Angry with teacher diagnosing my son

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by ME & THE BOYS, Feb 19, 2008.

  1. ME & THE BOYS

    ME & THE BOYS New Member

    Hello everyone,

    I am so sorry I have not been here in ages. Too busy. I DO HOPE WE ARE ALL WELL (and our kiddies!!).

    My son was previously diagnosed by his Psychiatrist for ADHD, ODD, anxiety and MID (a learning disability greater than a learning disability).

    Anyhow, he is so nervous in school.......i.e. anxiety and the fact that he doesn't understand what he is being taught half the time. He also has difficulties giving answers. Obviously, because he doesn't have confidence, he doesn't mix with the kids either.

    Anyhow, he began pickign his nose and bitting his nails (for some time now). Is this his concerta causing this? Anxiety? Who knows.

    Now his teacher has decided he has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), depression cause he doesn't talk much (I wouldn't either if I didn't know/understand the subjects) and small seizures when he is coming down from his medications.

    I am soooooooooooooo angry.

    How should I respond to this teacher?


  2. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    Was she silly enough to put this in writing?

    I would send her a letter:

    Ms. Teacher,

    I appreciate your concern for my son. I am also concerned as he continues to struggle in school and with several life skills. I have had several qualified individuals including an MD evaluate my son. As I informed the school at the last IEP meeting, difficult child has been diagnosed with ADHD, ODD and MID as well as anxiety, motor skill issues and social skills difficulties. These medical and psychiatric professionals do not feel that he has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), depression or seizures.

    What you are calling Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and depression are most likely a normal reaction to the extreme frustration he feels at school because he cannot understand much of the material or keep up with peer interactions. While I am unclear on what you are referring to when you say he is having seizures, it is common for kids with ADHD to appear as if they are having partial seizures, but this is not the case.

    I would like to request a parent/teacher conference where we can review the progress on difficult child's goals and determine if we need to call another IEP meeting to revise his goals or increase his services.

    Again, thank you for your concern. I look forward to hearing from you this week.


    Mrs. Me & the Boys

    Depending on how she reacts to the letter, I may copy the Special Education director and the superintendent of the schools. They know that she can be in big trouble for making medical diagnosis. On the other hand, if she is really trying to help your son but just crossed that boundary, you may be able to get more flies with honey and work with her to improve services.
  3. daralex

    daralex Clinging onto my sanity

    In what manner did she diagnose him? Was it just a statement to you or is it in a file or did it come down some other way? I would be furious! But then again, was she just trying to be helpful or was she condescending? Someone needs to let her know that her OPINION is appreciated but you have had testing done by actual PROFESSIONALS in the field and they say other wise. I guess it's hard to judge the situation without knowing her tone of voice or body language or in what setting it came across??
  4. 'Chelle

    'Chelle Active Member

    I, too, was wondering if she put this in writing or just verbally said this to you. Either way I would respond that you thank her for her unsolicited input, ask to see her psychiatric qualifications, and if not you have qualified professionals dxing and caring for your difficult child. I'm afraid I have little patience for teachers who go beyond their teaching abilities to try diagnosis a difficult child, so my answer would tend to be a little "curt". I had one, just ONE, school person ever even come close to seeing what my difficult child's problem was, though many offered their opinions. It was the school therapist at our very first meeting about him and his behaviors when he was 7. She suggested he had aspergers tendencies and she saw a lot of anxieties in his behavior. She was overtalked by the 5 other school people there and she didn't say anything else. I went into the meeting with no clue and me against 6, I was overwhelmed. If I knew then what I know now........but oh well.

    He should have a written school personal plan, what the States call an IEP, here in Sask. they call a PPP. If he has one, maybe you need to call a new meeting with everyone and "tweak" his to help with the anxiety more. Perhaps he needs a 1:1 aide to help him keep up with the class and stuff he doesn't understand. I notice when my difficult child actually works with his aide, and she helps him "get it" he's much more relaxed with school.

