To get a school advocate (every state has them, but we as parents are not informed of that fact) call Utah's State Dept. of Public Education and ask for the person in charge of Special Needs. You can tell her your story and request an Advocate.
Your son is already self-medicating. His brain chemistry is already messed up and he is going to do something to make himself feel better in the short term. If you get a real diagnosis from a real psychiatrist and medications are prescribed, yes, you still play a bit of a roulette game to find out which drug will work. But: 1) these drugs are chemically well-defined unlike the stuff the child is using and 2) the child will be monitored for side effects and improvement. Coming from a family of alcoholics and depressed people, I firmly believe that sheer will very seldom trumps the genetics of brain chemistry. The folks in my family who tried the anti-depressant route are doing much better than those who "didn't need" medical help or the "crutches" of pharmaceuticals. [Odd how Prozac was a crutch but liquor wasn't, huh?]
Second, many people do not do well in the face of anger. Anger scares them, so they are going to pound it down if they can. While I don't doubt this is worse for females in Utah, every situation I have seen in an educational or legal environment has been extremely punitive toward the person who expresses anger, whether male or female. It's not so much the "you catch more flies with honey than vinegar" method of persuasion, but the fact that people feel threatened when they find themselves with an angry person. Plus, it's a lot quicker to throw an angry person out or arrest him/her than it is to listen to the concerns, reflect and validate, and work toward a good solution. This is why documentation (I like bullet points with simple facts) is so valuable. When you yell, all they hear is yelling. A sheet of plain facts doesn't seem anywhere near as threatening. The irony is that the yelling is usually over soon and doesn't lead to physical violence but the sheet of facts can ultimately demonstrate of pattern of negligence on the part of the recipient and therefore actually be much more serious a threat. But that's not how humans are programmed and to get what you want, you have to work with the programming developed when saber-toothed tigers went after the guy with the stone spear looking for a mammoth.
Good luck to you. And by the way -- it's never too late!
We have a risk assessment for difficult child from 2008 - we never received this document until requested a couple months ago. This report was done through the school in response to the burning situation, so am reluctant to ask THEM. Truly am starting to have a conspirist mentality us against THEM. Does anyone know what this stuff means?
BASC2 - Clinical scores on Conduct Disorder, Somatization & Activites of Daily Living Scales. Hyperactivity, Depression & Attention Problems, Externalizing & Internalizing Clinical Composit, Functional Communication and Adaptability scores are all borderline range. Emotional Self Control is at-risk range. Critical items include: Sets fires - ST, Eats too little - O. Is easily annoyed by othres - ST
CADS-P - DSM-IV: Inattentive Type is at Markedly Atypical limit.
APSD-P - Callous-Unemotonal, Impulsivity and Total scores in clinical range.
CDS - The CDQ is 70, suggestion probablitly of CD is "likely" with a "mild" degree of severity.
Stress - Raw score 665
BDI-II - Raw score 14
I have requested an initial evaluation through the school, am told they have 45 days from date of consent to complete. Am also told there are no "Advocates", "because we are all advocates for the well-being of your child" phhft. Would this report be useful should the evaluation determine services are not needed?
Have contemplated taking the report to the counselor we were working with to see if he can explain it to us, but am reluctant because this is the court approved counselor & reports to difficult child's PO.
I think taking the report to the counselor actually could HELP. Not letting them know the whole story just makes it harder for them. This comes from a LONG time not telling my (personal) counselor everything - and when I finally did - things changed.
Go to the DOE - there are advocates. The school, and possibly district, simply don't want to help - because it does cost them! http://www.schools.utah.gov/ (under Departments, there's a section on Special Education.)
The school isn't necessarily bad, but a risk assessment there could be totally different from one you do, or a psychologist does... Different settings can come up with different results. I would suggest you find a childrens' hospital and see if they have a behavioral department (you may have to say, "or something like that").
It's hardly fun to try and get services. But it's so necessary for our kids.
