School is already a disaster. I am so sad

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by laurensmyprincess, Sep 5, 2008.

  1. laurensmyprincess

    laurensmyprincess New Member

    difficult child started Grade 1 on Tuesday. I've been highly anxious all week. For those that might remember, she had a bad bad time with school in June of last year. She was highly anxious and just couldn't cope. She refused to go to school for several weeks in June.

    Tuesday started okay...she seemed to have an okay day. Wednesday, the teacher informed me after school that she had pushed a teacher for telling her too often to eat her ham sandwich and that if she didnt want to eat it int he classroom, she could eat it in the office.

    I had a good long talk with the VP yesterday who seemed to understand the neurological problems that come with Epilepsy. We talked about her IEP and an aide and I was optimistic.

    The teacher called me today CRYING saying that difficult child was hitting a teacher for some reason. I was already so distraught when I heard this, I barely heard the rest. Then she said that she was pinching kids and just be very defiant, aggressive and non compliant about everything. I couldnt beleive that this teacher called me crying that she didnt know what to do and that she would not accept hitting or pinching of other students and I needed to help with strategies. I think this teacher needs to get a grip, but that is another story and problem. There was no principal or viceprincipal around to talk to today either.

    I know they are having an IEP set up for her and an aide, but the aide is only with her maybe 1 or 2 hours of the day, and difficult child still does not even listen to the aide. This is not enough. The childrens hospital offered to speak with the school directly to give them strategies etc about helping.

    What am I going to do? Yesterday, I was feeling more optimistic and after this call, I feel like throwing in the towel and burying my head in the sand. Is it too premature to say that my child cannot cope in the mainstream school? I know she cannot cope in a mainstream class, but I question whether she can cope even with an aide.

    By the way, she is on clonidine but a very low dose. 0.025mg at night to try and help with the aggressiveness, hyperness and impulsivity, but I don't think it is working, clearly.

    I don't even want to send her back to school on Monday. I feel like she has already been shunned by the teachers and the kids in her class.

    Please help with any advice you might have.
  2. Andy

    Andy Active Member

    I am so sorry she is having such a hard time with this. I would take the children's hospital's offer to work with the school. You should also call the doctor who prescribes her medications and give him/her a report on how school has started.

    The IEP should an aide in all classes. Even if she does not yet listen to the aide, the aide can focus on helping her while the teacher keeps the other kids going.

    You should get all the strategy suggestions you can from the children's hospital and make sure they get built into the IEP.

    It would be interesting to know how the teachers are dealing with this. It is hard to stay positive, are they giving her a "do this now!" attitude or are they really trying to get her attention and work with her to guide her. If she is feeling too pressured, her anxiety will rise and her flight or fight appears. I often think that when a child behaves like she is, they are overwhelmed and can not handle one more thing - it is like she is trying to process the school schedule but needs more time than adults think.

    Would it help if you can take her to arrive just as class starts? The hustle and bustle of the 15 minutes before class starts may be overwhelming and confusing her. The first days of school learning how things will be run can feel like a lot being thrown at her? That can throw her entire day off.

    She may need help in making friends - can her teacher recognize another girl that may have qualities to be a close friend and some how get those two to sit near each other? Have the two girls assigned as buddies for anything that buddies are needed?

    Let us know what the Children's Hospital strategies are - they may help some of us?
  3. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    So sorry to hear this. I have a hard time imagining a teacher calling, in tears, despite how noncomliant your difficult child is. Seems like the teacher would have put her in time out or found an assistant to help, but then I don't know all the details.
    I agree, you need an aide in that classroom. (For the teacher and for your daughter.)
    How is your daughter doing tonight? Calmer? Can she tell you how she felt in school?
    Try not to show your anxiety to her (not easy, I know). Kids can pick up on subtle signals.
  4. laurensmyprincess

    laurensmyprincess New Member

    The teacher calling me in tears is another story. Do you think I have any confidence that this teacher is going to want to help my child, teach my child and hasnt already labeled my child a problem? And I have to really question her expertise and professionalism. This seems really over the top to me.

    I have been fighting for an aide and an IEP since she was in Pre K! And here she is telling me that I have to fight for these things. Ya, I think I know. I took the opportunity to tell her she should speak with her school administration to help the cause and work collabroatively with me on this.

    Do you think an all day aide would help? I sometimes fear that difficult child can be so oppositional, not even an aide would be helpful. I am seriously thinking of other school options for her, but honestly I don't know what I would do.

    Do your kids go to a mainstream school? What supports do they get? Does anyone's child NOT attend a mainstream school?

  5. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    I think that posting on the Special Education forum would be helpful. I just have SO many issues with a teacher who is so unprofessional as to call a parent and CRY to her!! My dad is a retired teacher, my mom a retired professor, I just can't see either of them (or any of their coworkers that I know) crying on the phone to a parent! This teacher has some problems of her own, though I recognize that your daughter would be a challenging child to teach.

