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Lack of Preparedness of Autism Abounds: FL Charter School Removes Child in 1 Day

Misfitdoll I've been talking to parents and DDS management and caregivers about the dearth of programs in place ready to handle the behavioral challenges of autism. Group home? How does a boy who punches out windows live in one? Work at a grocery store? How does a girl who bites and hits work near customers? All roads lead to treatment and then prevention.  Even among misfits we're misfits. And that's painful to admit.  And likely to land me in hot water - heck, throw me a tea bag and we'll call me Oolong. For parents whose kids have behaviors like biting, hitting, kicking - how and where do we find help to curtail those behaviors? In a six year old they are barely tolerable - in a 26 year old they may be life threatening due to chemical and physical restraint.   It's a grim picture. As we say on Twitter, #feelautismyet?  KS 

Read the full story of  a girl named Natalie who was asked to leave a charter school for behaviorally challenged kids in ONE day. To be fair, we don't know if the child was a right fit for the school, though one would hope that there had been meetings and introductions and an honest appraisal of "behaviors" from Mom and/or Dad to the staff.  Perhaps we'll learn more in a future article. In the meantime, read the  Orlando Sentinel for the full article. Excerpt below.

Kerlin Fedee thought she had found the perfect fit for her daughter — a school dedicated to the needs of young children with behavioral problems.

"They said they would be able to help her and would love to have her," Fedee said.

But Fedee was disillusioned quickly. Aspire Charter Academy in Orlando, which opened this fall, kicked out 6-year-old Natalie Querette on the first day.

Natalie, a first grader, sometimes bites, kicks and spits, especially in a new situation. She has autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Comments

Donna L.

We spent most of last year dealing with horrible aggression in my son. He was 'kicked out' of middle school after 8 days - and these 8 days were each only 30 minutes long, as per prior planning between myself and his teacher. I would drive him the half hour to school, during which time he would viciously attack me; he'd be in school for 30 minutes, hitting and kicking, etc. While he was in school I would sit in my car treating my injuries, cleaning up blood, and sobbing uncontrollably. Then I would drive him home while being attacked for another half an hour. And I would be attacked numerous times throughout the day and evening, day after day...

Fortunately, our school district then transferred him to a private autism school which has been much more effective with dealing with his behaviors, although it has taken an entire year to even get him to the point of attending for an entire day. (we are just 15 minutes shy of that goal now)

I only mention all this because we (his doctors and I) did find several solutions that may be useful to others. One was (as Leslie mentioned) identifying and treating sources of pain; for my son, this involved severe headaches (during which he would bash his head on the wall or bash his head into my head), and treating with natural anti-inflammatories. Another issue was gut/upper GI pain due to H.Pylori infection, and seeing his symptoms improve with treatment.

But the one thing that has helped the most has been treating his extremely low lithium level (using natural lithium orotate). Not saying this is the solution for each and every kid, but definitely worth looking into. We now go days and sometimes weeks without any aggressive episodes. Here is a link to Dr. Amy Yasko's talk on the lithium connection in autism, in case anyone is interested. http://vimeo.com/26165981
(hope it's okay to post this here - I just thought if it helps even one parent/child, it's worth it)

Brie

Home school is an option. It doesn't help the school system, but I know a lot of families who home school with children who are Autistic.

Terrified of future

I made this comment after the AOA piece from the parent who placed their child in a residential placement, that I really don't know WHAT the "system" is going to do with the behavior kids as they get bigger. My son does have some aggressive behaviors like pinching, biting, hair-pulling. We have curtailed a lot of it but it's not zero and I'm not sure it will ever be zero again. We work with a lot of specialists, ALL at our own expense. Many of my son's classmates don't have that luxury (and by that I mean, the luxury of credit cards to rack up that autism debt). My friend placed her young adult son in a group home and he was kicked out for aggression (actually this was after months of them drugging him with a whole slew of anti-psychotics, he had previously been on a tiny dose of one drug, and then they informed her that the next time he had an aggressive episode that they were calling the cops, he's nonverbal. So she brought him home, again.) I didn't even know that could happen. I know this young man, he's delightful 98% of the time.
Frankly, I'm terrified of the future. It's almost like I shouldn't think of it or I freeze and cannot put one foot in front of the other. I worry for my son, but I lay awake at night worrying about all the autistic kids and society and my typical kids.

