The "emotionally disturbed" label

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by BigMamma3, Feb 2, 2009.

  1. BigMamma3

    BigMamma3 New Member

    Well today I received a call from my daughter's principal. She had a rough afternoon and now she wants to discuss a "behavior plan" and possible exploration of alternative placement since she is having difficulty "maintaining" in the regular classroom and not really learning.

    I had a feeling today would be rough when she insisted that I escort her to her line and see the new teacher. Her beloved, skilled former teacher had to go out on leave as her cancer had come out of remission and she needed chemotherapy (tragic). That was before the holidays, she has since had 3-4 subs and rollercoaster behavior. VERY sad about her former teacher.

    Prior to her leaving we had an SST meeting with therapist, resource specialist, teacher, school psychiatric, and they were looking at getting her into a half day reading workshop but meanwhile just increasing her resource time. She apparently is doing great in resource class, but is only getting by in regular class with the help of an aide who is actually assigned to another child.

    Today- her first day with the new teacher- and I forgot to give her a check for school lunch. Apparently they won't even extend a day of credit so she got no lunch. She had a HUGE snack that I sent, but apparently she polished that off at morning recess. And now that I think about it...a brownie (since she didn't get one last night). Well if that isn't a good reason to cut out school time sugar don't know what is. Though I rarely send any, that could have contributed.

    This afternoon she fell out in class, shoes off, books all over, glitter on the floor and in her mouth, reportedly called another student a "b****" and left the classroom, ignoring the instructions from the new teacher to return. She told the principal, "I didn't do anything".

    The principal said her consequence will be to spend the day downstairs working with her tomorrow. I'm not so sure how much of a consequence that will be- but we'll see. I communicated to the principal, again, that I cannot continually take time off from work. I feel that they know both of my girls needs and issues & it is the SD's responsibility to develop strategies to keep them in school and in class and not send them home when they can't keep it together. If I'm not mistaken they have rights as being special needs and the school needs to accomodate or make other arrangements.

    Today the principal suggested more in depth testing through the SD for my older daughter that could result in a higher level of service and possible placement at another site. She said she didn't like the label, but that would be for kids that are "emotionally disturbed", the first level (not SED). I'm of course not crazy about this idea for several reasons.

    1) She does ok 9 out of 10 days, and that number seems to increase as she gets older.
    2) She is at an age where she would know what that label and placement would mean for her and could possibly exacerbate her low self esteem problem.
    3) She is coping in a very difficult situation right now considering her history and diagnosis and I hate to make a drastic change without giving her some time to adapt.

    There are benefits:

    1) I don't think I will get as many phone calls or day suspensions to deal with
    2) She may learn more in a supported environment- she's about 2 grade levels below

    Are there any parents who have encountered this similar decison and could offer insight? Meanwhile she is trying to organize a meeting with the resource specialist for Friday afternoon following the SST meeting for my younger daughter.

    Last edited: Feb 2, 2009
  2. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Based on my experience and very limited knowledge- the classification is not supposed to make any difference as far as accommodations and it's better to have an ED classification than no IEP at all, usually. But, in some jurisdictions the accommodations accessible to a child will vary dependent upon the label. Plus, in some sd's, having an ED label means they will be with the kids labeled as behavior problems if grouped in collaborative classes (classes with aids). That has happened here. on the other hand, I have heard that in some sd's, the ED label allows more accommodations in needed areas.

    So, I can only suggest reading carefully thru things you can find online- like the definition of ED for your local sd- not IDEA. See if it elaborates and makes it sound like ED kids are behavior problems- this is what I found on my sd's site. It's wrong, but I don't feel like fighting it. I just requested that my son's classification get changed. We'll see how that turns out. If your referring to your child that has adhd, that should be an OHI classification. If there are other issues she has and it works in your favor, you could ask for a multiple classification (OHI and ED).
  3. slsh

    slsh member since 1999

    "She apparently is doing great in resource class, but is only getting by in regular class with the help of an aide who is actually assigned to another child."

    This is I think the most important piece of information you have. Special Education law states student are entitled to a "free and appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment". FAPE in LRE.

    LRE is regular ed classroom. Before discussions begin about changing placement, the SD *should* be looking at what accommodations/related services might be used to help your daughter receive FAPE in LRE. Sounds like a 1:1 aide needs to be tried, *first*, before a change in geography.

    Absolutely, I would allow a full evaluation. I'd make sure a functional behavioral analysis is also done so that behaviors and triggers can be identified. You are absolutely right - the SD has the obligation to educate your children and sending them home is not education. The SD *also* has that FAPE in LRE obligation. Some fight it mightily.

    You might also want to post over in the sped 101 forum.

