New here - first post. (very long - sorry!)

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by jem3, Mar 31, 2009.

  1. jem3

    jem3 New Member

    Hi, I just found this board as I was googling 504 plan. A little background on my wonderful son. A lot of this I copied and pasted from a parenting board that I'm on where I posted this for advice as well today, so if it sounds strange to you all - that is why. :D

    J was diagnosed with ADHD in Kindergarten. Since he was 2, his teachers have all said the exact same thing - he's a sweet boy, not malicious, kind and helpful - BUT he can't keep his hands to himself. He would be hugging someone and tackle them when he was younger. It was ALWAYS something but nothing malicious.

    We put him on medications in Kinder - focalin 5mg. It worked - no negative aspects that we noticed - it was almost like you could actually see him stop and think before doing something whereas prior he would just do and then think about it. Everything went well with the medications.

    We continued in 1st grade.

    2nd grade we decided to see how he was without medications. After all, we would love to be able to stop the medications one day - we didn't plan on them being forever - and we only use them for school - plus we want him to learn to self-regulate. Anyway, I discussed this with his teacher at the beginning of the year. Told her that we were just seeing how he did without medications and that we had no problem putting him back on them if necessary, but would like to see how he did without them. She agreed - said he was a great kid, a "normal 8 year old boy" and that if she had a classroom of J's, she would be happy. She didn't see any reason to put him back on medications and would work on teaching him to control his impulse issues.

    Fast forward to today. We had a meeting with the assitant principal at J's school.

    Last Friday, at lunch J was in line and one of his close friends (a boy) kept hugging him and J told him to stop and the boy kept hugging him and J told him "you're gay". The boy told on J. J got a referral to the principal's office. I get a phone call that J used inappropriate language and called someone a name. He got early morning detention for a week. Fine - not sure how I feel about this. I do NOT think it's ok to call someone a name - but I also am not sure if a week's worth of detention is a fair punishment. It seems that no matter what you do - you get a week of detention. Kind of excessive to me - but whatever, J has detention and I'm fine with that. J and I discussed it at home and we've moved on.

    So when the assistant principal called me that day, she said that she wanted to schedule a meeting with me and husband. We set it up for today. I called this morning to confirm and she said "great, we'll see you in the Principal's conference room." I already knew his teacher would be at this meeting because they set it up during her conference period. She has never been in the meeting when we meet with the AP before - so I was curious about that. But then when she said - we'll meet you in the principals conference room I told husband - I feel like we're about to get ambushed. The last time we all met like that - it was by surprise like this and they talked to us about ADHD - that was in Kindergarten and we were very new to public schools and my eyes filled up with tears.

    So we walk into the meeting - it's the AP, counselor and teacher. Not too bad - I'm thinking. The start with J and his difficulty with PACE math (advanced math program he is in.) He has been in this advanced math since 1st grade. He does great in PACE except for the tests. His 1st grade teacher told us at the end of the year that he didn't "test" for PACE but that she was recommending he be put into PACE again in 2nd grade because he knows it and would be bored in regular math. For those that don't know - the kids in 2nd grade PACE math are learning 3rd grade math.

    So anyway, he's been in PACE all year. He's struggled but always maintained a B average. Not too bad - and it gives him some challenges. Well, it's getting harder for him now. So much so that I told husband that I don't think I want him in PACE next year. The teacher says that he just rushes through everything and doesn't take the time to read it. He is very bright, so he is used to everything coming naturally to him. Well, now that he's challenged - he doesn't know what to do. He doesn't take the time to "learn" something. I remember in preschool his teacher telling me that he was so smart and things just come naturally to him but he's going to have a problem when he gets older and school becomes a challenge.

    So we talk about ADHD and how I took him off of the medications this year. When we put him on medications it was more for hyperactivity/impulse issues - not attention deficit. But it appears that the ADD is coming out more as he gets older. The impulse issues are getting way better - not gone - but WAY better!

    That's when they bring up the 504. They explain that he may need more time for tests, smaller groups for testing so that he doesn't get distracted, etc. Especially when they get to 3rd grade and state mandated testing begins.

    The principal then begins talking about the referrals to her office. Once you get 7 referrals - you are sent to alternative school. I remember alternative school when I was little (not because I went there!) but I remember it was for BAD kids! My heart sank. I asked how many J had - he has had 5 referrals! 2 more and they ship him off with the bad kids!

