Safety Issues: ELOPEMENT PLAN AND FBA

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Cornelia:  A FBA has determined that my preschool son is an eloper.
An elopement plan was created and discussed at a recent IEP meeting. I questioned the school security and learned that there are no door alarms. When I asked why, the Director responded with “we have never had an incident”. Is the school required to have door alarms?

I requested a personal aide for my child to provide additional support in the Gen Ed class and the Director denied my request stating that there is enough support. The classroom has 18 children, 2 teachers and an aid. I am concerned with my sons behavioral issues and eloping, this is not good enough. Is this adequate support for a preschool child with Autism who is an eloper?

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pjr

Can how elopement is handled be defined in the IEP and override district policy? My son would have the wherewithal to be safe and call us from a cell if he left the school. He would also most likely not leave unless he felt threatened again. We may try reintegration to school soon. He has PTSD from being locked in a room for a couple hours due to sitting at his desk not working on a worksheet (long story). I just don’t want the police called if he leaves and school states policy is to call police since he is typically well behaved.

Cornelia

Thank you. Aside from the harsh words that were used to describe my son in the FBA, yes, I was ok with the results of the FBA. It did address the elopement behavior, and the when & why it occurs, including a BIP. My son attends an ECC in NJ.

Should the elopement plan include a map of the surrounding area & bodies of water in the area? I want to cover everything. The thought have caused me so much stress and worry. The school director seems to have a very lax approach, in my opinion. Maintaining an arms length between my son and an instructor, performing head counts and providing cell phones to the staff just doesn’t sound safe enough to me. The information documented to support reasons for needing an individual aide is the assessments which outline the non productive behavior, aggression, eloping, short attention, and self injurious behavior to name a few. My son is non-verbal and has difficulty following direction. He was diagnosed with ASD and sensory disorder.

Sophie

Cornelia, for your peace of mind, I would suggest you look into Project Lifesaver, or something similar.

If the FBA was not written in a professional tone, you may want to reject it and ask for an independent one (paid for by the district). Ask around with other parents, and with mental health professionals in your area, to see if there’s someone good there who can do one in the school.

Besides working on your own child’s IEP and elopement plan, you can get involved in your school and district safety committees. For the district safety committee meetings, you may need to dig a bit to get their meeting minutes and their meeting schedule. For your school safety committee, you may need to prod a bit for it to become more active. Check your state regs to see what is required, and quote them if you encounter a laissez-faire attitude.

Kristy

Well the classroom stats sound great, however they may not be what your child needs. In the preK classes i used to work in had one teacher and 2-3 aides depending on time of day. They had ~14 students with IEPs and ~3-4 without. My campus was locked, but we had push open doors near the bathroom, where students could elope. The school was able to install flip latches within easy reach of adults but too high for students to reach.
I haven’t had a student who eloped that seriously where the plan included a map of the surrounding areas so I can’t comment on that.

Cornelia:

You are right to be concerned about elopement. “We have never had an incident” sounds like a typical “gatekeeper” response. But – don’t be led down that path. Could be a good time to think outside the box and work with the Director to reach a positive safe solution for your son that would benefit all kids in the class.

I don’t have a direct answer for you, just more questions. First, were you satisfied with the FBA? Did it address the elopement behavior – when / why it occurs? These issues must be addressed (as well as physical environment issues).

When thinking outside the box, use other laws / regulations (not just IDEA / IEP regs) to search for a solution.

Whatever state you are in will have regulations regarding fire code and environmental safety. Take a look at these regs. Does the classroom have (is it required to have?) push bars on exit doors? Are they installed correctly, at correct height? Many of these come already equipped with alarms. Is this an avenue that might resolve the problem and improve the safety of all kids?

Does the preschool use an ECERS scale (Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale)? Just looking at the indicators on the scale might help you assess space / furnishings / safety issues and help find an answer to the problem.

Not sure what type of preschool your son attends. What regs in your state determine class ratios and supervision issues? (Dept of Ed? Health? Social Services?) Review these regs.

Ratio: 3 adults / 18 children, but this does not mean your individual child will not require a personal aide. Do you have written documented support for all the reasons your child might need an aide?

Review info from the IACC (Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee), the CDC, and the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) – all have addressed wandering / elopement as an important safety issue. Make copies of relevant info for the Director.

Are you documenting all your requests (and the school’s responses) in writing?

Just some suggestions for consideration.

Leslie

I was thinking along the same lines as what Wrights law suggested.
As a former pre school teacher and working with children with disabilities several things come to mind on preventing any child from eloping.
Ratio of adults to children has a lot to do with it. They seemed to be staffed where they can shift more guidance around him to where he doesn’t want to leave. Also, children do things because they are telling us something . Using the behavior as his language. Is it at a certain time he does the? assessing the environment , any transition may instigate him to want to elope. Lots of layers but worth exploring.
This may or may have not helped. My hope is that he gets what he needs.