    I hope things get better soon. Maybe a more experienced teacher would be able to handle a 6yo child with illness and brain trauma? I do think a full time aide would be helpful, esp with the right person for the job.
  6. LittleDudesMom

    LittleDudesMom Well-Known Member Staff Member

    This is an extremely tough situation. I'm sure difficult child is overwhelmed and anxious and you are stressed, sad, and angry.

    Repeatedly asking your daughter to eat her ham sandwich shows how ill-prepared this teacher is for dealing with your daughter.

    I would post this information over on the Special Education forum.

    A full time aide will help the situation in that (hopefully) they will be trained to deal with the issues your daughter has and can step in when they see the situation escalating. It takes the responsibility off the teacher, which in this case is a good thing. They could also take your daughter for a time out in the library to look at a book so she can settle, or perhaps take her for a little walk in the halls.

    Your daughter's behaviors are not too overwhelming to be dealt with. You need an administration who is willing to follow (and a Special Education dept that is well-versed in) the guidelines of IDEA. I would take up the offer of the children's hospital rep to speak with the school.

    Sorry that this school year has gotten such a rocky start.

  7. laurensmyprincess

    laurensmyprincess New Member

    Susiestar, I agree with you on the teacher comments. I really could not believe that a teacher called me in tears....I really felt like saying "first of all, get a grip!". It just totally seemed very unprofessional to me. I know my daughter is challenging, but I need a teacher who is going to work with me, advocate with me, not call me crying saying that she can't tolerate/be accepting of a child who hits/pushes. I AGREE; this is NOT acceptable. Believe me -- I am trying to do everything to make this better for the school, for difficult child, for our family.

    I am my child's biggest advocate. I fight for her every single day. Every day, I battle one system or another.

    I think a full time aide could be very helpful too -- and I teacher that can handle her.
  8. BestICan

    BestICan This community rocks.

    There's a lot about this story that isn't working for me. Number one, why is a teacher threatening to punish a child for not eating a particular item in her lunch?

    Number two, you have every right to roll your eyes (and complain to the principal!) about a teacher who calls you crying about your child's behavior. That's completely unacceptable, unprofessional, just ridiculous. My difficult child has had the misfortune of having two teachers in a row who were in their first trimester of pregnancy - one was a hormonal nightmare and the other was a joy. Maybe you hit the jackpot...

    I think, before you worry about taking your difficult child out of mainstream schooling, you might explore whether there's another 1st grade teacher who you can try? I know, it's another transition, but there's something seriously awry here.

    On the bright side, through her tears, the teacher asked you to help with strategies, which is a positive thing. As someone who's been there (a little bit) with my difficult child, I think strategies need to involve education and an attitude of teamwork.

    As for education: I never realized how much epilepsy influences a child's behavior until I witnessed it first-hand. I mentioned in another thread about giving highlighted printouts to the teacher. Maybe look at for something concise about seizures and behavior. She doesn't need to accept the behavior, but if she's going to be your child's teacher she needs to get a clue about the underlying disorder - that might be helpful in some way.

    As for teamwork, you've probably already done this because you sound like you have a healthy attitude, but I always begin my yearly conversations with something like, "I realize my child can be challenging in a classroom setting, and I want to let you know that I support your efforts, and I'm here to answer any questions, let you know what tends to work, and reinforce things at home." (I just had this talk today :)) I think it's appropriate to say, "I trust that you're keeping your calm with my child, but if we're going to be an effective team, I need you to keep your calm with me, too. I'd appreciate it if you'd make sure you're able to speak professionally about the problem before you pick up the phone to call next time."

    Bleah, what a yucky situation. My vote is to not give up on this schooling situation yet, and try to get your daughter additional time with the aide. Keep us posted!
  9. laurensmyprincess

    laurensmyprincess New Member

    Best I can -- does your difficult child have seizures too?

    Oh yes, Epilepsy can have so many other issues besides the seizures themselves. Behavior, emotional issues, memory issues, language processing, expressive language all goes hand in hand and can really create a cyclone of problems in the school setting. I have been at this almost 4 years with her, since she was diagnosis at 2 and I have done a tremendous amount of research, reading and talking to other parents and doctors. As the years have gone on, it is has become increasingly harder....not so much on the seizure front, but on all the other stuff.

    I have all kinds of info I can give the teacher, the school etc. We are working on these strategies really hard. But it will take lots of time, patience, understanding and SUPPORT. I hope they get this now and will give her an aide for a bigger part of the day to help with the socialization, behavioural and academic stuff.

