SpEd that's special works


It has been one year exactly since MrNo had a 12 hour meltdown about returning to 6th grade after Christmas break last year. The next day, I contacted the Director of Sp.Ed. and told him that this was not OK: the school could no longer blame difficult child's adoptive status, his sister's perfection, his parents' "style", or his nonexistent ADHD and Learning Disability (LD) for his problems. HE WAS SED !!!!!! we'd known it for years, had him on medication, seeing a psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker and family therapist and the problem was SCHOOL WAS KILLING HIM from the inside out. In other words, the school was the major problem in difficult child's life.

Before this becomes a book, you may wonder why difficult child was not in sp.ed. before this year: It's not as tho' I didn't know how to make the system work but the problem was no "program" fit his needs. I'm the one who always says ...write the IEP first don't talk prgograms but for my difficult child, the problem was no service (not program) was available to treat "I hate school so much I will do anything to alleviate the pain I feel--and no one can make me do otherwise" syndrome. Since difficult child is ODD, he made good on his threats AND remained above grade level and nonviolent so it must be the parents' fault not the schools'. Our life at home, however, was a nightmare that many of you know well: threats and sibling fighting; frustration over undone homework; failing grades, opposition, defiance, a foul mouth and puberty thrown in last year for good measure.

I finally figured out that what difficult child needed was LESS SCHOOL as a "program". He was always excellent at math..not a good student but just couldn't help that he "got it" and scored in the 99th percentile on standardized tests but never did his homework. He also likes science. Refused to read...still has only read 3 books; The Defiant Child, The Explosive Child and Sibling Rivalry... to prove to his SED teacher he wasn't Learning Disability (LD). (She didn't think he was but this demonstration really let her know how seriously difficult child felt about being mislabled.)

I know this is supposed to be a success story but if you don't understand how odd (as well as ODD) MrNo's situation was, the the good news makes no sense.

Anyway, I used my knowledge of IDEA97 to get MrNo out of school except for Math, Science, one elective of his choosing and SED resource support where he is not allowed to do homework but has many goals about talking about how he feels about school with the SED teacher (who is excellent) and planning how he is going to meet his school responsibilities without involving his parents. He also sees a social worker 3 times per week as a related service and she is good also. No gym, English, Social Studies or lunch. All this was arranged by having his psychiatrist indicate that full time school attendance would further damage difficult child's mental health, and written into his IEP, after eligibiltiy as SED was determined.

The other half of the day, MrNo was to pursue his interests in music privately at his parents' expense. (No funding for gifted ed.) He takes a piano, an organ, and a music theory lesson per week and practices 3 hours per day, 5 days per week.

Barb helped me figure out how to arrange his "homeschooling" when I was afraid I couldn't pull it off and The Explosive Child reorganized our household in a way that makes living with difficult child tolerable.

At the trimester, (November) he got a report card with a 95% in Science and a 93% in Math--both A's. Then he and his social worker decided that if he cut his practice time to 2.5 hours, he might add Social Studies to his schedule because next year, he will be required to take it. This was arranged although MrNo was very reluctant to undertake the reading required in Social Studies. I do not expect he will get an A but just being there is great from our perspective.

The music part is wonderful: No hassles about practicing and MrNo is very happy with his own progress. MrNo is playing in public without performance anxiety--prelude and postlude on the pipe organ at church on 1/2/00 and has one piano student of his own who, in 9 months has actually learned to play the piano to Level 1b. (No I don't know how he knew how to teach her but her mother was willing to let her be "the ginnea pig" and someone has to be his first student, LOL)

In school, MrNo is in accelerated classes, has only been late twice, is not truant or "ill" half the time, and is a "model citizen" of the SED room. All of this happened because he got a special education that was truly individualized and actually meets his needs. Even his SED teacher is amazed because she read the report on difficult child from last year and was really worried because he was so determined to undermine "the system" at any cost to himself. She told me that it really was wonderful to see a school program tailored to the exact needs of a very unusual child.

I wanted to let you know all this because Special Education. can literally work wonders, but only if it is individualized and appropriate to the specific needs of the child--not a "place" where kids who don't fit get sent.

I will be the first to admit that MrNo is very gifted musically and SpEd did not give him this gift. However, SpEd did liberate him so he can "fulfill his destiny as a musician" (his words at 11) rather than have his spirit killed by the school.

