Not sure what to do now...

Discussion in 'Special Ed 101' started by ncblossom, Nov 8, 2006.

  1. ncblossom

    ncblossom New Member

    I’m a LONG time lurker and have posted a few times. Seems I never know how to respond to posts since I’m always pretty lost myself. I read the board multiple times each day and have gotten TONS of information. I figured you guys were the only ones who would understand and/or have advice, so I humbly come before you all. Hopefully this makes sense-this is the second time I’ve written all of this out-I tried to post earlier and it ate my post. I apologize in advance for the length of this--I did attempt to put it in paragraphs to make it easier to read.

    My somewhat brief background info: Ashleigh (difficult child-almost 9) has always had “issues”. Started Speech at age 2 (still in it), Occupational Therapist (OT) for sensory integration at 2, Special Education preschool from age 3-almost 6 when she started K. Didn’t do well in K –ADHD diagnosed –suspected Bipolar-and medications started for ADHD, but went to summer school to try to catch up (she didn’t) and was promoted to 1st. Didn’t do so well in 1st, but did ok. Promoted to 2nd. Major behavior issues-laying on the floor, disruptive, mean, etc. Bipolar medications started. Was going to be retained but passed the FCAT, went to summer school and was promoted to 3rd which is where we are now. She currently has an F in reading and the lowest possible D in 3 other subjects. Has an F in conduct for inattention, distractibility, and not completing work. Over the years we’ve tried almost every medication: Strattera, Lithium, Depakote, Focalin, Abilify, Lamictal, Dexidrine, Tenex, Remeron, Clonidine, Adderall, Ritalin, Risperdal, Seroquel, and I know I’m forgetting a few. All stims now give her a severe facial tic that cant be controlled even with other medications, so those are out.

    Have been asking for help from the school since grade K but nothing was ever really done. Finally I learned from here about sending the certified letter to get testing done and it was done and we got the results yesterday. She has an AIP for reading-so pull out reading instruction with 2 other kids. ST once a week at school and once a week privately. “Tutoring” from a high school kid (at the school during school hours) once a week. Qualifies and has gone to the after school tutoring when they actually have it-they currently don’t. Goes to psychiatrist biweekly, therapist monthly (less often because of husband).

    They gave her a ton of tests-some I had to rate her on certain things such as aggression, hyperactivity, depression, social skills, etc and the teacher did the same with the same "test" thing. There were like 150 questions (I’m sure you all know what I’m talking about) and out of 15 main scales, she scored either "Clinically significant" or "At risk" on ALL of them by either me or the teacher or both. The clinically significant ones as indicated by the TEACHER were overall behavior symptoms, school problems composite, attention problems, and LEARNING PROBLEMS, withdrawal, depression,adaptive skills (social skills, daily living, etc), atypicality, and functional communication. The only area in the average range was anxiety.

    Even the teacher got "attacked" by one of them--said that it was "strange" and "not common" and "hard to believe" that Ashleigh would feel lonely "most of the time" and is easily annoyed by others "almost always" which were 2 of the questions on one of the lists. The teacher seemed shocked when they said this and mentioned that that is what she saw and of course they said something to the effect of "well, we're not saying your answers are WRONG-but that just doesn't sound right".

    For her adaptive behavior, she scored "extremely low" on all but 1 thing (which was "below average". Their tests also showed the same as our private shrink-very low visual motor integration skills.

    Sooo....you'd think something would be done. Nope! Cause they also did an IQ test--which, like our psychiatrist, showed it within normal limits. (although her IQ has dropped over 10pts in a year) The academic testing they did showed her "low" and "below average" in almost all of the tests except the math ones. BUT--they said that there has to be a 15 point discrepancy between her IQ and her scores--and there was only between a 10-14 discrepancy. SO-the woman very smugly and with a small smile, let me know that she doesn't qualify for any help. Seems like a never ending battle with the school.

    Of course I brought out all of my evaluations, but that wasn't good enough. Started quoting IDEA laws and NCLB laws such as "The law requires school districts and schools to use "effective research based reading remediation programs so all children are reading at grade level by the end of third grade". They had NO idea what to say to that but again told me if she passed the FCAT, she'd be promoted to 4th grade—even if she had all F’s for the year on report cards. Nothing I can do as a parent to retain her. I asked them if they were sure and they said yes so I actually said "so you're telling me that the only way she'll be retained and not progressed AGAIN without knowing the previous years stuff, is to have her purposely fail the FCAT". They literally covered their ears and their mouths dropped open and they didn't know what to say other than "I wish I hadn't heard that" . Of course the teacher, a staffing specialist, speech therapist, and school psychologist were in there and NONE of them knew the NCLB laws or IDEA laws. Said we'd have to try to get a meeting with the principal.

