After some quick detective work I tracked down Beth’s missing IEP today. I still have to sign this thing so finding it was pretty important considering school is ending soon. Turns out it was still on the secretary’s desk. No harm done, I have it now. Once it landed in my hand I grabbed a glass of ice water (boring) and got comfy on the couch. Every word was perfectly in place, every service/accommodation in the right grid/Plep, it all made sense and was exactly what we had agreed upon. I really can’t tell you how awesome that is!
Then I got to a sentence that read “Parents have been given information about bullying”.
Yeah, I totally forgot about that part of the IEP meeting. The part where we were told that children with Autism or any kind of social issue have a significantly large risk of becoming victims of bullying or becoming bullies. The team discussed how Beth really does have a serious risk of becoming a victim of bullying because she is lacking self advocation (may have made that word up) skills. Her goals this year center around learning how to identify a need for help, when to ask for help, how to stand up for herself, and how to express that she isn’t okay with something. Then I was reminded that she already was bullied once this year. A typical peer, a little girl, was most not impressed with my girl’s existence in her class. I mentioned it in passing a few times to her teacher but I didn’t take it as seriously as I should have. Or rather, I didn’t press it as hard as I should have. I truly believed that this was 3rd grade girls being girls. This little girl was incredibly hurtful to Beth. No, I wasn’t there… but if my daughter says the child was hurtful, then I accept that as my daughter’s truth. This child may not have felt she was being hurtful but it all boiled over one day into a massive meltdown filled with self-hatred and self-injury. The very next morning I talked to the guidance counselor that works with my daughter closely and the guidance counselor said that I waited WAY too long to bring it to her attention and that she would work with both girls and work on the obviously lacking skills with both children. Ms. Guidance Counselor said more than that but its really more important to protect said child’s privacy.
Moving backwards, Beth had a significant number of issues last year at the other school when it came to peer relationships. She had 1 friend in kindergarten but was friendly with other children and no real friends in preschool.
This tells me that…. yes, she’s obviously a target for bullying. Next time I will not wait so long to reach out for help. I’m very glad I didn’t present it as “bullying” this year though because the zero tolerance rules are sometimes way too harsh when you are dealing with a child lacking skills and not trying to be mean. Whatever they did for the remainder of this year seems to have helped as Beth reports that her and this little girl are “kinda friends and she’s pretty nice now”. To me that’s a far better outcome than a punishment with no ability to learn the missing skills.
We have a lot of work left to do with Beth to teach her how to tell people that she’s not okay with how she is being treated. She’s going to be 9 in July. I need her to know this skill before peer pressure becomes awful and before the school reduces her services.