How would you word this?

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by klmno, May 15, 2008.

  1. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    I'm sitting here combing through the draft for difficult child's FBA and BIP. The "school psychologist" (I use that term lightly) and school district case manager basicly wrote the draft and supposedly it was being altered throughout our meeting. I am a week behind on getting this back to them- I'm slammed with stuff to do and took off work today to try to get some of it done while difficult child is at school.

    Anyway, even after meeting before with me takiing info about bipolar, asking for a mood disorder specialist to be brought in to train them, and going into specifics during the iep meeting- I can't believe that in his FBA for "when this happens", they wrote "when difficult child isn't interested". And for "strategies" in the BIP, they wrote "cm will discuss importance with difficult child". Are they kidding me? This is what the two "qualified" people come up with and they wonder why I tink they need a little training? On top of that, cm had just spent several minutes explaining to me how much experience he had with kids with ED since he used to work at a psychiatric hospital and some counseling place.

    by the way- this is referring to difficult child's inability to complete homework or get it turned in when he is cycling or under very stressful periods (llike preparing for court) or having medication changes. Obviously, they don't get it- but what is worse is that they think they do.

    Any suggestions on how I should handle this, before I lose it and call up there telling them what a disgraace it is that they think this is anywhere close to providing what is needed? I was just going to mark this up and send it back- but what good would it do to mark out what they wrote and write in that he needs coping skills and problem solving strategies? Who is going to go up there and teach them what would be adequate and how to actually do it? How do I word this to them- believe it or not, their egos seem to be more sensitive than difficult child's.

    They really think it was enough to give a lecture to a kid for this because they think it is happening just because he isn't interested. Do they really believe that bipolar is a lack of motivation and willpower? And these are their school psychiatric and Special Education cm...
  2. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I would post this on Special Education 101.
  3. CrazyinVA

    CrazyinVA Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I would also suggest contacting the Child and Adolescent Bipolar Foundation, they have many sample IEPs and were a GREAT help to me in writing Youngest's IEP in high school (their education director actually called me to go over suggestions). They also have a program especially designed for Special Education teachers/case managers about bipolar children.
  4. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I would think there would be specific strategies such as;

    If difficult child becomes off task, then teacher will ask difficult child to do something physical...not sure what with his age. Maybe they could have a code word or signal to help him get back on track or if he needs to take a time out he could ask for a drink of water and do some stretches in the hall. Maybe he needs a stress ball in his desk to help him keep it together. Or maybe a journal to write out his icky feelings when he really gets irritable. I hate to admit this but when I really get upset I want to yell bad things but sometimes it helps to just write them down in really bold letters on paper and it doesnt matter if the paper tears! No one should yell at him if he cusses or says he wants to kill someone either. It would be his book only.

    Just some thoughts
  5. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Thanks, All! I have taken the educational pamplet in the CABF, I have taken a written lists of "signs" of things specific to my son, letters from psychiatrists, etc. I was told that they would contact our local authority on BiPolar (BP) and get someone in here for training. Then- they didn't do that. I think the problem is either they really are that ignorant about BiPolar (BP)- which is absurd if they are the ones who are hired by the school district to identify, help with IEP's, and help implement accommodations for kids with problems, or, they are playing dumb.

    I had written to the school district's director of Special Education before- all that got was this ed spec involved. Well, she obviously was just hired to support what the cm says. I can't believe that neither of them know anymore than this.
  6. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    I know it's tempting to go with the "Are you kidding me?" route, but I found if I keep educating them (since clearly, they have missed out on a legitimate education despite all their claimed prowess) then even if my kid doesn't get the benefit (because I end up giving up and pulling him out of there) then maybe further down the line some other parent will benefit.

    I LOVE the way they think a good talking to will fix everything. difficult child 1 had a history teacher who thought like this - a lovely bloke, really caring, but not a flamin' clue. difficult child 1 had huge problems trying to write an essay - mind-mapping was the only strategy that came close to working. For most of his schooling life, we had spent almost every weekend with difficult child 1 in isolation, husband & I taking turns at sitting with him and trying to explain how to do the job, helping him where we could, relieving each other when we were close to hitting him.
    And here he was in senior high school, the history teaches sits him down and talks to him for half an hour. Then the teacher rang me. "I explained how to write essays to him, Mrs Marg, he should be fine with it now."
    "Amazing!" I said. "I really wish I had asked you to do this before, then we wouldn't have had to sit with him every weekend, talking him through every assignment he's ever had, supporting him, helping him find other techniques, having him assessed, getting him on medication - and all we needed was to ask you to talk to him for half an hour! Oh, we are such idiots!"
    Round about this point, the teacher began to get the message - this was just a tad more complicated than he had thought.