    Ok - this is where I'm asking for advice and opinions - good or bad, I can take it. To me, Alternative School is for kids that set fires, cuss out the teachers, start fights, etc. It's not for kids that are sent to the office for playing in the bathroom, calling someone gay for hugging them - I can't think of others that he's been sent for right now, but it hasn't been "that" serious to me. I understand that something needs to be done. They all say that J is so polite, he always says he's "sorry" and "swears that he will NEVER EVER do it again" and says "I know, I did wrong - I have to pay more attention", etc. They say that he smiles all the time (too much even, like when he's getting into trouble he will smile.) This drives husband crazy too - I don't know what to do about it. I think it's nervous laughter - like he really doesn't want to smile but can't help it? He is a very happy kid - not ever sullen and rarely gets mad. He smiles the whole time he's running on the soccer field - it is goofy but that's what he does. And he's the ONLY kids smiling during soccer! I told husband that I would rather have a happy child than a sullen and angry child. He agreed, but it still drives him crazy. And I know that J needs to learn the appropriate time to smile and laugh - but not exactly sure how to teach that or get it through to him. Anyway - back to alternative school - what are your thoughts on this? I'm hoping that we won't have to cross that bridge at all - but trying to prepare and know what I will do if it comes to that.

    Ok - I know this is getting ridiculously long but I have something else I want advice on. How do you teach self-confidence? This is where a lot of J problems stem from. On the outside he appears VERY confident - everyone likes him, the WHOLE school knows him, teachers and faculty like him - but deep down on the inside he is always looking for approval and acceptance. If you didn't know him very well, you wouldn't see that. But I see it and it breaks my heart. I'm sure living in an orphanage for the first 19 months of his life created this and his need for attention but how do we help him get past that? He wants to please everyone - teachers and peers, but the peers win out when it comes to pleasing the adults or peers. It makes me very sad for him that he struggles so much on the inside. Any advice on this?

    Ok - I think I could type on and on but I'm going to stop here. Sorry this is so long and if you have any advice on the millions of topics I covered, please share. And ANY opinion I can take, if you're seeing something I should be doing different or anything.

    One more thing - I asked his teacher is she would be recommending J for PACE next year (thinking for sure she would say no, since he is struggling so much) and she said yes, she thinks he should continue with PACE. Not sure how I feel right now - any opinions on this too??

    My question for you all - since I noticed a lot of you have older kids - what do you think about the 504 program for ADHD kids? Is there anything you would have or could have done differently with raising your difficult child? Any advice on dealing with the school on discipline issues? by the way, I love our school and really think they are trying to help him. I don't particularly care for the AP, but she is growing on me.
  2. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator

    Welcome, jem! I'm glad you found us.

    Sorry for all the questions, but your answers will help us help you.

    What kind of doctor diagnosed your difficult child's ADHD?
    Has your difficult child ever been evaluated by a developmental pediatrician or neuropsychologist?
    Besides math, how does in he do academically in school?
    Does he play well with same-age peers outside of school?
    Any sensory issues (sensitivity to clothing tags, loud noises, food textures, etc?)
    Any speech or developmental delays?

    I look forward to hearing back from you and hope we can point you in the right direction for help.
  3. house of cards

    house of cards New Member

    By law, I don't think the teachers can tell you they want him back on the medications. I think this meeting was doing that, thou. And with what you said it sounds like the right thing to me.

    I also think your school is strange with 7 referrals= alternative school??? and 5 days detention for almost every offense. I would be scared trying to deal with a school that is so ridgid and unsupportive? of kids with issues.
  4. Andy

    Andy Active Member

    I think the punishment for the hugging incident was foolish. Did the other boy also get into trouble for hugging (harrassment since he didn't stop when J asked him to)? I bet not. A much better way for both the boys would have been to simply talk to them both and help them see where they both could have made changes.

    So, all J has to do is call names 7 times and get sent to alternative school? So wrong!

    I would get a copy of the school's discipline policy and review it with J. Does the policy actually say detention for the first offense of name calling? And 5 days of detention for this is way out of line.

    Kids do not learn through punishment in this way. Detention did not send him the message that he should not call names - it sent him the message that he is a bad kid who will get in trouble for words. Kids are impulsive. They can get pushed into inappropriate reactions by the inappropriate behaviors of other kids. It is much better to teach them how they can better handle the situation in the future. Punishment of detention is not necessary at this time. Maybe after several incidents and the attitude of the kid being they don't care but for young kids it is not the place.

    I believe when detention is used so readily in elementary school, you will see a rise in suspensions from school in high school as kids are not being taught why their actions were wrong or ways to control their anger.

    I think it is good if the school is offering him more time on tests. It is the type of thing schools can do for the kids and not interfere with the progress of learning. In fact, it will enhance his learning experience.

