As a class, they are a bit more challenging. I’ve got several behavior concerns that wreak havoc on the dynamic of the entire group most of the day. If it’s not one, it’s another. They keep me on my toes, and most days I drag myself back to my classroom after dismissal and curl up in the fetal position for awhile.
I have two autistic children in my room this year – a boy and a girl. Both are very nice kids, bright, and fairly well behaved. The boy, I’ll call him E, has so much knowledge for a seven year old and reads like a whiz. For the most part, he is a pleasure to have in class. However, every-so-often when things don’t go the way he’s expecting – whether that be getting an answer wrong, changing the schedule abruptly, and more recently working on an assignment that’s not quite as easy as previously he thought or facing a consequence for poor behavior – E has a very loud, screaming, crying meltdown. During these meltdowns, we’d have conversations about why. He’d cry and tell me that he didn’t like getting things wrong or he’d push me and tell me he didn’t like when I marked an answer wrong on his test. He’d shake and scream, the entire time telling me he could not, under any circumstances, stop.
The first meltdown of the year, threw me for a loop on the third day of school. But I got him under control in the back of the classroom while the rest of the class rolled their eyes and covered their ears letting me know they remembered this happening in first grade. Each subsequent meltdown, gave me another mental note about how to handle new situations with him.
In the beginning of the year, he had a special spot where he could sit and “cry it out”. He’d go there willingly, but as his frustration with the regular classroom increased, the special spot meant nothing. He’d refuse to move or leave the room. During the last couple of meltdowns, E had to be physically picked up and removed from the class.
As that behavior escalated, my principal started the process of qualifying him for the aut class at another school in our district. The class is much smaller in size and not the standard “test heavy, we all move at the same pace” classroom. The principal, psychologist, aut teacher, and his mother all agreed, the new class was the best place. After winter break, the pieces started falling into place, and I received an email today that his last day will most likely be Friday.
After reading the email, I was saddened, to the point of tears. I know, full well, that the new class is the best place for him. Not having to walk on pins and needles worrying about a meltdown (sending the rest of the class into a downward spiral) will be such a relief. But I’m still very sad that he’s leaving us. His off days have been ROUGH, but they ranged from about once a week to once a month. Never once, even while carrying him out the door kicking and screaming, did I want him to leave. And the rest of the time he is so pleasant to have in the room. I will miss that.