    Good luck - it sounds like you know what your kids need. by the way - LOL, as a perpetually absentminded parent when it comes to school lunches - you might try to get it written into IEP that if funds run out for lunch, difficult child *will* be fed (I'm horrified they just make the kids do without) and you will be called, just in case the lack of lunch contributed to her rough day. ;)
  4. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    I would go for the testing, assuming that you don't have to go with their decision if you disagree with-the placement.

    There is always a tradeoff, and I feel your ambivalence. Yes, she would be disrupted, but do the means justify the end? Perhaps. IOW, in the long run, with the payoff be worth it?

    Is there a way to pre-pay lunches? I can't tell you how many times I've pre-paid and then end up getting behind, and billed, anyway. :(
    Now we just send our own. Period. (It saves $, too.)
  5. Star*

    Star* call 911

    Wow - what a day!

    Do you have an IEP in place? Do you know that you can get FREE teachers aid/mentor for YOUR daughter paid by the school district?

    Did you know that the days she is out/suspended you can petition for at home help with a teacher? (we did)

    I think the reason she does well in resource may be because it's quiet (assuming it's a library setting) - did you know that you can have noisecancelling ear phones written into an IEP? ANd in resource she may be getting one on one.

    Someone needs to find out what her strengths and weaknesses are. TEsting for that is FREE, but you have to request a specific test for learning disabilities. (I never knew)

    And the fact that her teacher is GONE? OH WOW - THAT IS HUGE to a kid. The stress she's feeling must be awful. (we also went through that with a teacher) I'm sorry for her - our best advocate was the director of Special Education in our district and he passed from brain cancer at 34. Dude was devastated.

    I agree the SPed forum will give you a lot more insight -

    Just wanted to add my support.
  6. nvts

    nvts Active Member

    hi! you don't have to settle for an "Emotionally Disturbed" classification. She can get classified as "other health impaired" because of the adhd diagnosis. She'll have that on her IEP, but she would still be eligible for any/all services that she may need.

    Will write more later (feeling beat right now!)

  7. jal

    jal Member

    Even though my difficult child was originally diagnosed with bipolar and ADHD he qualified for services under OHI (other heath impairment) not ED. My son's diagnosis has recently changed to Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)-Aspergers, mood dis-not otherwise specified and ADHD combined type. I have experience with placing a child in another school that has services to help him. I can tell you at the moment it is the best thing we did. A heartbreaking decision, but the right one nonetheless. Although my child is 3 years younger than yours, he was not affected by the move, but that is also because he is very self unaware. Yet, he was able to tell us that he could not hear the teacher (in a classroom of 16) and now that he is in a smaller class he can. In the recent months that he has been there his math and reading have exploded, math especially. He gets daily group therapy and weekly individual therapy and Occupational Therapist (OT) services. He has a behavior plan in place and the program is very award oriented, but academicas are also a big piece. He has math and reading homework 4 days a week, spelling test, etc. Everything that he'd get in mainstream. Upon I think recently finding a new medication that is working for him he has been very good at complying with the program. No more meltdowns, chairs being thrown, running from the room...he is far from the model student, but much more open to learning and trying hard.

    Also this school told us that we would never be called to pick him up because of his behavior. I can't tell you how many times from daycare we've had to do that. I never did have to pick him up from mainstream school, but he had a lot of supports there. An IEP, a para and Occupational Therapist (OT) breaks and a behavior plan. They just realized this year that because of the behaviors he exhibited they could offer no more and hwat they were offering was not working for him..

    I would definately take the SD up on the testing and before placement at another site. Get an IEP in place, get her a para and have them do a FBA so they can put a plan in place and see how she responds to that. You may find that the right support in this environment may be enough so you do not have to transfer her. In your heart you will know what you have to do. Good luck!
  8. BigMamma3

    BigMamma3 New Member

    Thank you for all your suggestions and support. She does have an IEP (see Learning Disability (LD) in signature) and sees an Occupational Therapist (OT) in addition to Resource Specialist, reading aides and Therapist. I hope that an aide in class, even part day, would be an option before moving her. Her school has been her structure for the last 3+ years. We unfortunately had to move a couple times and I always kept her at that school.

    I will hopefully meet with them Friday after the other meeting and find out what the principal has in mind. Maybe the regular classroom isn't the best place for her. We all agree she is VERY bright and intelligent with an incredible, though selective, memory. She has come along way academically, it is just taking her longer to grasp things. By the way, she had an excuse for every thing the principal said that she did! No accountability at all.:sad-very:

    My younger daughter's teacher was out **AGAIN** today. She was very unhappy. Some ofthe parents want to go back to the principal. We are feeling angry and helpless while our little ones suffer emotionally and academically from a revolving door of substitutes. :mad:
  9. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Her you go- take this to them:

  10. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    By the way, she had an excuse for every thing the principal said that she did! No accountability at all.