Hugs... I understand. (And I also know how it feels to finally ask for help - scary. Very scary. Bye-bye pride. EEK!)
I do NOT trust assessments done by schools for the most part. When our school evaluated thank you for sensory issues they only identified hand problems. The private Occupational Therapist (OT) found severe sensory integration disorder. We successfully got a 504 plan for him that exempted him from the attendance requirements (if you miss more than 9% of the school days you flunk period. you can go and refuse to work and they will pass you but if you are sick and miss school you flunk even with straight A's (which he always has). For the third grade he missed 1/4 of the days because sensory overload!! He would shake and be unable to cope and if we sent him to school anyway he got severely anxious, headaches, just couldn't cope with anything. By keeping him home and working on brushing therapy, etc... he is now at the point where he didn't miss any days the first half of this year (fifth grade). He missed 3 weeks ago because he was sick for 1 day, then 2 days this week for being sick. But that is a FAR cry from a couple of years ago.
If we had just listened to school they would have flunked him AND taken us to court over his "truancy" because he was sick those days!
School districts NEVER know about advocates until you bring one with you. You get them through the state dept of ed or board of ed. A group of parents here when Wiz was in sixth grade became HATED by the school because 2 of us got advocates and introduced them to the other parents (who all got services from the advocates). We then turned over evidence of dirty dealing by the sp ed teacher and it resulted in a big lawsuit for the other parents and I got a written agreement that my kids get whatever services I and the docs (private) think they need for as long as I have a child in school. I caught where the sp ed teacher changed the IEP and forged my name. You would THINK she would get fired, but instead she was teacher of the year that same year and became principal of the alternative school the next year!!!! Yet another reason that I do NOT trust schools to evaluate things or handle things appropriately!!!!
Be SURE to read through the sp ed archives and follow the advice/instructions there. Also work on a Parent Report if you don't already have one. They are enormously helpful. You can find the Parent Report info through the link in my signature.
Even in situations where the school is doing its utmost to help you and working with you, a school evaluation is only approximate at best. I'm talking around the world here... the system is slightly different here in Australia where the schools are financed and run by the state, but Special Education funding is paid for by the federal government. So schools actually like to get good reports that can then be used to apply for more money from the federal government. But even so - it looks smelly to the federal government if a school is able to get a much larger amount of funding than the school down the road. Unless there is a big difference in the demographic ie difficult child 3's correspondence school has a very high proportion of Special Needs students and so they can generally justify a higher level of funding applications. So even here, it is not in a school's interests for THE SCHOOL to produce a report detailing a child's issues down to the nth degree; the school can give a broader approximation and the parent can then take things further privately if they wish, and the schools here will generally be supportive of whatever they can find.
So wherever you are in the world - by all means get a report from the school, but especially with younger children, the school's assessment is likely to miss the mark. Often widely.
WHat we've done in the past - we took the school's assessment (get sub-scores and more detailed report if possible; if necessary, get the school to send it direct to the therapist or neuropsychologist of your choice) and then had an expert look at it privately. That private expert then said, "These scores here and here are OK; but with this report, I know I need to examine here and here." It made it cheaper for us than if we had gone private to begin with.
We did find that the school counsellor (generally trained in psychology but not to any great extent) would refuse to give the detailed reports to anyone but a fully trained psychologist or psychiatrist. With difficult child 1, we had to get the private psychiatrist request the detailed report. He then gave us a copy.
