Long vent re. call from ed spec

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by klmno, Apr 10, 2008.

  1. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    I realize that I'm not the most effective communicator- especially when it comes to verbal communication. But I need to relay this phone conversation in order to vent and if someone can stay awake to read it all, I'd love to hear any ideas on how to bridge the communicaation gap between me and the school. The only big thing I can see is that I am of the opinion that mood cycling effects more than just behavior and that when it is effecting grades, ability to get to school, ability to do homework and classwork, etc., that the iep should encompass that and that IDEA requires someone knowledgable in the disability to be involved in the iep team, not necessarily there all the time, but an educational specialist who has no understanding of mood disorders (she just thinks she does- but if she thinks mood cycling is only a behavior, she doesn't understand it) is not meeting that requirement. It appears to me that the entire school thinks that all they have to address is behavior because the work completion issue and everything else is "behavior" related and that the educ. sp. is meeting the IDEA requirement. No mention is ever given to neuropsychologist test results that indicate memory and organizational issues and no mention is ever given to side effects of medications (cognitive dulling). So, here is how this morning's phone call from the educ. spec. went....

    She said she understood my concerns about other people having access to the MDE report or reading it and that I didn’t want it in difficult child’s file. I elaborated on why by saying some people may have great intentions but they try to discuss details with difficult child but they are not familiar enough to know the best way to approach him and they are not trained counselors and they do not know how we have already been presenting things to difficult child, so when they start presenting things a completely different way it can really mess him up and send things backwards. I said we have had bad experiences with this in the past and I have learned that as well intentioned as people might be, sometimes they just don’t need more information that they don’t know how to handle appropriately. And, there are others who try to use it against him by telling difficult child that they just don’t believe it, they think he is just intentionally doing things, and so on. She said she understood.

    She then proceeds to say that this is why she doesn’t think teachers should know about any bipolar diagnosis and that she had reviewed the report and it says he doesn’t have a bipolar diagnosis and that she agrees with it. She said she had looked through difficult child’s record, went back and reviewed the report again, and she agrees that the diagnosis is Adjustment Disorder because that all seems to fall into place so this would be her diagnosis, too, and she doesn’t believe he is bipolar (she apparently has never heard of adolescent onset). (Mind you, in the Mar. 17th meeting they did agree that the psychiatrists agreed on the treatment plan to address the mood cycling and this meant that it had to be treated as bipolar, at least for right now.) I said it is correct that it falls into place and whether they call it bipolar or not is not the biggest issue. I reminded her that psychiatrist does have difficult child diagnosed with bipolar (she has seen that in writing as well) and the bipolar label is just dependent on where the line is drawn in criteria, but it is clear that difficult child is cycling, he does have manic and depressive periods and that MDE acknowledged that as well. I told her that both psychiatrists- regular and MDE- have since conferred about difficult child again, that I’m not sure how many times they have discussed his case but I know it has been more than once. They both agree that difficult child needs to be on a mood stabilizer, that MDE psychiatric has it in her report that he does need one, at least for right now, and I definitely don’t think regular psychiatrist would be prescribing them for difficult child if he wasn’t sure that he needed it.

    She said one problem that she saw with this is that if teachers were informed that difficult child had bipolar that they would singling him out and treating him differently and that it didn’t seem to be the best answer when on the one hand, I am asking for him not to be singled out and treated differently and I don’t want them to have all this information and access to this report by it being in his file but on the other hand, I am asking for them to know about it. I said I didn’t want them to have more information until they had received a little more training on it and that is part of the reason I had requested a specialist in mood disorders be brought in. And, I really didn’t care if teachers knew what label there was but they did need to know that there are more things going on with him that aren’t just intentional behavior. She said the teachers already had received some training on mood disorders and they had been taught certain things to look for pertaining to students with bipolar and because of what they had been taught, she didn’t think it would be a good idea for them to hear that difficult child is or could be bipolar and she thought they should only be aware of the behavior component. So, she didn’t understand exactly what I wanted.

