The evolving Special Education Assistant

The evolving Special Education Assistant
It was just one month into the new school year that the change to the assistant that has been with my son since fifth grade changed. This is also his first year in High School, where the transition is major for any type of student. There are new teachers, students, hallways, classrooms, schedules, electives, cafeteria, bathrooms, locker rooms, neighborhood. He also went from wearing a uniform in Middle School to regular clothing for the next four years, except the days he needs to wear his ROTC uniform.

The transition for the student is not always smooth, but there is another transition that needs to occur - that of the assistant that is assigned to the special education student. This appears to be an employee issue and not one that is even discussed at the transitional IEP for the next school site.

The classified department, which oversees the assistant sent him back to the Middle School. Someone at the headquarters of Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) makes the decision on whether the assistant needs to come to the school, or if there is sufficient coverage already at the school site.

They informed me that he is assigned to the Middle School, yet he went over there with my son from the Elementary School. I explained that the Administrator of the Elementary School posted the job for my son to have a male assistant that would follow him to Middle and then High School. My son had an aide that I spent years trying to get changed, as mentioned in The Changing Role of the One to One Aide.

The term has changed again in LAUSD to adult assistance. The aide was at the IEP meetings last year at the Middle School. His signature is on the document yet no one explained to us this possibility that his position would be switched. Toilet training was discussed at the IEP with a plan put in place that just started a few months ago.

This is not the time to do a rotation of aides/assistants for a severely autistic teen that is wearing Goodnites, nonverbal with behavior issues that warrant a behavior support plan, plus he is known to run out of classrooms to find the field to run around.

It is imperative that an Administrator with knowledge of what transpires at the High School level and with the transfer of students attend the transitional IEP to discuss these options and come up with a plan that is focused on the needs of the student. There was no preparation for my son - on Monday they told the aide to go to the other school and Tuesday morning there was a replacement here for the bus.

I have started a notebook with the issues that have taken place over the four days with two different aides. This replacement aide was not there on Thursday so another person was here to ride the bus and spend day assisting my son. The first day I received a voice mail message on my cell phone from the school nurse.

This new aide that came from another classroom took my son to the Nurse because he felt something when he wiped him. The nurse tells me he might have a rash and I explained that would not be unusual for someone who has been wearing diapers for fifteen years. There is no need to take him to the Doctor. I sent baby powder in his backpack the next day.

The aide neglected to mention to the nurse that it was his first day with my son - a key piece of information. The nurse went on to share that my son would not let her look at him or wipe him. I am sure by this time my son was confused and irritated everywhere.

This past week was a heat wave in Los Angeles with temperatures in the nineties. When the bus arrived Matthew was wearing his jacket and long pants. I have shorts and change of shirt in his backpack. The aide tells me he was comfortable. How would he know this from a nonverbal autistic teen? The assistant informed he would not be there on Thursday but did not know who the replacement would be yet.

Wednesday morning as we are putting on sneakers at 6:43 AM the phone rings. It is this new assistant telling me that he is stuck in traffic and will call the Bus Company to have the bus turn around. I informed him to do no such thing as the bus can wait. Bus transportation is on the IEP and something that an aide should not just cancel because they are running late. A person that thinks like this is assisting my child everyday.

When the bus arrived home the assistant told me who would be the replacement for Thursday and then shared that Matthew threw his breakfast on the ground, hit a student with his backpack and ran out of the Cafeteria to outside. Once outside he pushed a general ed middle school student. An incident report was filled out, which might come in handy for getting the regular assistant assigned back to Matthew.

The assistant got another breakfast tray for my son and he ate in his classroom. He told me that the regular assistant sat in a certain seat on the bus, but that this new assistant let another student sit there. This evidently set off Matthew and he expressed his feelings with that episode in the cafeteria.

Matthew also had on his jacket again - it was 99 degrees and the bus driver turns off the bus at each stop and not many windows were open. He did have shorts on and the shirt under his jacket was soaked.

Thursday with the second change in aides in three days and Matthew ate only bread all day and drank some juice. It was another hot day as well. Friday the other assistant was back, yet he did not inform me that Matthew was to wear his ROTC uniform. He also forgot that the gym uniform is in his backpack so they had to go and get changed during Physical Education. I inquired where other students keep their uniform and he said in their backpacks.

Matthew has Behavior Therapy almost every weeknight for a few hours to work on toilet training. The therapist noted that Matthew was lying on his bed this week, something he has never done. I said he is sad with the changes in assistants.

This weekend was a lot more behavioral issues and not the usual excitement for school tomorrow. Hopefully the situation will be resolved soon. From what I understand they need a report indicating how many students and assistants in the classroom and then the decision is made. I will continue keeping a log of daily changes and issues that are a result of these revolving assistants.

One to One Aides in the Classroom - Woodsmall Law Group

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