What are my and difficult child's rights?

My difficult child#2 was just taken to school via the school's police/safety officer, for the third time since September. My son has been unable to get to school for 5 of the past 6 days because of his severe anxiety. He has been very emotional for the past month or so - almost like a rollercoaster with his ups and downs. He is finally seeing a great therapist, who is doing a referal for a psychiatrist appointment for anxiety medications. I know that this will help - but it will also take time. In the meantime - I need to know how far I can "push" this issue.

I know that my son HAS to go to school - it's the law. But can I stop the school's officer from physically taking my son to school? When can I step in and tell the SD to back off? The people at his middle school have never seen the emotional side of my difficult child because he holds it all in in front of other people. He won't (or can't) talk about what is truly bothering him.

I sent him to school today hoping that he WILL break down in front of his guidance counselor. What kind of mother am I that does that?? What kind of system forces me to do that?

Why does my son have to feel like everyone is against him??

He does have an IEP - but it is pretty general - nothing really specific. All his anxiety needs were being met last year because he was going to a very small special school for kids with emotional problems. He had this same problem last year (and in previous years) and was sent to a partial hospital program and then to this school. His IEP was written while he was making this transition.

Unfortunately - we had to move over the summer and are in a whole new state. I don't even know what schools are available here. His guidance counselor keeps putting me off when I ask about other schools - because he never sees my son upset. They only see him as a defiant child refusing to go to school.

I am going to insist that his IEP be re-written, after I see how he does today. I just need to know how far I can push the system.



As the parent, you can call an IEP meeting at any time. There are sample letters in the Sp Ed Archives.

I'd get a letter from difficult child's doctor which addresses the anxiety symptoms that are presenting and flat out stating that the sd behavior is not appropriate for this patient and is, in fact, creating complications (if true).


Sheila took the words right out of my mouth. Your psychiatrist is your ally here. Whenever my ex-difficult child's middle school wanted to do something that was going to cause big problems--he was like your difficult child, more acting out at home than school until he REALLY fell apart--

His psychiatrist would just write a letter stating that whatever (forcing him to go into the cafeteria is one e.g.) is not only an inappropriate action on the part of SD personnel, but also had the potential to exacerbate his situation and NEGATIVELY IMPACT his long-term outcome.

Admittedly, I live in a very litigation conscious SD, but the above stopped them cold--visions of either difficult child's increased suicidality causing him to harm himself being laid at their doorstep or our seeking compensation for his long-term care because of their negligience (This is kind of technical--you can't "sue" under IDEA but general negligence laws still apply.) The psychiatrist's letters put them on notice that continuing the behavior would be negligent on their part bec. they had been INFORMED by the treating psychiatrist that their behavior was harmful. This stopped them in their tracks. No questions asked--they just stopped. In addition, when difficult child went to h.s. their half-senile consulting psychiatrist disagreed, ex-difficult child's psychiatrist said--in effect, Fine that's your opinion based on 5 minutes. I've been the treating psychiatrist since this child was 8. The SD's attorney decided to go with our psychiatrist's medical opinion rather than their own consulting psychiatrist. Fear of litigation can be used to your advantage, especially with internalizing behaviors.



New Member
I have a similar situation to yours Sheila. My son is 11, diagnosis sped in first grade..ADHD and EBD..He has done quite well until lately. He missed an entire week of school the week before last and this morning refused to go. He is seeing a therapist weekly and his depression and acting out stem from losing his father three years ago, his grandfather in May and now his aunt, my sister a few weeks ago. He can't fall asleep, so he is very tired in the am. I could go on, but my point is tht I have an IEP tomorrow and I know they are going to address the concern about the absences and I'm not sure how to approach it. As a teacher, I should know more about the whole SPED process and what I can do, but I don't. I need help so he doesn't fall behind. He can't repeat 5th grade. He is so big and I know it will hurt his psyche even more. I'm wondering if I can insist on a tutor until we get his medication straight. When he is in school, he is so good and enjoys it. It is the process of getting there. Any advice for tomorrow would be helpful from anyone. Thanks.



If he can't get there in the A.M. you can ask for a later start time. It is usually done for depressed adolescents, however. You could also try to reduce the stress of homework if that is a battle--you don't say it is--but for some kids, it does not make for a relaxing evening, which makes it harder for them to fall asleep.

Is he receiving therapy in school? School anxiety is a problem that can stand apart from other anxiety issues. I finally figured out that ex-difficult child had BOTH school and non-school related anxiety issues. It was much more efficient for the school therapist (who I might add was good--not all are) to deal with those issues arising from school rather than try to have the outside therapist (not the psychiatrist--the therapist) run interference.

If they say, "we don't do that," then they are failing to provide "related services" and denying your difficult child a FAPE.

Good luck tomorrow--don't go alone and don't sign anything you don't understand. Say you want to take it home and think about it.