Appointment with guidance officer

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by therese005us, Jul 27, 2009.

  1. therese005us

    therese005us New Member

    today I gave myself a headache!
    Well, I went to the school for the appointment with the Guidance officer (on behalf of cherub); the principal was also there.
    Background: The school is a one teacher/principal school - with two teacher aides and a part time teacher. They also have a music, instrument, sports and German teacher (separate people) come in once a week. There are currently 17 students, one of whom is cherub. The school is five minutes from my house by car.

    The guidance officer (male) began by introducing himself and giving a little technical stuff about his role. He has the file from her previous school. Our school is in a different district. He hasn't read it properly yet, as he only received it a little before the meeting.
    he asked me to describe positive and negatives of cherub. After my weekend with her, that was a little one sided! We'd had a few challenges!

    Then he asked the same of the principal/teacher.
    She has a number of issues, not the least of which is the toiletting problem.
    Now that there is a lso a prep student in the classroom, she has some challenges with keeping cherub on task with her work, she wants to do the prep work, which is much more fun - it's a play to learn program.
    The teacher wants her to aspire more to the Grade 3 students (cherub is chronologically grade 2).
    Challenges for the teacher are; constant attention seeking; needs one to one to stay on task, literally, cherub has to be jollied along for every letter or stroke of her work; cannot work independently at all; constantly interrupts; speaks inappropriately (meaning not in context); can't form sentences that make sense; she actually speaks rather dyslexically (says: what I may do?) and when corrected, does it again!; has no protective behaviours - will hug anybody, male or female, even if it's the first time she's met them (on weekend jumped into my girlfriend's husband's arms and remained there in a monkey grip when he went to give a brief hug); the principal actually pointed out that she was shocked on the first day of school when she had to toilet cherub and when it came to wiping bottom, cherub just bent over and presented her bottom for wiping!; she has no stranger danger - will walk up to anyone in supermarket, street etc and start a conversation; her conversation can often not be understood as it doesn't make sense; will wander away from school/class (this was in old school); doesn't play appropriately - won't wait turns, begs for ball or just takes it etc.; her numeracy and literacy skills are very poor about a prep level; no seeming memory retention; tantrums when doesn't get her own way, or is asked to toilet, or doesn't want to do things (rag doll attitude);

    The principal finds her a challenge, her teacher aides apparently are not happy about having to toilet/clean her up and are threatening legal action - something to do with unions, allowances, health and safety etc.

    The guidance officer then pointed out that cherub could go to another school in the district, on a bus each day that has a special education unit and teacher aides trained in the toileting; there are visiting OTs, etc (though he was unsure about how regularly) similar to what she's come from. His words, 'she can catch the bus, be at school all day and you can have a life' (I was already indignant at that phrase 'have a life')
    However, it's your choice as a parent whether you want to change her school.

    The principal was really hoping that I would say yes.
    I said no. I want her to stay where she is, in a more homely environment, closer to home, where i can be involved by choice (and necessity), and bring the therapists to her - seek for the funding needed, whatever is deemed appropriate and her right - get for her at this school.

    So, that's where we left it. He went away to do his figures, data processing etc. And said I can have a copy of any of the file I want - so I asked for all of it - and he would get back to me as soon as he had soem answers. In the meantime, the teacher aides could not clean cherub up at the school, I have to go up there, it's part of the union rules or something as they don't get the extra allowance for it.

    I went home with a terrible headache, and my face all broke out.

    An hour later, and he'd already set things in motion for reassessment of cherub at the school and was on to the Ed Dept about getting our teacher aides whatever allowance they need to continue with the toiletting process of cherub.

    As soon as I have a copy of the file, I can then hopefully set in motion the process for having it reviewed or reassessed and get some outside therapies for her.

    I'm considering homeschooling her now, but not until I have that file, which I won't be entitlted to if I pull her out straightaway.
    Once I have some outside therapies in place, I think I could cope withthe whole thing, and she'd have a better chance of catching up to her potential.

    If the teacher is expecting her to aspire to the grade ahead of her chronogological age, rather than treating her at the level she is capable of, then how is she ever going to get a sense of achievement? It's all too hard right now for her.