    That sounds familiar!

    My younger daughter's teacher was out **AGAIN** today. She was very unhappy. Some ofthe parents want to go back to the principal. We are feeling angry and helpless while our little ones suffer emotionally and academically from a revolving door of substitutes. :mad:

    I'm so sorry. We had that happen when difficult child was 2. He was always in trouble and they were ready to kick him out. Then I discovered that their teachers weren't teachers at all, but teenagers who said they liked kids ... but had no idea of any developmental milestones. They couldn't handle the kids, and he had a new teacher every week! I pulled him out and his behavior improved 100% overnight.

    Tough lesson to learn. Kids need consistency, and their behavior will tell you if something is inconsistent.
  11. BigMamma3

    BigMamma3 New Member


    Well, I wound up having two meetings today. Meeting #1 was regarding my younger daughter in Kindergarten and developing a "behavior plan" for her. Teacher reports when she is asked to do something she doesn't want to she "explodes" with anger and anyone in her way get pushed, shoved and sometimes hit. She said she refuses going to the "time out" area and needed some alternatives. I suggested asking her when she is calm that 'is there somewhere she might be ok going when she feels herself getting angry' (my older daughter used to put herself on time-out when she was in Kindergarten). I also suggested the teacher "check in" with her in a non-confrontational way when she seemed like her frustration level was being challenged. Another concern was that she does not play with her peers. She attaches herself to the teacher or whichever other adult is present. The therapist offered to observe her at recess and try working with her on her peer interactions.

    Meeting #2 was about the additional testing suggestion on my 9 yo difficult child. The school psychologist is going to do some testing but she is being referred for a county mental health assessment which will result in placement/services recomendations which apparently the county pays for. According to the resource teacher I have the right to approve or disapprove the suggestion. The resource teacher also suggested exploring possible medications as he has seen miraculous results over the last couple of years with student on medications for ADHD in their focus and behavior. This is something I would rather not do, but in fairness I guess I should explore options and discuss with her Dr. She has been progressing over the last year but is still at the same place on the curve and well below grade level. The "counseling enriched day class" was discussed which has advantages and disadvantages. I am leaning toward finding ways to keep her at her current school and in gen ed.

    Any feedback, ideas, suggestions...?
  12. timer lady

    timer lady Queen of Hearts

    I'm sorry ~ I didn't take the time to read all of the responses. I'd like to offer something the others may not have considered.

    Who or what is being done to address the Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) & PTSD? Many of the symptoms/behaviors sound so very familiar. I'm the parent of twins with severe Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) & complex PTSD. While medically we've handled the symptoms/diagnosis's that can be handled with medications, the other diagnosis's are being handled through therapy.

    Both of my children are/have been in Residential Treatment Center (RTC), day treatment, multiple hospitalizatons, etc. Now we have in home services. This has all been due to the attachment disorder & ptsd. It cannot be medicated away.

    In school we have IEPs that address the very specific symptoms of Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) & ptsd. Including calling home to check in when necessary. They both carry a picture of mom & dad on their key chains. They have boxes filled with love notes from mom & dad sitting in the counsellor's office. Every time they start acting out or acting depressed they go to their "hug" box & take out a special note that husband & I spent hours writing up for kt & wm. There is a need for consistency & nurturance in treatment, in rules at home, in parenting.

    I just wanted to add this. Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) is a diagnosis not given lightly nor should be ignored or taken lightly. Treatment for Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) & ptsd is a **** shoot; what works for one child doesn't for the next. In that light, there is no "written or proven" treatment.

    Don't let the emotionaly disturbed label scare you ~ it's gotten me more services, more help at school than anything else.

    In the meantime, I'm sending positive thoughts that you find the right answers for your difficult children. There are days you feel you cannot go one more day & days you feel absolute delight that you've taken your children into your family & made them your own.
  13. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    I would agree with-Linda, that pragmatism is the best route when dealing with-labels. If "emotionally disturbed" gets more svcs, go for it.
    I wish I had more advice.
  14. janebrain

    janebrain New Member

    both my dtrs were labeled "emotionally disturbed"--the school explained it was the label that fit even though it sounded so awful. I got over that pretty quickly, it got them the services they needed.
  15. wakeupcall

    wakeupcall Well-Known Member

    My difficult child got that label at school, too, when they set up an independent psychologist to test him. It got us TONS more services and a lot of attention to him. Finally it was THEIR doctor-of-choice who said the child needed help in the school setting, rather than ours!