What do you do about school??

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by cfa3, Oct 26, 2009.

  1. cfa3

    cfa3 New Member


    Am back with another question for whomever would like to share with me. My question is about schooling. My son, 10, severely emotional, can be aggressive, extremely argumentative, up and down moods, over reacts etc etc - Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) not otherwise specified, tourettes, anxiety disorder/Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), ADD, mood disorder not sure what exactly. He is very immature.

    I am homeschooling him this year for the first time because since pre K have not been able to fine ONE decent classroom in the public schools that meet his needs or can handle him without abusing or traumatizing him. HE has an IEP, has had one since pre K. Been to EVERY elementary school where we live and after him having several violent explosions at school and being placed in one different class/program after another and he being miserable and unsafe, decided our last resort was homeschooling. NOT a good choice for MY sanity, but truly had NOWHERE he could go to school this year! He is very difficult and has SUCH a wide variety of needs, often conflicting, that not one school or program could handle OR was a good fit for him. He doesnt fit in in the autistic programs as he has no social impairments, is extremely social and gets violently upset if a child doesnt make eye contact with him or has vocal expressions or mannerisms that agitate him - he didnt fit in the behavioral classroom because he is not justa "behavior case" where a checklist of do;s and donts and a list of rules and rewards is going to make much difference to the world or emotional chaos going on inside him. Regular class doesnt work really mostly only because there is not the support needed to help him navigate some situations, help with his frustrations, his need for a break when he is escalating etc. Also rejection from peers when he is having an off day and acting "strange".

    Anyway, maybe its just our district, but I am wondering, what on earth do some of you do regarding your kids and school? I mean, having aggressive outbursts once in a while rules out so many things for my son! Those of you who may have the more emotional, psychologically needs child, where does your chilld fit in? What schools have you found? I often think of going private, but all those schools always seem to have that clause "We cannot handle children with aggression", and my son will still have aggression at school sometimes. His needs are not just academic and social, but also emotional/psychological. I dont want to put him in the most restictive setting of a hospital or Residential Treatment Center (RTC), and I cant find any therapeutic day programs here in FL yet, though Im not done searching. We are moving in June just to get to a better area of FL for him and not sure if we will find a school there, public or otherwise.

    Long and drawn out, sorry, but am wondering what the parents of the more "challening" kids here do about school. I mean, all our challenging kids cant possibly fit in to regular public school can they? Appreciate greatly any stories, insights, opinions or even suggestions in FL. Thank you as always to this wonderful forum.
  2. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    This is tough. Many public sd's have special schools or sections of schools for severely emotionally disturbed which are supposed to better address emotional and behavior issues, and there are other schools called "alternative" schools which are geared more towards behavior issues. The alternative schools around here portray themselves as addressing emotional concerns and they have a therapist on board, however, I was told they are HORRIBLE and the kids are out of control and there is no real therapy in them. I'm not sure about the ones for severe emotional issues- they are schools that have safe rooms and can use restraint and are supposed to have special qualified teachers for more emotional issues. But, I'm not sure how good they are or if they really do any more than just punish a child. I would suggest calling and asking a higher up- like the director- things like methods of punishment, how many kids ever go back to a mainstream school, quals of a therapist on board and teachers, methods used for specific situations you are concerned about, how many graduate, etc. Maybe find a local forum and ask other parents their opinion.

    If he's on the autism spectrum, you might be able to find a school that specializes in that. Even if it's a private school, legally his mainstream sd should pay for it. It might be a nightmare getting them to though.
  3. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator

    You need an educational advocate to get him into an appropriate placement. Do you know how to find one?
  4. cfa3

    cfa3 New Member

    no, can you pls tell me how to find one? Its just that I can only choose from schools that either the Mc Kay scholarship covers, or his medicaid or medicaid wiaver would pay for. Or perhaps the school system will pay for. If this is within the realm of what youre referring to I would really appreciate knowing how I find such an advocate. Ive heard of educational consultants but I figured it wouldnt do me much good as we are not in the financial position to pick and choose from any school or program. Thank you.

