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KLeeCW 12-06-2012 04:07 PM

Just not sure what my mom should do...
This will be long. My mom works as a paraprofessional with a student with autism in a public elementary school. She is absolutely amazing with special needs kids because she truly cares for them and treats them with complete respect. She has the patience of a saint and never underestimates the students. I really wish she'd go back to school to get a degree in special education because she knows what she's doing with these kids. Unfortunately, because she doesn't have a degree, she is treated like a glorified babysitter.

Today she called me practically in tears because of how her day went. This is not the first time this has happened. The way the child she works with is being treated is just asinine. The "professionals" treat the kid like a science experiment to try out different practices even if the student is clearly not responding well. The professionals purposely try to antagonize the child which causes him to violently lash out. Then they blame the issue on the child instead of their failed approach. They set the kid up to fail in so many ways. This student has never lashed out at my mom. My mom doesn't want to lose her job, but she can't take the situation anymore. She's gone to administration many times for safety issues and the way the child is treated/talked to and she is basically now labeled a troublemaker. The school is under-equipped to work with kids like this.

There is a whole laundry list of things I could tell you about the messed up way the school is handling this child, but I will just share today's. She was told that she is too verbal with the student (the student was totally non-verbal when she started with him two years ago and now he can very clearly communicate his needs, even using complete sentences, my mom spends 6 hours a day with him, while the professionals are only there for maybe 2 of those hours). Her supervisor told her she needs to stop speaking to him like he is a normal student and that she needs to stop talking to him altogether and start using graphic cards. My mom was blown away. The school basically wants the student to regress so that the professional can try out her new graphic card technique.

My mom stays at the job for the insurance and because she cares about the student. Technically she is not allowed to contact the parent, but the things she's seen with the student are totally inappropriate. I haven't even touched the surface because then this would be a novel.

What can she do? If you were the parents, would you want to know? Would she lose her job for going to the parents?

I'm hoping to have her read this after I get some responses. Thank you :hugs:

Steph Ed 12-06-2012 04:30 PM

Re: Just not sure what my mom should do...
The world needs more angels like her!!!!!

Is there a higher up in the school system she can contact since administration isn't responding? She definitely has to be careful how she handles this situation. Is there any studies she can cite from a respected organization that has done research specifically related to this child's syndrome that can back up her approach and disprove their approach? If I were trying to prove anyone wrong related to anything I would definitely try to have research to back up my claim, or else it is my word against theirs.

Please tell her to keep her head up! It seems this child needs her love.

ralenth 12-06-2012 04:37 PM

Re: Just not sure what my mom should do...
I agree the world needs more like her. I wish she was friendly-ish with the parents, because ultimately that's who needs to know (and quite frankly if it was my kid I would need to know... I am always appreciative of any contact the teachers and aids make with me... I want to know the good and bad that is going on).

Does this child have an IEP, because the higher ups can't just keep changing things on him. Is there a director of special Ed? Or a psychologist/behaviorist affiliated with the school that she trusts? I would go to someone who has more clout than your mom, but who feels similar to her....

gaakoh 12-06-2012 05:14 PM

Re: Just not sure what my mom should do...
Does the child have a notebook that goes back and forth between parents and the school? If so, could she write in it about these graphic cards? Maybe mention something about "Mrs. Blah Blah has been implementing graphic cards with student. Since Mrs. Blah Blah would prefer the school to not use words with student and instead use the graphic word cards, would you like a set at home for use?" Something like that. Hopefully if parents are involved they will question why they don't want the student to talk anymore. If not, maybe stop them before or after school and mention the same thing.

I'm a special ed teacher and I believe she could get in trouble if she directly went to the parent and mentioned something. We have 2 paraprofessionals that are not allowed contact with the parents at all. But we have 2 others that are always talking to them. One even babysits for the student out of school. So it just depends.

As the parent of a special needs child, I would totally want to know. Especially if the goals for my child (which should be in the IEP) are going against what the professionals are now doing.

mekat 12-06-2012 09:02 PM

Re: Just not sure what my mom should do...
As a parent I would not expect her to sacrifice her job although I would certainly appreciate knowing. Personally, I would request a transfer if she can to another school in the district. It sounds like she is in a hostile work place. There are plenty of terrible therapists out there and unfortunately it sounds like they are in that school.

A good therapist adapts their approach and changes to suit the client. I truly believe therapy is part book learning, part experience, part adaptability and willingness to keep learning and part love of your client. I have yet to meet a good pediatric therapist that doesn't get attached to her/his pediatric client to some degree. Children can sense genuine affection and respond to it. I see this pattern over and over with my own son and his therapists. Until DS and therapist bond the progress in therapy is sporadic at best.


I should say in the school district I am in aides are just that helpers. They aren't allowed to communicate anything significant to the parents. I don't know what the penalty would be but I suspect a minimum would be disciplinary action and at worst they would be fired. If she pursues direct communication she needs to prepare herself for the consequences. The only way I could think to get around this is to speak with the parent and encourage them to get to know their child's school routine a little better by talking to the teacher and therapists.

She may want to transfer districts while the getting is good. Some districts allow the aides more responsibility. They have to go through a bit more training but they do get more responsibility.

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