I wish all of you the very best that SpEd can offer and hope you will not focus on how MrNo may be different from your child but on how his needs were "so unique" that no public school could meet them, according to our s.d. last March. I said, "you haven't tried yet and you WILL provide a FAPE." The school is now so happy with the result, that by the end of the year, I'm sure they'll have convinced themselves the whole thing was their idea!

Who cares whose idea it was? MrNo is liberated!

P.S. Every rainbow has it's rain and MrNo is still very ODD at home, is foul mouthed often, disrespectful, ungrateful, and mean to his sister. However, with therapy and maturity, we hope that these traits will be left in adolescence because outside our home, MrNo shows his best self. Dr. Green helped husband and me Basket C as much as possible and concentrate on MrNo's gifts not his liabilities.

Not a bad outcome for only a year!!! Thanks to all of you for the support that made this success much easier for me to help orchestrate.

Martie, mother of Mr. No (Major Dep -in remission, ODD, not ADHD or Learning Disability (LD), musically very gifted) and a 14 yo easy child daughter. husband of 22 yrs.

[This message has been edited by Martie (edited 01-05-2000).]

Martie this has given me hope. My son has an IQ of 150 and was recently diagnosed with schizophrenia on top of it all. We always struggled for his educaion now equally made hard by his SED diagnosis. We are struggling to combine college level courses with SED environment and struggle but there is hope. Thank you.

15 Male homegrown with Schizoaffective disorder with bi-polar elements: currently stable on 6 mg Resperidal, 200 mg of Zoloft, and 400 mg of Neurontin: symptoms since age 4, first psychotic break age 14
12 Male chosen aka adopted drug baby ventilator dependent for five+ years, deaf, global developental delays-my walking vegetable-lol
5 Female chosen with Down Syndrome, drug exposed, and low vision--the biggest smiles and a foot stomp that rivals clogging-lol
Single mom 40 hanging on



Your story should be published, and required reading in all college coursework.

The "cookie cutter" approach to education must stop.. Mr. No is a perfect example of how success follows when common sense leads.

I hope that many will take the time to read this and that parents will see.. that "they" need to design the program... and not allow the school to use their best judgement.

Often times that judgement is highly flawed.

Parents are and always been the Best experts on "their" child!

Now to get more of them to beleive that.

I love the idea of him having a student... cool idea for a transition plan ( hint hint ) LOL!!!

We got the language under control ( at age 17 1/2 lol ) by giving a NO for each F word.

EX: when he said F I said thats one NO... so when EVER he asked me for ANYthing I simply said NO!

"Mom.. pass the salt, can you turn the dryer on?... Answer the phone if it rings... to which I replied NO.

I got numerous F's in the process, but I stuck to my guns, and eventually he began to apologize when he slipped, and we are down to a couple a week now.

Big Progress!!!

Thanks for sharing your story... continued wishes for best luck!

Hugs N Love!!!




Thanks for posting your success story. It's important for parents of "special needs" kids to understand that their child's needs are unique to them. It is the most important lesson I've learned from you, Jerri and the rest of the board.

We too have seen significant progress since IEP implementation and recent modifications have sped that progress as well.

We've started charging Alex a dollar for each slip of the tongue with cursing. I'll let you know how it works.

Hope all continues to improve.


8 yo son with-ADHD, ODD, Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Mood Disorder not otherwise specified, Learning Disability (LD) currently off all medications but that may change soon, husband for 10+ yrs.

"Practice optimism and positive expectancy. Hope is a muscle - develop it"


Thanks for your replies!


I need to think seriously about transition planning but I at this point I'm pretty sure h.s. is hopeless and MrNo will go to a music conservatory boarding school with a h.s. division. It's not that I couldn't "get" a released time program for him in h.s. (perhaps with teaching as a transition plan) but the whole environment of our (top ranked) suburban high school is wrong for him--starting with 4000 students! My easy child is thriving as a freshperson, but a total environment can't become what it's not. So we're preparing to bite the bullet and send difficult child out into the world before his sister. It is hard but it is also best for him to have a small community of kids who are "like" him and I'm quite sure, based on this year, that in a totally music-oriented environment, he will have no behavior problems. I'm still glad we have next year (8th grade) to solidify gains, though.

