November 10, 2013 at 2:29 pm #122785
blackdogMemberNovember 10, 2013 at 2:29 pmPost count: 906
@dithl I love the brick wall analogy. That is a perfect way of describing it. I think I hit that wall when I attempted to go to college many years ago. And actually, the first psych I went to hit the nail on the head. She actually diagnosed me with ADD first (changed her mind later) and said that she thought the reason it hadn’t shown up before was just that the work had always been too easy for me and when I went to college I was faced with more challenging work so it was harder to compensate.
College was my brick wall. Though it wasn’t quite the way she thought. It wasn’t that the work was too hard- far from it. It was the schedule, the faster, more demanding pace, and less flexibility when it came to handing things in late. Probably also the lack of structure, since left to my own devices I tend to procrastinate and get distracted more. But what really did me in wasn’t the academics, it was the work placements. And that was due to chronic lateness, disorganization, the dreaded paperwork, social awkwardness and my tendency to do things my own way with no regard for what other people think, among other things.
The real trick is learning to pick yourself up. That is something that I am only just starting to do now. It’s hard to do when you don’t understand why you hit that wall in the first place.
But that is enough about me. Thanks for your very informative post. As I said, I don’t have children, but your insight is no doubt of value for everyone who does. 🙂REPORT ABUSENovember 10, 2013 at 3:28 pm #122788
sdwaParticipantNovember 10, 2013 at 3:28 pmPost count: 363
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.
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.November 11, 2013 at 8:59 pm #122799
kc5jckParticipantNovember 11, 2013 at 8:59 pmPost count: 845
I think that if I knew 20 years ago what I know now, each year I would meet with my son’s teacher and say something like:
My son has ADHD and can be difficult at times. I would like to make your job easier by giving you some insights into his strengths and weaknesses that hopefully will help. He is basically a good kid and quite likable, but like all, has his moments which can be trying.
He is good at A, B, C, & D but has difficulties with E, F, G, & H. He is interested in X, Y, & Z. The difficulties he has is typical of a kid with ADHD because of (whatever, . . . and give a bit of education about ADHD in the likely event the teacher is clueless.) I have found that when he (fill in the blank) it helps to (list what helps).
Here is my cell phone number. Please feel free to call anytime. I really want to work with you to ensure that my son gets his work done and has acceptable behavior.
I would also have perhaps a page of notes to leave with the teacher.
Perhaps I am too optimistic.
Getting back to reality, my son’s first grade teacher told my wife, “I never knew why James was the way he was until I met his father.”REPORT ABUSENovember 12, 2013 at 10:11 am #122800
blackdogMemberNovember 12, 2013 at 10:11 amPost count: 906
@kc5jck, yes, you are too optimistic. But you are also right. That would be the perfect way to handle it. And if the teacher decides to get prickly about it that is his/her problem. At least you have the satisfaction of knowing that you did your best.
It may be too late to do it for your son now, but at least that insight can help others.REPORT ABUSENovember 12, 2013 at 4:49 pm #122808
sdwaParticipantNovember 12, 2013 at 4:49 pmPost count: 363
Thanks for that. Those are excellent suggestions. I copied what you wrote to use as my template for IEP conversations and correspondence with teachers.
I don’t know how optimistic it is but dithl’s strategy sounds correct: nudge the school until they get so sick of hearing from me they give in and do what I want.
We have two possible strategies in mind, although I don’t know if we can get cooperation: to move the kid’s math class to early in the day when he has the best chance of focus, and to work with the counselor to plan his classes, in hopes of keeping him from being assigned to classes we know will be a disaster for him.
It’s kind of appalling to me that they plan student schedules without parent involvement. When I was in high school, parents had to sign off on a student’s schedule. They got the complete course catalog, and reviewed the schedule for requirements and electives. Here, for reasons beyond my comprehension, high school counselors can just stuff kids into any classes they feel like – they don’t consult parents at all.
We are trying to get in touch with the counselor, who of course can only be reached via email or voice mail. But at least we have an idea of how to proceed. It’s so stressful – kid is an emotional wreck, and skipped his study hall class today – the only class that hasn’t been a complete disaster.REPORT ABUSENovember 12, 2013 at 11:53 pm #122814
blackdogMemberNovember 12, 2013 at 11:53 pmPost count: 906
The school chooses the class schedule? That seems really strange to me. So does having the parents choose it. I chose my own courses. But then I wasn’t labeled as a special needs student. I guess that is different, now that I think about it. My brother mentioned how the school keeps trying to shove his son into basic level classes and they have to go and fight with them to get him moved up.
Which reminds me, I was planning to comment on the subject of mainstreaming back at the beginning. Believe it or not, it is a good thing, if it is done right. I wrote a paper on it when I was in college. I can’t remember much of my research now or what my sources were, but there have been a lot of studies done that have shown that it is beneficial in many ways.
