Week one as a one on one: The challenges of being an EC-TA for a student who’s bipolar, adhd, and autistic.

It takes a lot of patience, understanding, commitment and constant prayers for strength.

I had a fair warning in advance about certain behaviors my student has, even before I accepted this position. Knowing these things, I turned down another job offer and decided to take on the challenge of being an EC-TA.

Day 1

I went to work with an open mind, a positive attitude, and although I’d heard from numerous staff members, stories of how troublesome this little girl is, I was not judgmental. I like to get to know people for myself instead of prejudging them.

I was prepared. Her mom already had gave me a fair warning to wear tennis shoes and tie my hair back- I was ready. I didn’t know what to expect but I had already prayed for strength for whatever was the come.

When my student arrived to class, she was excited about the first day of school. The first thing I noticed about her was her cute but mischievous face. She puts me in the mind of a terrible two year old- so cute but at the same time up to no good. I greeted her with a smile and she greeted me back and we began our day.

A couple of hours in, I found myself chasing her for the second time. She runs like a track star. Seriously, she’s 13 years old but runs like a triathlon pro. I tried to keep up with her but strained my left calf. I did manage to catch her and escort her back to class, with difficulty. I learned not to turn my back or she’ll jump on it, and she did- she’s not a small kid either. She jumped on one TA’s back last year and gave her two bulging disks.

During day one, I noticed that there are three favorite places she likes to run. The first place is the music room, or the classroom to the right of our classroom, or to the bathroom. We try to get her to use the restroom in our class, because if she runs to the restroom in the hallway, she will also run to one of her other favorite places.

My student is very smart. I’ve learned that I have to keep an eye on her at all times. If I blink she will be into something. She will climb under her desk or mine to run away, she climbs up the cabinet, and even climbs out the window. As I said before she is very fast and will physically abuse you if she doesn’t get her way.

Although day one was challenging, nothing could prepare me for day two.

All hell broke loose.

My morning began with a teacher giving me a happiness token of appreciation. She commended me for how well I was doing and even said that she and other staff had been praying for someone like me for a long time.

My gift of happiness. 🤗

God has a sense of humor… that’s all I’ll say.

Day one my student had two tantrums. Day two she multiplied them, and spit at me, punched, kicked, scratched, and tried to bite me several times when she didn’t get her way. Her mom told me in advance that I would have to be stern and don’t give her an inch or she’d take a mile, so, I took heed. I spoke to her in a mother like fashion to let her know that fighting me was not acceptable. I tried to restrain her, but things got so bad that we had to call the administration staff to assist.

She has superhero strength and it takes supernatural powers to contain her.

Her mom came to pick her up early Tuesday, and Wednesday was the best day this week. I’m not sure what her mom said or did, but it worked for my good.

Thursday I had to take off work, and then there came Friday. Every time I speak that she’s having a good day, it’s like I speak too soon. The principal even told me not to speak it out loud or I could jinx it, and I did, twice. Friday she was cussing, like always, and taking other students belongings. During the week, she even went into the refrigerator and drink the teacher’s soda without permission and ate all his freeze pops.

I know that it sounds like she’s a villain, but she can be sweet, sometimes. She does all her work the majority of the time, as long as she can play on her I-pad in between. Sometimes she compromise and sometimes she doesn’t, like today when she demanded to go outside. I told her that if she was good, I’d take her outside, but instead of being good, she knocked over the items on my desk and the bookshelf. She did pick them up, but then proceeded to go outside without me, by crawling out of the window.

If you don’t give her her way, she takes it. I am learning to think like her, but faster, because where there is an opportunity for her to get what she wants, she will stop at nothing to get it, so I have to be on point all of the time. Admin had to assist with her, once again. This was the third time in five days, and some days we needed their assistance several times a day.

This job is not for the weak, and could easily send the strongest person, running to the hills. I’m yet holding on though, even by a thread.

Smile through it.

The teacher who I assist, brought me some brownies today.

I’m not a man, but the way to my heart is definitely through my stomach.

I don’t know what God is trying to prepare me for in this season, but I’m learning to exercise patience (a lot), set boundaries and stick to them, and remember I can’t change a person, I can only change my response, so that’s what I’m working on. I can’t get all worked up and stressed out when my student is lashing out. I must practice self control.

Although I’m hanging on by a piece of thread, I’m holding on with God’s strength- His grace is sufficient.

To the far left are affirmations for my student.

This week has been by far, one of the most challenging weeks of my life, but I remain happy and optimistic. I even prayed for her in the midst of the difficulties.

Book shelf/ task box.

My goal is to establish a relationship with my student that’s built on trust, mutual understanding, healthy communication, and respect. I can see progress already, very small progress, but nevertheless, it’s positive progression.

Area for her to practice writing her alphabets.

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