The case of Robyn looks at a young girl who has been identified as being seriously developmentall...

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The case of Robyn looks at a young girl who has been identified as being seriously developmentally disabled. Her language abilities are below age norms and she suffers from behavioural issues stemming from self-regulation problems. At age 7, Robyn spent a few months at a developmental centre until she became ill. She began suffering from severe respiratory problems which resulted in her leaving the centre. At age eight, she began attending a mainstream school in a regular grade 1 class. After three weeks, a decision was made to move Robyn to a special resource class, which continued through grade four. Since then, she has been integrated into a regular class and has moved up with her classmates. Robyn began to struggle in a mainstream class due to her developmental and behavioural delays. Robyn suffers from a speech delay in which she only responds in third person and using baby-like language. She is unable to read, but she enjoys when others read to her. She also does not participate in class discussions and activities. She is incapable of completing work on her own and needs the help of others to complete tasks. She enjoys individual time at the art table however, when she gets bored she throws violent temper tantrums. Since there is no assistance available to care for Robyn in the class, the burden is put onto the classmates to care for and assist Robyn. This has become too much for her peers, causing Robyn to lose connections within the class. This has resulted in her tantrums becoming more frequent as well as severe. The principal has called for an IPRC review as a result of Robyn's needs not being met in the classroom. Robyn's mother does not want her removed and placed back in to the special education class, but there is no assistant available for Robyn in her class. The outcome of the meeting was to begin with preparing a new IEP and creating a plan using available resources. by Mind Map: The case of Robyn looks at a young girl who has been identified as being seriously developmentally disabled. Her language abilities are below age norms and she suffers from behavioural issues stemming from self-regulation problems.  At age 7, Robyn spent a few months at a developmental centre until she became ill. She began suffering from severe respiratory problems which resulted in her leaving the centre. At age eight, she began attending a mainstream school in a regular grade 1 class. After three weeks, a decision was made to move Robyn to a special resource class, which continued through grade four. Since then, she has been integrated into a regular class and has moved up with her classmates.  Robyn began to struggle in a mainstream class due to her developmental and behavioural delays. Robyn suffers from a speech delay in which she only responds in third person and using baby-like language. She is unable to read, but she enjoys when others read to her. She also does not participate in class discussions and activities. She is incapable of completing work on her own and needs the help of others to complete tasks. She enjoys individual time at the art table however, when she gets bored she throws violent temper tantrums.   Since there is no assistance available to care for Robyn in the class, the burden is put onto the classmates to care for and assist Robyn. This has become too much for her peers, causing Robyn to lose connections within the class. This has resulted in her tantrums becoming more frequent as well as severe.  The principal has called for an IPRC review as a result of Robyn's needs not being met in the classroom. Robyn's mother does not want her removed and placed back in to the special education class, but there is no assistant available for Robyn in her class. The outcome of the meeting was to begin with preparing a new IEP and creating a plan using available resources.

1. Interpretation/Connection to Text

1.1. In week six, we discussed how a developmental disability is characterized through three criteria which are: “an inability to profit from a special education program for students with mild intellectual disabilities because of slow intellectual behaviour; an inability to profit from a special education program that is designed to accommodate slow intellectual development; a limited potential for academic learning, independent social adjustment, and economic self-support” (Bennet, Dworet & Weber, 2019, Ch. 11). Robyn's developmental disability fits within the official criteria. Her slow intellectual development has hindered her ability to profit from a special education program designed for students with mild intellectual disabilities. Robyn has minimal potential for academic learning as she is unable to read, work independently, or communicate. Robyn would benefit from a special education program or proper resources, as she is unable to support and regulate herself.

1.2. According to Ontario's Equity and Inclusive Education Strategy, the school board is required to “develop, implement and monitor an equity and inclusive education policy” (Ontario Curriculum, 2014, pg. 62). This policy ensures that students are included in the class while receiving the resources and assistance required for success. The IPRC review follows the policy guidelines as it provides both Robyn and her mother with information regarding the resources and assistance available to Robyn. The school followed some guidelines, however, they could work on their commitment to the equity and inclusive education policy.

