Tuesday, March 11, 2008

High School --> Inclusion with Autism Spectrum Disorder & Other Disabilities. Three SPED Stories (updated 3/11/08)

School Year 2007 - 2008

September 2007

It’s been 3 weeks since I left Justin and the boys at the elementary level. I have had a few updates from parents on Justin in the ASD contained room and what is happening is what I expected would happen when you put a boy like Justin in a ASD contained room.

First off let me explain that the person who recommended that Justin go to a contained room is proudly stating to people on how right he was that he was put in the ASD contained room.

Sadly and somewhat dangerous is a person who yields that kind of power with so little facts and can make those types of decisions based on ignorance of autism and systems thinking.

Anyway, my prediction will be Justin will become Boy King of the contained room (romper room for Justin because of his capabilities, very good room for those who can not be mainstreamed). A parent informed he is refusing to do what the other children want to do but he is ready to play and dictate what he thinks the other children should play, but he is happy and so are those who put him there for his own good. He has his freedom from homework, he has his independence from learning.

I will report no more on this subject it is time to move on. So, instead of getting a middle school and high school diploma he will get a


The hardest part of the change from elementary school to high school (size of course) has been finding the correct room to be in when the bell rings and you have five minutes to get from one side of the building to the other. I must add that the building also has three floors. If it was not for the help of a very good friend my first week would have been very difficult navigating the maze of doors and turns and learning what goes on in the Special Ed Room. Special people (JP) often work in Special Education.

I work with 15 & 16 year old students (male & female) with a variety of learning and neurological disorders (including autism). The students are all mainstreamed and range from high functional to very low school type capabilities.

What are very low school type capabilities? Reading so poor that it affects all other schoolwork subjects like English, Social Studies, Math, Science and overall self-worth (hate gym).

See # 68 for a question on this topic (gym).


I work with different students in each of the six classes I attend during the day. I have little knowledge of their background so I am keeping a daily log (my own) so that I can review and study over time for trends and prevention techniques that might help me with their learning.

One young man told me the other day that he is retarded and stupid (CI & EI) so why should he do any work (his reading is at a first – second grade level and his writing is barely legible – from copying notes). Getting to know him for the past few weeks I found his favorite activity to do is to go fishing with his Dad.

He is verbally skilled in this area and I have been using it to boost his self-confidence by asking him all type of questions about fishing and outdoors (informing him that I am very poor in this area).

We had our first test the other day where I read the questions out loud and spelled words for him after he orally explained his answers. I compensated by using fishing and the outdoors as examples rather that the examples given. He did OK, but not great on the test. He did wonderful by finishing the test and telling me that was the first time he did not get totally frustrated and stop and answering. This is a good start and I am committed to helping him and the others the best way I can, and that is to observe, take notes, ask questions, take notes, read IEPs (individual education plans) and take notes.

I am very fortunate to working in classrooms where the teachers seek advice and provide data and information so we both can help our students in learning.

I am very impressed at the teachers devotion (just like the teachers at the Elem Level) to learning in spite of crowded rooms.

So much more to learn and I hope by sharing this information it will help others who are experiencing or starting off working with such special students.


The educational system continues to dumbfound me as my new journey continues. I am learning more and more each day to how severe some of the problems are in our schools. Three of the students I work with can barely read. One can't at all. How in the world have they made it to high school?

Yes, I know many have graduated with little skills but these are students who have been labeled special education which requires they get help in the areas where they tested as slow learners.

Without being able to read means no other task can be achieved in the other core classes. It is heart braking that I have to copy notes for them and then they copy my notes to hand in worksheets. I don't have the time to spend with each of these students to make a difference.

In order to rectify this situation I come early to school and read during my lunch in the library and media center helping a few that stop by for help. The problem is they are not motivated and see themselves as stupid because that is all they have heard from peers.

The autistic student I work with a few hours a day can read, write and do math on his own. His behavior is tame compared to others. Of course his problem is socialization and I hate seeing him sit in the hallway alone playing his game boy before and during each class. We have had some good conversation this week about Zombie movies, Yu-Gi-Oh cards and Pokemon while we worked on Economics and Science where he is maintaining a B average in both classes.