    The nail biting and picking can be anxiety driven, I see as part of his diagnosis, as my difficult child had lots of school anxiety and would pick at scabs and "bumps" when he was very stressed, and pulled out his hair at his worst. Whether concerta or not I don't know as I have no experience with that medication.
  5. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    I think for me, it would have to be based on how teacher approached me with it.

    Back when Travis was in the 4th grade he really began to fall apart in school. (makes sense, everything had suddenly gotten harder, and they started switching classrooms) We had some issues with personal space with other students, and issues with bullying.

    After about mid way into the year, and after Travis had finally admitted that ohter students were making his life heck, teacher responds with a lengthy letter stating her concerns with behaviors she is seeing in the classroom and interactions with Travis and his peers. Bottom line, she is extemely worried there is something really wrong with Travis that has been missed. (at that time his only diagnosis was the visual disability)

    I still have that letter tucked away in a file I keep for him.

    At the time, I wasn't ready to hear it. I was furious, and I became majorly defensive warrior Mom. Let's just say my response to the letter was less than pleasant. Teacher backed off. We compromised and worked together to come up with ways to help classmates understand Travis better.

    Fast forward a couple of years. That letter written by the 4th grade teacher is always in the back of my mind. There is no more question about the boy's issue as they've become much more pronounced as his peers pass him at the speed of light.

    I realize that 4th grade teacher may not have had all the right answers, but she was right something had been missed.

    And I began once again to go from doctor to doctor for evaluations and examinations. That's when the other dxes you see in my signature were added to the visual disabillity.

    I felt so bad for how I treated a teacher who had cared enough to try to communicate to me something that worried her with my child, that I wrote her a letter of apology and sent it to the school.

    I don't know why the teacher is thinking Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)? You might want to ask her what types of behaviors she's seeing that has her thinking along those lines.

    But depression she might be right about. He's behind and struggling, doesn't feel like he "fits". Doesn't seem like a too far out there assumpton to me.

    As for the seizures.... You can ask why she thinks so. Could be she's seen this before and has experience with it, therefore recognized it. Cuz I'll tell ya, Travis was having absence seizures for many years before a neighbor turned the light bulb on. And we had him checked.

    I guess what I'm trying to say is, it's easy to go on the defensive. Sometimes we need to stop and listen even to people without a medical degree because life experience has taught them valuable lessons we can benefit from.

    I'd say it took some guts for this teacher to put herself out there (knowing you could get defensive) and try to tell you what she is seeing in the classroom and what concerns her. I'd at least give her the consideration of listening to her at length and see what she has to say. She does, afterall, see difficult child daily in a completely different environment from the home setting.

  6. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Teachers are educators, not diagnosticians.
    Do you feel that anyone has figured out what is really wrong with your child or are you still doubtful? If so, I'd take her to a neuropsychologist (they do intensive testing) and find out once and for all. They can be wrong, but usually they are so thorough that they are far more "right" than any other professionals.
    Rather than thinking the teacher was gutsy, I think was way out of line. She has no training to diagnose any child. I'd have been ticked and would have told her to stick to teaching.
    See a neuropsychologist :) If you think she may be having seizures then see a Neurologist too (no, they are not the same sort of professional. One tests for psychiatric/neurological (like ADHD/autism spectrum) disorders, the other for tangible ones, like epilepsy).
  7. Kathy813

    Kathy813 Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Wow, Lisa, that was awesome. Not many parents would bother to write a letter years later thanking a teacher that had tried to help even if the parent didn't see it that way at the time.

    I had a similar situation when I tried to tell a parent that her child was using drugs. She got indignant and told me off. She found out later that I was right and that her child was heavy into the drug scene. She also came back and apologized to me and thanked me for telling her about my concerns.

    I have to admit that it has made me gunshy about letting parents know about things like that.