    So then I said that I knew that just being ADHD (let alone bipolar) would qualify her for Other Health Impaired under the IDEA laws and they acted like "ooooh-well, we COULD do something like that". Then one of them pulls out a paper and says that at the teacher conference I had, I DECLINED that. Umm--NO--that's what I've been fighting for here you idiots. Come to find out, that was the paper they pulled out at the conference about "orthopedic impairments" which she doesn't have and I told them that "NO-she doesn't have an orthopedic problem-she has psychological issues but that's a health issue too". They again mentioned specifically an orthopedic problem and I restated about bipolar. They wrote on the form that I denied the OHI label. So now I have to get a medical doctor (not her therapist) to sign the form saying she has these diagnoses--doesn't matter that I gave them a copy of the psychiatrist (a medical doctor) LAST year for this SAME reason and nothing was done.

    If that isn't bad enough-husband yelled all the way home about how I can't "threaten" then to have her flunk the FCAT, that if she does they are going to think it was on purpose, and they're following the state rules and I'm trying to get them to make exceptions (I'm not)and basically now it's MY fault--yet he changes his reasons. One reason is she's on medications and they're affecting her negatively and he's tired of it-another is that I have her on medications that aren't working and won't get her on something that does-another is that the medication guy isn't doing his job and I won't "make" him (kinda hard since he made me tell the therapist I'd only come once a month--like right now-we're trying another drug to help with attention and stuff-and it isn't working-yet I have to wait a month to let him know so we can try something else). therapist is an hour away. Supposedly there are only 2 tdocs in our city-one we used to see but he would ask me what drugs I wanted her to try, and say he didn’t know what else could be done with her. The other, I’ve heard has fallen asleep while people were in her office. So no real choice but to go an hour away.

    So now we’re on the Lithium, Strattera, and Risperdal. She doesn’t rage as much but her moods are more up and down. Not quite as violent and aggressive. Not technically misbehaving in school, but not doing good and can’t pay attention and isn’t learning ANYTHING. Strattera made her mean when we tried it before and is having no effect now. The medications seem to be dulling her cognitively-as shown by her work, testing, and the psychiatrist and therapist agree. husband wants her off all medications to see what happens (we’ve done this before and even though is “strongly against drugging my kid”, “allowed” me to put her back on them because it was out of control). He thinks she’s no better so why medicate her. Major source of conflict on a daily basis. He also says that I “pollute” it since I read/research the laws, Special Education, bipolar, adhd, odd, etc constantly. Says I know to much about it all. I say I’m an informed parent. He also claims that I’m just telling the therapist what I want and that he just listens to what I say and can’t do his job in the 15 minute appointment we get.

    I could go on and on and on--these are just SOME of the issues. I know I'm forgetting half of it since I WAS attempting to keep this short (yeah-like that happened). I’m sure I’ll remember it all once I post this.

    So, I’m not sure exactly what I’m asking. I’m consumed by all of these “issues”-seems it’s all I think about. The school won't help, husband just gets irate, and I literally know NO ONE in this city so I don't even know where to turn. Seems she isn’t functioning anywhere. She’s literally flunking school, and certainly isn’t doing well in the family. Younger siblings are afraid of her and scream when she’s near (3yr old is starting to exhibit a lot of the attitude and tantrums and defiance, although I'm pretty sure it's learned from difficult child), older sister just hates difficult child and resents her, husband doesn’t even want to be around her. No friends except a 5 yr old boy that will occasionally play with her. So ANY advice on what to do or how to deal with her at home, her at school, and/or the school system itself? If you made it this far, I applaud you and THANK YOU!
     
  2. Martie

    Martie Moderator

    Dear ncblossom,

    I glad you stopped lurking. Your have many problems including not being on the same page with husband over your daughter's medical problems. It is hard enough to win with schools that you MUST either get on the same page with him or get him to leave you alone. He should not be blaming you in such a difficult situation. If this were easy, you and he would have already solved the problem.

    Given the Hx you have described, there is no doubt that your daughter qualifies under both Emotionally/Behaviorally Disordered AND OHI. However, it does not matter which category a child is qualified for, the services OUGHT to be delivered according to need NOT label.

    Couple of legal points:

    The school district cannot force your to medicate your child as a condition of school attendance (IDEA 2004) However, if her behavior worsens, they can act against her because she does not have the legal protections afforded a child with an IEP.

    Therefore, I think your husband is setting her up to take her off medications but that is ultimately a family decision.

