My final appeal (kinda long, sorry) Input?

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Shari, Dec 9, 2008.

  1. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    to difficult child's school. There are some really great things about it; therefore, I hate to lose it. However, it is painfully obvious that the mockery goes past one teacher, altho she is still very negative and grumpy, difficult child has had no further problems with her since the director had a chat with her about it. I can live with that.
    However, it seems it wasn't curbed before her methods were passed on to the younger aids.
    I wrote this to give to the staff involved. My thought is it is a last ditch effort to appeal to their humanity and ask for their help instead of further hindrance.
    What do you think? (the copy to the director will have names; all other copies will not have names or the first paragraph)
    To school director;

    I have been buried this past week, so I didn't say anything about it, but it has been heavy on my mind through this past weekend. I woke up in the night and wrote this. I would like to give it to the staff involved and anyone who needs a reminder that even the "bad kids" are people, too.
    Last Wednesday, I believe, Miss M called me urgently to school to pick up difficult child. He was obviously doing something he shouldn't have been, but it had escalated to him flinging chairs again. When I got there, they had just restricted him to a corner of the room and were letting him be (which, honestly, was probably the best thing they could have done). I could hear him yelling when I got in the building. He was still holding a chair, sliding it on the floor and repeatedly slamming it into the wall when I entered the room. I tried to make him pick up the chairs while working very closely to see that he maintained safety, but was told they would clean up, 'just go'.
    On the drive home, we talked about it. I still don't know what set it off, or how it escalated. He said he was restrained at one point, and possibly he was throwing chairs before then? I don't know. What I do know is, again, far into the conversation, he dropped into a crying heap and said everyone laughed at him. I asked more about it and he claimed that when he first got in trouble, Miss H told the class to "look at difficult child. Isn't he being cute?" and they all laughed, and he admits that he really got mad and started slamming things around then.
    Honestly, I've heard enough that I didn't feel the need to validate. Things he's told me so far have been right on, I guess I feel this happened, too. We talked about his choices, what he can do to not elicit those comments, etc. And we went on.
    Saturday, on the float, he was absolutely fine until That Teacher showed up, and then he fell apart. Anxiety all the way. When I asked him what was wrong, thru his tears, he clearly said "I just can't do it! I just can't be good when SHE's (touching her leg) here!" Miss R, who is the girl That Teacher's Daughter took him to when he got bitten this fall said "difficult child! She doesn't have anything to do with it!" in defense of That Teacher (and she's right,That Teacher didn't do anything). That Teacher motioned for Miss R to let it go, and Miss R retorted "But it just makes me mad that he blames this on you."
    I heard it, but I was paying attention to difficult child. The whole thing was because he is convinced there is no way for him to possibly meet That Teacher's expectations, even on his best day. He is thoroughly convinced that he is bad. He didn't want to leave, but he didn't want to stay, so I promised to stay close if he wanted to ride, which he did. After he buddied up with someone's older daughter, he was really good and had a good time.
    Later that night, we went to the Restaraunt, a small mom and pop restaraunt near home for supper. They know us well and difficult child feels welcome there. While waiting for dinner, he was coloring with a basket of crayons the restaraunt keeps. I don't recall what we asked him to do, but it set him off and he got beligerant again. We were trying to calm him back down when he rose up on his knees in the chair and yelled "AM I SO CUTE?? HUH? HUH?? AM I JUST SO CUTE NOW??!!?!!" Then he slammed the basket of crayons down, ran under a table, hugged his knees, and cried.
    Another day, we stopped at my office for cookies and milk with my co-workers. We enjoyed a few games and decorating some cookies. difficult child was the hit with the pinata, smashing it and sending candy flying. But shortly after that, we suddenlylost him. We finally found him hiding between a cubicle wall and the building wall. Why? Because he had started playing with some bean bags and couldn't handle the other kids in the game, and they had started chasing him. I assumed the other kids were playing in fun, but when I crawled in the space with him to talk him out, the other kids came around the corner, not knowing I was there, and the leader of the group yelled "he's back here! Let's get him out! I can get him going again! He's so funny!!" They were laughing at him because, in his frustration, he starts growling. They thought it was funny, so they were trying to hype him up and get him to growl. Obviously, it stopped when they saw me sitting there, too. I coaxed him out of his space and we went home.
    I am NOT excusing difficult child's behavior. He would try the patience of a saint. difficult child is a challenging child and has been since he was born. However, how many times are we, as adults, going to ridicule and belittle him? Is that working? Is his behavior changing? If it were working, wouldn't you be seeing a DECREASE in the amount of episodes he has at school, and elsewhere, instead of an increase?
    I have never experienced the love/hate that I do with this child. I love him with every fiber of my being - he is my son. However, there are a lot of days that I don't like his behavior at all and it takes every ounce of strength I have to go home knowing I have to get up and do it all again tomorrow. Believe me, if I knew how to make this better, I would. But difficult child is convinced to his very core that he is bad. I have watched as he pounds his head into a wall repeatedly until its bruised, while yelling at G*d "WHY DID YOU MAKE ME THIS WAY? I HATE YOU!" I have sat at the dinner table after a particularly bad day and had my child request that I shoot him in the head (and he is very aware what death is), as he would rather be dead than live like he is. I have heard him beg of Jesus on his way to school for help to "just be a good boy, just for today, just this once". And I've watched him a hundred times if once, curl up in a ball in a tiny little spot and cry crocodile tears because he knows he's bad, but he doesn't know how to be better. And no matter how tried and tired my patience is, it breaks my heart every time.
    Is that really a boy who just chooses to misbehave? Are you really sending him the messages you want to be sending him? 'Cause he's hearing them - loud and clear.
  2. crazymama30