    I think you are right about parents going on the defensive. Many teachers no longer speak up for that very reason even if we are seeing behaviors in the classroom that are alarming. It is possible that the psychiatrists and therapists don't even realize these behaviors are occurring since they don't see the child in that setting.

    While the teacher in this case shouldn't have used those medical terms since she is not qualified to diagnose your child, I think that you are lucky that she is taking the time to let you know her concerns.

    She could have just ignored it which really wouldn't have been in the best interest of your child which is what this is really all about.

    Just another take on the subject.

  8. flutterbee

    flutterbee Guest

    I'm with Kathy and Lisa on this one.

    The way I see it, I'm (or wasn't) in school with my daughter so the only information I had came from my daughter. Of course, that was very one-sided and came from a kid with a skewed perception.

    I wouldn't want a teacher to try to formally diagnosis a child - or anyone else without the proper training and education - but I would be happy to hear what the teacher sees. I want them to be my eyes and ears when I'm not there. I really wanted the SD to be in partnership with insuring difficult child got the help she needs. I was truly interested in what the teachers observed in the classroom. Unfortunately in our case, all too often my child was overlooked and I got the, 'she's fine' when her classwork indicated otherwise.

    Instead of looking at it as the teacher trying to diagnosis, maybe the teacher was just putting what she sees into terms she can relate to. Maybe the behavior she sees makes her - and would maybe make other lay people - think of certain conditions which is why she labeled it the way she did. I would look at it as more symptoms.

    Just my two cents.
  9. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    TEachers deal with a LOT of kids with problems. thank you's teacher had FOUR children with Aspergers/Spectrum disorders in her room last year. She had a part time aide and that was it. She does tell me when she sees behavior that is a problem, but here any teacher who offered a diagnostic suggestion would be fired. All it takes is a parent to SAY it happened, then the teacher or someone else to corroborate. Even if the teacher is correct, our Superintendent is rabidly against this, in any form. (And with the University in town having an excellent education college he could literally replace EVERY teacher in a school almost overnight. Scary to me. But I don't like him.)

    It would be very very easy to be super angry at the teacher. She may or may not have overstepped boundaries. Is she following the IEP or not? If not, then probably this will be a problem. I think a nice note like the one above would be a good idea. She may not know all the help you have for difficult child.

    It sounds like difficult child is really struggling hard. So maybe it is time for new evaluations. My son was in the psychiatric hospital before his Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) was picked up on. It is NOT a side effect of medications, but we are lucky enough to have medications that work to help with it.

    At the very least it sounds like she cares. And wants him to have thehelp he needs. It would be good to have her on YOUR side, not owkeing against you. So a nice note, and then an IEP meeting would be good.

    I do know that long before many docs were dxing ADHD, my dad recognized it in some students. HE was a shop teacher - NO training in this. BUT he saw there was a problem and started pouring coffee or coke (at his own expense) into the high school kids (just a couple) AND he talked to their parents. This was in a ghetto school, and no one had health insurance, literally. He was able to help the child, as hte parent saw differences when the stimulant (caffeine) was in the child's system. They worked it out that Mom would pour several cups of coffee into him in the morning, then at lunch my dad would provide Coke or Mountain Dew or coffee. It really turned things around for 3 boys. If the young son of a family friend hadn't had this, and helped us learn about it, Dad would not have known enough to help.

    If you can take this as the teacher trying to help, then this may work out well.

    on the other hand, if she was really on the offensive, then I would have a hard time working with her, personally. We had a teacher in 1st grade tell me difficult child had conduct disorder and was a sociopath. And that we should just put him in an institution because NO WAY he would be able to live in society. He was NOT either of these things, and it made for a very very rough year. I had to go to the Superintendent several times because she kept telling other volunteers not to go near him as he was not worth helping. Lovely lady.

    Teachers are NOT in it for the $$$, they are there because they care. No other reason ANYONE would go into that field. Just not enough rewards, unless hugs and seeing children grow and learn are counted in.