On accuracy - every time we've had a school counsellor's report on any of our kids, it has only been a rough approximation and at times has got it badly wrong. For example, if you have a child with splinter skills or with learning difficulties, then the sub-scores of an IQ test will have wide gaps. Our kids scored low for coding (I remember difficult child 1 scored 6) and scored high (17) in other areas. But the school counsellor ignored (or didn't know) the rules on grading these wide disparities, and averaged out all the sub-scores to give one final IQ score. Every. Freakin'. Time. And the guidelines say that where tere are wide disparities in the sub-scores, they should not be averaged. What you should say, is that there were wide disparities and these indicate splinter skills - areas of high need coupled with high ability. Both these need support. B ut average it out and g=you get a report with the following statement: "the child is actually performing rmarkably well considering his IQ is only barely above average/is borderline". With difficult child 1's first IQ test, he was unable to complete it because he was so anxious and fidgetty. But his school counsellor scored the test as if he had done it all, then averaged it out, told me he was retarded and then said, "If a kid whp is retarded is still performing in tests as well as he is, that proves you are pushing him far too hard - I've been telling you that you are a pushy mother and need to back off, YOU are the cause of anxiety in this child."
She was so wrong on so many counts, but the school at that time had a vested interest in discrediting me and accusing my kids of being clever parrots rather than genuinely bright.
I've dealt with four or five different schools, and with even more school counsellors (who are generally teachers who decided to specialise and did a course of sorts in psychology). Even the kindest, most supportive of school counsellors has never seemed to me to be more than basically competent.
I think the most telling example (and I have many examples) was when difficult child 3 was at the end of Grade 5. A couple of months before the end of Grade 5, I responded to a request for subjects in a research study, some psychology Masters students were tying to develop a method of testing non-verbal autistic kids for IQ. To that end, they needed high-functioning autistic kids to test across a broad range, and they were then going to look at the non-verbal component of those tests to see if they correlated. As a result, as part of this study, difficult child 3 had a very detailed, comprehensive psychometric assessment done. They gave us his IQ score provisionally, because of his splinter skills (ie they did not average out the whole lot) but said that even if they did average it all out, he was scoring at about 140 (they even gave confidence limits - plus or minus 6). There were several test systems where he scored way below average, and these connected directly to his autism; these were "artificial lows", we were told. Not accurate indicators of his intelligence, only of the degree of impairment at that point, likely to improve as his brain matures.
I gave the school a copy of the report. But nobody passed it on to the school counsellor as I requested, because two months later she did her own repeat testing on difficult child 3 (without my knowledge or permission - due to recent testing I would have vetoed it, tests should not be repeated within 18 months to two years). She then told me (schoolroom steps, "I'm glad I caught you," which was hardly professional either), "He did well really, he scored 105 when I tested him which tells me we're worrying too much about trying to extend him. He's only a little above average, he's doing well for an average kid."
She was shocked and disbelieving when I told her of the much higher score two months earlier, from more qualified practitioners. I said to her, "There were some high scores and low scores in your testing, weren't there?"
She said, "Of course."
I said, "Go back and read the rules on how to score those tests. When the gaps are more than a certain amount, you do not average them out for a single number."
She said, "But the Department insists on a single number." (not sure if that is true - any more, anyway). "That is what you are supposed to do."
We didn't achieve consensus.
difficult child 3's current Special Education teacher is a gem. The school's Special Education department (rapidly growing) are wonderful. I wish I could clone them and seed the world. They've heard my stories. They agree with me. I'm hoping (but I'm a Pollyanna!) that they are the way of the future of educational psychology in our country.
But it is such a huge job, and there is such a long way to go.
What I found helpful was going to a counselor and he pointed me in the right direction as to where to look for help, etc. It took us about 4 years to get our son the proper help he needed. He needed to be placed in a residential program. We could not afford it on our own. Our state program helped us get aid. It was called something like Institutionalized Medicaid. I also found that being frustrated and angry shut down the people I was trying to get "help" from. Being sugary sweet and asking questions (even if I knew the answer) worked. Hugs to you.
You are not a b#tch!!!!! You are a strong, capable woman. ((((((((((AHHUM))))))))) Lots of hugs.
This is what your initials really stand for:
The truth is what the others have said -- it's so much easier to make it about you. It's probably step one of the training manual. This disgusts me (been there done that). You can develop your persona -- dignified but relentless. The squeaky wheel gets the grease. I ended up calling our state rep to get help for our son. His office helped us out a lot.
