Not a nice letter to get from a teacher--

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Rannveig, Sep 14, 2015.

  1. Rannveig

    Rannveig Member

    Got this today from Odin's history teacher.

    "Good afternoon,

    "My name is [teacher] and I am [Odin]’s teacher for [academic course]. I had to speak with [Odin] this afternoon about his sleeping in my class. I have spoken to him before about it, and even sent him to his counselor if he felt he did not want to be here in my class. He seems to be a good student, polite, quiet, respectful, but just decides to clear his desk off and put his head down to sleep whenever he feels like it.. This is a college-level course and it is rigorous. On page 2 of my syllabus, you’ll find that I allow students who fail a test to re-take the test (if they receive a D or F on the first attempt). This is a privilege. Because of his continual sleeping issue, I have taken away Aidan’s test re-take privilege. If I see improvement, I may reinstate the privilege, but not this marking period. He is doing fine in the class right now with a C average, but the first marking period is probably the easiest. The course does get a bit more rigorous as we progress through the first Term.

    "Thank you for your time and support, and please let me know if I can answer any questions you may have."

    Odin lives with his father (my X) during the week and was also with his dad this past weekend, so I don't know what his sleep schedule has been. The neuropsychologist who tested him last month recommended a sleep study, but we haven't been able to get it yet. I wrote back to the teacher with thanks for reaching out and assurances that X and I are trying to get a handle on Odin's problems and appreciate his patience in the meantime. But inside I'm furious that he's suggesting my kid doesn't want to be in the class and that a C average is "doing fine." Maybe he should have asked some questions of me or the guidance counselor before assuming Odin is simply lazy and dim?

    ...Or maybe I'm just rationalizing my son's outrageous behavior. I don't know, and I'm scared. Thanks for tolerating my vent.
  2. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    So, the neuropsychologist sees sleep issues, just like you do. it isn't just YOU trying to protect your son. But... usually, schools deal in diagnoses and specialist recommendations. He could even be getting 12 hours of "sleep" but not getting quality sleep - and have the same problem. Sleeping in class IS a problem.

    Can you thank the teacher for letting you know this is happening, and ask her to keep a log, "as it may help the specialist when we get to the stage of running a sleep study on him"? It's one way to flag this as a known problem (not laziness), and sometimes invoke some cooperation from a teacher. (doesn't always work, of course)
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  3. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    First of all if your son had an IEP, what the teacher did would probably have been illegal. ADHD/Other Health Impaired is a qualifying condition for Special Education Services. You cannot punish or single out a student for any behaviors that may be linked to his or her qualifying condition.

    The first responsibility of that teacher, for every student, is to address responsibly barriers to learning, and to not jump first to a punitive and judgmental and harassing attitude. It seems reasonable to assume that this teacher is treating your child in the same way.

    There are school psychologists, counselors, a vice principal and principal who are paid to take responsibility to assist their students, instead of assuming the worst about them, and to take to task parents.

    I am fuming too. Save the letter. You have leverage.

    While I might take my child to the doctor and consider a sleep study, excessive sleepiness can be a symptom of depression, as can be poor sleep. If he is not sleeping at night, or with troubled sleep, of course he would be sleepy during the day. Or perhaps, his coping is affected by the depression as well. And he feels the need to withdraw.

    I was hesitant to tell the school about any psychiatric diagnosis. I do not trust them. I am sorry. I worked in schools. I saw how they are. You have enough leverage with the ADHD. My very brilliant son was Special Education, ADHD/Other Health Impaired throughout school.

    Believe me, no matter how brilliant my child was, I would consider an IEP, to protect him from this harassment. The designation was created for situations such as this.

    Your child seems like a good boy and a good student. Why this teacher responded in this way baffles and angers me too. It would have been so easy to give him the benefit of the doubt, and helped to find a solution.
  4. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Is it possible he has started using drugs? He's at the age when my daughter had been using drugs for two years and she had weird sleep habits too.

    Teachers do not get upset with "C's." If you think your child can do better, then that's your own concern, but I've never had a teacher act concerned over a "c" and I had four very different kids in various schools.