Thanks for the foul mouth suggestion: It won't work for us bec. it's contrary to Greene's Basket C management system we use. I no longer hear his language as he moves through the house but if he swears AT ME, I walk away and, of course, do not grant any requests accompanied by four leter words in the same sentence. LOL


I'm really glad things are progressing for you, too. I also had to "fine tune" the IEP at the time social studies was added but the major component that makes this a success story is reduction in school time, a novel idea for schools to consider--less of you is BETTER for the kid! LOL

Your "fining" suggestion was tried by us many times. All we got was a fine list approaching the national debt as a ratio of fines to difficult child's income and he refused to pay! Another power struggle relegated to Basket C for us all. But I wish you luck with the method--I've known people for whom it worked well!



[This message has been edited by Martie (edited 01-05-2000).]

As a former music ed major, might I suggest some independent study for Mr. No?

Social studies covers a lot of territory. Geography, history, psychology, literature ...

Let us say that Mr. No is currently practicing Sonata Pathetique, by L. V. Beethoven. Would Mr. No be willing to do any research at all, even on the net, if need be, into that particular composer, that piece of work, and the world in which it was composed?

Beethoven was a study in child abuse. His work was a result of that abuse, as much as it was a result of an individual genius. To understand his music, you need to understand the man.

Last week I saw a film on PBS, a biography of Beethoven, that would be excellent for a kid who hates to read, but it would bring the man and the music together, within the context of the world in which he lived and worked.

Perhaps his music can be part of the bridge you are trying to build. Scarlatti lived a very different life and in a different part of the world from Rachmaninoff.

Perhaps bylearning about Russian composers, your son can learn about the end of the monarchy, the Russian revolution, and the incredible oppression of artists under seventy years of communism. And in that, he will rejoice in the spark that still burns on the stages of Moscow, these years after the fall of the Soviet Union. Now THERE is a juicy bit for an ODD!!

pico: 48 y/o sgl mom with:
easy child: 14 y/o in private Cath sch.
difficult child: 11 y/o in publ schl Behavior Disorder class; diag ODD Sept 98; Currently on Risperdal, .5 mg / 1/day; in specific after school prog designed for kids with ADHD + anything else from alphabet soup; Has 1 psychologist, 1 psychiatrist, 1 absolutely invested mom, awesome Aunt Blondie, and whimsically involved non-custodial father.

You cannot achieve the impossible without attempting the absurd.

[This message has been edited by pico (edited 01-05-2000).]



Thank you for the suggestions. It is not possible to implement them because MrNo will not allow anyone to "fool" him into thinking that school is not school by infusing music.
Also, psychiatrist put "messing" with his music off-limits as a contigency bec. he thinks it triggered major depression. So no one-not us nor the school manipulates the content of his music--that's between him and his professional teachers. We do, however, control his overall access to some very expensive opportunities.

For him music is his passion; school, at the level he is performing, is his responsibility. He is very ODD and spends lots of time "outwtting" behavior management plans. So, no manipulation of school--that's the deal--he gets no help from us on homework--doesn't need it; and if he should start to fail, he won't go to:

1. Sleep away music camp for high school students where he is a "special admission as a 7th grader" gor organ workshop and piano pedogogy.
2. Won't go to Europe in August with his choir.
3. Won't be going to boarding school bec. we can't trust him to benefit from his educational opportunities 1000 miles from home.

I appreciate your suggestions, I really do, but I am responding to let people know that even the "best of ideas"-- Your ideas were implemented as early as third grade when the book he was supposed to read was about Bach. He would play Bach for his classmates but not read the book--can be unacceptable to a certain type of ODD child.

So school is school. We only "required" that he pass to have a special music program--his high grades are a bonus we didn't expect. I don't know if I can explain it adequately: It's why Riley won't work for him but the Explosive Child does. Kristine once said I explained how Josh thinks by explaining MrNo, so if anyone tried to "entice" him through music, he would automatically reject it as an invasion of his perogatives as a musician. I know it sounds crazy to say this about a 12 year old but perhaps it will be clearer if I say that
"Pathetique" was in his repetroire about 4 years ago--after 8 months of piano lessons, so that he has his own ideas-that he doesn't consult about or share with anyone but his music teachers, we must accept.