    I said that if the teachers had been taught something that lead them to believe or that has left them thinking that all kids with bipolar or cycling are going to walk into the school and be Cho next week, then they were taught wrong and maybe that is the problem. She started to say something like, “Well, how do you solve that if the teachers will approach it this way” and I said that is why I thought they needed to be taught differently. I went on to say that I want the teachers to be taught enough to know how to educate my child the same way as any other parent of a child on an IEP- they need to be knowledgable enough about what is going on specifically with the child to be able to help them and educate them and just like parents of kids with ADHD and Autism or anything else, I expect the teachers to be able to handle that knowledge professionally, whether it is the diagnosis or information that is more specific to that child, and use it to educate them, not single anyone out. And, I don’t think that keeping information about a child from the teacher simply because that teacher has been lead to believe certain things or taught a certain thing is an appropriate permanent answer because it only encourages them to keep believing that way and that isn’t helping the child that has the problem at all. She asked then what was I asking for and I said “for someone to be brought in to teach them differently”. She said, “Oh, you want me to contact Dr. XXX?” and all I could do was let out a big sigh- she had told me on Mar. 17th that this is what she would do first, along with reviewing the information that I had provided, and that no action would be taken, except discussing things with the principal, until she had done those things and we touched base again. Instead, she took the info and met with several people at school.

    She said, going back to the behavior component, one of the reasons she had met with sd case manager was to discuss the way teachers were reporting things. (My issue on Mar. 17th was that things were being reported and conveyed to me inconsistently in a way that portrayed things inaccurately in difficult child’s record- it wasn’t necessarily the behavior reports, it was all types of communication. Knowing this, she still decided for herself to diagnose him herself and use the school record to do it.) She said they had come up with the idea of the teachers using a number scale instead of words to report difficult child’s behavior and that they could submit this differently than emailing me the weekly behavior reports like they had been doing. I said that it really frustrates me that this has gone back again to just wanting to talk about behavior and that there was a lot more to this than just behavior. She said they could only deal with symptoms and his symptom at school was behavior (she didn’t mention the problem with grades this year that is not a direct result of behavior but indicative of a problem). She said she was aware that his behavior hadn’t been a big issue this year like it was last year. She said his IEP was based on behavior (which is another thing I had requested- the specialist in mood disorders be asked to review evaluations, IEP, etc., including classification now that diagnosis has changed from when IEP was first established). I said, “Well, the behavior reports were the school’s issue, not mine, I didn’t asked for them in the first place and I don’t really give two cents if they report it with a number or a word and I don’t care right now if they quit doing them altogether. There are a lot bigger problems here, I have a sick child at home right now, I couldn’t care less how they choose to write down good kid or bad kid for the day, this really isn’t the point to me and I can’t believe we are having this conversation – I have heard the school’s position on things for going on 3 years now and it is pointless to bring someone else in from the school district because it will be the same conversation again, I don’t really want to hear the same things anymore, I have heard them, I know what the school’s position is, this is why I asked for a third party and not the school’s Educational Specialist, and doing nothing but having meeting after meeting to discuss behavior and how it is reported has gotten to the point of beating a dead horse.”

    She asked about difficult child being at home and the computer incident and I explained he had been on suspension but is off suspension but having medication issues right now. I said I needed to go and check on him. She said that she didn’t know what else she could do then, that she had sincerely tried to help and had explained to sd case manager and the school administrators that I sincerely loved my child and that he was my baby. I just said “Sheesh, well, I met with you and Ms. YYYY on Mar. 17 to lay out my concerns and we discussed those things and it has just come back to the same point it always does so I will just have to look elsewhere for a different answer.” She said then she didn’t think she could do anything else right now but she was available if I had any questions or wanted to discuss anything else, I could call her, but she would let me go so I could check on difficult child. I said “thank you, I appreciate that”.

    Did anyone survive this read?? LOL
  2. dreamer

    dreamer New Member

    I read it, I survived it, LOL- I wish I had something helpful or positive to say to you, but I don't. Sounds like so many times I talked with school people here over the years, and I wish I could say it went that way with just my bipolar child, but it also went that way with my child with cp and vision issues. Our sd flat out refused to accept specialized bipolar training from both the pediatric bipolar university clinic people and from anyone from NAMI and from someone from CABF. The training was even offered at no cost to our sd as a special favor to me and it was offered to be done AT our school, and our school STILL refused to accept it. For my son, our sd insisted on saying he did not read becuz he did not wnt to, nevermind he could not SEE, somehow our sd just kept insisting it was behavioral, nevermind it was mechanical. I STILL shake my head and wonder HOW our sd thought giving my son detentions and suspensions for not being able to see was supposed to give him sight, I sure do wish it were that easy!