    Second, it is now not allowed to use a discrepancy formula to determine services (IDEA 2004). This means that bright children take YEARS to fail "enough" to qualify. By that time most are also EBD. The law has been changed to try to correct this problem.

    You are in for a long-term fight. Is there any way you can get an on-site advocate to help you? Your school district is ignorant or playing dumb for obstructionist reasons. They are so outrageous, I can't decide which they are doing.

    Here is what you need to do TODAY to protect your daughter in my opinion. Send a CERTIFED letter to the school district indicating that difficult child has behaviors that may prevent her from following normal school rules and procedures. If they "misunderstood" the OHI thing, they will misunderstand that having an evaluation in process confers protections for children not yet eligible.

    Have you been on the archives of Sp Ed 101? There is a thread about the reasoning behind protection for children not yet eligible as well as other useful information.

    In addition, was the "meeting" that disqualified your daughter duly constituted? By law, the following people must be there

    Person qualified to interpret results (usually school psychologist)
    LEA (able to commit the resources of the school district) Local Educational Agency representative--usually an administrator
    Special Education teacher
    Regular ed teacher
    Parents
    Any other relevant specialists from school district
    Any outside experts you decide to bring MUST be allowed (give them notice)

    Also, there must have been a vision and hearing screen; a social history (usually an interview of you by the school social worker); a classroom observation of the child by someone other than the child's teacher and an interview with the child if appropriate.

    Pete Wright points out that sometimes it is easier to get an evaluation/finding of no need for Special Education thrown out for technical reasons than it is on the findings, per se. If you haven't looked at www.wrightslaw.com, you should in my opinion.

    In theory, where your daughter stands on the NCLB testing should not matter. She is not making progress in school (based on grades) and her behavior is clearly interfering.

    I have to go to work right now, but PLEASE check the archives and wrightslaw. I will get back to you later and try to help you develop a plan. However, I still think you need an on-site advocate.

    Martie

    P. S. (If you put your posts in a word processing program and then cut and paste you won't lose them. I get home from work on Wed at about 10:30 p.m.)

     
  3. ncblossom

    ncblossom New Member

    Thanks for the response Martie! I DID learn to write in Word after it ate my first post lol. Ugh! I’m going to try to respond to some of your questions and maybe it will help clarify some stuff…

    I agree about difficult child qualifying under both labels. That’s something I DID research before going to this meeting because honestly, I expected them to try to tell me she didn’t qualify and I know that just the ADHD qualifies her. I also did read about the IDEA 2004 part that mentions they can’t use the discrepancy-but unfortunately, I found that AFTER I got home from the meeting.

    About IEPs. She DOES have an IEP, but it is only for Speech Therapy. However—it’s still and IEP. I’m sure the school here doesn’t really care one way or the other about the medications. I’ve had a previous teacher ask if she was on them, then another tell her “tell your mom your pills are making you too tired”. I used to inform them of medication changes, but for a while they were changed a LOT and since I had never received a response from any of the teachers after informing them of the changes, I stopped. So unless they were to go pull her file, they really don’t even know if she IS currently on medications…let alone which ones.

    You mentioned sending a letter to school district about her behaviors….does ONLY inattention and distractibility count or does it have to be more of a disruptive type thing? Technically, she isn’t a behavior issue (or so the teacher says), so I’m not worried about her “getting in trouble” or anything like that. I ask partly because of the teacher. At the beginning of the year, I mentioned she had “issues” and that I REALLY needed her to communicate. I even asked about a daily behavior report, etc. She, in a way, just said that they’d be fine and yes, she’d communicate. She has a daily log that I have to sign every night and occasionally she’ll write that difficult child didn’t complete her work but that’s it-the other days she just stamps it with a pretty stamp. Numerous times I’ve written in “my” spot to sign-asking how her behavior was, mentioning a new medication and asking her to watch for tics, etc and never get a response. I finally made a conference and she told me difficult child was doing GREAT-so polite and well behaved and “one of my best kids”. But then report cards came out and she had “unacceptable” for her behavior grade. I made another conference and asked about that and she said she just put that because difficult child is distracted and inattentive. The other reason I ask—gotta put this in dummy terms for me….are you saying that she qualifies for something NOW-before she’s qualified OHI? By protections, what do you mean? I have the paper I have to get signed by the MD which WILL qualify her, but I have to either wait for her next therapist appointment (weeks away) or get an appointment with her pediatrician (not a problem, but could be a while to even GET an appointment).