The only academic connection he accepts is he wants to study German to commune with the soul of Bach--I guess Beethoven would be a bonus for him, LOL. So he will study German in high school. Probably do well, if he wants to. Neither his father nor I took German, so he's on his own--as he is for most things he does well.

Thanks for the comment.


WOW! I am impressed with your knowledge and all that you have been able to accomplish. I know that I will be asking for help at IEP time.

Our difficult child is motivated by $$$$. Even as a youngster we used to call him Alex P. Keaton (after Michael J. Fox's character in "Family Ties"). When language was a problem in our house I bought 2 rolls of quarters----1 for difficult child and 1 for husband. With every "bad" word I removed a quarter.

At the end of the week difficult child usually had lots of quarters left and was happy. husband usually owed me money so I made him pay up in other ways (I had massive "honey-do" lists prepared)

It's probably time to start this up again with difficult child to remove the "freakins" and "sucks", etc. from our home. May have to up the ante, though!




Maybe I am on the wrong track--not in general--but about language. In our house, the "freakins" and the "sucks" are better than some other options. However, even tho' I wrote this to share "success," we are notably lacking in success in changing his "annoying" behaviors within our house, i.e., language, deliberately annoying easy child, not bathing, etc.

If I said (nicely) to MrNo, "please don't use the f word in that way," he would respond with a torrent of f--ing this and f--ing that and have a mini-meltdown about freedom of expression guaranteed under the constitution.

Since he never uses inappropriate language outside the house, at least in the company of adults--I don't know about kids--I'm sure he joins in at whatever level the conversation sinks to--I'm not as concerned about this behavior as you might think. Also I really can't figure out how to change these annoying behaviors without backsliding to a place I don't want to go. Would our house be more "peaceful" in the Asian sense of the word without the bad language and bickering? Definitely yes. Would our house be more peaceful if we tried directly to end his "control" over his own mouth? I know it wouldn't so Basket C for language issues, etc. seems to work for now.

I guess my fantasy is that at some time in the future we will all sit around laughing and say, "rembember when 'f--ing" was the only adjective in your vocabulary?" Ah, dreams.


Martie, I am very glad to see that you were able to create a program for MrNo that is acceptable. As I mentioned to you long ago when you first came on this board your son sounded like he needed something far different than the traditional school setting. I always thought a school of performing arts might work, but I think you have found a very workable solution.

Jerri, I do like your solution to the bad words though and I will be giving it a try in our house. I have a feeling that she will be hearing a lot of NO's for awhile.

8 yo very spirited gift from God
13 yo almost perfect teen
"The circumstances of one's birth are irrelevant. It's what you do with the gift of life that determines who you are."


Spork Queen
Martie...I'll be looking forward to the Leap Year update.


Site Administrator

16 year old male difficult child; Conduct Disorder; no medications
You name it...we've done it.
Lost the war.

ICQ: 18359298


New Member
Hi Marti,

My son also is very gifted and also loves music. We have just now started him into it.

My difficult child is wonderful at school but at home is a different story. He recently started to become violent with me so I read the explosive child and chose my baskets. The first one was homework...see ya! That was one of the biggest problems, so at parent/teacher, not iep I told them since he gets A's and B's I don't want any homework sent home. He's to do all of it at school or suffer the bad grades. His first progress report he got all B's, can't beat that with a stick. The second problem was bed time. Another basket C. I dont care any more what time he goes to bed or where he sleeps. It'll be his problem in the morning if he's tired not mine. Another problem solved and since then, no violence!
Home is now pretty much user friendly, we still have the usual ODD stuff though.

I also realized that early on I was already using the baskets, but just didn't know it. Only, when someone saw me backdown from a request he refused to follow (like make your bed) they berated me for it. Instead of realizing like myself, who cares if the beds not made...he's only gonna mess it up again when he goes to sleep.

One small step....One giant leap!


2 Boys; Wesley difficult child 8yrs old. Risperdal/Dexidrine/Depakote.
Justin ADD 13 yrs old Adderal

36 y/o Mom on Wellbutrin for depression and doing well.

Favorite Motto:
Don't sweat the small stuff life's to short!

Wow! Again!