    When the school counsellor became dismissive of difficult child 3's diagnosis and said, "It's wonderful he has such a good vocabulary now. He's talking so well. Aren't you please that he's no longer autistic?" I almost shouted at her but decided it would be pointless - no doubt it would make her think, "Typical - but what can you expect from such an unstable family?"
    Instead I just quietly commented that difficult child 3 would always be autistic; but a lot of effort and support had gone into his progress, including effort from difficult child 3 himself, to make him blend in more effectively. I said that he is like a swan on the lake - from a distance things might look serene, but there's a lot of furious activity going on beneath the surface to make such serenity seem natural.

    In other words, I stay calm and educate them. If they start to get condescending or patronising, that is when I start to get firm and point out, "You may have attended the courses, learned the jargon, you can talk the talk. But I live with it. I may not know the words but I can recognise autism at 100 paces and also can more effectively head off a meltdown, even from another person's kid, because I have the best hands-on experience in the world - I'm a mother."

    Whatever they may privately think, I get respect shown to me and what I say from that point on. I view these people as part of a team. In a team people come from different backgrounds and experiences, each bringing their own abilities. All team members should listen to and learn from each other. Together a team can produce good results. Divided, they destroy any chance at progress. If you have a divided team you have to either work to get them back on the same page, or cut out the dead wood and replace it.

    And as a parent, I am irreplaceable.

    klmno, you said, "I think the problem is either they really are that ignorant about BiPolar (BP)- which is absurd if they are the ones who are hired by the school district to identify, help with IEP's, and help implement accommodations for kids with problems, or, they are playing dumb."

    Honey - they really are that ignorant. They are not playing dumb - they have no reason to. No, the plain fact is, after all the courses etc they attend - the information they have been given is often minimal, outdated or just plain wrong. It's like the attitude towards autism in our education system here in Sydney - a lot of the Special Education staff are convinced that inclusion in mainstream is not only the target, it's the means. They fought me so hard in my aim to remove difficult child 3 from mainstream, then predicted dire consequences. They weren't doing this to be mean, or out of ignorance - they have done the study. But who set the curriculum for those special courses? Other educators, that's who. And the ideas are outdated and inaccurate.
    When the kids were involved in filming "The Black Balloon", the producer hired a woman who works as a Special Education teacher in our state-based education system. She freelanced for this holiday job and was hired to help soothe any potential problems with the autistic kids in the scene. The rehearsals went for three months, she was around for two of those months working mostly with difficult child 3. Instead of rehearsing him with his lines, she took difficult child 3 outside to calm him down often when he didn't really need it; she learned that he liked card games so she played cards with him instead of him being available to rehearse. From difficult child 3's point of view she was hired to entertain him. It was as if her entire being was devoted to keeping him calm. They never asked me. I was there.
    On the day of filming difficult child 3 began with his first rehearsal take. He had to start the scene as the only person in the scene with a speaking part. He needed to know not only what to do, but why. The Special Education aide saw him beginning to get upset ("why do I have to do it again? I got it right!") and instead of explaining things to him, whisked him aside for a card game. I stopped her at this point (I had agreed to stay out of the way in the audience scenes but found myself needed backstage to cover for this woman - a lovely lady but with a different agenda). I said, "Can I talk to him? I think he needs to know what is going to be happening next." So I spent a few minutes walking difficult child 3 around the back of the film set. "Here is the sound guy - see his equipment? He's listening on those big headphones. If a plane flies overhead or someone coughs or a carpenter drops a hammer, he will hear if it intrudes into the sound track and will tell us to do it again. He has to make sure the music doesn't drown out your voice and also has to make sure your voice doesn't drown out the music - it will take a few rehearsals to get the levels right, so it's worth having a go at recording. You KNOW your lines, that isn't the problem. Now, see that bloke? He's on the lights. As he moves the lights, the shadows are in different places. Some of the scene needs the lights over here, some of the scene needs the lights over there. And there's the cameraman - he has the cameras right down the middle aisle at the moment. But he also needs to shoot it all from the side. Then from the other side. Then from high up. Then from low down. And each time, you kids have to do it exactly the same, so they can later on mesh all the takes together into one long sequence that really works."