    crazymama30 Active Member

    Wow. I am holding back tears. They should be so ashamed. As to whether or not to give it to them, I am torn. There has been so much damage done does he still want to go to this school? Would he be better off with a fresh start?

    I am just amazed at your letter. Wow.
  3. Jena

    Jena New Member


    ok first off peoples' poor judement when handling one of our kids is just astonishing to say the very least.

    What this person did truly affected him and so very negatively. Our children have basically no filtering system, at least that's how i view my difficult child. She feels the good to the highest possible extent and same with the verbal remarks, or things that make her sad.

    I think the letter is very good, written in a way in which shows that you really are speaking from our heart. Yet I'd throw in that last paragraph his diagnosis, or possible diagnosis's and how our type of children require, as many special needs children a softer and gentler approach and an even different approach at times to be taught and to keep their behavior to an acceptable level in the school setting. That if a little thought is put in there is an often amazing outcome response given by a difficult child. ok well not all the time LOL

    that's just my thoughts, if i were you writing it. i'm really really sorry he is feeling this way. i can't imagine. i would totally lose it, i'd have to breath my way through it.

    I wish you luck in doing this. Let us know how it goes.

    (((Hugs to your difficult child and you))))
  4. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    I'm assuming this is difficult child 2 you're talking about (forgive me for not having a clue)...

    For one, he's a child with serious issues. How can the adults in his world who are charged with TEACHING him and HELPING him think that ridicule and harsh criticism are EVER appropriate to use with ANY child, let alone one with emotional problems? Where do they EVER teach THAT as a teaching or behavior management technique???!!! It's unprofessional, plain and simple. He needs compassion and understanding -- NOT PROVOCATION and BULLYING (by ADULTS, NO LESS!!!) when he's CLEARLY having trouble dealing with things. You cannot be with him 24/7, so if they are not going to look out for his best interests, maybe he needs to go somewhere else that will.

    You're gonna get me on a rant that I already started today about adults who are in a position to teach but who have clearly forgotten everything they ever learned about normal child development, let alone kids with special needs.
  5. Jena

    Jena New Member

    i also just thought maybe you could also offer to supply them with documentation on how to handle a difficult child??? seroiusly though.
  6. Nancy423

    Nancy423 do I have to be the mom?