    What do you think?
    Any suggestions please?
  2. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    It generally does sound very positive.

    it also (again) sounds to me like she needsto be checked out for autism. Ghe manner of speech you describe (the odd word order, for example, especially problems with personal pronouns) is very much like the stages a high-functioning autistic can go through, as they learn better language skills. The need for a one-on-one to get ANY work done, the "attention-seeking" (which often can be extreme insecurity and constant need for reassurance, because EVERYTHING is so confusing and such a challenge plus she wants tp please the adults in her life even though she so often gets it wrong and sometimes gives up for a time because it's just too hard). It all fits.

    The way I see it diagnostically - she COULD have general developmental delay (either due to environmental problems to date, or something she was born with) or she could have autism (and has been struggling to cope without assistance, which can sometimes mean they develop some unusual coping skills). I know from experience, that a kid who presents as "not the full quid" is a walking target for abuse and pedophiles. They also have challenging behavikours and delays in critical areas (ie the toiletting issues) which can lead to further behavioural problems if/when these are mishandled. Positive feedback loop working in a negative direction.

    If she has autism, the "developmental delay" and "mental retardation" may actually begin to resolve once the language delay is dealt with. The toiletting problems could be multifactorial - first, Sensory Integration Disorder (SID) (she doesn't recognise the physical sensation of needing to go, of being wet or dirty); second, the social problems of how her mother has handled it to date; third, the response due to the sexual abuse. You're dealing with the last two. Time and maturity can also help with the first plus there are specialists who can help you. With difficult child 3 we had help from a specialist in teaching Sensory Integration Disorder (SID) kids about toiletting.

    The neediness in class will still be an issue if you home-school. You also do have the Distance Education option (it is available in Queensland - I have chec ked it out before) which would at least ease your load with curriculum. But you have a farm to run, your days would be full and you would be tied down a lot more. BUT - she would be much more portable, if you had to drive daughter to a music lesson then cherub and her schoolwork could come along too. Plus you can easily modify a lesson to include what you're already doing (ie shopping becomes maths lesson plus social skills lesson plus life skills).

    The teacher wanting her to work towards the grade ahead - it could be sheer lunacy or inspired genius. Sometimes a child like cherub is difficult because the work is too tedious, it's too predictable and repetitive. difficult child 3 has BIG problems with too much repetition, he learns SOME things incredibly fast.
    Give the teacher some rope, let him/her try the "let's work ahead" approach and see how it goes. If it's a disaster, that will be seen quickly. If it works - cheruyb will be better off for finding this out now, and it will be valuable informagion.

    Whichever way - I strongly urge you to implement the use of a Communication Book because it will speed up the feedback both directions, you will know faster if there is a problem (or good progress) and it's easier to have the fast response you need.

    It's easy to set this up and little trouble to run.

    1) Buy an exercise book (or grab a spare from the school supplies).

    2) Make a pretty cover. I used a sheet of A4 paper and printed on it. "difficult child 3's Communication Book. Teachers, family, friends - please write down anything interesting, good or bad so we can all share how difficult child 3 is going." Of course the A4 sheet won't fully cover the book, but I just wrapped it around and stuck it down with tape so the label showed. I drew a rainbow across it.

    3) Put a clear plastic cover on the book to protect it. The book has to be able to take some punishment. I bought a packet of schoolbook plastic covers, it made it much easier to cover a book in a hurry and the corners are well-sealed, no bits to pick at and tear away.

    Now you make your entries. I begin each entry with the date then I just write. Keep it as brief as you can and fairly informal. You write the sort of stuff you'd be telling the teacher on the classroom steps as you drop her off - "we had a bad morning today, she's talking non-stop about stuff that doesn't matter, but not doing what I ask towards getting ready. Good luck, I hope she can hold it together for you!"
    The teacher makes brief observations as relevant - "she worked well after a while but needed help from the aide to get started on the new worksheets. Very unsettled after lunch, never really did settle to work. Not sure why; I think I'll ask the aide to keep an eye on the playground over lunch tomorrow, see if we can see if someting is going on."

    Sometimes just the act of writing something can make things 'click' in your own mind (yours, or the teacher's). Reading back through previous entries can also help you see a pattern. We found, especially in difficult child 3's earlier years at school, that some kind of daily reporting system (two-way) made things so much better in terms of our general management of him.

    The general emotional immaturity you describe, the social 'over-friendliness' (which is also inappropriate and fits with autism as a possibility - difficult child 3 was like this, so was easy child 2/difficult child 2, they would walk off with a total stranger so easily), it's all part of the picture.

