9-year old Aspie Daughter w/ SPD won't go to school

by Gigi
(Redwood City, CA, USA)


We are having a problem with our 9-year-old daughter who has Asperger's and SPD. In the fall (of 2011), about 6 weeks after the start of the new school year, she started throwing tantrums in the mornings before school. She is in 3rd grade. For many weeks (about 5) my husband had to drag her, kicking, screaming, scratching, biting, and hitting (that's her doing those things, not my husband!), to school. No reinforcements worked. We tried every reward we could think of. Nothing helped.

Finally, since her self-esteem was going down the tubes as fast as her tactile-defensiveness was skyrocketing out of control, we had her psychologist write a letter excusing her from school for a few months. During the time my husband was dragging her to school, she would not go into the classroom once arriving at school. She would finally go into the school office, and usually it would take 1-2 hours before she would go into the classroom. Another thing to know about my daughter - she is ahead academically, and she is NEVER has any behavior problems in the classroom.

No one knows for sure, but I think that my daughter's behavior is due to her SPD, and that with 30 kids in the classroom, and the increased rigorousness of 3rd grade work over 2nd grade, that she is just not tolerating the classroom environment. I think that she needs sensory breaks built into her day. We are filing for an IEP, but I keep hearing that since she is ahead academically and never has behavior problems, we have a snowball's chance in heck of getting one.

My main question is, what do I ask for in her IEP? People keep telling me to ask for everything she needs, but I don't know what she needs! Along with the sensory breaks, does she need an aide to do those with her? Is that typical? I don't know if she needs anything else.

Any thoughts?

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Feb 15, 2012
Another thought
by: Therapist in DE

As one of many therapist running around in the school system I do agree and this is something you should not be afraid to be is an ADVOCATE for your child.
Many times we count on what you see with your child outside of the school environment. One thing you have to remember is that sometimes a staff member does not understand what it means to have these areas of need and how that affects how your child interacts and progresses in school. Your thinking is they should know, but they do not for several different reasons (this still does not excuse them by any means).

Example: I have a parent who every year sends a document/update to each new teacher her son works with and she sits down with them at the initial teacher meet and greet. It talks about his diagnosis, how this effects his classroom participation, his needs, what accommodations work for him, and also what has worked for him in the past.

Also to address something else, yes sometimes you do have to be aggressive to gain help for your child, but you also have to remember sit down as a team first to go over your concerns and have documentation of what you are seeing going on with your daughter. You are allowed to call parent-school conference to deal with these issues. In many schools they also have IST teams that do just this with everyone, including you, involved. This team should go over your daughter's diagnosis, her current skills, what is needed to help her in the classroom, and what your concerns are for her in the school setting.
This is also the time the team will look at further recommendations (504, IEP...) and how she can get the help that is needed.

As a staff member I often see that we get families who hit the door "running" and we have not had a chance to even address any needs or to understand what is going on.

However, if you have already addressed this with the school, and it sounds as if you have really asked the questions you need to and still there has been the "brush off" you do have to stand in and say I would like to have a team meeting (IST, Team Intervention..) and go over concerns and get the recommendations and follow-up done.
It can get frustrating at times, but get your school to work with you, and if there is not the follow-up that you need, then you go to the next step - Principal, Head of Special Services, Head of Student Services. Your daughter may not qualify as Special Education, but the reach of this department goes in different directions and that is their job to help address the student and families needs.
I hope this helped?!?!?!

Feb 01, 2012
School Challenges
by: Anonymous in VA

I understand your frustration! And I think the first post was good advice. Keep advocating for your child, in a respectful and professional manner, to avoid alienating those teachers and administrators who could be your child's best advocate if they know how to help. You may have to educate them on what SPD is, and how it effects your child. Most teachers we've had have no idea how things effect my son more than other kids, and are very glad to have information on how they can help, even outside an IEP. My son's school has also wanted to avoid an IEP, and that is fine, as long as he is getting the help he needs. BUT there are other options for schools to provide classroom assistance, such as a 504 (permanent disability plan). Our school also has what they call a SAP (student assistance plan). We got that simply by talking to our sons teachers, and describing simple things that would help our son through his day, and they wrote it up! Whatever option you feel you need though, absolutely keep advocating for your child, and get outside evaluation if the school will not provide it. Once you have the formal evaluation, they can not deny that your child needs some form of assistance and will have to grant it. Find an occupational therapist in your area that specializes in SPD to help you and your daughter find out what is causing her problems, and what will help! Once your therapist knows your childs challenges, they will be able to suggest therapy and solutions that can be helpful at school.

Please go talk to your child's teacher from that first 6 weeks, and last year! If she made it through the first 6 weeks, ask the teacher what maybe changed at that time, or did it just gradually get worse? Did the teacher notice any particular triggers during the day, or activities that she did not want to participate in? Did she have trouble with another child? Or maybe that particular teacher was just not a good fit and she'd do better with another teacher (hopefully who is familiar with SPD)? My son, even at 12, is often not able to identify exactly what is causing him trouble much of the time, it will fall to you to do the "sleuthing". Keep a journal at home about your child's challenges AND good days. What are triggers, and through trial and error, what seems to help. The OT should be able to help with this too.
Hope that helps some...best wishes!

Jan 30, 2012
by: Kathy and Ed

I'm not sure what state your in but in Pa. you have to be a pain in the school districts butt. There are alot of child advocates willing to give you advice on the internet. Google what your looking for for your daughter. Force the school to do an evaluation of her needs and if you don't agree with it force them to bring in an outside specialist to do the eval. Our son went through some of what your talking about, bright and way ahead of his peers in classwork, so the school would ignore our requests for anything.We got advice from an advocacy group who told us to fight for what you believe your child needs and you'll see doors open and they did. The principle would cringe when we would show up at the school, even if it were parent teacher nights. Deep down inside you already know what your daughter needs to survive the the rigors of school, you just need to let everyone involved in her education know that your there for her and you won't be pushed aside because they don't want to do anything.

We were passive through grades 1 and 2 but after that everyone knew that they couldn't ignore his needs and they learned to become proactive with us and him as well. you might need to start out with baby steps but those steps will get bigger and easier when they realize your not going away. Good Luck, Kathy and Ed

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