    I would go with your gut instinct on the PACE program. You know better what J can handle. Sure, maybe he can do PACE if there were not other things going on in his life. You know more about his home schedule and homework load of other classes than that one teacher does. You do not need math to be a stresser for him. Maybe talk to J about how he is feeling in PACE.

    Don't let anyone pressure you into reintroducing medications. You need to know that it is the right thing for J, not for J's class work. medications are not always the total answer. I would say if they can suggest some new methods of learning for J to go a long with medications but to hear, "medications alone will make a difference" doesn't seem right to me. The give him a pill to calm him down so we don't have to guide him with discipline frustrates me.
  5. jem3

    jem3 New Member

    Thanks for the welcome!

    What kind of doctor diagnosed your difficult child's ADHD?

    his pediatrician did. In Kinder, the teacher and school set up a meeting with us to discuss getting him evaluated. The pedi diagnosed his ADHD.

    Has your difficult child ever been evaluated by a developmental pediatrician or neuropsychologist?

    not sure what a developmental pedi is - but he's never been evaluated by a neuropsychologist.

    Besides math, how does in he do academically in school?

    he has always done very well in school, academically. he's is extremely bright. this advanced math is challenging him, which I think is good but he is getting frustrated because he is used to having things come naturally for him. This is what we fear will be a problem next year as 3rd grade becomes more difficult.

    Does he play well with same-age peers outside of school?

    He does. He can be a little rough with kids his own age - boy stuff, never mean or aggressive. We have been working on "keeping our hands to ourself" since he came home and it's starting to sink in. On younger kids - he is EXTREMELY gentle and kind. Other parents are always telling me how sweet he is to their child (babies and toddlers)

    Any sensory issues (sensitivity to clothing tags, loud noises, food textures, etc?)

    Not that I can think of. He is very easy going and one of the best eaters that I've ever seen in a kid.

    Any speech or developmental delays?

    No, not at all.

    See, on paper he sounds great!:D Thanks for the welcome and any advice, would be greatly appreciated!
  6. crazymama30

    crazymama30 Active Member

    Wow, 7 refferrals and they get sent to alternative school? in my humble opinion, the refferrals he got were stupid. He did not hit anyone, swear at anyone, throw anything, or do anything violent. That is nuts. And only 7 refferals? My difficult child has gotten 7 refferrals in 1 month, been suspended twice in 2 months.

    The school cannot force you to give your child medications. As far as a 504 goes, I am not too clear on them but many here have IEP's. I would post over on the Special Education board to get info about the 504.

    Your school sounds pretty severe. I would have had a hard time dealing with them
  7. rejectedmom

    rejectedmom New Member

    I cut and pasted the following from an online article. I personally prefer an IEP to a 504. I am not sure why your School is going right to a 504. It seems a bit premature to me.

    "Section 504 is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities. Section 504 ensures that the child with a disability has equal access to an education. The child may receive accommodations and modifications.

    Unlike the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Section 504 does not require the school to provide an individualized educational program (IEP) that is designed to meet the child's unique needs and provides the child with educational benefit. Under Section 504, fewer procedural safeguards are available to children with disabilities and their parents than under IDEA. "

    It sounds like your school is overly harsh in it's dicipline policy and that it just doesn't want to deal with kids with learning disabilities. So it is quick to put them out into an alternative school.

    If I were you I would go and observe the alternative school talk to the principle there find out what precautions would be in place to insure the safety of your child and also get a feel for the kinds of children that attend there. This will give you a good idea of how it fits your son's needs. Sometimes the alternative schools are a good thing but there is no way to know just going on rumor and supposition. -RM
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2009
  8. ThreeShadows

    ThreeShadows Quid me anxia?


    I'm feeling very protective of your son. Our easy child daughter spent the first 9 months of her life in an orphanage in the Urals, 3hrs from Ekaterinburg. She smiled ALL the time. husband thinks that is the strategy that some of these really bright children use in order to attract the attention of their precious few caretakers. We noticed that during easy child's leave taking at the orphanage many of the workers crowded around her and not around the other baby who was let go at the same time. Other baby was distant and crying.

    easy child smiles when she is getting in trouble, claims she didn't mean to say that hurtful comment she just made to one of us, then laughs in a weird way. It drives husband crazy.

    I think your school is way too strict. You spent time and energy teaching your son to keep his hands to himself and he was being repeatedly hugged by someone who was not following the rules. I would imagine your son felt harassed, the other kid is lucky he didn't get decked.

    Think of how confusing it must be to crave the touch of another human being while waiting in a crib, be adopted into loving arms, then be taught he has to keep his hands to himself. Our difficult children are identical twins who always got in trouble with friends and school because they were always touching. As babies they sucked each other's fingers and toes, not knowing where one began and the other ended!

