Monday, September 15, 2008

Concerned about Horticulture and Adaptive PE classes

My nonverbal son Matthew is in the sixth grade at a Middle School taking the bus for the first year ever with his male assistant. They are in a MRS class, which is Mental Retardation Severe. There is a total of four kids, started out as six, some rearranging took place the first few days of school. There is also a Mental Retardation Moderate class (MRM).

The third period class is Horticulture, which is in a general education class so they are mainstreamed with that class, some use term inclusion, depends on where you live and what State. I use the term Special Ed but others use self-contained class. I have only heard that term used in other blogs and online, not within the Los Angeles Unified School District, also known as LAUSD.

This is also a first for wearing a school uniform, which is white polo shirt and navy blue pants, so far shorts is what Matthew has worn to school. Today the temperature was 90. For Physical Education (Adaptive PE) the uniform is royal blue shorts (shiny kind with string) with a white t-shirt that has school logo. The shirt is to be tucked in, not working for Matthew and aide just lets him wear it out, thankfully this is not an issue.

Matthew's white shirt is quite dirty on the days that they go outside to pull weeds and whatever it is they do in Horticulture. One day his hands were really dirty upon arriving home as well as his blue shorts and white sneakers. So now they know how hard it is to get Matthew cleaned up and might be lenient on days he arrives dirty after I have cleaned him up and missed a spot or he touches something outside before the bus comes.

PE is at fifth period toward the end of the day about 1PM. I had concerns about this being outside during the heat of the day and even mentioned this on the phone to people within the school district. I suggested contacting the health department to make a complaint. I do have an option of getting a letter from Doctor to restrict Matthew's PE participation and requesting an amended IEP.

The problem is that Matthew really needs and benefits from the physical aspect of PE. Plus the fact that it is at the end of the day and I thought the positive from this would be to wear him out, no such luck thus far. He does go to bed by 7:30 PM thanks to his medication and giving his dosage at 5PM. Matthew takes Geodon, which is an anti-psychotic.

He has been doing laps as soon as they get to the track and his aide has a hard time keeping up with him. He does not want Matthew to get in the habit of just running around the track. He does take breaks after laps and they sit down for about fifteen minutes after that. He will not drink water and I am worried about what condition he is in after doing the laps. His aide did take a picture and showed me Matt on the track.

The good news is that he is not going into the locker room to get dressed. The boys get dressed in the classroom and the two girls go into the locker room. This is how the teacher has handled dressing in years past, he has twenty years at this school and 17 in the same classroom.

The aide has told me that there are three other general education classes out there at the same time. They all seem to stay clear of Matthew, but today Matthew went in the other direction while the other classes were jogging.

I gave the aide a plastic water squirt bottle to put water in and squirt Matthew when he gets too hot. I did this in the summer time and also to slick his hair back. I want him to drink water and learn to use the fountain or bring water bottle for him to drink. He has taken sips here and there over the years, but mainly just drinks rice drink or soymilk.

I do not want my son to collapse and wonder what type of feedback or advice I can give the aide. I will meet the teacher on Thursday for back to school nite, which I just learned about today and they get out early on Friday because of that. I have yet to receive a notice from school on either of these happenings. I am assuming due to the California budget crisis and no money coming to schools that this is the reason they are out early on Friday. Several years ago Matthew was hospitalized for dehydration since he would not drink anything when he was sick and needed IV. He was also anemic and malnourished when younger due to feeding issues.

The aide tells me that Matthew's face is a bit flushed and not too sweaty, I may need a pic to see this firsthand or somehow sneak on campus to find out. Today in Horticulture they were in the general education classroom doing some writing and Matthew did not want to and tipped over the desk and banged somethings around. He then removed Matthew from classroom. There was no mention of this incident in the teacher communication sheet. Other days the teacher has mentioned Matthew had a timeout so I asked the aide what that meant and what a timeout was. He said the teacher sits next to Matthew.

At the elementary school they made the kids stand there with hands behind back and then other times put head on desk. I need to find some clarity on these at the back to school night. When they did art at the Elementary school they went to the class next door that also had a door to get back into the class. Matt did well there and with music that was with general education classes.

I also need to get the schedule and get some more information on why the special education kids on buses do not get to eat breakfast and have to wait by bus for fifteen minutes.

Does your child take Horticulture and know more about this type of class? Any feedback on the PE issue with Matthew doing seven laps. I think to limit him now would be hard since he has been doing this for over a week now.


Osh said...

I have no advice to offer, but reading all this makes me feel anxious, it is so hard to put our children in the care of others.


Tanya @ TeenAutism said...

Hi Bonnie,

Sounds like Matthew has been getting quite a workout. Aidan used to refuse to drink water, and then I got him a hydration pack so that he could sip from the tube while exercising, and that helped him to increase his water intake. Also, in addition to squirting, perhaps the aide could mist Matthew, from a regular spray bottle set to mist. That might help to hydrate him. Take care.

My Autism Insights said...

I'm not sure what advice I could offer either. My son thrives on as much physical activity as he can get. All I know about horticulture is that it has to do with gardening. I'm curious to know about the medication Matthew is on?

Elizabeth Channel said...

I like that hydration pack idea that Tanya suggested. I think it's great he's developing a love of running!

tanya @ teenautism said...

Hi Bonnie,
In response to your other questions, Aidan was 9 when I got the hydration pack for him. He's always been very oral defensive as part of his Sensory Processing Disorder and would not drink water. So I got the hydration pack for two reasons: I thought he might find it a more "fun" way to drink water, and he can control how much because of the valve on the mouthpiece. I would suggest going to a sporting goods store to look at them first because there are different types of valves, so you can see what might work best for Matthew. Then you can probably buy it cheaper online. I have a photo of Aidan with his hydration pack from the first time he used it. He's actually smiling! I'm not sure if I can post it though, because it was taken before I went digital. I'll see if I can scan it.

jj-momscashblog said...

great site you have here, I think it is full of very informative information! I will make sure to come back and visit this site frequently. Thanks for a great post and am wishing you the best of luck!!! I'll be back and visit often.

hollywoodjaded said...

From my experience, LAUSD is the Guantanamo Bay of school districts. BTW, where's the APE Instructor in all this? said...

I have an 18 month old son, Brady.

When he was born, the nurses said, "Ten fingers and ten toes. He's perfect."

Yet I have a significant hearing loss and wear hearing aids in both ears. So when I read your post, I can somewhat empathize and at the same time, be thankful.

Thanks for sharing about all you go through. And thanks for being so good to your son.

Frogs' mom said...

Hi Bonnie,

Sorry, I don't have advice. But I do have an award for you at Frog's School! Stop by and pick it up :-)

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