Thursday, March 6, 2014

Behaviors and The IEP

One thing many people do not realize can be put in a IEP is punishments for behaviors. Sure there's the Behavior intervention plan that is part of many IEPs but is what in there appropriate? Does it really help or does it increase behaviors?

I have seen IEPs where it it clearly stated that the child is not to be sent home for behaviors. Sometimes the schools get into a habit of calling mom or dad every-time the child acts out and having him sent home. This does not work.

The send the kid home approach makes behaviors increase not decrease. What the school is doing is teaching Johnny that hey if you act up we will call mom and you get to go home. Guess what Johnny just figured out how to go home and avoid whatever he doesn't want to do at school.

The fix is pretty simple. If it is stated that the school cannot call mom to come get Johnny because they are just reenforcing behaviors, the school is now forced to do other things. They can no longer just make a phone call and be rid of him. Same goes for suspension. For many kids in school suspension is a much bigger deterrent than out of school. One of my kids went through a suspension run. It didn't bother him because he had figured out how to get out of school.

Now they have to find out what is going on. Best way to stop unwanted behaviors is to find the reason behind them. What happened right before Johnny hit the teacher? What happened earlier in the day? Is this a build up or was there a trigger? Oh there was a disruption in the schedule. Ok what can be done in the future. We can warn Johnny of the change ahead of time when ever possible.

Behavior is communication. When everyone takes a step back and looks at the whole picture not just the act solutions can be found. Sometimes in this process you may find that Johnny is not in a proper placement, it can be as simple as changing teachers or as extreme as switching schools. When it comes down to it everyone's best interest needs to be making sure Johnny is in a setting that he can reach a full potential.

So my suggestion to any parent that finds themselves on the receiving end of phone calls from the school to come get Johnny. Demand a meeting. Sit down with the team. Demand answers to why the behaviors are occurring? What is the school doing? Are they trying anything or just skipping to calling home? Would a placement change help Johnny? Get a plan in line for appropriate actions that can be used rather than calling home. Make the school do their job. Make them answer. If your child is old enough an d wants to bring them into the meeting, let them have their say on what is going on.

The number one thing I would like to say is you are not a failure. Your child is not a failure. There is no shame in asking for help or making the school step up and help you find solutions. Remember in the end it is not about you, it is not about the school, it is about what is best for your child.

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