1.3. Students with developmental disabilities who are in a regular classroom would benefit from strategies such as differentiated instruction, direct support, resource teacher or support staff (session 6). Robyn does not have access to any of the aforementioned strategies, which can be linked to her regression of skills and abilities.

2. Student's Perspective

2.1. Hello, my name is Robyn and I have a developmental disability that affects my development in a variety of ways. It is confusing and irritating waiting for and watching my parents and teachers try to figure me out and find solutions to my disability when no one understands me at all and I have an extremely hard time letting others know my needs, wants, and feelings. I am nothing but a puppet in my own life. Being alone stresses me out because I struggle with performing activities of daily living that normal kids can do on their own. Often I find that I feel infuriated, resentful, frustrated, depressed, hopeless, guilty, and even embarrassed living the way I do as I mourn the normal life that I will never have. I wish the kids in class would talk to me and work with me in class like they used to. I have no idea why they have left me alone and I have no clue what I can say or do to express my feelings. I am extremely frustrated because I know I must have done something and there is nothing I can do to change my situation.

2.2. Being seriously developmentally disabled is annoying and very challenging to live with. Not only do I have a hard time understanding anything my teacher says in class, but I cannot read, I am not always the best at communicating with my peers and I am unable to work by myself. I love interacting with others so I wish I could talk to them in a way that I am understood and accepted. Having friends, working with others and feeling a sense of belonging makes me feel happy because I forget for a bit about how different I am. It is discouraging when I try to talk to people and I can see it in their eyes that they perceive me as someone different. I just want to be normal, accepted and involved in the class like everyone else. Moreover, I hate how I do not have complete control over my emotions and how I react to different scenarios. I cannot help that I get bored so easily or my brain cannot calm down after something exciting or upsetting. I want to be able to focus on things, but I simply cannot control my impulses.

2.3. I would feel better at school and in my daily life if I felt more supported by the people around me. With no friends to talk to anymore and no educational assistant to help me, I feel isolated and frustrated with everything when in the classroom. I am on the outskirts in my school community and I would feel a greater sense of belonging if I got to interact with other kids like me. Having a supportive group of people around me who know what I am going through because they are going through something similar themselves will enable me to feel like I am not alone. Also, I feel like if the kids in my class better understood my condition and did not go out of their way to avoid me, I would not feel so embarrassed all the time. I want the people around me to see me for our similarities rather than just focusing on our differences so that they are not afraid to interact with me (Bennett, Dworet & Weber, 2019). Additionally, I would feel better in the classroom if I knew what to expect in class every day. Having a consistent schedule or person who will be there for me will make me feel way less anxious and frustrated being in the classroom. Finally, since I do not get to talk to a lot of people for a majority of the time, I would appreciate if my teacher created opportunities for me to work with people in the class. Whether I am given a simple task in the classroom or a special role in a group task, this will help me build relationships with the other students in my class which I otherwise do not know how to properly initiate on my own.

3. Parent's Perspective

3.1. From a parent perspective of a child with a developmental disability such of that of Robyn’s, it is difficult to decide what it best for your child, especially after trying many different options. On one hand, special resource classes are the best option because you know your child will be getting the necessary direct support for their developmental disabilities. On the other hand though, a regular classroom setting is also the best option because you want your child to have the same educational opportunities as all the other students. As a parent who has decided to keep their child in a regular classroom setting, it is so important to meet with the teacher and principal to make sure that the necessary resources are being provided to the child in the regular classroom setting because without communication, their necessary needs may not be met or they may be being met incorrectly. From a parent perspective though, I do believe that having the opportunity for your child to be in a regular classroom setting is the most fair and equitable option. It is important that children with developmental disabilities are given the same rights to education, and a regular classroom setting is a great environment to stimulate their development.