    Seems many people simply get locked into how they think, and they simply refuse to bend their thinking to accept anything other than what they want to believe, and how they want to believe.

    I'm sorry your sons school is being less than cooperative or helpful. I do personally believe it i s these kinds of problems that make it even more difficult for our kids. It magnifies and intensifies our kids inability to function. It can be quite toxic for our kids.
  3. KTMom91

    KTMom91 Well-Known Member

    After reading your post, I feel very fortunate to be in the district we're in. When I've been stonewalled at school level, I email the principal with my concerns. If I still don't get action, I email the superintendent. Then I get answers and a starting point on solving the issues. What about the County Office of Education? The State Board of Education? The school district should not be the final authority here.
  4. dreamer

    dreamer New Member

    sometimes I think if some sd used less energy and effort trying to force a child to conform to the sd image of a perfect and normal child, they might find they can work more effectively if they focus on the child and the childs gifts and strengths...I know my difficult child would do better to not go into painic fight or flight, and school would probably do better to accept what difficult child could do and not focus so much on what difficult child cannot do.....um, I mean, stop trying to make each child into a complete and identical clone of the image of a perfect person, stop trying to make everyone a stepford person.....work with what you do have, work with the natural talents and gifts, guide a child to learn how to use their positive qualities. I personally do believe everyone does have personal gifts and positive qualities, and if we can identify those we can steer a child to grasp those and utilyze those to meet maximum potential for each person. Not everyone in the world is going to work as an adult reading, writing, sitting at a desk, working day hours of the business world. SOme people are, and some are going to go on to do more physically demanding jobs etc, some will work nites etc. in my opinion too many schools just seem to want to jump up and over react to some issues....as I believe your school over reacted about this computer incident. That incident could have provided insight to your school to be a learning experience but your sd chose to instead turn it into something else, something non positive.
    I think your sd has s imply decided to do whtever it takes to get rid of your child, and have lost sight of any goal of providing your child a true education. Seems their new goal is simply to get rid of your child so he is not their problem to deal with, whatever it takes. They do not want the responsibility.
  5. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    I am so on board with you Dreamer. I keep asking myself "am I wrong? Am I misinterpreting what IDEA says? Isn't this sd in non-compliance?" Apparently, it doesn't matter. I guess I'll be talking to that attny again and see what he says now that difficult child didn't go to detention.

    So, KTMom, got any extra space in your house that you want to rent out? LOL!
    (I had written high admin people from sd- I didn't get a response from them- I only got contacted by middle school Special Education director and educ. spec. which is what lead to meeting on Mar. 17. I left that meeting thinking they would do what they committed to- oh, silly me!)

    PS I really interpret what she said about not telling the teachers like this- they would treat difficult child differently (discriminate) because of what the sd has trained them to do regarding kids with bipolar so the answer she suggests is not to tell the teachers. (No concept here of maybe teaching the teachers something different. No concept here that this is clear discrimination.) But then again, after reading Dreamer's experience, I guess they can defend themselves by saying it is not discrimination- they treat all kids on an iep like that.
  6. Steely

    Steely Active Member

    Yep, I read it - and I do believe that is the longest post I have ever read!!!:sheepish: LOL
    I am so sorry that you are going through all of this with the sd. As I have said many, many times. been there done that. To the point of making me physically sick, and resign from my career. I became so consumed with the injustice of it all - and the lack of equality.

    Then again I find myself feeling that way about situations frequently. I just cannot stand to see people treated unfairly, or unjustly. Unfortunately this has often worked against me - and caused me to have to climb harder up the hills of life. Not sure how that is possible - but it is true. So many people just let life go by, without minding if people are being treated respectfully or fair. Unfortunately I am just not one of those people - it makes life more complicated.

    I think you are probably a lot like me, a fighter. Someone who refuses to accept things that are not fair. It makes life harder - but yet - at the end of the night we are the ones that have to look ourselves in the mirror. At some point, I think we have to accept that because we are this way, we are going to face more opposition, and more conflict in life, because we are putting ourselves in the line of fire so frequently. I, for one, am still working on accepting that reality.