He loses focus at times but I easily get him back on track when I say I won't listen unless he is doing and completes his work. He is an easy target for others to pick on him and get him wound up where he gets frustrated and mad. This is slowly going away in the two hours he is with me since I have talked to the main culprits. Most of the conversations have been civil and understanding, others have ... well these folks need a little more persuasion.

There are at least 25 students I encounter each day that requires my help in some way. Many are manipulative and others have to be pushed to do their work. However, what I am finding the most is they starve for adult attention, not as an authority or friend just someone who listens and cares about what they think.

On a side note I continue to read (Autism, IDEA, ADA etc.) observe and document so that I can be better each day.

More frequently I have thinking about what am I accomplishing, but I am confident this job is another foundational stepping stone for what is to come next.


My Yu-Gi-Oh student was out all last week and this week is catch-up. That is not an easy task with an Autistic Student but we are managing to finish his Economic Project and is catching up in Science. He has excellent teachers for both classes who work well with me and offer any assistance they can.

One Size Fits All?

One Size Fits All (OSFA) is a common teaching technique when it comes to teaching in the public schools. There may be different styles of teaching but the students are receiving the information in one format.
While I understand the need for OSFA because of over crowded classrooms and limited updated textbooks it still is not my favorite mode of teaching; it can be a disaster when trying to teach Autistic children in this manner.

I have witnessed countless attempts in Resource Rooms to gather all the autistic children (range from 1 - 4th grade) around a table and try to teach them reading, writing, math or just about anything. Am I blaming the teacher - NO, again like the regular classroom the Resource Rooms are crowded and under staffed. However, the Resource Room can adapt because there is usually no more than 4 autistic children around one table at a time. A skilled teacher can adjust his/her teaching style and mode of communication to four autistic children that need different techniques to learn. The use of visuals, computers, books, games, etc. can be done in parallel.

We all need to learn that Autism children have different needs based on their disability and that it is why it is called a "Spectrum." Trying to force feed them into one style will just not work. A Transformation is required for teaching Autistic Children both in the General Ed room and the Resource Room.

Those children who are mainstreamed and have a one-on-one aide who understands them will adjust the work as the general Ed teacher is giving it. Special Education teacher need to do the same.

If you don't believe me that is OK because that may be the reason why I only got a 12-cent raise this year.

Updated 11/11/07

See special post on ASD and IQ scores at http://qualityg.blogspot.com/2007/11/does-low-iq-low-grade-learning-is-fun.html

Updated 12/21/07

It's been over a month since my last post. The students I work with continue to amaze and amuse me each day with their antics and episodes.

I am continuing my education on advocacy and special education laws. As I absorb the information I can only wonder if all school districts abuse the IEP meetings and other activities that most parents have no idea of what they are entitiled to under the law.

When I inquire why is it some students qualify for a one-on-aide and others do not (who really need one) the reponse always comes back to how much the parent complains or demands.

The students have all been geeked this week because of the two week Christmas break that starts tomorrow. I must admit I am ready too but I really will miss working with them.

Updated 1/25/08 - End of 1st Semester

Today was the last day of the 1st semester. It's been a great learning experience working with the students I do at the high school level. I will get a new schedule on Monday and it will be interesting to see how many new kids I will get to work with for the remainder of the year.

It has been a great contrast to jump from the elementary level to the high school level to see how Autism Inclusion is being handled. It's clearly obvious to me that those in high school have been shuffled along because of the lack of understanding and knowledge of the disability by Special Education Teachers.

For the remainder of the year I was hoping to work with or be able to identify some female students who have been miss diagnosed as to having some other disability other than autism. My limited study tells me there are more than is being reported. I see many of the characteristics in many of the females but one is led to believe they are shy or introverted.

Unfortunately my new schedule has changed and I will be at the High School for the first three hours of the day and the Middle School the last three hours. This will be another new adventure and I hope I get more experience to further my learning and knowledge. I will certaintly share my learnings with you in future Posts.