    I am posting also because I am wondering if Im the only person with a challenging child who cannot find a school that works for him (outside of expensive private schools that dont take our FL scholarship).....? Thank you
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2009
  5. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    You are not alone. Tigger is a 5th grader and here is his school history:

    3 & 4 yrs old: at-risk preschool with an amazing teacher, it was a struggle to get him to school but she did a good job with him once we got him there

    Kinder: lasted 2 months, school refused to assign a 1:1 aide despite him running from the classroom daily, teacher was in tears, it wasn't safe; I withdrew him and homeschooled him the rest of the year

    1st grade: lasted full year with 1:1 aide, assigned to reg ed room but spent most of the day elsewhere (social work office, hallway, gym, library, etc)

    2nd grade: lasted full year with 1:1 aide and mostly in Special Education room

    3rd grade: lasted two weeks, teachers overwhelmed, school being punitive and causing panic attacks, I withdrew and homeschooled him

    4th grade: started with partial day (4 hours, late start) in Learning Disability (LD) room, for 3rd trimester moved to new ED room, was mutually moved to homebound after 2 months due to staff incompetence

    5th grade: doing partial day (4 hours, late start) in ED room with all new staff, doing great!!!!

    It has been a long, hard road. His current classroom is 2 boys, a teacher and an aide. The teacher has 14 years experience with difficult children and is amazing. I don't always agree with her but in the 8 weeks since school started she has done a great job reaching my child so I will do what she wants when she wants it. She has earned my trust, not an easy thing to do :)

    If you are moving anyway, I would check out a few districts and ask to see their ED classrooms (some districts, like mine, have separate programs for emotionally-disabled children and behaviorally-disabled children -- the difference being BD kids respond to token economies and strict rules where ED kids are more fragile and often have underlying diagnosis).
  6. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator

  7. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    When I read your description of his behavior from your other thread (below), personally I think it's pretty unrealistic for the school district to have a regular or Special Education classroom suitable for him when he is this unstable and potentially dangerous to himself and other students. The schools are within their rights to remove a student in such situations but generally when they do they offer alternatives such as homebound instruction or a therapeutic setting. Did you voluntarily withdraw him?

    It sounds like you've worked with a lot of professionals to try and help him but it is imperative that your son be stabilized to at least some degree for him to function in a school setting. I noticed that you felt your team was worthless, the hospital was a nightmare hell-hole so you didn't want to go that route, and that you wanted to avoid restrictive settings such as hospitalizations and Residential Treatment Center (RTC)'s. If you want my opinion, as unstable as he's been for such lengthy time, a longer term hospital stay or Residential Treatment Center (RTC) would be worth looking into. The medication reactions that you describedcould be monitored closely by staff, behavioral programs are in place to help kids like him, reevaluations could be scheduled, and a plan to transition him back to home and school once he's stabilized could be put into place. You sound opposed to a more restrictive environment, but since he hasn't functioned well in all of these environments with lesser restrictions, maybe that's exactly what he does need. Most parents are horrified at the thought of longer term treatment but often it's the parent that is more traumatized than the child. They often respond very well to the secure and predictable environment a therapeutic setting provides.

    Sending him back to a school setting--even one that is more suitable to his needs--sounds like a recipe for disaster if he's not stabilized first. And if he is more stable, some of the previous settings might wind up working for him.

    I do agree that you will need to find an advocate.
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2009
  8. cfa3

    cfa3 New Member


    Thank you first of all for your thorough reply. I am in agreement that the situation is dire and perhaps you are right that an Residential Treatment Center (RTC) would be the appropriate choice. Actually 2 weeks ago my son did end up in a short stay in our local psychiatric childrens facility and it wasnt a bad thing. We didnt end up with any help that came out of it other than 2 days break and he learned some things and we learned that it a phos is not the terrible road we thought it would be.

    As far as restrictive settings, I am just concerned with starting with the most restrictive at this point, and just want to make sure that there isnt anything that may work and then if necessary pursue that. I think what we could start with is what Ive been trying to get together, which is a comprehensive neuropsychologist evaluation. I have a neurology one set up but am still searching for a neuropsychologist that takes his medicaid.