    I think I am rambling, sorry.
    Many hugs! I hope all of this gets resolved soon.
  7. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Thanks, Steely! I'm still cracking up laughing to learn that I finally get to go down in history for something!! LOL

    And, I think you described me to a TEE! I have already informed the GAL and PO that once difficult child is 18yo, I'm probably going to become an advocate for kids in the Department of Juvenile Justice because I just can't stand to see what they and their families are being put through and how they are treated and lives are going down the tubes rather than being helped and I can't live with that kind of shameful disgrace to our society going on. And the only reason that I am not pursuing that already is because my first obligation is to raise difficult child and I need to be able to financially support him and I figure it will take a few more years to learn enough to be able to fight for these kids.
  8. Some IEP accommodations for my BiPolar (BP) son have been, homework assignments for the following week given on Friday and no deduction for late work for a two week period. This gave him a large enough window to complete the tasks at a pace he could handle, even during the darkest times. Also, he was in a stratagies class where a sped teacher worked solely on his complete lack of executive function (assignment books, notebooks, materials needed) as well as collecting all the work that he had completed but carried in a mess in the bottom of his bookbag for weeks instead of turning the assignments in. During the depression phase, he went on reduced days or homebound altogether. None of his teachers except for his case manager at school was aware of his diagnosis. medication changes (and there have been many) were noted to the case manager and at almost every change, the behavior side kicked in resulting in the standard suspensions both in and out of school.

    Now your Cho comment sent me spinning because with every shooting incident that had happened at any school in the last three years, my son was brought down to the office to just "just check in and see how you are doing". Now, my son is a smart a** and told them after the VTech shooting that they were profiling but they had the wrong guy because he wasn't asian. They actually called to tell me that they thought that was a racist comment.

    So after four year in high school the nutshell is that the sped department was extremely understanding and helpful with the accomodations but the administrators were less than understanding, issuing the exact same consequences as regular ed students (including arrests for damaging property) and somewhat harassing him after any major school shooting.

    Kind of like the real world. The prisons are filled with people with mental health issues. For the most part they get the exact same consequences for their behaviors as those without issues. I have told my son that regardless of his diagnosis or struggles, he has to live in society and abide by the same rules as everyone else. Sure, it will be more difficult for him at times but there is no changing these facts...so deal with it.
  9. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    How frustrating! I'm not surprised though that they won't bring in an outside expert. Most sds don't have the money for that. They should, however, have people trained in how to work with all types of kids. The accommodations that are needed should be made! I would be so mad at her comment about teachers singling someone out because of a bipolar diagnosis. I think I would be writing to the superintendent and possibly the school board. Who knows-maybe you would even get them to pay for an expert.
  10. dreamer

    dreamer New Member

    alongfortheride- all due respect, but, sometimes there can be sd that are treating our kids outright abusive or negligent. Thank goodness it is not the norm, but when it does happen it is wrong and an injustice to our kids, difficult child or not. When a sd is abusive or negligent to our kids, not only is it not fair or right, it deprives our kids of an education, and it models many of the same poor behaviors to our kids that we are struggling to change in our difficult children.

    Now I understand my own opinion is only my own opinion and my experiences are extreme (THAKK GOODNESS FOR THAT)

    But....if you think about it, grades k-12 are really about the only time in the course of routine life that a person has very little say in where they will be and what they will be doing. For the most part, school is mandatory and required, as are a good part of the topics studied. A student usually has very little input on what the schedule will be, who the teacher will be, and who the classmates will be.
    (barring incarceration or time in military)

    If a person is in a bad marriage, it is very common for the loved ones of the person in the bad marriage to say- "get out" If a person is in a job that is just not right, maybe hours that you do not function well, or with an abusive abnoxious boss or co workers, or an unduly difficult workload or whatever else might not be ok with any particular job- most of the time a person will seek different employment. ANd they might choose different hours, different schedule, different field of work, different co workers, whatever. And if a job is not a good fit and is abusive or toxic or makeing a person miserable, very often the loved ones will encourage a job change. K-12 school really is the ONLY time a person really has almost no input in how they are treated, what they must do, etc.
    So- while out in "the real world" a job might not offer accomodations like an iep does- very often the person themself can work to self accomodate when they seek and or accept a job.

