Week one is on and past the dreaded hump day mark. And I’m not gonna lie. It’s been rough. And long. And rough. Did I say that already? I must have forgotten through my week one coma. I washed my hair twice this morning because I had forgotten if I did it already. My mind was too busy racing with my seemingly never ending to do list. I made myself reread my pep talk post on Tuesday to keep back some tears of utter frustration. I did reward myself this week with: one overflowing frozen yogurt cup with one scoop from every option on the topping bar, a bravo tv marathon, and a little, tiny baby online shopping trip. Tiny. I swear. I feel like I’m on the upswing. Here’s how it went down.
Day 1 started off with optimistic enthusiasm. I know I had a crazy high case load but I was really looking forward to seeing my returning little bundles of joy. I knew one of my new students had a history of some challenging behaviors but I had prepared and had an open mind. Day 1 ended with most of the other teachers in my school giving my the stink eye on the way to the parking lot. My new kid screamed bloody murder for 90 full minutes in the hallway. Sorry guys.
Lesson learned: It’s not always like you planned and planning doesn’t fix everything.
The new student’s tantrum steamed from an elevator obsession. He has a history of some running behaviors and has a dedicated para at all times. When the para took him on a walk the elevator was found and the obsession took over. After a few rides it was nearly impossible to pry him out of the elevator shaft. We managed to keep him in the room the rest of the afternoon until he broke free near the end of the day. Then began 90 minute saga. The worst thing to do then would have been to give him the elevator because then he would have learned – tantrum = elevator ride. Unfortunately this lesson came at the expense of the peace and quiet of the rest of my building.
Lesson learned: Sometimes other teachers will slam their doors. And it’s okay.
In my ABA background, potential interventions for this elevator situation could be to teach him to ask for the elevator or to use elevator as a reinforcer for compliance. However in real life, I decided these were not an option for us. The elevator is officially off the table. For a few reasons: 1. It’s not a particularly appropriate or safe reinforcer. It’s not air conditioned and this student seems to be more irritable in the heat (who isn’t!) 2. To get him out of the elevator would cause another massive meltdown that is not appropriate in the building 3. (most importantly) I cannot safely get him out of the elevator. Safety is the deal breaker here. No go on the elevatorvention.
Lesson learned: Those textbooks ideas and interventions don’t always work in real life.
With the help of a truly stellar temporary paraprofessional, we spent the next two days tirelessly – and I mean tirelessly – keeping this young man distracted, working, and away from the elevator. There were many, many other running attempts. He needed two adults in all transitions. One or two adults at all moments in the classroom. A simple sneeze could give him enough of an opportunity to dash out. I should join the NFL draft next year because I’m really getting to be a great blocker. The amount of constant and focused attention was ridiculously exhausting.
Lesson learned: Stick with it.
And then came Wednesday. Wednesday afternoon was a little slice of key lime pie. My higher functioning students played a truly hilarious, engaging, and appropriate game of pictionary for an hour (!!!!) and my new love nut and I watched from his new favorite seat – my teacher chair (of course). He didn’t try to run. He didn’t need an adult exactly next to him at all times. he found some magnets he likes and had a totally appropriate and happy looking break.
Lesson: The small victories make it worth it.
Now maybe I’ll eat my words. I don’t think a magic wand has been waved and it will be perfect for always. But, the difference between my Monday and Wednesday between 1:30-2:30 was literally night and day. It’s the baby steps. It’s the upswing. It’s getting there. And in the mean time, I’ll eat froyo for dinner.
My classroom reveal will be coming up probably next week: a layout diagram, video tour, photots, schedule, and more – stay tuned! 🙂
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