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Reply To: Dealing with the School System

Reply To: Dealing with the School System2013-11-10T15:28:07+00:00

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I know you’re not joking. We have Febreeze at our house, too. 😉  I’m sure you can imagine the knee-high piles of laundry, both clean and dirty. I tell my husband if it’s folded, that means it’s clean.

My son doesn’t want a coach – he wants to be “normal.” He gets mad at me if I even try to talk to him about ADHD. Which leaves me in the position of having to decode what works for him and what doesn’t. On an interpersonal level, I know, but since I’m not a teacher and don’t know much about his learning style, I don’t feel qualified to instruct the school on how to teach my kid. Plus, aren’t they sort of supposed to know that? Apparently not.

Anyway, it doesn’t matter who did what or when, or what didn’t happen when it should have, etc. What matters is how to get things to work for my kid now. I think teachers get defensive. They’re harried, and they want to blame parents for our little monsters’ behavior. Parents also get defensive, because we feel like people are attacking,  judging, and blaming us. Ideally, none of that stuff would matter. It’s not about the adults, it’s about the kids.

Deep breaths.



Thanks for the preface, and the advice. What these communications from the school have led me to conclude is that I may be the only one who can determine what works for my kid. I thought Special Ed teachers were supposed to be able to do that. I think the teachers at the school are well-meaning, and I’m aware that they have hundreds of students. Most teachers are not trained to deal with special needs kids. I don’t expect them to know about the wide range of different disorders, syndromes, problems, etc. I did have the expectation that the word would have at least gotten out that my kid has ADHD and does have an IEP – and that they might be told what that means. My impression is that no one was told anything about it. I also have the impression that the Special Ed teacher, who is the study hall person, would never have requested a review of the IEP or any kind of meeting if I didn’t ask for one. I want to educate the staff without coming across as pushy – I don’t want to sound like I’m telling them how to do their jobs. Unless I’m supposed to tell them how to do their jobs. I have tried to explain some features of ADHD and gotten responses like “thanks for the information” – but in a way that the subtext feels like “screw you, lady, thanks for nothing.” Like what they really want to hear is that we’re going to lock our kid in a dungeon until he learns to behave. Or something. I expected the Special Ed teacher to have ideas about how to work with a kid like this – her comment: “I have other students,” which comes across to me like “don’t bother me.” I get it. Teachers are stretched thin. Resources are limited. Time is limited. As for being the “pleasant thorn in the side” I’m still working on “pleasant.” But I think I will get there with a shift in perspective, armed with information about ADHD in general, my child’s needs specifically – and an understanding of the IEP review and implementation process. The secrets of that appear to be intentionally well-hidden by the school district. It’s like they don’t want us to know how it works or what our options are. But that could just be because I have trouble decoding long, convoluted, technical, jargon-laden documents.

The Attention Talk Radio shows I listened to mentioned the need to call for an IEP review in November, and to schedule follow ups at regular intervals. So that sounds like a good idea. I’m not sure what exactly goes into a good IEP, but this one guy said what doesn’t go into it is an agreement from a kid to follow the plan.

What goes into a good IEP?

What makes an IEP effective?

Do you know what an IEE is or how that process works?

My son doesn’t like the art teacher – from what I’ve heard, this guy has a very controlling, authoritarian, zero-tolerance attitude, and clearly doesn’t know anything about ADHD. He views my kid as intentionally disruptive.

It’s not like I have a blind spot and think my child is a saint – but that’s how teachers act. Like duh – they’re with him what? Five hours a week at most?  I live with him.

My son didn’t gel into a person until he was about five – he was kind of spacey and vacant, very quiet as a baby, didn’t interact or do much at all, didn’t explore or play with things the way his brother did. At 5 that totally changed and he became a hyperactive whirlwind. He didn’t learn to read until he was in third grade. He showed no interest at all in having friends until about 7th grade. It wasn’t that he felt left out – he just didn’t seem to have other kids on his radar. Then suddenly he was taking off – he developed a circle of buddies, and started reading books about philosophy. I think right now school is an interruption of his social life. He’s thinking about what it means to be a man in this society, and he’s become the confidante and possibly even the center of a social circle. He is oddly very perceptive about problems other kids face. I’ve heard him counseling his friends on the phone. He is “emotionally intelligent”  – about other people.

Since he doesn’t want to hear about ADHD and didn’t want an IEP, we don’t have a situation where he’s using his ADHD as an “excuse.” He doesn’t know enough about it to do that, which in a way is a good thing, in that we can be objective without him trying to pull the strings. On the other hand, he will need to know eventually. If we do our jobs right, maybe he won’t need to know until he’s in his twenties.

When people say “you have to advocate for your kid” – I’m not sure what that means, but from what I’ve read and heard in the past few days, it sounds like it means “educate the school.” When they say “advocate” they mean “educate.” I have to understand ADHD for myself, but to explain it to others, I need an academic depth of understanding about the disorder in general and how it specifically manifests for my kid. But none of the “literature” says that – it just throw out the vague statement “advocate,” as if it were obvious what that means or how to do it.

Anyway…thanks for some great feedback. That is useful. It’s good to hear from someone who knows how the system works. I can appreciate that it’s easier to be objective about other people’s children. It’s great that you know so much and can help your own child.