Thanks for the nudge, Turtle, I guess I do have *some*thing successful

Having difficult child placed in Social Learning Classroom (read: behaviour modification, social skills help) was probably the best thing we've done, altho at the time we felt it was being foisted upon us.

10 kids, one teacher, 2 aides (perhaps only 1 aide this year due to budget cuts, that's another issue...). This is in intermediate grade range for our district, so kids are nominally in gr 4-7. EVERY kid has an IEP, so no hassle re any child getting swept along in mainstream - cuz mainstream doesn't exist in this classroom. Class is in "normal" elementary school, so opportunities exist AS EARNED for participation in sports, music, choir, etc., also integration into grade-peer classrooms on a subject-to-subject basis, as deemed appropriate, until student is eventually back in a regular classroom. Considered a short-term placement, and integration IS the goal, but teacher/parents/student have last word re timing of integration (our situation, difficult child after several years of bad experiences, is terrified of returning to 25-kid classroom, we're not pushing, he gets verbal reminders that this WILL happen, but teacher won't place him for even one subject until we all know he will experience at least SOME success - likely part way thru this year). Daily written comment from teacher to home, and vice versa, via self-monitored behaviour chart completed by child during day, approved by teacher, has to be initialled by parent & returned next day. Students set small # of individual goals for specific periods. Classroom routine looks rigid compared to "normal" classroom but in fact provides comforting pattern; however, becuz a lot of these kids do NOT handle change well, every once in a while the teacher will "experiment" by varying the schedule without notice, in a controlled way of providing the kids a chance to adapt to the unexpected. Kids are under constant supervision in class & on playground but can earn unrestricted access to certain areas of playground equipment, library, computer lab, choir/band practice as appropriate.

Poor choices in behaviour are discussed. Good choices in behaviour are rewarded. There is a weekly class meeting where common issues are discussed & solutions brainstormed.

VERY supportive principal is flexible re board & school policy re suspensions, etc. He & teacher aren't interested in "punishing the parents" by demanding immediate child pick-up. The only scenario they can suggest that WOULD result in an out-of-school suspension would be something involving weapons. My son has unfortunately bit, scratched & kicked staff, thrown furniture in the classroom, waved tree branches around threateningly on playground and in classroom; all suspensions were in-school with the exception of the branch in the classroom, for which there was a one-day out-of-school suspension.

They are keen to work with all of the child's or family's support network - psychs, social workers, therapists, etc. but are quite respectful of family's right of refusal re privacy concerns (we got burned by staff at previous school so were very cautious re giving this teacher any written reports, psychiatric's name & number, etc, until we were satisfied we could trust her - we can, and she & psychiatric have even had a couple of phone conversations we didn't participate in).

He is provided bus transportation, since our suburb is made up of 3 distinctly separate "towns" merged into one administrative municipality, and of course the programme couldn't be located in any of the 5 schools in "our" town. However - the board contracts out a separate small bus, JUST for the kids in this class, so they can neither harass the "normal" kids nor be harassed by them. After some agitation (I can write a mean letter, if I do say so myself, and my kid was both "the new one" and physically the smallest - altho heaven help the kid who decided to take him on!), the board agreed to provide another aide to the class, on a part-time basis, to provide supervision, so that the driver just had to drive. The rides WERE starting to get a little hairy.

By the end of school this year, my son was actually doing some grade-level academic work, particularly math, without going into hysterics/rage episode at the very thot, for the first time in almost 2 full years.

Current psychiatrist is working well, has bonded with everyone & her approach to psychopharmacology fits ours. Various medications & combos have been tried, and we're satisfied with current combo. difficult child is developing a vocabulary to express his feelings, rather than always resorting to a rage when overwhelmed with any kind of feeling.

husband has learned a lot & is willing MOST days to admit that difficult child came wired wrong, rather than claim all problems are due to my incompetence as a parent & person. He has accepted to some extent that he has to participate, along with doctors, teachers and me, to find long-term solutions.

We are on the verge of having a family therapist assigned, thru Ministry of Childrens & Family Services. All the professionals have been agreeing for two yrs now that our family needs help, I am still confused by the interlocking maze of ministry, agencies, depts, offices, regional splits, etc. but have pushed hard enuf/long enuf that now that I have the support in writing of the psychiatric (who REALLY knows how to cut thru red tape), to access some services. Now it's just a matter of figuring out which "slot" we fit into organizationally, but I have found a senior social worker who appears to care, and who has enuf clout to make people at various different offices at least return my phone calls. We'll be getting some combination of weekly family therapy in the home, in the evening, for all four of us; some parenting/marital therapy support for husband & me (currently up in air whether husband will be involved, I WILL do it on my own if I have to), and some 1-on-1 therapy with difficult child. Whew. Looks good on paper - we'll know by early/mid Sept which agency will be the service provider, and everything shd be in place by sometime in Oct. And this is fast-tracking?

Moral of the story: Keep at it. I'm being told now of services that are absolutely designed for situations like ours - I would never have found them on my own, and even people who SHD have been telling me about them, a year at least ago, didn't. Keep asking, keep pushing. As the 1200 of us know, these kids are all unique individuals but the disorders are NOT unique, and every sizable community has SOME kind of treatment or therapy available. Restricted due to budget and personnel, but help is out there. You may have to go thru months of phone tag and "can I speak to your supervisor now" and "doctor, I just canNOT take this any more" before you get told about it. Ask, probe, learn, demand, whine, cry. If you have (as I did), the middle-class horror of having anything to do with your local Social Services agency, get over it. They are THERE to help people. Now, if you are a professional, suburban, middle-class nuclear family, you WILL encounter some resistance even from THEM that you need their help. I finally broke down on the phone to the social worker who does seem to care, and whined that it seemed to be that there'd be help available if I was a single parent, or new to the country, or aboriginal, or on social assistance, or victims of domestic physical violence (I've been told, by various agencies & depts, that various programmes were NOT available becuz we didn't fit any of those or other categories). I'm lucky - I found someone "inside" who was horrified to find, 8 or 9 months after she'd referred our case onto what she saw was more appropriate local agencies, that we still weren't getting help. She called a couple of weeks ago just to touch base & see how we were progressing - it sounded like SHE was almost ready to cry when I told her how we'd got bounced around. She's assured me there ARE services for us, and has taken us on herself as a cause - she won't be our therapist but is certainly acting as our advocate. And it was me being able to refer to my notes and say - called them, got turned down by them, year-long waiting list by them, etc. - that helped her, in defining who WAS going to do something.

Demand & document - it's what it all comes down to.

Whew!! Thanks for the inspiration. I may just be there far, though, Rob's been fine in the regular classroom in 1st grade at the public school. Crossing fingers/toes and rattling beads!!
Congrats on FINALLY getting the assistance needed and due you!

Mom to 6 y/o difficult child Robby (!)
ADHD,Hypo-Manic,Psychotic,"he's fine -- it's the mother"
Currently weaning off medications (used to be zyprexa and clonidine) thanx Feingold!
Widowed 5 yrs ago; now have most wonderful SO
With GOD All Things Are Possible.....

You're awesome, Lmom!

I've been a fan of yours for quite a while now. You've done a wonderful job of finding help for your son, and holding everything else together.