    Do not get me wrong, I believe in education (heck I took college classes from age 18 until age 45 while also working full time and raising a family and am now considering going for more)
    BUT there ARE some school districts where the school district does not treat difficult children properly, where it does not matter what an IEP says.....where the difficult child becomes a target, where retaliation against proactive parents is real and life becomems a thousand fold more complicated than life already can be with a difficult child.
    And a toxic school environment CAN harm a child - and it can backfire when you cannot get the school to listen and do what is right, and harm the child in such ways the child now has even more and bigger recovery than from whatever diagnosis they may have had to begin with.
    I so much did not want to believe that could be the case, but.....I have a child that was originally simply bipolar. Oh yes, I said "simply" and she did NOT have aggression or violence in her history at all......I have 4 docs who now say it is not her bipolar that is the problem as much as it is her school induced PTSD from the pain and trauma and abuse they heaped upon her, even while I was fighting thru due process etc. Now she has disassociative states, profound panic attacks, phobia of her former school SO strong that she cannot even be in the car when we drive past her former school building, even after over 3 years of no longer going to that school----and even with intense therapy all along.
    If that had been a job or a marriage treating her that way, there is NO way she would have stayed..but...it was SCHOOL .....K-12 school. and it is not quite so easy to simply no longer go to school. Truancy laws required me to send her. (or to send her to a private school, which I sure could not afford, tho I tried- cannot afford partly becuz our school district takes so much in property taxes each year to pay for the school)
    I have since watched, kept my ear to the ground with other kids who were in her Special Education classes, and when this schol here decides they no longer wan to cope with a special needs child? They go to extreme and dangrous lengths to get rid of that kid- MAJOR triggering, major pushing a kids buttons, HOPING to get a kid to fight back....hoping to get the kid to do ANYTHING they can add a little spin to so they can call police and spin things to make the kid look worse. ANd I am sad to say, I am fairly sure they also resort to framing kids outright. Setting kids up for arrests.....

    Sure schools are afraid now of haveing a kid with a bipoolar diagnosis.....no school wants to have to deal with the possibility of some sensational and horrendous incident. And becuz so many of those incidents involved kids with mental health diagnosis or on psychiatric medications, some schools (Please note I did not say ALL schools) are afraid......and will do what they can to prevent haveing to take the risk of such a tragedy.

    Am I paranoid? I am sure some will say I am. I am grateful some people do have it better at their school so they CAN think I am paranoid. After all the only first hand experience I have is what has happened at my kids school here.....and well, I have been posting here and other places a LONG time, and our experiences have been posted about all along the way. More than just a few people along the way agree with my opinion of my experiences with my children at their school.

    OK sorry..I will climb down from soap box now.....but- yes there ARE some very toxic school districts sometimes in some places...and while in "real world" a person might get the same consequences, usually very few people are completely and totally at the mercy of wicked nasty abuse.
  11. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    alongfortheride- it sounds to me like your sd is meeting the requirements of idea and complying with the iep. Of course, you have to support the rules for your child when they start "pushing those limits". In some cases though, the sd is not complying with IDEA and the school is not implementing the IEP, even though the majority of people who sign the IEP and are on the IEP team are from the school.

    I won't list all the ridiculous situations that difficult child and myself have gone through, not to mention the horror stories I've heard from people I know. But, I will say that if the students are to live by a "zero tolerance" rule in a zero tolerance society, then I have come to have zero tolerance for the sd. My difficult child isn't above the law, but they aren't either. The sd can call in authorities to check out difficult child's home life (not that they have in our house), so why can't I call in authorities to check them out? I pay my tax dollars to pay their salaries and entrust my son's welfare and education to them. They have laws they are supposed to abide by too. Who, really, is holding them accountable? They could have cost my son his life- seriously. That was at the beginning of his issues- when they could have and should have handled things differently in several situations. I have tried for the past two years to make this work and I have heard BS after BS and outright illegal statements from them. I am sure, after finding this board, that I am not the only one. And I really don't think I can have anything other than a "zero tolerance" attitude for them anymore. If we now have a zero tolerance society for our CHILDREN, oh I am so ready to hold them to the same standards.

    Sorry, but this started when difficult child exhibited serious signs of depression at 10 yo and teachers continuously wrote him up for disrupting class without ever saying anything to me other than that he was bothering others- as it turns out- he was picking at himself in class until blood ran down his arms, he was putting his head down and not paying attention, he was staring at the wall, he was unraveling the thread in his socks, he was not "engaged" in what was going on... do you have to be a genius to realize that this is something more than BAD BEHAVIOR???