    I'm saddened that it has come to this but I agree that you need to address it, in writing, and changes must be made.

    and yes, I have given teachers tips and advice on how to handle my difficult child. They can use it or not but I've provided it. The teachers this year are asking if there's anything else they can do and are very open to suggestions.

    hope this letter gets you to the next level. Good luck
  7. ThreeShadows

    ThreeShadows Quid me anxia?

    This letter is wrenching. I'm so sorry that you are suffering the agony of watching your child be sabotaged by so-called adults. I want to hurt these people and I don't like to feel this way!

    Please do not give them any ammunition against you or your boy. I wouldn't show any vulnerability, I would not mention his behavior outside of school nor his wanting to die. These people will be busy trying to cover their behinds and YOU will become the problem. They won't have to look at their own behavior.

    I hope you take this comment as a caring reaching out from another hurt mom to you. Now I'm crying, this is is an awful way to treat a child who needs loving care.
  8. KTMom91

    KTMom91 Well-Known Member

    Shari, that's a wonderful letter. It's clear, detailed, and heartfelt. I would send it. I would also start looking into other school situations for next year, just in case this blows up.
  9. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Hi Shari,
    you poor thing. And more than that, your poor son. I want to hug him.

    in my humble opinion, it looks like difficult child may need another school setting. This looks like it's gone as far as it can go. But I know what it feels like to want to give it the Old College Try.

    I would shorten the letter.

    Stick to school info. To make the point as to how difficult child was affected by these school events, I would state that "treatment by staff and students has affected his behavior at home and in social functions and it is clear that incorrect and inadequate response by staff has created setbacks."

    (Then again, you may think that's way too strong. But I'd be in their faces right now. You sound like a nicer person than I am. :) )

    I love your writing because it is beautiful and heartfelt. But I am concerned that you come off as "loving," when you need to be an advocate. And a strong one.

    From what I've read here, I do not think a heartfelt note will really affect these people. I think a strong stance will.

    But I could be totally off the mark.

    Definitely incl. a diagnosis in the ltr. The burden should be on them to teach if they are qualified.

    Also, I would leave out words like, "I believe," as in, "Wednesday, I believe." It weakens the sentence. You want strong, solid statements. Again, you may disagree with-this stance and I understand completely.

    I would eliminate this altogether: "Also, On the drive home, we talked about it. I still don't know what set it off, or how it escalated." Just go straight to "difficult child said he was restrained."

    Regardless whether you edit the ltr or send it as is, I wish you tons of luck and support. I've got my fingers crossed for you.
  10. dawnmyst

    dawnmyst New Member


    Your letter almost brought me to tears. Is your son in a special class with only a few students? In the school district I work in children who have the type of challenges that your child has; are in small classes. There are maybe 8 students with two aides and a Special Education teacher who is an expert on children with special needs. I am an elementary art teacher so I teach all of the students in the school and children like your son do very well in art class. It is very rewarding for me to teach them. Is your son able to express himself through art. Have you tried an art therapist as well?

    I just feel that he must be removed from the classroom he is in now and he needs to be put in a more therapeutic environment. Isn't their a social worker or school psychologist you could work with? I am sure you have tried everything already.

    Your letter might be better understood if you only focused on the incidences at school and kept it more concise. Just a suggestion although I think it was good you wrote it to release a lot of your frustrations and concerns.

    Good luck to you and I hope you can find a better place for your son to learn.
  11. totoro

    totoro Mom? What's a GFG?

    Do you have an Advocate? Or someone who will go with you or stand up with you against the School?
    Sometimes you can find one online or through NAMI, CABF.
    Our therapist will go with us. Sometimes a Psychologist or MSW will do it if they have been working with your difficult child. Ours did in Idaho. We still decided to leave the School, but I felt stronger having her there!
    I am so sorry this is how it is for him and you... School should not be this hard.
    Life shouldn't be this hard.
  12. Big Bad Kitty

    Big Bad Kitty lolcat

    Your letter DID bring me to tears.

