I was going to write a rant today but after being home now for a few hours my anger has turned to sadness.
I looked over my list of possible writing topics but nothing appeals to me right now.
So I will talk about one of my boys - M. M is the student who lives in a group home, not with his parents. He is a beautiful boy of Italian descent and when I look at him I think of how much the artist Michelangelo would have loved to paint his portrait. M is an angel I cannot fix.
Let me tell you about a practise amongst educational assistants. I have 7 EAs who work closely with my students, some work 1:1 with the students who have autism. M is one of those students. Yesterday he lost his EA. At another highschool in my city 2 EAs were declared redundant. When an EA is declared redundant at their school they have a choice: take a position where there is a temp EA currently working OR "bump" someone with less seniority and take their job. The "bumped" EA goes through the same process - take an exisiting position with a temp EA or bump someone lower...etc...etc it can go on for months before everyone is settled.
This is in their contract and there is nothing I or anyone else can do about it.
M's new EA had a really rough day. M wouldn't eat his lunch and when it was time to go to physed he began trying to bite the new EA. Two more EAs talked to M who was lying on the floor in the hallway and withing 2-3 minutes he agreed to walk back inside my classroom and go sit in our "quiet room". M made several attempts to get past other EAs in order to bite his new EA. We had to send the new EA to another area so M couldn't see him. He was extremely anxious and agitated and tried to bite and kick the EAs. Once he was seated the EAs left the quiet room and closed the door but M tried and tried to get out. He kicked the door many times and then started banging his head against the door. The EAs (not his) had to go in to prevent him from injuring himself. I called his group home to send staff to pick him up and take him home. When M was calmer staff again left the room but M then kicked the cement block wall with his foot and began to sob. He cried and cried as though his heart was broken. I realized then just how much he was grieving the loss of his EA, his one true friend. It was the saddest moment I've ever witnessed.
We put some ice on his foot and he put a piece in his mouth. An EA continued to feed him ice chips until group home staff arrived to take him home. He kept saying to himself "don't cry."
I don't know what tomorrow will bring. The new EA is going to have to try to make a connection with M - it won't be easy. M had such a close bond with his former EA and he has no understanding of "bumping" and really, neither do I. It's a practise that puts the needs of the most vulnerable of our students last. His best friend has vanished into thin air and I can't fix it.
Thanks for listening.