    Can the teachers and admin staff not learn that if they spent more time concentrating on teaching and doing what they are supposed to than covering their A**es for not doing what they should, they wouldn't have to worry so much about our kids losing it on them. Not that I'm using my son's diagnosis as a threat, but really, it is the way they handle things that triggers my difficult child, I believe. No I don't expect society to change for him. I do expect that the sd will help him learn what he needs to learn to bridge the gap between what he is capable of now and what we all want him to be capable of as an adult.

    I better stop- or else I could break my own record!
  12. flutterbee

    flutterbee Guest

    There are many things that get to me, but I'll start at the first thing that popped into my mind when I read your post.

    The lady is an Educational Specialist. I'm assuming she doesn't have any letters after her name like M.D. Who is she to agree or disagree with psychiatrist's diagnosis? Plus, Adjustment Disorder as described in the DSM-IV only lasts for 6 months. After that time period, it's considered something else. That part where the SD doesn't agree with the diagnosis really, really gets to me. If a child is diagnosis'd with epilepsy is the SD going to say, 'Oh, I don't agree with that diagnosis?' I know there is no definitive testing that can prove or disprove psychiatric disorders, but the doctors are trained and educated and have clinical practice experience.

    I would be very concerned and want to know exactly what she means about the teachers singling difficult child out if they knew of a BiPolar (BP) diagnosis. I would want to know exactly what training they received. Since this was paid with taxpayer money, it is public record. Your child is not going to be the only child that goes through that school with that diagnosis.

    And how is treating difficult child's problems as purely behavioral working for them? Not well apparently if he's not completing homework (I think I remember you mentioning that) and if he still got in trouble and got suspended. You can punish executive function problems all day long; it's not going to fix anything. The child isn't going to miraculously 'get it'.

    I agree. Their time and resources could be much better spent doing what would actually be beneficial to difficult child than covering their rears and calling the police. Imagine what might happen if they spent the time figuring out a number or word scale to report behavior instead on helping difficult child organize himself and offer him some guidance.

    I don't know how you do it. We didn't have the behavioral (for lack of a better term - sorry) issues with difficult child at school and I still got tired of fighting with them and now she's learning at home. It's just like beating your head against a brick wall.
  13. looking4hope

    looking4hope New Member

    OK, as a teacher, I have a RIGHT to know what the specific problems are with a child who has an IEP. If I don't know, I cannot adequately nor correctly address the child's disability (behavioral, cognitive, physical, etc.) in the classroom. I cannot create a lesson plan that accommodates the IEP. The sped caseworker is yanking your chain, and I would tell her that you are going to consult with an attorney that specializes in IDEA compliance, or just tell her that you if you don't meet with someone from the SD who has experience in dealing with children with mood disorders, you will file complaints with both the state and the federal government. The feds can without $$$ for not complying with IDEA, so this does have a lot of teeth to it.

    Go above her head and find out who the assistant superintendent for Special Education is in your SD, and call their office for an appointment. Also call the person on your local school board who represents your area and tell them that you need a meeting with this person, and that he/she needs to help you secure that appointment (remind them that it's part of their job in representing you as a constituent). I would prepare a written statement outlining your concerns to help you during this meeting, and also that you can leave behind for them to review.

    Your son is almost done with school, so this may be a moot point. But I agree that schools often do more harm than good by trying to fit our square-pegged difficult children into a round hole. It took me two years for me to get my son into a non-public school where he's finally getting the help he needs. But those two years were absolute hell on both of us, and also on the teachers and students in his previous schools. I pray every night that he doesn't carry the scars of those years with him forever.
  14. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    I think you need to pull in some of the big guns. This person is not going to help. It seems the school is determined to make things unproductive.

    Contact the STate Education Dept. They will have a Special Education dept. It is time to get them, and your state senator or representative on board.

    You can also try ldavirginia.org for help with the learning disabilities, www.doe.virginia.gov for the dept of education in virginia, www.virginialac.org for the Center for Special Education for listings for attorneys/advocates.

    It really seems you need some firepower to get things done with your school district. I found the above by entering educational advocate Virgina into google. The best things were on the second page of the list that came up.