    Who has legal custody of Odin? You or your husband or is it joint?
  5. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I am wondering too if he has an IEP because that would certainly change things. Has she tried to get to the root cause of his sleeping? I would definitely keep her informed of the fact that a sleep study is being considered.

    She does come off sounding very harsh. What does Odin have to say about all of this? Is he concerned or doesn't really care?
  6. Rannveig

    Rannveig Member

    Thanks, everyone, for your responses. The teacher responded positively to my note and seems willing to work with me based on the information I provided (that Odin has issues for which we're seeking treatment). In other words, not nearly as harsh on Day Two. That's the good news. The bad news is that the school can't meet the legal deadline for giving me the 504 meeting I've requested. It was supposed to happen tomorrow but now won't take place till Monday. The good news (I guess) is that the guidance counselor said she'd speak with Odin's teachers to ask them to cut him some slack in the meantime. To answer your questions:

    Wiped Out: No, he doesn't have an IEP. While he has had the problem behaviors for years, we only got him a neuropsychological exam this summer, only got our diagnosis this month, and so are just beginning the process with the school. I'm not sure the diagnosis of ADHD-not otherwise specified will be enough to qualify under IDEA and get an IEP, but I welcome input on how to make a case for one. The depression was determined to be episodic and currently in remission, so I think we're looking strictly at the ADHD-not otherwise specified diagnosis in order to qualify for help. As for what Odin says -- ha! He says that while it may have appeared he was sleeping, he actually wasn't. But yeah, he's getting a C because he hasn't turned in some major assignments. He's unhappy about the situation but seemingly more because he finds all the adults annoying rather than because he's disappointed in himself.

    Somewhere Out There: Of course drugs are possible, but I doubt it, as the behavior isn't new. He has been kind of this way all his life; it's just that now in high school he can't overcome his processing and other deficits based on intelligence alone: the expectations are higher. My X and I live in neighboring counties and share custody. It's a long and ugly story why, but X has weekday custody, and I just get weekends and holidays. We share legal custody. I have always been the one to manage the kids' educational and health issues; now I just have to do it from behind a curtain, as it were.

    Copa: As ever, I appreciate your insights. And now that I think of it, the depression that was "in remission" this summer when Odin was tested may be back now that he is in school and getting the side-eye from the likes of his history teacher. He does say that he can't face doing his homework so procrastinates by playing video games and such. Then he stays up late, never does get to his homework, and is sleepy the next day in school. It's not clear to me whether the procrastination has an emotional or cognitive origin.

    InsaneCdn: I did make clear to the teacher in my note that Odin deserves care, not punishment, at this time. I think I got through.

    Thank you again, everyone. You are helping me to be strong, which I really need right now.
  7. svengandhi

    svengandhi Well-Known Member

    My Difficult Child also has an exceptionally high IQ but never believed homework was meant for him. As a consequence, his HS transcript is filled with C's and C+'s in his classes, along with 5's on the AP exams and 98+ on the state tests. I was never able to get the accommodation I wanted - NO hw and let him live and die on his test grades. He always aced the tests but lost points on hw. With that said, the SD was constantly trying to dumb him down and take him out of honors and AP classes. I finally told them that accelerated classes were HIS least restrictive environment and that he deserved to be with students of equal intellectual caliber. I also made it clear that his GPA was not my primary concern; my primary concern was that he be in a classroom setting where he felt challenged and wanted to learn. He graduated pretty near the bottom of his class but he was a Merit Scholarship Commended student and an AP Scholar.

    Now that he is in college, he has thanked me for fighting for him to stay in the accelerated classes. Although he was Ivy League potential, he didn't work up to his ability so he is at a state school and he is happy there.

    As for Odin, I would try to get an IEP - 504's are worthless and not legally enforceable. If he's on an IEP, the teacher couldn't deny him the re-test option. For instance, my youngest boy is on an IEP for dyslexia. His Latin teacher would give extra credit on the tests but she required perfect spelling so he wasn't getting the points. I went to the guidance counselor and sped teacher, who arranged for him to get the credit as long as his spelling resembled the answer.

