Single Moms Raising Autistic Sons

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Saturday, February 12, 2011

Anxiety, Stuttering, and IEP

Griffin has school today because it is a make up snow day for the day he missed this week and he was surprisingly okay with it and didn't offer any resistance. It is only a half day anyhow so it's not a big deal.

I spoke with Griffin's speech pathologist yesterday while in Griffin's session, he was having a hard time focusing because he was sick so she let him play while we talked about his stuttering, his ritual behaviors, and his IEP. Griffin's teacher had written a note that she was concerned about his stuttering and its frequency and that we would address it at the IEP meeting. Griffin's speech pathologist told me that she thought that his stuttering was in direct correlation with his anxiety levels and that if they were seeing it more in school then she felt that something was going on there to stress him out. And I don't know what's going on because I don't get regular communication from his teacher, that makes me very upset and I have tried to let her know how important it is to me that she communicates to no avail. So I am going to bring it up again when we have the IEP meeting in March but I doubt that it is going to do much good because she is just going to tell me that she doesn't have the time or the opportunity to write to me during the day. I understand that she is busy and has a classroom full of kids to contend with but Griffin has special needs and they have got to be addressed!

The speech path. also said that his ritual behaviors were directly related to his anxiety levels as well which makes sense. He does this thing with his hands where he lays them out flat and touches the palms to the table then turns them over and touches the backside and keeps turning them over touching each side several times and then he is ready to proceed with whatever it is that he is supposed to be doing. I notice it no matter whether he is doing something that he enjoys or whether he is in a hurry to get something done. I need to know if he is doing this sort of thing at school or anything else because we need to figure out what his anxiety levels are. If he is having anxiety at school, and the speech path. is right about it, then I need to know so that we can figure out what to do about decreasing it if they are not doing anything about it already. It seemed to me that his team was And I asked for a parent teacher conference at least a month ago and they still haven't honored my request and that really pisses me off! I had greater confidence in his teacher this year than that because she had been so nice and co-operative in the past. I just called and left a message for her to call me about it.

I am going to talk to his psychologist about this too and see what he thinks about these ritual behaviors because I think that the speech path is right because it makes perfect sense to me that he is stemming or is it stimming? I have forgotten how to spell it because spell check is telling me that stimming is not a word. What a goof ball!!! I thought that it was "stimming" from the word stimulation. So which is it?


Jenuofroc said...

1. It is "stimming" you are right, however since it is a word that kind of got made up by the special needs community, I don't think even the dictionary considers it a real word yet.

2. Time to get your momma bear on. If the teacher isn't communicating enough, go to the principal. Tell the teacher you want to observe class, pick him up in the afternoon at least once a week, or take him to school 15 minutes early once a week. You are much harder to ignore when you are in their faces. :) There are ways around uncommunicative teachers, been there, done that.


Looking for Blue Sky said...

I'm afraid that I know nothing about stuttering, but had to comment to say that I am so impressed that Griffin's school is open today to make up the lost in Ireland we've been told it's not going to happen

Anonymous said...

The correct phrase is gestural stereotypy. Use that and remind your district that this child is on an IEP and you want it written into his IEP that a daily communication log will go back and forth between home and school. I feel for you. The Carolinas are a couple of the worst states in the nation for educating kids on the spectrum. Good luck with them. Historically they are a clueless bunch who violate IDEA regularly.

Lora said...

@Jenuofroc- I will have to try that and see what the results are. Don't know if he will act differently in my presence or not though.

@Blue Sky- In NC they are required to go to school 180 days and that is why they have to make up the snow days. I am glad of it too!

@Anon- I have tried the book back and forth but the teacher said that she didn't get the chance to write in it during the day because Griffin left early for the bus. Now I don't know if she could make time to write in it during some other part of the day or not, that remains to be seen. Griffin went to SC schools and YES, they were horrible to say the least and violated every law IDEA and otherwise that they possibly could, they had my blood boiling. And I have to admit that last year was none too pleasant with co-operation from Griffin's teacher but this year had not been so bad up until this point. Now I am disappointed in them again.

Anonymous said...

That's why you need to get it written into the IEP. That way if the teacher or the 1:1 therapist/aide (not sure what kind of services he is getting) doesn't write in the daily communication log she is in violation of the IEP and you can file a complaint with your DOE or sue them. Forget going to the principal. Isn't there a SPED Director involved? There certainly should be. They are out of compliance I am sure and will just lie at every turn. Demand these things get written into the IEP as I said. Do you have an advocate or an attorney?

Lora said...