  15. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Heather: No, the ed. spec. has no credentials that make me think her diagnosis would be better than the psychiatrists. One psychiatric (from the MDE evaluation) did diagnosis difficult child with Adjustment Disorder, but she did it for a reason that she explained to me. She did acknowledge, in writing, that difficult child was cycling and did need to be on a mood stabilizer and she has willingly conferred with difficult child's psychiatrist who has diagnosis'd him with BiPolar (BP). I understand where both of them are coming from and am on board with it. It isn't exactly the same with miss ed spec who flips through a school record, after seeing written proof how inconsistent these reports are made, then making her "own" opinion on diagnosis- did she really think I would throw out the psychiatrists diagnosis? She didn't even mention the neuropsychologist test results that are in difficult child's file as well.

    Sharon & Heather: Yes, I was more than a little surprised that the comment was made about the teachers' "training", if you want to call it that- and that she actually made that comment to me. Is this what they mean by the saying "give enough rope and..." LOL

    looking4hope: thanks for the advice & support- and for reminding me that there are some good teachers out there. It gives me hope and comfort to know that some teachers really are willing to do what they can, in spite of some sd's not supporting the goal.

    Susie- thanks for the links. Every little bit helps! And, thanks for keeping my fire lit- I'm so tired right now and need sleep- this gives me something to look forward to!!

    Goodnight all!
  16. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    I admit I've only been able to skim this so far. And I still think I have made longer posts than yours, although yours was up there.

    You've had some good suggestions.

    Here are mine, to use as well or not - your choice.

    I think you need to simplify things. What I have gathered, is that it all is sounding increasingly complicated and you were beginning to sound word-befuddled, probably by this woman twisting words this way and that when you were talking to her.

    Not that she was necessarily trying to confuse you - she was also trying to get an exact handle on what you want, plus make sure she gets what she wants. But it sounds like she's a bureaucrat, and the red tape she lives and breathes is tangling the whole issue now. Reports, etc don't get properly read or fully understood if they're too long, too full of jargon and too waffly. You need the KISS principle.

    So sit and think quietly. What do you need done for your child? What do you want the school staff to be aware of? What do they need to know, in order to do their job?

    What has worked brilliantly for me, and I made sure it was written into the IEP, was a Communication Book. At times we had teachers who felt it was time to wean us off the need for the daily communication this way, and every time, that's when the problems increased. This works, if you do it right.

    We bought a cheap exercise book with lined pages and I made a cover for it by printing off a sheet from the computer. It said, "difficult child 3 - Communication Book. Parents, teachers, friends - please write here anything of relevance or interest."
    I prettied it up a little, painted a rainbow across it all, then put a plastic cover on it.

    I then made the first entry in the book, briefly explaining difficult child 3.

    Here is an introductory entry for difficult child 3, but it is to a teacher who knew of him from the previous year.

    We type messages from home - my handwriting is not good. Also, it keeps a record of previous comments on computer file. As far as possible we keep this book in his schoolbag.
    Last year his teacher noted that difficult child 3's behaviour was consistently worse up to 10 am, when he suddenly settled down. As a result we’re trying the following medication regime (we think it has helped):
    difficult child 3 has 1 x 10mg dexamphetamine sustained release capsule on waking, and 1 x 6.25mg sustained release capsule at 8.30 am on departure for school. This last one I sometimes forget. It can be given up to lunchtime. If his behaviour is worse than usual, ring me to check. difficult child 3 can usually remember these days, but his capsules are stored in a daily dose box, so a quick check at home will make certain. Extra capsules will be left at the office with an authority to dose difficult child 3 when necessary.
    Usually it should not be necessary for difficult child 3 to have any medication at school."

    I would outline the diagnosis as follows: "Dr G, [qualification], has diagnosed difficult child as having [*****]. He is receiving [describe treatment]. You will notice it as follows: [outline what issues are likely to need the teacher's attention, or could pose a problem for her]. I have found that if you respond with [list positive ways to handle difficult child] that this is the fastest and most constructive way to get him back under control.
    His other special needs are [list them].
    I want this book to serve as effective communication between us, to reduce the amount of time we would otherwise need to spend talking to each other about various issues. This way you won't have to have frequent classroom steps informal meetings, the information will be on its way home to me with difficult child while you're on your way home for your much-needed rest.
    I will tell you about anything relevant which has been happening with him at home, please will you do the same in the classroom? In this way we can work effectively as a team to give difficult child the best possible help and to give each other the necessary support with which to achieve this."