3.2. As a parent who has constantly been struggling with finding the right educational fit for their child with developmental disabilities, it is very disheartening to know that there have been complaints from other parents about the frequent and severe tantrums of Robyn. What these other parents do not take into consideration is that Robyn is not being provided with the necessary resources in class to succeed. Robyn does not have an educational assistant available in class to work directly with her and has just been relying on other students in the class to guide her. As a parent of Robyn in this situation, you may therefore feel very angered, upset, or perhaps even at a loss for words. You may experience these feelings towards the teachers and principal, or towards the other parents expressing these complaints. Due to these angered feelings, it is without a doubt that you would have a meeting with the school staff to discuss further options for Robyn. It would be appropriate for you to take action to ensure that Robyn can remain in the regular classroom setting and that changes are being made to prepare a new plan of action to assist Robyn.

3.3. Some strategies or approaches that I would propose as a parent of Robyn would first be to work with Robyn’s strengths. It is evident that Robyn is content when she gets to work with other students, when she is read to, or when she gets to be a part of the activities of her interests. Therefore, a good strategy may be to find a few other students in the class who understand Robyn’s situation and pair her with them for school work. That way, Robyn still gets the same educational opportunities as the other students, but the tasks are being accommodated for her in a way where they work to meet her strengths and keep her content. Another strategy or approach that I would propose as a parent of Robyn would be to make sure that the teacher is maintaining an organized classroom in which manageable tasks are being given. Robyn tends to throw tantrums when she becomes tired of an activity, but the tantrums are manageable if she is quickly redirected. Therefore, if the teacher thrives to create an organized classroom, Robyn may be likely to throw less tantrums because she will be following a lot of structure and will be working on manageable (not lengthy) tasks. One more strategy or approach that I would propose as a parent of Robyn would be to have the school staff really work hard to find an educational assistant for Robyn in the classroom. It is evident that Robyn needs frequent assistance and it is not fair to the teacher and students, who are not as knowledgeable in developmental disabilities, to constantly assist her. Having an educational assistant would ensure the parent of Robyn that she is constantly being provided with adequate and appropriate assistance in the classroom and that her learning goals are being met.

3.4. Taking all the above factors into consideration, I believe that an appropriate plan of action as the parent of Robyn would be to meet with the teacher, principal, and any other additional teachers on a weekly basis to ensure that Robyn’s needs are being met. By meeting on a weekly basis, the parent can discuss with the teacher and principal what is working, what is not, and therefore make frequent changes and find other strategies to assist Robyn. As a parent, it is very important to be involved in the educational plan of a child with developmental disabilities because school is where they spend a great deal of their time. Therefore, you want to ensure that the staff there is allowing your child to grow as a learner and are not hindering their academic, social, and developmental success. A child like Robyn who requires a lot of assistance will always have strategies that work for them and strategies that do not. As a parent meeting with the school staff on a weekly basis will allow for changes to be made to those strategies before it is too late and will also provide the parent with an opportunity to discuss the developmental success of their child.

3.5. I believe that one of the most important roles of a parent with a child with developmental disabilities is to be involved in their educational experience. As a parent, it is easy to just leave them in the hands of the experts and have them help the child meet their developmental learning needs, but as the parent, you can also contribute to their success. It is important to be committed to your child’s learning because you want to see them hit the same learning milestones as their peers. Therefore, it is important to meet with the school staff frequently regarding your child’s learning, find out ways you can enhance your child’s learning at home, and provide them with any additional resources they may need to ensure that their learning at school can take place. It is so important to demonstrate teachers, principals, and the child, that as a parent, you care about the success of your child and want what is best for them in regards to education.

4. Teacher's Perspective

4.1. As a teacher one of my main goals is to ensure that all my students are given what they need in order to succeed. It is also one of my main priorities to ensure that my classroom is a safe welcoming environment where all students are both engaged as well as included. As a teacher is can be difficult to try create inclusive classroom when you have a student with special needs who has no assistance of their own. As a result of the student not having extra supports it becomes critical for the teacher to create open lines of communication with the parents as well as the principle to ensure that the student is getting consistent help where and when needed. It is also important for the teacher to respect the parent’s decision, in this case it is to keep Robyn in a regular classroom, despite it potentially not being the best thing for the student at this time.

