Saturday, February 13, 2010

A child's spirit.

A few months ago, I inherited a case with five special needs children in three different foster homes spread all over our region. These children were feral when they entered care. Thankfully their foster parents, hospital staff, Impact, and their previous social worker were able to help these children learn to function on a daily basis.

When I got the case, one of the little girls had just started a new school. She is seven, non-verbal, with Rhett's syndrome. She is served by two speech pathologists, two OT therapist, Impact, Michelle P. Waiver, special ed. etc. The foster mother was overwhelmed with the school when I met the family because the child was being mishandled. She was being restrained in class daily and laid over in her restraint chair when she would try to kick the chair over. She was having recess taken away when she would ask to go to the bathroom, but didn't "produce", and left to sit in her own feces if she used her pants because the teacher thought if she had to sit in it she'd stop doing it because she was just trying to use the bathroom as a control issue. I tried to discuss my concerns with the teacher and principal who believed they were justified in their behavior management techniques.

Soooo I called a referral in against the school so someone could look into it (since it's outside of my county), and contacted Protection and Advocacy to assist me in helping the school develop an appropriate IEP for this child since I'd already alienated myself with the school. (Thank you to my sister who has been battling with schools on behalf of her autistic son and guided me through the process!!).

Yesterday I drove to a town about an hour away and went to the IEP meeting for this little gem. I was already sour because I had to miss the adoption of another one of my "kids" to be there. I already knew things would be tense. THREE hours and a few tears later, the meeting was finished.... the child has free access to the restroom without pentalty. Child will be changed immediately. School with develop a Safe Crisis Management plan before using "the chair". School with use IRS method with child daily (Interupt, Redirect, Subsitute) for behaviors that are disruptive to the class. Teacher will attend new training in behavior manament to learn positive, rather than punative responses.  I hated missing the adoption, but I felt so victorious for this child!!

We  went and got her some soft tacos and went to the home afterwards for a home visit... She had a Valentines Day party at school and was anxious to show me all of her candy and asked me to teach her the signs for some of them... She learned party, peanut butter, and taco!!! Her spirit was SO contagious! She's stopped maturbating when she is stressed out. She isn't spitting, biting, or kicking. She's learning to sequence in school and her intelligence is really beginning to shine through. And even though I came home and did a removal last night, her spirit stayed with me and is still with me as I get ready to go do some home visits this morning. If she can endure all she's been through, change, grow, smile, love... then home visits on a Saturday morning should be a breeze!!

Have a great day everyone :)


Anonymous said...

Thank you for doing what you did for her. I am a foster mom, but I will only take the "easy" kids :) (3 and under with no special needs) I am just not equipped to handle that.

I can relate to the ignorance of the teacher and principal, I struggle to have the patience to care for these kids' odd behaviors in the correct way. I am glad you fought for her thought. People who don't have much experience with these things treat the kids like they are "normal" kids just misbehaving. They aren't. They think totally differently and need to be treated totally differently.

Rain Child said...

What a wonderful post. Thank you for all that you do. It's so wonderful to see people advocate for our neediest children.

Kelly said...

So glad she has you to advocate for her. Great job!! It is amazing what a blessing these children are when given the chance to shine. What a wonderful post.

Anonymous said...

Wow, you are an amazing woman. Your "children" and kids both are very lucky to have you.

Paula said...

Thanks for that post. I am so glad there are Social Workers out there like you. Glad I found your blog. Thanks Kelly for finding and sharing this blog with me.

Babs said...

I don't know why, but I commented on this and it's not here. I'm not really great at navigating this blog yet. I was saying that I just don't think I could foster, I mean I can deal for awhile, but I have the patience of about an hour. One. Hour. Then I'm over it... gotta go.. LoL. I so admire the people who can do it day in and day out and that includes teachers... even if I get mad, I do understand how frustrating it must be. And thank everyone for their kind words. Ya'll make me feel like a million bucks!