I want to thank all who have responded here. difficult child has been found and is currently in detention. We go back to court tomorrow to see what the judge will decide.
With the support and advice here, I have been able to come to peace with the anger I have been feeling over this entire situation. With this peace I find I have been able to work more effectively with the authorities who are in charge of our immediate future and focus more on what will help difficult child. I have started mending fences with those I have offended, and we seem to all be working together instead of against each other. Your feedback has been immensely helpful in guiding our next steps to help difficult child. With the support I've found here, you all have helped me realize I am not a failure where difficult child is concerned, only that I have failed, up to now, in recognizing there may be additional issues never considered or addressed before. With this realization I have become empowered to move forward (baby steps) in trying to find additional ways to help.
I'm sure I'll be back to vent about difficult child and for more advice and support, but until then:
You know of course that you are family now - and difficult child is one of our kids - so this isn't the end of this. This is of course - on going for life. The support, the help, the need, the caring - the hope we know what is going on in your life - good or bad.
And the touch-stone that you have here - because if you don't know or arent' certain that someone is putting the boots to you in Utah? WE WILL or we will do research for or help you. That's what families do for each other - help. Not just a casual - hey ====and then - oh ........whatever.
The fact that he's in juvie tonight? Gives you only a temporary bandaid to this situation - BECAUSE a lot of parents think - Okay he's in a place where he's off the streets and ALL that flood of worry and emotion you have had pent up inside? Goes out of you and either you are joyful he's there and relax for a while or you realize your son is in JUVIE and MORE things come to light and start worrying in a different way. Perhaps a worse way - when you shouldn't. That's why I still suggest the therapist for YOU and husband if you can get him to go - because seriously? 1.) This family is in crisis. EVEN though the thorn is out of the paw so to speak? And you can think - well juvie will change him, he'll come out of there changed yada yada yada - wishful thinking.....What then? OR what if he does not? What if like so many of our kids - WHAT if he just goes there and comes out with an agenda of his own? hate to say it but WOW ==when that happens? How are you going to be prepared for it? See? Yeah -this is why right now? While you HAVE peace? It's THE ABSOLUTE best time to go seek counseling and family therapy or parenting classes together or alone - whatever.....because you DO (like I used to say HAVE 1/2 my witts about me) and not trying to go to work, and worry about where the kid is, and deal with fights, and husband and pay bills and other life worries with scrambled eggs for brains.
It just gets to be too much. I had a stroke. The stress is incredible. The stroke was wild. I'm lucky I'm not twisted up or in a chair or something. Between thinking I was having a heart attack and then having that? Being nearly bald -honestly? The only thing that kept me sane WAS my therapist. It was finally like having someone - SOMEONE who was whispering answers in my ear that gave me the right things to say to everyone so 1.) I didn't sound like I was going off my nut and 2.) I did get the people in my house motivated. I felt like freakin Harry Potter. No joke. I wasn't waving a wand - but it was as close to magic as I came in my life. --Just soze ya know - It does NOT work for you scrub the toilet, give me all your money and can I have a donkey?
Anyway - I was thinking of you today and wondering how my nephew was doing - and, well? I see. So anyway keep us posted and let us know if you need anything. Daisyface made me laugh when she said she showed the therapist all their certificates - only because we did too.....OMWord I thought ----I can copy them or do you want me to take them off my office wall? They're framed! lol.
Hang in there, lady. You have friends. I sort of come and go here -- I'll write a bunch of posts and then lurk awhile. My difficult child doesn't have the same degree of problems as some here but he sure as heck isn't "normal". I learn a lot here and feel like I can relax and be my crabby self here. People at work freak because their little Johnny or Janie talks too much in class; I'm looking at expulsion because my little darling can't control himself and the school district isn't particularly interested in helping him. It's good to know that others have lived your life. Or at least, the icky bits. Peace, love and all that! --- RFTS