    In this introductory bit, I put what I wanted them to do for him. And because it was in writing, even in such an informal way as this book, there was no way they could later on say, "We never knew that this was what you wanted!"

    The book has to travel in difficult child's school bag and shouldn't be difficult child's responsibility in any way. It's too important and really, it's not his it's yours; yours and the teacher's. A teacher insisting on difficult child bringing him the book or difficult child putting the book back in his bag to bring it home - there's several problems. First, if the book goes astray, vital communication gets missed. Second, it draws difficult child's attention too much tot he book and he will want to read it.

    difficult child will probably want to read it anyway. You can always handle that by either being careful about what you write, or making sure you write nothing but the truth (which is what should be happening anyway). Or you could put it in a sealed envelope.

    The thing is, difficult child generally knows he's not normal, his own views about himself are likely to be much harsher than the teacher's or your views.

    Because I keep the file on the computer, difficult child 3 has found it and been reading it. I could have locked it away, but I haven't bothered. I think it helps him to know what he used to be like (he can see improvement in himself that way) and it also shows him how much we have been doing for him.

    Reports etc often don't get read. I would leave copies of reports at the school, or send them in to the teacher, often to find that nobody had read them. I think the same went for the IEP. In general, I never saw an IEP until the time came to apply for support funding for the next year, and the year's IEP was tabled as part of the discussion. I know this is wrong, but I didn't know it then. I was very much a mushroom, so for me the communication book meant I was much more in the loop.

    It also helped us all recognise patterns in difficult child 3's behaviour, that we might have otherwise missed. Or a teacher might say, "He's increasingly disruptive after lunch. It seems to have been getting worse this term. When are you next seeing the specialist? Do you think there could be a need to increase his medications?"
    I would then observe difficult child 3 over the weekend and perhaps remember if he had been getting more reactive and agitated earlier in the day, in past weekends.

    For us, this worked. It helped in so many ways. I think it also helped the teachers to blow off steam. I did get the occasional note where the teacher had written, "He was absolutely horrible today! I could have cheerfully wrung his neck!"
    I didn't get angry at such outbursts, since I felt it too sometimes. But I did want details so I could try to find out what might have triggered the problems. I might even write back for the next day, "I talked to difficult child 3, he was having trouble with the size label in his shirt and it was annoying him. I told him that next time he should tell someone, maybe ask you if you can cut the label out for him. Better still, to ask me in the morning before he goes to school. I hope you have a better day today."

    In your son's case, the label has relevance only where it explains the behaviour and learning issues. If a staff member says, "He's not really got J, he's really got K," you need to listen - briefly - ask why they think this, ask what their qualifications are, if you think they have a point worthy of exploring then say to them, "I will discuss this next time we see the specialist. For now, the diagnosis is J so that must remain our working hypothesis."

    I remember a time when the school counsellor said to me, "Isn't it lovely to see how difficult child 3 blends in now? He's talking so well now, the language delay problems are gone. It's wonderful to see that he's not autistic any more."

    We were standing on the office steps, the kids were far below, all wearing the same school uniform. difficult child 3 looked just like the other kids, except he was walking around the edge of the playground, watching his feet, totally oblivious to the other kids. I replied to her, "He looks like the others only because he's dressed like them. It's true that he's caught up with language, but the diagnosis of autism is based on a HISTORY of language delay. Autism is a lifelong condition; all he has done is learn."

    I do feel teachers need to know as much as they need to do their job as best they can. If you have a child who is a compulsive food stealer, the teacher needs to know. If you have a child who is afraid of animals, the teacher needs to know. If your child needs to have access to a quiet space when stressed, the teacher needs to know. The teacher also needs to know what will happen if t hey don't take these problems on board and do something to help.

    It also works positively - difficult child 3 was a very early and skilled reader. He was also obsessed with charts, calendars, lists - anything. So difficult child 3 was generally given the job of making sure the classroom calendar was always set to the correct date. difficult child 3 was the one asked to read out the roll (especially when he was the only kid able to read at the time). This involved him, where otherwise he would have tuned out.

    It all comes down to good communication.