    I agree that perhaps he couldnt function in any school right now, Im not sure. The attacks I described that you quoted above are fairly new, they started in June, and there are one, albeit very important, facet of his issues. The reason we baker acted him for those 2 days was because we realized the severity of the attacks was no longer something that could be handled at home. At that hospital they have put him on a new medication and he has been on that now for about 2 weeks. We have not had one of those attacks in the last 11 days. Im not saying thats great and everything is fine now, but its a starting point to thinking that perhaps we dont have to do the least restrictive as a starting point. We also got a behavior therapist in home who is helping a bit, and we are in the process of planning a move to another county that just has a lot more for these kids than where we live now.

    I dont exactly know what to do. Sometimes my son is ok, sometimes he is not. He is a mix if neurological and psychiatric issues which is hard to deal with and treat. We need a good evaluation, we need better treatment, one reason we are going to move. Also things changed tha last year. When he was younger we actually thought he was getting better, but its turning out the other way, and in the last year we have been just shocked that he has gotten worse and then this summer things really plummeted. so its kind of a new direction for us overrall.

    I agree its unrealistic for a school district to have a maintstream class for him, thats why I am looking into a happy medium between an Residential Treatment Center (RTC) and regular school, namely am looking at the special centers, i.e., therapeutic schools that the county that we are moving to has as well as any private schools that may be more geared toward his dual needs.

    I withdrew him voluntarily but we are doing a virtual school program at home whcih is still considered a public school here in FL AND he still has an IEP. Its just that no classroom was working out and we didnt have 20 thousand dollars to hire a lawyer and get what we should have gotten for him, i,e, a therapeutic classroom - not a behavior room but a class based on mental health needs. So I am home with him now but that is, needless to say, not working out.

    I agree about the stabilization factor. I am not sure how to approach that right now, other than as I said finding mental health help for him that is good quality and thorough. that is what I am hoping to do before sending him to Residential Treatment Center (RTC). It has been very very hard to make decisions and find resrouces and doctors under this stress and where we are located. I am hoping this move will be part of what will help. I will think about what you have said and of course thank you very much for writing to me.

    Do you think then that the majority of the difficult child's here (I am not even positive what difficult child refers to other than child with mental issues?) are stable enough that they attend their local public schools whether in Special Education or not? And the ones that are not are in RTCs?

    Thank you.
  9. rlsnights

    rlsnights New Member

    There are multiple levels of public educational placement that range from no restriction (regular public school) to most restrictive (Residential Treatment Center (RTC)). IDEA (the law and regulations that govern special education in the US) calls for placing a child in the LEAST restrictive environment (LRE for short) that is appropriate for a given child. This does not mean that every child should be able to go to regular public school. It just means that, unless other factors override it, that a placement in the least restrictive environment is preferable over a more restrictive one.

    So for example, it is preferable to place a child with learning disabilities (Learning Disability (LD)) in public school with Special Education support than in a stand alone day class of children with Learning Disability (LD)'s - unless some overriding factor determines that the stand alone class would be the better placement for the child.

    The special education program at your local school district (SD) appears to be deliberately avoiding their legal responsibilities for creating an appropriate Individualized Educational Plan (IEP). They have failed to offer an educational placement for your son that allows him to have a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE for short).

    It is the SD's responsibility(not yours) to ensure that your child has access to FAPE. They have not done this therefore you could go to "due process" which is the legal option for parents who disagree with the SD's offer of FAPE. If what you are saying is correct, you will win hands down against the SD and may even wind up with a settlement for lost educational time (kind of like lost wages if you get hurt at work).

    BUT you must get yourself an advocate - either a lawyer specializing in special education or a professional Special Education advocate - and you need one right away. This is tough because it is clear that you do not have $$ to throw at this and most advocates will require a retainer of some kind or at least that you pay them for the initial appointment.

    Once the advocate has reviewed your case they will decide whether they think it is winnable and, if they do, are unlikely to ask for any more money at that time. If they win in mediation or in court, their fees will be paid by the SD or, if agreed, by you out of any cash settlement you get.