Terri Lewis

For Chris (and anyone in the same situation): Our son was healing nicely and had no problem behaviors of any significance until he was about 8 years old. Well. . .he did have a few when he was younger, but seemed to be growing/healing out of them.

In any case--after doing six years plus of: Greenspan, diet, supplements, ABA RDI, more supplements, talking until blue in the face, teaching relaxation and coping skills, homeopathy (sadly, no results for us with that one), mainstreaming, home schooling, swimming as therapy, and on and on and on. . .this is what's working (about 85%) for now--it's in three parts, all important:

1. A new school for kids with behavior problems (and fortunately, this one is really good). We only found it after he, too, was "shown the door" after a "trial day" elsewhere. (Yep, one day, and they suggested they couldn't "meet his needs" at this other school for kids on the spectrum.)

Plus

2. NAC--900 mg. twice a day

Plus

3. Risperdal--just 0.25 mg. twice a day, with Sunday nights off.

I mention the Risperdal last because I swore it would be over my dead body. And I began to be afraid, at one point, that it would be. Someday.

Our son is ten and a half now, and we started the Risperdal when he turned 10 (after a similarly tiny dose of Abilify did nothing but give him horrible constipation). He's been on it for about 5 months, and I'm already wondering what to do next when we (inevitably) want or need to wean him off of it. . .if it even keeps working that long.

For us, it was more than a band-aid; it was a tourniquet and it stopped the bleeding, because it really was like mental "bleeding" or something. It seems to take the edge off--just enough--that he can move forward with learning better behavior again.

Like I said, I swore that it would be over my dead body, but sometimes you do the next thing you have to do.

Good luck with finding the next thing for all of us who need that.

Leslie Bradley

First thing you have to rule out is whether your child is in some kind of un-diagnosed pain! We have found with our autistic daughter that violent behavior, either biting or hitting herself or others is usually related to some sort of pain she is experiencing. Continual and repeat episodes of bad behavior in a kid with autism can be linked to GERD and/or irritable bowel disease. In fact, I am convinced that quite a bit of what is called "autistic behaviors" is caused by pain they can't explain. Our daughter has gone through both and once the pain was under control, the behaviors improved.

chris

"For parents whose kids have behaviors like biting, hitting, kicking - how and where do we find help to curtail those behaviors?" This is the million dollar question, and I am desperate for the answer....

Twyla

What is the purpose of a "a school dedicated to the needs of young children with behavioral problems" if they can't deal with a child with behavioral porblems? Kicked out after one day, without even trying to get her acclimated, without waiting see the effects of the behavioral management techniques in which they supposedly specialize?

Jenny Allan

Living in the UK, I don't know ANYTHING about systems in the US, but when he was six, my autistic grandson's behaviour also included biting kicking and violent tantrums. We were all at our 'wit's end' and I often found my poor daughter, with teethmarks in her legs and tears running down her cheeks. This broke my heart, I love both my daughter and my grandson dearly.

The solution came via a wonderful Spanish lady called 'Carmen' (not her real name). I am not sure who sent her, but my grandson was already seeing a child psychologist for educational assessment purposes. I think Carmen was a behavioural psychologist, specialising in promoting positive behavioural patterns in young children. She worked with my daughter, using a variety of strategies, including 'reward' stars for good behaviour. She also had several sessions just talking to my grandson.

The strategy worked and within a few weeks my grandson's behaviour, although still quite challenging at times, no longer included any violence. I know this will not work for every child, but I am quite sure that behavioural therapy should be available to every autistic infant in order to 'nip in the bud' any violent tendencies. It's too late to wait until they start school.
We bless 'Carmen' every single day!!

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