Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Wrong Place - Wrong Time
Ashley’s classroom is small – only 4 students for the majority of the day. In the afternoon some other students come to the classroom for vocational training, and at that point, the noise level and the anxiety level has been known to climb fairly high. Overall, I am thrilled with Ashley’s placement this year, and with the excellent job the teacher and other staff do to teach her. However, there is one very negative aspect to this particular classroom – one of the students has outbursts of rage and aggression.
Because my oldest daughter, Jessica, is also prone to such outbursts, I am very familiar with the injuries that can happen during the tirades. I’ve had my ribs broken and too many bites and bruises to count. I sustained those injuries because I wanted to make sure that none of my other children were injured. And that is exactly what the teacher and aides in Ashley’s classroom do with their aggressive student. They offer themselves up in the midst of the outbursts in the hopes that the other students will not be injured. And they have done an excellent job of protecting the other students. However, the cost of their own safety has been high.
I’ve seen bites that have broken the skin and left bruises every shade of purple. Black eyes from head butts, and sore legs from kicks are quite common for the adults in the classroom. Just yesterday, the classroom aide had her thumb broken. I think the staff in the classroom has cornered the market on tetanus shots, ace bandages, and ice packs. What I don’t understand is why the situation is allowed to continue.
I am one of the strongest advocates for children being in the least restrictive environment for their education. But I don’t believe that LRE has to come at the cost of ongoing and extensive personal injury. In my opinion, this aggressive student needs to be in a different environment, and one with different supports. The current placement does not seem to be working for anyone – the student or the staff – and I worry constantly that during one of the outbursts, one of the other children will be injured.