    I do need to convey to the principal in a very diplomatic way about this teacher calling me crying. I just can't shake that. I am sure that the teacher will go to the principal now anyway, and if she is that emotional of a person, may very well end up crying with her too!

    There is no other class to put her into. There are only 2 Grade 1 classes in that school and the other teacher apparently is very strict, rigid and does not tolerate "antics" from children. The current teacher she has was purposely picked because they thought she would be able to handle difficult child. Right.
  10. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    On top of the other suggestions and comments already made- which I think are very good- I would be complaining to some higher ups about a teacher being in that position with NO principal, VP, or aide, etc to turn to for help, so she ends up feeling so desparate that she calls the parent crying. The principal should never have left her in that position.

    Definitely- let who ever will call the school to give suggestions, but I'd be complaining big time to the school board or Special Education director or both.
  11. Christy

    Christy New Member

    Wow! I am having flashbacks to my sons younger years--not good memories. Your daughter needs support. Having children's hospital speak to them or attend the iep if possible is a good idea. An advocate is also a good idea, someone well verse on Special Education law.

    The teacher calling you crying is extremely unprofessional and I would write a letter to the principal stating your concerns about her ability to react in a crisis situation.

    Your daughter's behaviors are extreme and the school will not miss an opprotunity to run down the listr of incidents at every meeting. They will document each incident and paint a picture of an out-of-control child. Don't feel like you are responsible for her behavior. Keep steering the conversation back to the fact that her behaviors are the result a medical condition. Ask what the school is will do differently to provide additonal support? Stress the need to be proactive rather than reactive. A full-time 1:1 with training provided for her and the teacher on your daughter's condition and a behavior intervention plan that is designed specifically for you daughter is a start.

    You asked about specialized placements. My son attends a self-contained theraputic placement for students with behavioral/emotional problems that is part of the county school system. It is good and bad. It is great for providing behavioral support but does not provide the same level of academics (it claims that it does but I have not found this to be the case). There is no opportunity for mainstreaming. In this case, the program states that mainstreaming is the goal but it's a falicy because these kids with never get the opprotunity to mainstream due to their extreme behaviors. If you get to the point where you are deciding about a specialized placement, keep this in mind. Should there be a disagreement between you and the school, the student will remain in the current placement until the issue is resolved. So if you decide to place your daughter in a specilized placement and for some reason you feel it is not working out for her, she will be stuck in that placement (unlesss you choose private or homeschool). This is the case for us right now, we feel stuck. We homeschooled last year, great for academics but no socialization which our difficult child desperatedly needs. I had hoped to join homeschool groups but with difficult child's behavior, it did not work out well. I know that he would be thown out of private school in an instant so we are back to the same public school setting and while I know that my son could not hold it together in the mainstream all day, I feel that things could be better and we are trying to get a 1:1 and revisions to his iep to make that happen.

    I wish you the very best as I know what a diffiecult and worrisome situation you are facing.

  12. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    This is upsetting for sure. But, do not do anything to change her placement before all bases are covered. The school system is required to educate your child, so they will have to make sure they provide what she needs. It is early in the year. I would plan on being at the school on Monday to request in writing an emergency meeting for additional support for your daughter.

    Have Children's come in to help write something up. That is so awesome that they are willing to help.

    Deep breaths. It will get better. I wish it could be over night. It does take time. And a ton of work on your part. I know - like you need additional responsibilities! HUGS!!
  13. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    We had a self contained class for 5th grade for my difficult child. He was able to go to the regular class any time he wanted. We had homeschooled the 2 years before because we were in a different state/school system and they REFUSED to help, support or accomodate him. The teachers way of challengein him in the old school was to have him be responsible for proofreading and correcting her letters to parents - and if a word was spelled or used incorrectly in those letters then my difficult child missed recess. This was in SECOND GRADE. They were so hard on him he was actively trying to kill himself. Not tthinking or talking about it - TRYING IT. So we homeschooled, then moved.

    the new school district was great. No safety issues like in the old school district, and they had a pull out program for elementary. So in 5th grade difficult child had a MAXIMUM of 4 children in the room and there were 3 adults assigned full time to the room. They worked on college level academics in the subjects difficult child was on that level and on elementary level on subjects where that was needed. It was an AMAZING year, in spite of some psychosis and delusions and hallucinations on difficult child's part. He went to the regular class 3 times to try it - then he told us that the reg teacher was an idiot and if he wanted to see someone's underwear all day he would do our laundry. The reg teacher dressed VERY provocatively and it was common for the kids to get a "flash" of her thong. He nailed her with the description. She used to BEG me to have him come to her class because he was very bright, but it was up to him.

    Anyway, the pullout helped difficult child a ton, largely because hte amazing teachers. So it CAN work, and many districts have a pullout class, though it is not widely advertised.