    We've been there. Well and truly. And even from there, we've come a very long way to the amazing young man I now have in difficult child 3, to the incredible girl in easy child 2/difficult child 2 (who used to paint excreta on the walls without thinking even though she had been repeatedly told not to do it and made to clean it off - also up to about age 8).

    So overall - it sounds like this was a resounding success. At least as resounding as it can be when working with Dept of Ed (ANY bureaucracy!)

    With the teachers' aides threatening whatever action they can over the need to toilet her - what is she were a paraplegic kid with bowel control problems? They attend mainstream school with aides - how is that handled? It seems to me that their main objecgtion is because she LOOKS like she should be properly bowel-trained, there is no excuse for it that THEY can validate, therefore they shouldn't have to do it (a standard attitude but a wrong one).

    Down in NSW when difficult child 1 was in Year 6, there was a ban on school staff giving kids their medications. It meant that parents had to make other arrangements, for kids needing ADHD medications during the day or being on antibiotics. Of course, Teachers Federation made exceptions for kids with diabetes, aasthma or epilepsy - I was very angry about this and lobbied heavily, on the grounds that to not medicate a kid with severe ADHD is just as damaging potentially as allowing a diabetic kid to skip a dose of insulin. With difficult child 1, he would get dangerously violent as his medications wore off while he was still at school.

    It's the same attitude with this toiletting, and it is wrong. So ask them the question about the hypothetical paraplegic kid and see how they answer it. Because in this case - the same rules should apply. There are no excuses for lack of compassion in this case!

    From one Warrior Mum to another... go get 'em!

  3. therese005us

    therese005us New Member

    I rang the Dr today, and they have a psychologist on board who deals with children with behaviour problems, sexual abuse etc. so when I see the GP next week, I'm going to ask for a referral on the Health Care Plan.
    Hoping to get that phtoocopied file by then too, but I'm making notes to speak intelligently at the appointment.

    I agree,I think autism, mild CP (she drags her feet, poor fine motor skills) ADHD?? Maybe some mild medication might help with concentration... i'm prepare dfor a long haul.

    already doing school with her on spare days.
  4. Christy

    Christy New Member

    Good for you for standing up for what you think is best and not being bullied into a different school! It sounds like you have already starting getting the necessary support and resources in place and the principal seems accepting of your decision since he is making the calls to get his aides the training they need. The behaviors you are describing are very similar to my difficult child at that age. Some have gotten better but at a much slower rate than with a typical child. I did home school for a year when my difficult child's behavior got so out of hand that learning was impossible. Academically, it was wonderful for difficult child. I'm a teacher and I enjoyed having a class of one student as well. He made great strides in his reading and math but due to his behaviors, his ability to socialize with peers was very limited. Also as mom and teacher, I got burnt out by the constant arguing, tantrums, and defiance. He started back to school in a structured Special Education program the next year. I stay in very close contact with the school and things are going pretty well right now. It's

    Good luck to you and your daughter on a successful school year!
  5. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    We did eventually find that difficult child 3 was able to concentrate a lot better in a quieter, distraction-free environment. Is there a place at the school where she can go sit to do her written work? difficult child 3's place was on the classroom veranda, his desk set to face the wall (windows are distracting). It wasn't punishment or anything, it was just his personal work station. The teaches knew that to get his attention back to the class, they had to go to him and physically touch him on the shoulder.

    If you're teaching her at home (even if it's just catch-up work on days when she's home from school or on weekends) then try the early reading/interactive things like Grandma & Me, Arthur, etc and there is a website that's been set up by McDonalds, they've been talking about it on TV - it's good for teachnig maths. Not sure what level. There are also great websites like Mathletics ($99 a year per student) but at her age and level, I would get a more basic (and cheap) software package to teach her maths.

    There are some great computer resources that treat learning like games, you can make great progress with her.

    Reading with her is great. How about getting your older kids to read to her? What worked for us was reading books with dialogue, and putting on various voices to show the different characters. That was how difficult child 3 learned to read with expression, we would act out the different characters in the books and take turns being this person or that one. Golden books work well with this - the characters are very well differentiated. And as it turned out, it was a great thing to do for an autistic kid, it added to his learning of facial expressions and the link to emotions. We also linked it to vocal expression and emotion. Without even realising it!

    It's also good to give her the added attention in this way, it's healthier all round.