    About the meeting. It was the “meeting to determine eligibility for ESE”. The people that attended were:
    -myself and husband
    -Psychologist
    -Evaluation interpreter (which is listed on another line, but is the psychologist again)
    -General Ed teacher
    -Speech therapist
    People invited on the sheet were the guidance counselor and the principal, but they were not there. Aside from the ST she doesn’t have a Special Education teacher. They do have a social history done by husband on the phone but the only things they asked was how is her interaction with the family (he answered disruptive and clingy),peers (he stated none really), time outs as discipline, full term pregnancy, no major illnesses, age walked, age talked (he got this way wrong lol), birth weight (he got this wrong too), and no learning problems in family history. This covered less than half a page. BUT, they may have one of the other very lengthy detailed reports from years ago when she was in the Special Education preschool. She also has a vision/hearing screening which are normal.

    The person who did the testing (I think the school psychiatric) mentioned that she was extremely distracted and had to be redirected and refocused every few minutes. She also said it took a few days to do the testing (she said it normally takes 1) because she was so inattentive and unfocused. My major concern with this is that she was in a one on one setting during testing and couldn’t stay focused. She is 10000% MORE focused one on one, so the testing results should have been the absolute best she could ever possibly do. Now take that kid who is THAT distracted one on one and put her in a classroom. I would think that the one on one testing doesn’t accurately represent her level of functioning—maybe if she was in a class alone-but with 20 other kids? No way.

    What exactly is an on-site advocate? How do I find one? Get one?

    I have read over the Special Education forum—and every other forum here, along with wrightslaw and every other thing out there I can find. I’ve learned a ton, but I know I have SOOO much more to learn. I do tend to get lost and not understand a lot though. I will go back and reread a lot and see what else I can find.

    Thank you so much for responding—it’s nice to know someone understands!
     
  4. Martie

    Martie Moderator

    Dear ncblossom,

    Thanks for the information; it helps me understand.

    If difficult child's behavior isn't acting out, then it is unlikely that the school district will expel her. HOWEVER, sending that letter is the cheapest insurance policy you will ever have.

    You are correct that if she is distractible 1:1, the classroom will be much worse. IF she were found eligible under OHI, what would the school district do that is different? A label that doesn't yield services is useless. What do you want for her? It is really important to come up with a plan that you think will work. The goal is to have "satisfactory" behavior and passing grades. What will it take?

    There is a major problem for the school district because the signed book says no behavior problems and then the report card contradicted. You can use the report card to demonstrate need. There is NO WAY inattention and distractibility do not have a negative impact on educational progress.

    The social Hx is probably legal even though husband made mistakes. You might want to send a letter amending the ages he got wrong but it's not really critical unless he is making her look much better than things are. I think there must have been significant previous problems bec. you mentioned a Special Education. preschool.

    The meeting was not legal due to the omission of an LEA able to commit the resources of the school district. In addition, a Special Education teacher should have been present since your difficult child is failing academically. What does your school district think special education teachers are FOR if not to make suggestions for improvement in student learning?

    I said I thought your difficult child would qualify for EBD based on your description of her behavior. The teacher does not report that behavior so she might only qualify for OHI. by the way, it is not up to your psychiatrist or pediatrician. to qualify her. The SCHOOL has to do the evaluation. If they want a medical evaluation, they have to pay for it. That's the way the law is written.

    Many parents on these boards have medical diagnosis's and unqualified kids because school district certainly do not HAVE to accept an outside diagnosis and having an DSM diagnosis does not equal automatic qualification under IDEA 2004.

    An on-site advocates someone who goes with you to meetings instead of writing responses on this board. They are not easy to find. In some areas (CA for example) advocacy is big business. In some states, SCHOOLS provide them but they are best avoided because they favor the school position. Some social service agencies run parent "IDEA training." Advocacy is not very well organized so you usually can't go to the yellow pages and look under "advocacy" unfortunately.

    I recommend on-site advocates often for newbies who have very difficult situations and spouses who are not on the same page. It is possible to self-educate and be effective. A lot of people have done that in the same way you are: reading, asking questions, and then reading some more.

    Special Education law is very complicated and picky. That does not mean you are prevented from mastering it, but it takes a while and sometimes the children of newbies are pretty much out of time--as in they are about to be expelled.

    It is your school district job to qualify you daughter under OHI BUT before you ask for another meeting (at which the right people must be present) you need to figure out what you think would help your daughter.

    Sheila (co-mod) would have dozens of links to sample IEPs for kids with ADHD. Someday I will get my links better organized. In the meantime, you can search on ADHD and probably find good stuff. Sheila is out of town for a few days but she will be back soon or someone else might have a specific good suggestion that would cut down on your research time.

    My point is that children are not labeled for fun. The school must DO SOMETHING to help your child. It is a good idea to go in knowing what you want or at least going in with a wish list from most to least important.

    Martie
     
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