    And while I agree with Terry that you might lose them with a letter this length, I'm not sure that there is anything I'd want to delete. Let them get a full flavor of what this poor kids goes through.

    Give him a hug for me, and one for yourself.
  13. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Shari, I just spend the last few hours (literally) drafting a detailed post for you. difficult child 3 was heading for bed (over a long time, noisily, distractingly) so now I am starting again.

    First - although I love your letter and thing you need to hold onto it somewhere, it is not the right letter for this situation.

    What you wrote is very emotive, a very useful way for trying to get someone to understand. But that isn't what the school will do anything about. Instead, you need to follow strict guidelines. You write in the first sentence, what you are upset about. You also write what you want done about it. Follow the form letter.

    I'll try to summarise what I wrote:

    First, I think the school has you hoodwinked and brainwashed about your son. The poor kid - he's probably very confused, extremely anxious, he doesn't understand sarcasm, "joking around", ambiguous or confusing rules or instructions, or ANY mixed signals and when he gets upset he gets held to higher (and unfair) standards than is appropriate for a kid his age (especially one with problems).

    If you were in his skin, I think you would find it hard to not hide under the table and cry, also. I know I'd be under the table with him. And yet, in some of the interactions you've told us about, your son has been remarkably forbearing.

    The school SHOULD have not only stopped this woman treating your son in such a discriminatory manner, they should have begun a healing process. It's not only your son who needs to recover from the damage, it's now the other kids and other staff too. The other kids have learned that they can hassle difficult child and it is apparently endorsed, as if they have been recruited into the campaign of "give difficult child a hard time, the teacher will show you how."

    Instead of immediately acting, the school instead chose to devalue the problem and/or blame the victim: "It didn't really happen that way." "It wasn't that bad, difficult child is over-reacting." Or "But he really is a handful, you have to sympathise with the teacher."

    I recognise this because I used to do it too. I wrote many letters like yours. I sent some of them. I didn't get much response, certainly not the response I wanted. I learned to send better letters which got a better response, but I've kept ALL the letters.

    I also was hoodwinked by the school into blaming my child and devaluing the problems he faced and the bullying he endured. I was made to believe that in some fashion my son needed to learn to cope with this, or that this was unavoidable, part of the rough and tumble of school life. But it is not. It can be completely free of this. it should be.

    difficult child 3's current placement is as wonderful, as it used to be bad. We had a Learning Team meeting today that was absolutely brilliant. It was organised promptly, as soon as the Special Education teacher realised we were at the school today. Most of difficult child 3's teachers for next year (as well as some from this year) were sitting around the table. Another teacher was working with difficult child 3 in the same classroom. The teachers greeted difficult child 3 with respect, asking him how he likes to be addressed and letting him know what they want to be called (most of the school teachers here are first name basis). We discussed how they need to interact with him, to use positive motivation, to condense the work as much as possible, to avoid too much drill or repetition. They were warned that difficult child 3, socially, has problems. He can seem insolent or disrespectful in his communication with teachers especially if he feels he has been treated unfairly - this is the hangover from previous problems like your difficult child's. It takes time to undo this level of damage.

    Your difficult child has been traumatised. A conditioned response has been built up to the point where the sight of this teacher triggers a great deal of anxiety in him as well as making him feel a total failure. THIS NEEDS UNDERSTANDING AND SUPPORT. The school needs to understand this and not punish him for it.

    The other kids - they need to learn that not only is he NOT to be a source of amusement for anybody, but they need to look out for him and keep him safe. Frankly, something I've done in the past is secretly recruit classmates of difficult child 3's as spies, to tell me THEIR version of what is going on. Never reveal your sources to anybody, but it is a good way for you to undermine the school's brainwashing of you.