    Is he on medications that could be making him sleepy? If that's the case, can his dosing schedule be changed? What period is he falling asleep in? If it's early, studies have shown that kids really need to sleep later. If it's late in the day, he could be worn out. Is this the only class he falls asleep in?

    I wish you the best of luck with your son.

    I will share a funny story from my oldest son's school days. When he was in freshman math, he was always falling asleep. One day, the teacher yelled at him: "Oldest boy, what is (whatever the problem was)" and my son, without batting an eye (or even opening one) solved the problem and gave the right answer. The teacher called and told us this.
  8. Rannveig

    Rannveig Member

    Wow, Svengandhi, what a great story! (And are we related? We seem to have the same son.) What was your oldest son's diagnosis, and did you succeed in getting him any accommodations at all? Is he working up to his ability now that he is at college? Able to choose courses that suit his strengths?

    Odin isn't on any medications. History is his last class of the day, so he is worn out by then, but he's frankly sleepy all day, as he barely sleeps at night. He stays up playing computer games or watching anime or reading. It's not entirely clear whether he does these things because he can't sleep or can't sleep because he does these things. Time for a sleep study!

    I love the idea of accelerated classes as the "least restrictive environment." I'm going to use that. THANK YOU!
  9. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Have you considered that he might have an auditory processing disorder in the area of auditory figure ground? In today's noisy world - including schools - this makes it very difficult to focus on hearing what is being said. It isn't that they aren't listening, it's that they hear everything and can't focus in on the sounds that are important... no filter. This is mentally exhausting. If this class is in the afternoon, it would be even higher on the probability list.

    I don't see Auditory Processing Disorders (APD) as "the" answer, but rather, that it might be one more piece of the puzzle. It sure was for my kid.
  10. Kathy813

    Kathy813 Well-Known Member Staff Member

    It sounds like he shouldn't have computer privileges after a certain time each night. Most teenagers would stay up all night online or texting friends without any limits. I had to do that with my difficult child.

    As a high school teacher, I would say that my biggest problem is sleepy teenagers. I can't teach math to someone who is sleeping.

  11. svengandhi

    svengandhi Well-Known Member

    To answer your question -

    My oldest son sustained lead poisoning at a day care center in the early '90's when he was a toddler; he is 25 now. After years of having him classified as OHI, in 9th grade we bit the bullet and fought for a change to Asperger's. He doesn't have AS but it's the closest way to describe the lead poisoning damage he sustained. The change enabled us to switch him to a school that specialized in Aspie kids and he graduated HS. Although he is exceptionally smart, he quit college because he refused to take English and I refused to pay any more. He lives in his childhood bedroom, plays video games and works occasionally. Today, he and 2 friends went shopping, He called me and asked if I would buy him clothing because his friends' parents were. When I refused and told him to get a job, he told me I was the worst person in the world and I hung up on him. I just bought him new sneakers and work out clothes last week.

    Difficult Child just turned 21 and is in college. His diagnosis was OHI due to chronic ear infections but he was really ODD. He absolutely believed that he was an adult and should be treated as such and permitted to address adults as peers. This began when he was 5 years old. Now that he IS an adult, things are much better because he is a peer to a large extent. It was tough when he was a teen because he was intellectually superior to most of the adults he encountered and he doesn't suffer fools. He's more tolerant now; I think that helping the two youngest boys, both of whom are dyslexic, to study, helped him realize that intelligence doesn't just mean being the "smartest" kid in your class.

    For Odin - have you tried Melatonin? Youngest boy says it helps. Is he in AP Euro? That's one of the hardest classes there is. Difficult Child got a 5 on the test and was one of about 9 students in our highly rated HS who did (out of more than 100 who took it), but Difficult Child is a certified genius with no Learning Disability (LD)'s or attentional issues. Youngest boy began in it last year, but dropped out. He is doing APUSH now. If Odin is not a history geek, it might be better to just drop it and let him be the top student in a regular class. Youngest boy IS a history geek and he dropped Euro and became the best student in his class. He wasn't challenged but he was calmer and readier to take on the AP challenge as a junior.

