Tuesday, April 13, 2010
4th grade seemed to be going well with MJ. I had met with the teacher the first week and shown her his previous 504 accommodation plan from the previous school. She informed me that she had a student with Asperger's before, so she was somewhat familiar with it.
I was a little concerned that the principal didn't seem to think it was necessary to update the 504 plan or have the new school team sign it, but he assured me that they would follow it just the same. So I let it be.
Things seemed pretty good. I didn't hear of any problems. Then it came time for parent teacher conferences.
As I was finishing up with my younger son's 2nd grade teacher, I noticed the principal waiting for me. He seemed to want to go with me to meet with MJ's teacher. Gee, I thought that was pretty nice that he seemed all concerned MJ was fitting in, but yet did I know what was really going on.....
We had met earlier in the week with the principal, teacher, and school psychologist setting up a plan for MJ which I will get into more at a later post, so I did think maybe the principal was just coming with me to PT conferences to show his involvement and support. We also had the school psychologist join us, so I thought we were pretty popular, but really I soon found out that there had been an "incident".
The teacher went over MJ's grades and progress and all that, but then she asked him if he had told me what happened yesterday. I can't explain the expression MJ was making, and he was silent, so I was a little confused as to what happened. I was hoping it was a good thing? Apparently it was not.
Yesterday, as the psychologist explained, things got "escalated". Escalated? What exactly did that mean anyhow? She said MJ was playing with another boy and then she used that word again, and I'm thinking huh? But then she says MJ bit the other boy. Bit him on the upper shoulder?
I'm sitting there in disbelief because MJ has never ever ever bit another kid. Never. Not even his brother at home. How could this be? And, how does a kid bite another kid on the upper arm/shoulder area? What would possess someone to do that?
MJ was very upset. He wasn't saying a word, but tears were streaming down his face. I was super upset---not exactly upset only at MJ's actions, but at the whole embarrassing and horrifying situation in itself. Here I was in front of the teacher, the principal, and the school psychologist, and they are probably waiting for me to do some disciplinary action of some sort, but it is all shoved on me at once.
I am trying to tell them that this has NEVER happened ever and at the same time I am asking MJ why he would do this and telling him that this is totally unacceptable, and I'm thinking biting is a pretty big terrible thing, and wondering what comes next, suspension?
Then I am surprised at what happens next. The teacher and school psychologist begin showing me MJ's marks in citizenship and behavior. On his report MJ has all H's meaning honors, but then he has one S (for satisfactory) but with a circle around it and a star they have drawn next to it. They tell me he has done well, but as far as behavior is concerned he only has an S, but it is because they understand he has Asperger's and that it is OK. In a sense they were telling me that it was OK for MJ to misbehave and that it was OK because Asperger's was his excuse.
OK, now, I agree there are some issues sometimes with MJ and his Asperger's, but I do not accept it an excuse to bad behavior. I have taught and raised this kid to behave well and to make good decisions, and I do not allow him to get away with misbehaving, excusing it to Asperger's. I mean, yes, a lot of the time there have been incidents where he has gotten in trouble at home or at school because of things related to him having Asperger's like a misunderstanding, or not getting the social rules or the problems with change or transitions, or whatever, but it has never been outright fighting, hitting, or biting. I did not accept this excuse, while the school seemed to excuse it off.
I asked them what should I do, if I should contact the other child's mom to apologize, or what proper procedures did we need to take care of, and they told me it was all fine. I could sense that possibly they were telling the other kid's mom "sorry, but the child which bit your son has autism, and it's being handled."
OK, so I don't really know all that was said and what they told the other parent, but I just had so many emotions going on right then that it was overwhelming. No, I don't approve in MJ's behavior at all, and I sure lectured him for a very long time as well as his dad that we are to NEVER EVER EVER EVER bite anyone EVER (unless it is strictly absolutely necessary in self defense or something), and then I made him write an apology letter to the other boy.
I guess I'm somewhat surprised mostly that this would happen, but as I started to notice later, MJ did seem to bottle up his emotions a little too much, and then he would get upset and just act without thinking. I saw this with his brother sometimes. Or, I guess I've seen it more as emotional meltdowns where he is crying about change or something that didn't go as planned, but I had just never seen the anger part.
Still, I don't want Asperger's to become this sort of excuse for him. I don't want the school to be excusing any bad behaviors or actions because of it. It is not an excuse. It may be difficult at times, but there is no reason why MJ can't choose to act more appropriately and follow the rules just like any other kid. I hope that there are not exceptions being made to things at school for MJ. Yes, I am all for accommodations, but not exceptions to the rules---if this all makes sense?
I guess I am glad that MJ did not get into more serious trouble at school, because he really is a good kid, but at the same time, I am troubled by the lack of discipline. I mean, really, if some kid bit my kid, I would be pretty upset and hope that the other kid was getting in some kind of trouble be it missed recess or whatever.
Of course, there goes the other fear that I gained this day---now, who was going to be MJ's friend? Or rather, who's mom is going to let their child be friends with the kid who bites? Yikes. How would things become now?