The School Called Again - Facing Behavioral Exclusion

Another hurdle for parents of children diagnosed or at-risk for a special need in school is that our children miss far more school days than children without a disability.

This quote is from a Chicago Tribune article, A Challenge Unmet, by Jackson and Marx (Nov. 13, 2012). It appeared as part of a Tribune series on truancy in the Chicago Public Schools. The article cites: "informal exclusion from school is a nationwide problem for children with disabilities.” 

I can report that I was called numerous times for behavioral consultation on my son with a diagnosed learning disability and anxiety.  Frequently I was encouraged to come and get him – because he couldn’t handle the rest of the day. I was fortunate to have learned advocacy at Tuesday’s Child. I would shift the issue back into the schools by saying “what can he handle for the rest of the day – and how to we make that happen?”

Some of our preschool children are in classes of up to 20 children, while our early elementary school kids are in classes of over 30 children. Children struggling with regulation, irritability, attention or impulsivity have difficulty maintaining appropriate behavior for long stretches of time in these large classes. Often teachers agree that the problem lies with too many children in a class and too few adults providing the structure needed to set children up for success. As parents we are often put in the position to educate the school that this is a system problem – not our child’s problem, and we all need to advocate to put the supports in place to keep our child in school. 

While Cory H. lawsuit ended the illegal segregation of special education students in separate classes, we are still challenged with the informal exclusion of children with disabilities because of their behavior.

3 tips to get you started on the right foot:

  1. Be your child’s best advocate – If your child has an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) or needs one, you have rights under the IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act). Contact your school counselor to make sure the proper supports and services are in place within the school, and be sure the school is providing those services.
  2. Work with your child’s teacher – You can help the teacher help your child by sharing techniques that can help with regulation (e.g. sensory breaks, visual cues/reminders, deep breathing, etc).
  3. Do your part to make sure your child is on-time and ready for school each day.  If the morning routine is a struggle with your child, you may want to pack lunch and clothes the evening before, complete and check homework before bedtime, and make sure everyone knows the morning schedule and expectations. 

Tuesday’s Child’s Behavioral Intervention programs provide parents with tools to set their children up for success, and helps parents advocate for their children in school. For more information or to register, click here.  

Written by: JoAnne Loper

JoAnne Loper is the Director of Parent Training at Tuesday’s Child. She lives in Chicago and has four boys. Tuesday’s Child helps families address behavioral issues through individualized training for both parents and children. The agency has been a member of NPN since 2009.

Posted on December 14, 2012 at 10:39 AM