@Anon- You have just made me realize that I need to look at his IEP because I don't remember if it was put in there that she was supposed to write in that notebook daily or not. I do have an advocate at the Autism Society who goes to the IEP meetings with me and she will back me if there is a direct violation of the IEP and help me to get an attorney. There is a SPED director who I can go to if there is a violation. Thanks for your support, you are a huge help!!!!!

DeeAnn said...

The comments above are all really good.

Working for years in public schools, having a son with special needs, going through IEP's and even a Due Process Hearing once, I feel I am in a position to advise you to do the following (in no particular order):

#1- Spend time in Griffin's classroom as often as possible.

#2- Write into his IEP EVERY SINGLE little step you can think of for each of his goals, that way they are obligated BY LAW to carry through (hence- due process)!

#3- It certainly won't HURT to talk to the principal. Make your face known around Griffin's school and the staff there. Knowing what I know now, from working in different classrooms the past 13 years, I wish I would have spent more time at my children's schools.

Anonymous said...

I am wondering why the SPED Dirctor is not at every meeting. It must work differently down there. The SPED Director is truly the one in charge of the case of any child on an IEP. I agree with DeeAnn...make sure you also have written into the IEP observation time whether it's weekly or monthly. Also, please remember that you can amend an IEP as often or as many times as you want. Don't let them try to tell you that you have to wait until his next IEP is due to make any changes.

Expect them to either a. lie or b. try to wiggle out of any of these responsibilities. All districts do. It's just an unfortunate fact in these cases. Just keep sighting the law to them.

Anonymous said...

One last point. Also note that if he is having any behaviors like this (gestural or motor stereotypy, vocal sterotypy which can include any non-functional noise or video scripting, etc.) or any other behavior that interferes with his learning and his day or is stigmitizing then you have every right under IDEA to ask that an FBA (Functional Behavior Analysis) or an FA (Functional Analysis) be done. Also, request that it be done by a BCBA.

I am sure that the stuttering and the increase in the gestural/motor stereotypy is due to anxiety but they have to get to the bottom of the "WHY" of the anxiety. That is always important because if they don't figure out the "why" of a behavior you can never really change it. That paired with you observing (since you know him best) will tell you pretty quickly if the school is doing a poor job and the end result is increase in behaviors, which I have a feeling it is.

Finally, does he have a BIP (Behavior Intervention Plan) that they are expected to follow daily? Any child with any behavior (remember, it does not mean the child has to have extreme behaviors. It can be any behavior like stuttering, stereotypy, etc.)should have a BIP and make sure it is referenced in the IEP. e.g.- Under the behavior domain in the IEP (which I hope they've included with good objectives) make sure it says: "All staff working with Griffin will follow the attached BIP every day throughout his entire day."

Lora said...

@Anon- First of all I must thank you for being so kind and for caring so much as to help me out with this because I DO need the help in a big way! I just wish that I knew who you really are because your kindness will not soon be forgotten.

I will make sure that a FBA is conducted by a BCBA in order to get down to the bottom of this anxiety and all its manifestations. I feel like such a terrible mother for not having known this and not doing anything about it before now. He stutters in some situations outside of school but not usually at home and they just informed me that it was going on at school and I don't know about the gestural stereotypy but I plan to find out.

Griffin does not have a BIP because he had no behaviors that I was concerned about last time we did the IEP but believe me, after what you have informed me of there will be one this time for sure!

I hope that you are a regular follower of the blog and that you will read my future posts on the matter because it is important to me that I follow through with this and remedy this problem or should I say "these" problems. Apparently the root of these problems are with the school and their lack of response to my request for a parent/teacher conference over a month ago. I kept writing notes to no avail. Tomorrow I will call the SPED director and get some results because this has gone on way too long!

Thank you again for everything! You are a blessing that I give thanks for in my prayers!

Anonymous said...

You are not a terrible mother at all. The school district personnel are the terrible players in these games that they play. If they spent more time actually following the law and doing what's best for the child by keeping their best interest in mind there would be considerably less legal battles for them, but they they never seem to stop trying to get away with short changing kids. That's why lawyers and advocates need to keep an eye on them.

Keep us posted. I'll keep my eye here and let me know how they intend to resolve the parts of the law they are more than likely violating and more importantly if they are giving Griffin an appropriate education which he is entitled to under IDEA.

jazzygal said...

Yes Lora, get it written into the IEP. Insist on a Daily Communication Diary. Teacher must make time for it. Can she even email it to you? She could do that when the bus leaves ;-) Does Griffin not have a Special needs Assistant in the classroom? Is there no-one to help him through the school day? That person could do the diary...

xx Jazzy