    So instead of going outside to play cards each time he got upset, I forestalled the getting upset by giving him what he really needed - information and understanding. Now, why couldn't a Special Education person work this out for herself? I don't know. She was highly motivated to get it right. She had even come to me to ask me about difficult child 3, but somehow she didn't seem to be able to really plug into what was driving him. And why should she? She wasn't his mother.

    I view a lot of Special Education 'trained' personnel in this light - they have been taught (by someone) but don't live with YOUR child and so will always need your insight.

    Even if you believe they are playing dumb, play along with it and educate them. If they get upset and say, "We know," you can reply with, "Clearly you don't. Or at least, you don't know MY child or you wouldn't have said/done what you just did."

  7. LittleDudesMom

    LittleDudesMom Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Continue to stay focused on getting difficult child the supports he needs. You asked for a specialist and you basically got the same ole, same ole. Keep at it - keep feeding them information. Perhaps you can really make a difference - not just for your son, but for others down the road.

    Oh, and don't sign the BIP.

  8. Christy

    Christy New Member

    Keep working with them. Marg is right, sometime its you who teaches them. My sons BIP had something like this written for work habits....

    Due to N's issues, his ability to stay on task and complete work will vary. Take advantage of productive periods and make appropriate accomadations for times when he is not able to stay focused and complete work.

    What does something like this look like in practice?

    difficult child might have completed a math paper with time to spare so the teacher would keep the momentum rolling give him his science worksheet that he failed to complete the day before. Another time, difficult child might be getting nothing done and so she would suggest he go work in the resource room where it is less distracting or make a deal like he can do just the even or odd problems or he can pick one prblem out of each row for now.

    Gee, if just giving a difficult child a stern talking to worked, none of us would be here!
  9. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Thank you, Ladies! Christy- that is a good example. Did the teachers know about the BiPolar (BP) diagnosis? I was told by ed spec at school that they didn't think the teachers should be informed of difficult child's diagnosis because his iep is written primarily for behavior (classified ED) and teachers would treat him "too differently" and have a hard time dealing with it if they knew about the BiPolar (BP).

    I think this is absurd- that leaves teachers thinking it is intentional behavior. Any ideas WHY a school district wouldn't just call an expert in to give some training- like I asked them to and they agreed to?

    Oh, yes, Marg- my thoughts are right along those lines that you described having.
  10. Star*

    Star* call 911

    If you can give me a day or so I will find difficult child's IEP copy from 9th grade and give you verbtim what I had written so that difficult child did homework IN school WITH a shadow and NOT at home where it made me want to bite paneling off the wall with my teeth and swing from the ceiling fan by my feet - all while yelling in a chanting voice

    Dooooooo your homeworkkkkkkkkk

    Doooooooooooooo your homework....

    I would ABSOLUTELY make them provide him with a shadow. school district pays for that. Then take the last mod of school where difficult child and shadow work independently ON "homework" - Also during that time Dude was permitted to wear headphones and take his CD player to block out "outside" noise. That obviously wasn't in the IEP - they said they could write noise blocking head gear but that made him sound like he was more Learning Disability (LD) than ED.

    And then.....(lol) there are the IEP drafts that I WISH I had kept and turned into a book - like in bold red Sharpie marker - YOU ALL ARE (#$)(# JERKS. and nice things like so.

  11. Christy

    Christy New Member


    My son's iep had him coded as other health impaired because his original diagnosis was ADHD. I did tell them the about the new BiPolar (BP) diagnosis because I wanted them to be aware that his defiance and tantrums were not something that would could be "cured" with strict consequences or sticker charts.

    Unfortunately, my sons moods and behaviors made school such a disaster. He was falling significately behind at a time when he should have been learning critical skills. I kept him home this year and homeschooled him because he was not doing anything at school. He has made great academic progress this year but the 24 hour/day mom/son bonding is causing a very adversarial relationship between the two of us. So now that I am confident that he can read and do basic math skills, I am sending him back to school next year and hope to get an advocate for our next iep meeting.

    Good Luck!!!
  12. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    School is not providing you with more for one simple reason:


    It COSTS to provide shadows. It COSTS to retrain teachers and then stay on top of htem to make sure they are DOING what they are supposed to.

    NOT every school district or school is like this. Many are caring, wonderful, and more than willing to put whatever time and $$$$ is required into the situation. We have a LOT of those teachers here with their kids, and there are even MORE.

    However, many school district's do not want to put the $$$ in or just do not have it.

    either way, not YOUR problem. It is a violation of fed law to even bring up the cost of the interventions.

    Spec. Ed forum knows a lot of the ins and outs.