    There is so much more I want to write, but I keep losing what I post and I've already been trying to answer just this one post for 5 hours now. THAT is how important this is to me, Shari. Your son sounds so much like mine at that age.

    I'll go over this in the morning and try to write more then.

    Maybe I'll make more sense by then!

  14. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    I won't advise about the letter but wanted to add that I thinkk Marg is right. Based on what happened with my son in lementary school, once a kid internalizes that he/she "is bad", criticism is not taken the same way. It only serves to reinforce negativity about themself, resulting in more behavior that we are trying to change. (I wish I had realized how the school personnel were affecting my son before it got to this point.) It is a shame that there seem to be a lot of teachers out there, especially in the elementary school level that don't get this point.

    If it were me, I would be much more apt to approach them with a "my child needs this and you aren't providing it, instead you are handling things in a way that is psychologically damaging and contributing to his problems and your own problems in the classroom" than an emotional appeal.
  15. Wishing

    Wishing New Member

    First I had an oustanding teacher the first semester of Kindergarten for my difficult child then we moved and my son had the TEACHER FROM HELL. By the end of the semester he would turn away from the building if we went by it. I learned from other mothers in the community that they all requested teachers as we had two different rooms for each grade level and also we have school of choice. I quickly learned who was the teacher
    everyone adored and was one of the first ones to get my request in. After that school became tolerable at worst and a joy at best. Education is a game and you have to know the rules in your community. i checked in with the teache r frequently to see how he was doing.
  16. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    klmno, you said what I tried to say, in a very few words. Thank you!

    Damage has been done and now it requires a different response.

    In the IEP, you need to include specifics such as "do not use negatives in your dealings with him. Express instructions in a positive way. ie if he is agitated and not staying in his seat, instead of saying, "Stop pacing, stop being disruptive," try to deflect him by saying, "Come and sit over here." Even better - try to identify WHY he is agitated and pacing, and work with it.
    Another important point for the school to take on board - deal with his anxiety and agitation as a priority, then only insist on the schoolwork when he is calm and compliant. He is Occupational Therapist (OT) a manipulative, disobedient child primarily. If something is wrong, stop trying to make him act as if everything is normal. Things are so far from normal for this boy, please teachers be compassionate and understanding, and you will get much more positive outcomes from him."
    The analogy you can give the teachers - if there is a fire in the classroom wastepaper basket, would you punish them for calling for help to put the fire out, or for insisting on everyone leaving the room? Of course not. But by insisting on difficult child sitting down and not pace (or growl) when he's anxious, they are trying to do exactly the same thing to him. If the teacher were made to sit down in a burning classroom, how well would they work? You first need to deal with the crisis triggering the anxiety, THEN the child will be better able to work effectively.

    The problem with the other children - this now has escalated to the point where it needs to be addressed in the IEP. I would recommend a Sixth Sense program for these kids. Six is the lowest end of the age range for the program but I'm sure it could be modified for them and then repeated each year for the next three years, in order to keep difficult child safe at least from bullying classmates. Anyone trying to prevent the program on the grounds that it will single out difficult child as different - stupid idea. He IS different, the other kids already know this and are milking it for their own enjoyment. Coming clean about his disability won't make things any worse but may make them better.

    Also, for difficult child's sake, he needs to be told about his diagnosis in a way that helps him realise - this is not his fault. difficult child 3 was about 7 when we told him; he just wasn't ready to understand before this. Because he was heavily into computers, we used them as an analogy - computers have different operating systems. when the text file comes off the printer, you can't tell if it was written on a Mac or a easy child. The two can look identical. But the instructions in the programming to make ach computer work, can be very different.
    Some people have Mac brains and other people have easy child brains. it's just how it is. Either type of computer is good, they all work well, but they work differently. Also, a Mac is a great computer for graphics and for CG work, a easy child is a good business computer. These days they can do a lot of the other computer's stuff too.

    He needs to rediscover that he is a wonderful person with potential and ability.

    Shari, I've replied to your PM. Happy to help.