One of the children in my class, Teddy, has now been officially transferred to another school.
Teddy, a child I firmly believed fell somewhere on the autistic spectrum, had seriously delayed social skills, and although he did fill my blog with numerous entries regarding strange incidents, the truth was that I had been continually advocating for further testing and examination of alternate settings for well over the course of a year and a half.
Teddy was that target of bullying. He was the weakest in the class, and was often subject to degrading and insulting remarks by other students. I would have Teddy arrive to school early to help me set up my classroom for the day, with the hope that I could spare him any early morning quarrels. And I had so, so many meetings with my class about the need to support him and accept his unique behaviors.
And although I knew that I could control some of his social pressures within the confines of my classroom, I was also cognizant of the fact that I couldn't control the interactions he had outside of my classrooom. And apparently, the teasing and humiliation that bullying can bring was just too much.
I really am not at liberty to give many details of what transpired on the days leading up to the the "incident." But some violent behaviors at school and some disturbing writings and drawings found in his notebook (yes, I snooped) indicated that Teddy was well on his way to either hurting himself or others.
The scale tipped one morning in my classroom with a series of incidents. I then called the school's psychologist when Teddy shared with me a piece of paper that he had written.
Teddy left in an ambulance that morning. I walked him to the vehicle with a large number of police and paramedics surrounding us. Teddy froze on the stairwell and wouldn't budge. I asked the paramedic who appeared to be in charge if it would be okay to walk him out alone, just myself, and get him situated in the vehicle. They were kind enough to oblige, and with rain pouring down, Teddy apprehensively stepped into the back of the ambulance. I can't remember exactly what I said to him in the back of the ambulance, but I do remember holding his hand firmly and not wanting to let go.
Teddy was observed at the hospital for a fair amount of time. He is now in an alternate placement and receiving additional services.
I haven't removed his work from my bulletin boards. I don't have an intention of doing so. On the first day of school I made my students create "aspiration" balloons out of construction paper, in which they listed their 3 primary goals for the school year. I posted them, and sometimes kids from the gen ed population come into my classroom and snicker at them. But I like them, and I make my students refer back to them to measure their own progress.
After the E&A exam was completed, and the students began to remove the poster paper covering the walls, one of my students pointed out Teddy's balloon to the rest of the class. They all read it in silence, and a couple of students began to converse about Teddy's whereabouts. When one of my new students asked who Teddy was, one of my students explained to her that he went to the hospital and then transferred schools. When the new student inquired further, another student explained, "You know how words can hurt? Teddy was just hurt too much."