    You need an advocate for 2 reasons:

    1. The advocate will be able to help you understand what's going on and what the SD's real options are for an educational placement for your child. At this point it sounds like the SD is keeping you in the dark and feeding you s**t.

    2. The advocate will file due process against the SD - essentially sue them. Supposedly you can represent yourself and do this but, unless you are a lawyer yourself, you stand a snowball's chance in h**l of winning if you try to represent yourself. It sounds to me like it would be unlikely you would get all the way to a due process hearing. The first step after filing is to go to mediation. If what you've said is true and you have any evidence to support you then you will almost certainly "win" in mediation.

    Every state has Regional Centers that provide services and support to individuals with certain disabling conditions particularly CP and Autism. I would figure out which Regional Center in your state is closest to you and then call them about your situation. Here in California there are advocates paid by the Regional Center Districts that provide advocacy services for FREE to anyone whose child has an IEP or might qualify for an IEP.

    It can take a long time to get an appointment so you want to track this down today and see about getting on a waiting list. Have them send you an intake form, complete it and return it as soon as you can. Most advocates triage the intakes and when they see your situation are likely to bump you to the top of the list.

    Frankly, you need to get a fast education in Special Education law and lots of advice about how to organize your records and manage this process all while managing an unstable out of control kid. been there done that. Here's where you want to go: www.wrightslaw.com.

    And as others have said, you need to do what it takes to get your child stable or it won't matter what educational setting he's in, it won't work.

    Based on our experience, getting stable (given your description) is likely to require medication changes and at least a temporary placement out of your home at a psychiatric hospital or other residential treatment facility. The longer you fight this reality (again given your description) the more you may come to regret not acting sooner. I'm not a doctor and certainly don't know what is best for your child. You need to work with the psychiatrist (psychiatrist) and SD to find the best combination of placement for your child to get him stable. Once stable then you can consider a less restrictive placement.

    Add a signature line so we know more about you and your difficult child (gift from god). Go to the User CP page and choose signature from the left hand menu then just write something up similar to what you see at the end of other people's posts.

    Turn your anger and upset into purposeful action today.
  10. cfa3

    cfa3 New Member


    thanks very much, your post was extremely clarifying. I too fear you may be right regarding the inevitable need for some span of psychiatric placement. Its been so confusing - even now at 10 years old we dont know whats wrong despite having a variety of diagnoses since 2 years old! We are not sure if its purely neuro, if its psychiatric, if its both if they are the same, and also what portion of hsi troubles is just psychological and environmental. I know at this point we need to just focus on finding the right docs and psychs to help us figure out what he has as best we can so we can then treat and stabilize. Thats one of the reservations I have with the psychiatric hospital is wont they just only see everything through the lens of psychiatric illnesses and what if they miss his development delays and overmedicate him? For my son, im just not sure what "getting him stable" means other than that we are not sure whats wrong, his behaviors are intolerable and we are all losing it and he is not happy or having friends and is feeling badly about himself.

    I agree with everything you've said about the school stuff. I will have to deal with those things if I dont go private route. The county we are moving to here has advocates etc, though I will need to look into the details. I give up on the district we are in now and the move is imminent anyway, so I will take the fight up there. '

    I am not sure what to say in signature line because Im still not sure what easy child and PJ and difficult child ARE. I thought difficult child just meant son or daughter? Thank you for your post, I printed it to show my husband and frankly to remind me of reality because I really dont WANT to be in denial of any kind.

    Thank you!!!!
  11. rlsnights

    rlsnights New Member

    Stable in my book means not aggressive/danger to self or others at the minimum. I would try to get to that place anyway I could. It might mean medications and it might mean structured environment or some combo. No way to know without trying.

    I know that over-medicating is a concern but I guess if my difficult child was being really aggressive I would let the psychiatrists try medications while I sought a neuropsychologist evaluation to help clarify the best approach. I'm not saying that's what you should do but it's certainly a path I would consider.

    You need to read some of the things pinned under FAQ on the general board. It has a post on signatures and others on things like the use of easy child and difficult child.

    PJ is just my initials.