I won't elaborate here but I fund it very amusing when bosses or those in command give you explanations as to why they are doing something. This was a usual event in my past job as a Manager. It is more prevalent in the educational world where more cowards exist. I really get a kick out of how stupid they think you are and that when you leave they are so gullible as to think you bought there sale of goods.

I continue to get many Emails about autism (mainstreaming) and I thank you all for the kind words. If I can help just one parent, parapro or teacher with my writings it has been well worth it. There is a strong need for advocacy to help parents understand their rights under the law and the shennanigans that goes on in many schools because of ignorance.

Updated 2/20/08 "My Dad was wrong there is such a thing as "Can't"

Punch ...

As I was walking to a class last week one of my High School ASD students ran up beside me all excited. Hey, Mr. C, guess what? My sister (older yhan him) punched me in the face last night and broke my glasses, and I fixed them! I CAN'T tell you why I got punched (could not remember) but I am so proud I could fix them myself.

Good Morning - NOT! ...

Over at the middle school I was standing in the hall when one of the ASD students walked by and I said "Hi Joshua." He continued to walk on by and looked straight ahead with no sign of acknowledgement to my greeting.

A teacher watching this take place walked over and said how rude that student was and that he never reacted to her greetings either. I simply stated he CAN'T and went upon my way.

Updated 3/11/08

A Tale of Three SPED Stories - The Good The Bad & The Ugly

The past two weeks have brought much joy to my work and at the same time much disappointment.

The Good

As I was walking down the hall I met up with a teacher who I worked with during the first semester who told me she wanted to share a story with me. One of the students I worked closely with during the semester and started to mentor had an assignment where he was to put major events (birth, walk, talk, etc) by chronological date of his life. His last entry said, “ When I met Mr. C”, No better compliment has ever been given to me and I am most fortunate to have this student in my life.

The Bad

Two weeks ago I heard that another one of my students from the first semester had gotten suspended. The student in question is almost like a mascot to many of the special education teachers and aides who have come to know this person over the years.

Always wanting to please and make friends gives money and candy to individuals at their request (I have scolded them when I catch them). Unaware that so-called friends (general education) would do harm this student bought what she thought was one thing turned out to be a drug tablet that someone had requested this student to buy.

Refusing to name the person who asked that it be bought the student received a 10-day suspension according to the school policy. It was later reduced to five days after many requests from teachers and friends.

The Ugly

The Administration for refusing to understand that school standards, policy, normal distribution and bell curves are tools for making decisions when it comes to the so-called general student population. Special Education students especially those at the end of the learning curve are not part of the “Normal Process.”

What you say? If they want to be in High School they must have the same rules and regulations as the rest of us! “Shut-up Stupid I say.”

Example, for every set of data (with specified limits and data sizes) there will be a mean and standard deviation. There is something also called “Common Cause” and Special Cause.” Common Causes are those points within a control limit that are part of the everyday process. Special Causes are those data points that lay outside of the normal distribution and must be dealt with differently than the normal common cause data points.

In many instances the points outside the norm (i.e., special ed students) are there own process and should be dealt with within their own process and based upon what is normal and what is not.

So what does this mean? It means in order to get positive outcomes and understanding with the low-end special education students you need to develop different rules and standards. To not do this cause chaos and negative behavior by those involved.

For more on Variation please read my posts at http://qualityg.blogspot.com/2007/04/worker-variation-capability-in.html

And http://qualityg.blogspot.com/2007/07/best-efforts-and-cost-of-poor-quality_02.html

Read related posts by CLICKING on the LABEL ASD below this post.


Anonymous said...

I wanted you to know education issues are just not in the states.

We have problems here in Australia too.

Thanks for sharing,


Anonymous said...

You are providing a valuable service thanks for sharing your experiences.


Anonymous said...

My bright, funny, high-functioning 11 yr. old son with ASD who has always been "included" with supports and resource room is being "shepherded" to a self-contained class for middle school where there are no "lights on in the attic". NO WAY!