    Sorry she upset you though.


  10. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I have NO PROBLEM with teachers talking about problems. A wonderful, GREAT teacher got my daughter tested, realizing she was behind in reading. I have a son who needed Special Education (on the autism spectrum) and my daughter has a processing problem. This year I put a letter in the local newspaper thanking the specific teachers who helped my kids, and I'm personal friends now with both of them. I LOVE feedback from teachers.
    What would have REALLY ticked me off was the "He has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), he has ADHD, maybe he needs medications." That isn't useful or anything the teacher knows. Teachers should never give a medical diagnosis. That can make a parent, who is likely struggling herself, doubt the diagnosis. she has gotten from those who are trained to diagnose. Plus it is intimidating to MANY parents to have teachers tell them what's wrong with their kids and to even, as some have done with my son "suggest" he take medication. The teacher is no more qualified to diagnose a child than anyone who has contact with kids. Being around kids a lot does not teach teachers how to diagnose psychiatric disorders or neurological problems. They are hard enough for health professionals to nail down. So, while I've always appreciated well-meaning feedback by some super teachers, I have never taken to hearing that my son had "ADHD." He didn't, they were wrong, and it should never have been brought up. Teachers should point out their observations, leaving the medical terminology out of it. Sounds to me that this one was trying to play psychiatrist, although her goal was probably to try to help you. Still...she's an educator. She should point out things she sees, not blurt out diagnoses. I may add that every Asperger child is unique, therefore being around Aspergers kids doesn't really mean a whole lot. The spectrum kids are all so different--and the diagnoses mimic one another. It's best not to confuse what is already confusing. It is not anti-teacher to expect them to behave like teachers, and again there is nothing wrong (in fact it's good) if teachers notice something is out-of-sync and tell the parents about it without adding the label.
    Although in many places (like where I live) our WONDERFUL teachers (and they are) are way underpaid, my sister is an aide for an autism class, and the teachers in that rich school district make $65K as an average. Not all are underpaid. And some aren't in it for the money, but some are burned out and don't like dealing with problem kids.
  11. 'Chelle

    'Chelle Active Member

    Just to clarify where I'm coming from, my difficult child had 2 good teachers who really worked with him and tried to find where he was coming from, one of whom really "got him" and was a huge help in getting him mainstreamed and able to function in school. The rest from grade 1 on up, if they said anything were critical of him, his behaviors, our family and parenting and pretty much blamed me and his father. And I was a very cooperative parent who went to every meeting, criticized little if at all, and did whatever they asked or suggested. I'm very understanding of how hard it must be for teachers who have to try deal with this. But it doesn't help by telling a 7 year old he's sick in the head and needs to see a doctor. It's lucky for the principal who said that that husband didn't tell me what she said for a few days. But at least she didn't try diagnosis him herself.
  12. uncheerleader

    uncheerleader Pollyanna

    As a teacher of young children, I have lots of experience with "typical" behaviors of the ages I work with. HOWEVER, I would NEVER diagnosis ANY child. I have on many occasions discussed the child's behaviors with the parents, and some things that they could ask their Dr.s about.

    Teachers see a lot of children every year and have a pretty good idea of what symptoms to look for in regards to certain disorders. Although it was unprofessional for her to offer a diagnosis, you should never the less take her observations to your next dr appointment.

    It probably is just as you stated, the stress of the school day for difficult child. But even though it is just that maybe the dr can give ways to alleviate these stressors.
  13. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Teachers shouldn't diagnose. We do have a lot to offer in terms of what we observe in the classroom that parents often don't see at home and vice versa with parents seeing things teachers don't. It should be a communication process.