4.1.1. As a teacher who does not have the extra assistance necessary in the class to effectively help Robyn it can be difficult to ensure that she is getting the attention and help she requires to benefit from class and reach her full potential. It is also difficult for the teacher and most likely frustrating that Robyn is not able to speak properly as the teacher has to deal with the constant frequent tantrums without knowing what caused it. This also becomes a problem in the class as the teacher has to stop what she is doing to handle the situation. This is difficult as it also has negative repercussions on the rest of the class. As a teacher I would feel defeated at the fact that I am unable to accommodate the student on my own and as a result of not having assistance then has to rely on my other students to help. As a teacher, this makes me feel as though I am now hindering the learning of other students. It would also be difficult as a teacher to not be frustrated at the fact that the parent is adamant on the student continuing in the class the way it is not really taking into consideration the impact it has on not only the other students but the teacher as well.

4.1.1.1. As the teacher I would propose strategies and/or approaches that would benefit Robyn being in a regular classroom. Knowing that Robyn enjoys working with others I would incorporate group work into the day but have the students rotate round. I would have the other students rotate to help eliminate the stress that the other students are feeling in regards to having always be a helper. In order to address the problem regarding tantrums a strategy I would employ as the teacher is giving Robyn an outline (using pictures) of what the day will look like and explaining what we will be doing in each lesson so there are no surprises. Another strategy I would employ is working with Robyn to come up with a better way to tell me that she is done with an activity before she had a tantrum (i.e. raising her hand or cleaning up her work area). Another strategy I would employ is giving Robyn a mess book that she can draw or colour in when she completes her work so that she always has a task to work on when finished with another. Lastly, I would suggest to the parents that they consider getting Robyn and educational assistant to help out when she is in class or even to just take her out of the class when she needs a break to relieve her stress.

5. Principal's Perspective

5.1. As the principal, one of my jobs is to oversee the daily happenings of the school. This includes monitoring inclusion and how students with exceptionalities are being integrated into the traditional classroom. I pay close attention to Robyn, because her situation has always been complex. She thrives off of the social aspects of being with a group of students her age, however, she requires lots of educational attention in order to provide her with an adequate education. I recognize her need for support and if I could give her a one-on-one EA, I would. Unfortunately, there just isn’t enough funding in the board.

5.2. The first strategy I have proposed is conducting an IPRC review to identify Robyn’s needs and recommend the programs and services that would be appropriate for her. After the first meeting with the IPRC, the committee suggested the school create a new IEP for Robyn. I am working with Robyn’s teacher on a continuous basis to create an effective IEP for her. As a next step, I will suggest to Robyn’s mom a combination of a special education class and a regular class. I would propose a special education class with partial integration, where Robyn is placed in a special education class for at least 50% of the school day but is integrated with a regular class for at least one instructional period. I believe that this is a realistic plan of action for Robyn because it provides her with the social experiences that she craves while also giving her the one-on-one attention that she deserves to be successful. I would also recommend that Robyn’s teacher gets to know her interests, such as being read to, and use those interests to tailor a special education program that is stimulating and interesting for her.

5.3. I understand the significance of this issue and I have a lot of compassion for Robyn and her mom. The education that Robyn receives now will determine her quality of life in the future. I know that now is the time that we need to push her academically, so that she can gain as many skills as possible. I feel guilty for being in the way of Robyn receiving the best education possible. I believe Robyn deserves one-on-one assistance from an EA, however, systemic issues beyond my control are inhibiting that. I know the situation isn’t ideal, but I am confident that we can come to a solution with the help of an IPRC review. I am consistently communicating with Robyn’s mom to demonstrate my care and compassion for the issue. I hope I can be a source of support for Robyn and her family.

5.4. I hope that my proposed solutions will meet the needs of Robyn. I plan to follow up on a regular basis on Robyn’s adjustment and enjoyment of her new routine. I want Robyn’s mom to know that I am more than happy to re-evaluate the situation and try something new if Robyn doesn't seem to be excelling with partial integration. I know that it is important for Robyn to be a part of as many enriching learning opportunities that she can be, so I will do whatever I can to help give her that.