    I don't know if I helped you at all but that school makes me angry!
  9. nvts

    nvts Active Member

    Sorry for the shortness os my suggestion (bab is crabby so i only have one hand). With adhd you can get a 1:1 para to shadow him andredirect him when necessary. That can be done on a 504.

  10. jem3

    jem3 New Member

    Sorry, I think I confused everyone about the alternative school as I was confused myself. It would not be a permanent placement - 3 days is what they would send him there for if he met the 7 referrals rule.

    However, I don't agree with that either. I think the things that he is getting referrals for are wrong, but not severe and I think alternative school needs to be for severe issues.

    I don't really think our school is hard core (although, I'm starting to question that based on things I've been told by people in other school districts) and I think our school is a great school and that they really do care. I think our AP is a little hard core - well, actually I think she is a black and white rule follower and there are no gray areas. She and I have clashed a few times but she has always listened to what I had to say and she makes adjustments to punishments given the feedback from me. For example, they used to punish J by giving him detention during recess. I feel that that was just a disaster waiting to happen. ADHD kids NEED recess (ALL kids need recess) and I don't feel recess should be taken away. I suggested instead that the kids take a "thinking lap" meaning, during recess they have to walk the track and think about what they did. She didn't do that and gave me the reasons why - whatever - but she stopped giving him recess detention and now when he gets a referral he gets morning detention. He has to be to school 15 minutes early and his stays in detention for 30 minutes in the morning. I'm fine with that.

    BUT - again another but - I do think there needs to be a scale on punishment. Not everything you do you automatically get 5 days detention. One of my friends pointed out - had he punched the kid that was hugging him, he would have still gotten 5 days detention? Doesn't seem right, does it?

    So - I really thank you all for your answers. They have helped SO much! I am part of a parenting board that I've been on for 10 years (it was an Infertility/Adoption board prior to us all having kids) and they are very helpful but it really helps to have people who have been there. Know what I mean??

    If you have any more advice, please keep it coming. I really appreciate it!!

    And I will look into an IEP - I had heard about it but didn't know anything about it. Going to go research it now. Thanks again!
  11. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Hi Jem, just wanted to add my welcome.
    I agree with-everyone here, that the suspension was overkill.
    It's up to you if you want him back on medications. I think it will be more important in HS if he's still this hyper.
    You are SO lucky he's such a sweety!
    I would guess that his smiling is covering up his nervousness.
    Take care.
  12. C.J.

    C.J. New Member


    I was medication resistant with my difficult child. The teachers and counselor at N*'s elementary school suggested I have her tested for ADD - which I did. She did have it (non hyperactive type). Her doctor and I discussed medication. I told the school I would try medications, but N* was the one who would determine whether or not medications helped her. I was not putting N* on medications to help them. They understood and kept me apprised of how she did day to day. I was fortunate to have her in a really good elementary school in my district.

    Do get the disciplinary procedures for your son's school/school district. Perhaps they are posted on the district's website. Review them and become very familiar with them. When N* began to act up in high school, she was given an out of school suspension as a consequence when the district policy was an in-school suspension (my kid did NOT need to be out of school). When I brought that up to the principal, he told me they no longer had a special room for ISS. I told him if he expected my child to follow the RULES OF THE SCHOOL, then the SCHOOL had better FOLLOW ITS OWN RULES, TOO. I told him it looked like he had room in his VERY big office to have a desk brought in and placed in the corner. He also had a conference room attached to his office - so confidential issues could be discussed there if necessary. I suggested he play some very lovely classical music all day and ask her to discuss with him what she was reading. N* was never given another ISS (or OSS for that matter) again.

    Alternative schools exist for 3rd grade kids? Your child sounds like he's a fairly typical boy - who probably does not like sitting still for long periods throughout the day. N* had an IEP (also with the help of her elementary school) - which allowed her alternative testing settings, longer time, use of a calculator on all tests, homework modification, etc. Look over the information from Rejected Mom regarding a 504 plan vs IEP. IEP gives the student more options and makes the school individualize the education to fit the student.

    If you haven't done so already, learn what you can about Reactive Attachment Disorder(Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD)). Kids who do not bond to their earliest primary care provider (and a child in an orphanage would have multiple care providers) learn not to trust others. If they form a bond with another adult/parent figure, they may need constant reassurance they are not being rejected or left behind. Even today, N* will ask me where I am going when I am headed toward the basement with a laundry basket on my hip.

    I'm impressed that you are seeking new information in order to advocate for your child - that's truly our best defense (or offense) when dealing with doctors, therapists, schools, coaches, other parents, family and friends.

  13. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Just wanted to add in my welcome-glad you found us but sorry you needed to.