    More and more I think teachers are getting more wary of what they tell parents because many parents are very defensive. I guess because I am a teacher I think most teachers mean well.
  14. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I think they mean well too. I just SO MUCH MORE appreciate the ones who have said to me, "I know THIS is a problem, but I really don't know why." I can't tell you how much I love the Special Education teachers my kids have had (and some regular ed teachers). It's ok if they can't give me a label or even if they never heard of Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)-not otherwise specified (I will always offer information). But I remember when I used to be soooooo unsure as to my son's "label"--and then a few teachers jumped in with "I've seen many kids with ADHD--" Well, they have, and haven't. Some kids are misdiagnosed. And all kids with ADHD are different. My son was on the spectrum, which does have ADHD symptoms. A few teachers recommended stimulants, which always made my son worse. I'm sure they thought I was a "bad mom" for not listening to them, but I didn't really care. It's so hard with our kids--I so appreciate honest feedback from teachers, but please no diagnoses. I can see where that would really confuse a less experienced parent than me. My autistic son and Learning Disability (LD) daughter would never be where they are without the aid and love from the best teachers on earth, but they never gave us a diagnosis. We would sit and have serious give and take conversations about what we both see, and it all turned out good. There were no alarmist labels ever given me by these great teachers, just lots of care and lots of help. This year my son graduates from eighth grade and both of his Special Education teachers will be invited to his party. And I know they'll both be glad to come. It's a mutual
  15. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    This really does depend on how the teacher approached you over this. A teacher is NOT medically qualified and should not be making a diagnosis.

    BUT teachers DO see a lot of different kids with different issues cross their paths and I feel should be listened to if they approach you and say, "I know your child already has a diagnosis, but has this been considered?" Or "I've noticed he tends to do this; I had a student once who seemed very similar, he had a diagnosis of...".
    I really do not see anything wrong with that. On the contrary - I would welcome it.

    It is a matter of degree. on the other hand, difficult child 3 had a teacher who INSISTED that his vomiting and nausea was entirely physical, her daughter had similar symptoms and doctors tried to say it was psychological but they found she had food sensitivities which careful diet dealt with. She was extremely insistent - I would report back that doctors were keeping on coming back to "extreme anxiety" and n physical cause had been found, and she would say, "Tell those doctors to talk to me, I've seen this kid go suddenly ashen in class, then have to rush outside. Tell them to ring me, I'll set them straight."

    We spent most of the year he was in her class, getting difficult child 3 investigated, or having him home on sick leave because of "recurrent nausea and vomiting". I saw as much of her as I did, because I was collecting work sheets from her (never enough - interestingly he always worked much more efficiently at home) and trying to wean him back into the classroom.

    It was in the last month of the school year that a doctor respectfully said, "You do realise - we have ruled out all possible physical causes. You've had him at the Allergy Clinic for months with no conclusive result. We've breath-tested him - no ulcer. He's had blood tests, ultrasounds, X-rays, counselling - and we do observe he is a very anxious, highly strung little boy. Why is it so hard to accept that extreme anxiety could be the cause?"
    When I explained about the teacher being so emphatic, the doctor said what has been said here - "And her qualifications are...?"

    While I had given credence to the teacher's suggestions, her determined insistence had really led us astray and wasted a lot of time and resources. I realised later that she had a strong vested interest in us finding a physical cause - she herself was a MAJOR factor in his anxiety response, she was mishandling him badly. She had a history of bullying him in the playground long before she ever agreed to teach his class. She had also taught easy child years ago and badly misjudged her as well. All in all - she is not a good teacher, she is also a lazy one and knows it. She also is in a strong position of control at the local school - she bullies the other staff as well. And she had successfully bullied me, although I recognise she was trying to help.

    Amazingly, difficult child 3 adores her, as he does all his teachers. He values teachers I feel because they are repositories of learning. They have supplied his need for knowledge by providing him with lessons, with books, with information and a place to learn.

    I also wonder about whether your son's diagnosis is fully explored. He seems to have quite a constellation of things which could perhaps be connected by dots not yet joined. I must admit, if I were his teacher I'd probably be diffidently suggesting a few questions for you to ask his doctors.