    Good luck -

  12. Rannveig

    Rannveig Member

    So sorry about your oldest son's behavior (and what happened to him as a toddler), Sven. I feel it can be so difficult to tell what behavior is the result of brain injury or illness and what is just a bad attitude/sense of entitlement, etc. (And then there's the secondary question of whether it even matters.) Regardless, you shouldn't have to tolerate verbal abuse -- and it sounds like you didn't, which is good. Weird that your sons' friends' parents were paying for their clothing at that age, but, then again, I guess there's so much youth unemployment these days that it could be quite common(?).

    Odin is in AP World History. The teacher said at Back-to-School night that it's a very difficult course, and Odin is not interested in history, it's true. But last year Odin took the honors prerequisite for this course and enjoyed it. In retrospect I guess the other teacher was just a better fit. Apparently he would digress into funny stories, while still managing to cover the material, whereas this one shows a lot of film strips and videos. And you just know that when the lights go out in the classroom, Odin's eyelids start to droop, and next thing you know....

    Funny you should mention Melatonin: it's exactly what Odin's internist recommended this week, and I bought him a bottle of it today. The doctor said it works very well, and safely, in teens. And this could be important. Kathy813, Odin's father did try taking away his computer privileges after 8 p.m. for a time last year, and Odin said he still couldn't bring himself to go to sleep and so stayed up reading. We're hoping the Melatonin will help him get on a saner sleep schedule. I only have limited teaching experience of my own, but I do know it's awful to have kids sleeping in one's class. Again, it can be hard to tell what is Odin's disrespectful attitude and what is truly beyond his control due to his particular cognitive make-up.
  13. svengandhi

    svengandhi Well-Known Member

    Rann -

    The young men my son was shopping with are 21 and 18. It seems like a wide age range but all of these boys have grown up in a large group from cub scouts on. The 18 and 21 year olds are Eagle Scouts, as is my Difficult Child. My middle boys, 19 and 21, are also part of this group. The end of the story is that after I told him no, oldest boy called H, who was about 10' away from me, and confessed that he really wanted my card number because he wanted to buy a new bow (arrow, not cello), which I had already refused to do. When he got home, he came to me and apologized for yelling at me. I accepted it but told him I'm still not giving him my card number! The best thing about having him live at home is that he and youngest boy have finally developed a close relationship. Given that they are almost 9 years apart in age, if oldest boy lived away and had a career, that probably wouldn't have happened.

    Back to Odin - if the situation doesn't get better, consider letting him switch out to regular history or to another section of APWH with a different teacher. As a parent who went through the AP track at a HS that highly values it (with Difficult Child), I kind of think it's over-rated. Many colleges don't even accept the credits. Difficult Child got his because he's at a state school but his friends at private colleges really didn't. Since Odin isn't a history geek, why put him through the torture. Accelerated classes ARE the least restrictive environment for super-bright kids but you have to know when to pick your battles. My Difficult Child got a 760 on his verbal SAT but there is no way in heck I'd have put him in honors or AP English because he just didn't like it enough to make it worthwhile. If Odin loved history, I'd think maybe you should fight for it but since he doesn't, let him spend his efforts on the classes he does enjoy and make history easy for him. He can always take APUSH next year with a different teacher.

    Good luck.


    P.S. What does your user name mean? Mine is from oldest boy - when he was in HS, he asked his favorite teachers to call him Sven, instead of his real name. The Gandhi is because he's a family hero. Oldest boy came up with it for himself and I appropriated it when he reverted to his real name - when we switched him to the alternative HS.
  14. Rannveig

    Rannveig Member

    Sven - Rannveig is a real name (though not mine); it means "house woman." According to, people with this name have a deep inner desire for a stable, loving family or community, and a need to work with others and to be appreciated. I also think it sounds pretty. I am not of Scandinavian origin but like the sound of Nordic names -- I guess like your oldest boy? (Why was he a family hero?)

    Thus far Odin seems inclined to push through APWH, but we'll see what comes out of the 504 meeting; I'll try to update afterwards. Thanks so much for sharing your hard-earned wisdom. (Oh, and I agree that AP courses are totally overrated. What a crock!)