I'm glad that you're here to advise other parents on how things can work. Sure could've used that kind of help five years ago! I'll be ready when that ODD grandchild appears... LOL

Regular school is good for some kids - and not good for some kids. It's encouraging to see someone find a viable alternative.



Glad you posted Mr No's story here! I'm glad it has worked so great for him. I still have the hope that Josh will get through high school without the SD (and or Josh) sabatoging my efforts. I truly believe he want to finish, because I see the exasperation when he can't meet there rules and regulations.

Martie and Jerri, get out your armor. I'm heading into battle again real soon!


difficult child "18"yo son...One angry young man. Bipolar, CD, Borderline (BPD). Marijuana use, inhalents and other drugs used in the past. Currently in jail, through the holidays...Court appearances in Jan for Felonious Assault, and Auto Theft. medications tried - Prozac, Wellbutrin, Depakote. Also tried Pfeiffer vitamin therapy...no results. Variety of Psychologists and Psychiatrists. Was in short-term Residential Treatment Center (RTC). Presently on 30mg Prozac.
16yo son easy child with ulcer, 14yo daughter easy child with chronic Atopic Dermatitis. Married to husband 18 years (hanging on by a thread).
Myself...taking Effexor.

Enjoying being a moderator!

"Our gene pool could use a little chlorine."

ICQ: 48457498


Abbey, Nancy and Kristine,

Thank you for your comments.

Abbey, do I detect skepticism that this can last? LOL. I'll be sure to let you know on Leap Day.

I just love having the board to post this on. Where else could I admit that his language is foul, he annoys his ssiter and fights with her, doesn't bathe, and claim "success" and have everyone know it IS success?

Love ya'



New Member
This is a great post! I have been in the General room for so long I forgot there were others here! Yes, I'm junior...!

Could you help me out with a couple things? What does SED stand for? And is the 'basket' thing from one of the books mentioned?



Hi and welcome,

SED stands for "seriously emotionally disturbed" and is an eligible category under Federal and State Special Educaiton legislation. To learn more about the law, try Special Education 101. To learn how advocates can help you with you case, check out Jerri's Parent Advocate Corner.

Yes the "Baskets" come from Greene's The Explosive Child. This is one management system that is good for difficult child's who do not present safety issues too frequently and parents who are not (or have experienced no success with ) authoritarian approaches. Another book, Riley's "The Defiant Child" is favored by many on the board, and works well for some people, not at all for others. "1,2,3 Magic" is liked by many parents of younger kids.

If you are like many people, if you read the first two, one or the other (but not both) will strike you as "good" for your difficult child's temperment.

There was an interesting thread a while back begun by Kristine that ended up as a book review of the two books. I don't know if the thread was archived or not, but youcould ask Kristine (Juv Court board moderator) if it's available.

Good luck

Martie, mother of MrNo (Major Dep -in remission, ODD, not ADHD or Learning Disability (LD), musically very gifted; attends regular classes part-time; pursues music the rest of the day) and a 15 yo easy child daughter. husband of 22 yrs.

Martie, I applaud ypou in the imagination dept. to come up with such a productive, successful IEP. I wish I had , had that chance for my gfgbefore he reached HS. NOw it is to late to pick and choose how many subjects to take at school, since your nec requirements depend on credits per year in order to graduate. Unless I could do a subject at home in the beguinning, and slowly integrate him into it within the school. Is that possible and acceptable.
It is a thought of course I do work partime, and dont know how I could get him to and from school on the days I work until i can sit down and work witrh him that subject.
I guess we could consider him to walk home on those days since we only live 3/4 mile away.

He to bottom line came to the decision that he hates school and has no respect or commitment to it. He shows it in his continuous failing grades. I know already that he will have to take gym over as he has only 3 weeks of it and has a failing grade! Should have just had him do it during the summer to begin with and been done , he would have been more cooperative, I believe.

Well wuill see if they ever get in touch with us and interview us before his multifactor mtg, and hopefully IEP. Met again with his psychiatric Doctor and he agrees from his own perspective and what he reads from other Docs that ADD can never, not be disregarded. He wants to continue test after the School Psychologist is done. Well that means to me that we cannot conclude with whatever the result the School doctor comes up with, and I know she wont come up with anything, that is how good difficult child is around her. I asked him to put this all in writing, as I would prefer to place him under OHI, then SED simply because They are more apt to work with him within the SD ,then enc. him to go to an SED school by bus, an hour away.
My fear is we will probably do battle and waste time for the rest of the school year, and of course at the same time difficult child will be flunking courses with no chance of graduating with his class like he wants. Then he will just stop all toghether, because right now he will be 18 going into his Senior year, let alone if he does not pass.

