Monday, March 07, 2011

max's student safety plan for junior kindergarten.

There isn't a day that goes by that doesn't test your inner metal when you have a child with Autism. It may be something relatively small, like being told Max wiped his nose with his hand 198 times during his ABA session, which is why his face is raw. Sometimes it is much worse, like being called to take Max to the ER because his elbow has been dislocated at school. Or maybe it's the sharp pain in your heart when you explain to the flooring sales guy that the reason you are putting laminate in your son's bedroom is that he defecates on his bedroom floor every morning.  There are days when I take it all in stride and these things don't bother me so much.  But there are also days when something that was supposed to be innocent (like checking Max's school backpack) ambushes me with a sneak attack. 

This morning, as I was putting Max's lunch and snacks in his bag for school, I pulled out the communication book that his teacher uses to tell me how his day has gone.  Apparently on Friday Max took all his clothes off from the waist down to express his displeasure with something.  Huh. That is not what did me in.  Tucked in to the yellow communication book was a 5 page document titled "Student Safety Plan". 

The document states:
  • developed in response to risk of injury to the student and others
  • not a plan created to remediate behaviour
  • student must have a Behaviour Plan to support Safety Plan
  • Created in consultation with the 'CORE TEAM' at school level
It goes on to list risk categories like "Physical Aggression" and "Putting Self in danger" and triggers such as "noise, confusion regarding duration of activities, task demands, and transitions", followed by 3 pages of process documentation on what is to happen if an escalating behaviour occurs. It is all so black and white.

There is something about the documentation around Max's Autism that I find quite difficult.  The words get blurry, and I often have to set them aside for review at a later time.  I have read some devastating reports that have left me sitting in my car sobbing, feeling hopeless.  The reports are absolutely necessary to get Max what he needs, be it funding, or fulfilling whatever requirements of paperwork hoops we have to jump through. 
What the reports miss completely is that the very reason for their existence, the true core of the documentation, is a 4 year old little boy.  A beautiful child with a smile that melts your heart, and eyes that touch your soul.  A boy named Max who works so very hard to fit into a world that he does not understand and for the most part, does not understand or accommodate him. 

I get that the reports and documentation  are very much necessary.  But I wish they could somehow have some humanity and acknowledge that after all is said and done, there is a child involved.

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