Been married 18 years. difficult child is 15 years old ODD, possible ADD, and Depression. Now on Prozac. Have a easy child girl that is 13



I don't think in h.s. it is more difficult to get a p.t. program bec. in middle school, you have to deal with "block scheduling" which means that all subjects aren't offered all the time.

In high school, if my difficult child doesn't go to a music boarding school, we will line up his subjects one right after the other and he will be gone by 12:30 or 1:00.

Transportation is a problem. I work flexabile hours and try most days to pick up difficult child and drive him 12 blocks to practice organ. He can make it on the bus (followed by a 2 block walk (oh my!!!) and will have to do this on Mondays as I have a conflict right now. So far, he has been very responsible about showing up to practice any time I haven't been able to drive (I call to make sure he has arrived at the first opportunity--makes him mad but too bad)LOL

I never think it is too late for anything! I would prefer SED to OHI as a lable if I were trying to get a half day program but you could probably use a physician's statement in much the same way: full days will damage difficult child health.

by the way, I got mine out of PE because he hates sports and it causes general problems (won't change in the locker room due to modesty, trasing, sexual harrassment, etc) but the easiest way to get him out of P.E. is to have psychiatrist point out that the ANXIETY associated with sustaining a hand injury while in P.E. far outweighs any benefit and leaves difficult child emotionally unavailable bec. the P.E. teachers "don't care" about his hands. We have him do Tae Kwon Do in the community (he passed a color belt test on Sat.-now a red stripe on his blue belt--easy child is a black belt for more than a year) bec. we can work with the TKD master to get aerobic excercise while protecting difficult child's hands. MrNo does not want to go for a black belt bec. as long as he doesn't, he never breaks boards with his hands--by arrangement--but he can't get a black belt without using his hands. His decison not to desire a black belt--not worth the risk. (I don't know what we would do if he wanted a black belt--but he doesn't ao why worry about a problem I don't have?

THIS is the type of cooperation that we have gotten in the private sector to meet his needs. Only this year has the school come up with anything comparable in that they now acknowldge that MrNo is "different" and does not fit the mold. Now we have no mold.
It is in interesting but uncharted waters we sail.

I do not believe a child should have to demonstrate remarkable talent in order to not be pushed into a mold. I also believe with the right outside support, you can get just about any arrangement that makes sense under IDEA97, provided a child has a qualifying disability.

Since cost is always an issue, the school should thank you for offering to home school in an effort to make your difficult child's partial (if you could get it) school expreience successful. That's what we are doing--I mean paying for it --not the school--so by what right does one staff member at his school ":censored2:" about "unfair preferential treatment of MrNo?" (Their att'y told her to cool it--but I know her feelings on the subject and that's enough to annoy me a lot.)

Thanks for the reply and good luck with your quest for SpEd. Let me know if I can be of assistance.

Martie, mother of MrNo (Major Dep -in remission, ODD, not ADHD or Learning Disability (LD), musically very gifted; attends regular classes part-time; pursues music the rest of the day) and a 15 yo easy child daughter. husband of 22 yrs.

I literally was brought to tears when I read your post today. I have been living with an 11 yr old ODD difficult child daughter(biological) for a long time with absolutetely no help from the professional comm. here in CA for way too long. NO ONE believes me, no one hears me, no one understands me. My daughter is not making it in her school environment. She has no friends. They have her teaching first grade as an alternative! They won't send her to SPED because because they say she will have no positive role models, she has been manipulating doctors, therapists, social workers, and anyone else that will belive her for 5 yrs, I am bi-polar, currently being changed from depakote to neurontin , shes been on paxil for 2 yrs thanks to a great doctor that finally figured it out, but after diagnosis, left the practice to I don't know whre, ny help form anyone? I am a single mom and desperate.. This is the first time I've tried to type on here and am learning so much about this didorder that i am grateful to GOD and you guys. Thanks, francie