One of the strategies that can be used to mainstream younger children is assigning them a learning buddy. I can tell you from first hand experience that this works extremely well. In my grade 6 class we all had learning buddies and I got straight A’s that year despite having one of the worst teachers ever. (seriously, she was bad) My buddy didn’t do quite as well but he was very happy with his C’s and B’s, which were a dramatic improvement for him. He might have done better if I had been harder on him when I edited his English assignments but I didn’t want to hurt his feelings. It’s weird that I remember all of this but somehow it’s always stuck with me. I did the same thing in high school on my own, employing two of my fellow nerds who excelled in math to help me learn enough to get my credit so that I would never, ever have to do it again.
Anyway, the point that I was trying to get to is that if your son has any friends in the classes he is struggling in that he could ask for help it might be a good way to get his grades up a little. Sometimes it’s easier to learn from another student than from a teacher because they’re the same age and can communicate with each other better.REPORT ABUSENovember 13, 2013 at 10:28 pm #122838
sdwaParticipantNovember 13, 2013 at 10:28 pmPost count: 363
My guess is school counselors “work with” AKA pressure kids into taking classes that are available and convenient for the school. Where I grew up, kids chose their classes, but those choices required a parent’s signature for approval. Here, they don’t even have to notify us. At all. The District is notorious for secrecy and double-speak.
Learning buddies might be a good thing – depending on the subject and the buddy. Mainstreaming could be a good thing if it is done in conjunction with proper accommodations.
From what I’ve read in the past couple of days, I now know that our son’s IEP is a complete disaster. It was too vague. It didn’t ask for measurable or objectively verifiable results or progress tracking. It includes information it shouldn’t, and excludes information that is required by law. They got me to make a personal statement I never should have made, which essentially lets them off the hook for all the other things they are not doing.
I’m now reading one book about how to write a proper IEP, and another about how to accept the fact that the school system is not for you, it is against you and your child. Out of 5000 surveys of school psychologists, the reasons for a child’s school problems were identified as 10-20% the parents’ fault and 100% the child’s fault – with no responsibility whatsoever placed on curriculum, teaching, or school climate. This is because the school psychologists were not allowed to say anything negative about the school. This is reflected in school culture overall.
Basically this one book says it’s the job of the school district to avoid providing services, and that parents should never give them personal information they can use as ammunition. EVER. They are not now, nor have they ever been, nor will they ever be – in any way, shape or form – on the side of families. They demonstrably don’t know the law – but we as parents have to know the law. Whatever they say about the law we should assume is based in ignorance that comes from District policy. That’s pretty condemning, but in a practical sense, if expectations are low, I will not have a reason to get angry and will be better prepared to take for granted that they have no desire or intention to help us – and keep the focus on what my child needs. It sounds like we should expect the relationship with the school to essentially be adversarial while everyone must behave as though we’re all trying to work toward the goal of helping my kid. And that if we as parents don’t become informed, document everything, and continue to lobby for what our kid needs, there is ZERO chance of us getting it.REPORT ABUSENovember 14, 2013 at 12:48 am #122844
blackdogMemberNovember 14, 2013 at 12:48 amPost count: 906November 14, 2013 at 12:00 pm #122854
pinkdexMemberNovember 14, 2013 at 12:00 pmPost count: 23
I’m not a parent yet, but I have been a teenager, so I think I might have something to add.
All of the advice on this thread is in depth, detailed, and clearly well thought-out. You’ve got a lot of great advisers here, so I’ll give you just my two cents of the whole dollar.
As a teenager in High School, your son is preparing to become independent from his parents and live his own life. Naturally, then, there’s going to be a lot of defiance to all forms of authority, whether to you or his teachers. Tell the teachers that instead of harassing you, they need to take it up with him like adults. Not only does it assume for him the dignity he desperately wants, to be treated as an adult instead of having people go through an authority structure to access him, but also it puts the battle where it really needs to be, at his feet, not at yours.
Let’s not forget that the government forces us to send our kids to school. Him being there is not his choice, or yours, or the teachers. The decision was made by someone who has no incentive to take care of the special needs of your kids because they are far removed from the situation, sitting on a poofy chair in D.C.
I say that not to trail off into politics, but to point out that it’s not really your fault that he’s in this situation. It isn’t the teacher’s fault, or his fault either. All three of you are being forced into a non-negotiable situation and so confusion, misunderstanding, and poor judgments abound. It’s like three fleas arguing on the back of an elephant. None of the fleas are in control of the elephant, but they can still argue about where he should take them.
So that’s my perspective 🙂 not really an answer or advice, as much as just a different take on it.REPORT ABUSENovember 14, 2013 at 12:35 pm #122857
blackdogMemberNovember 14, 2013 at 12:35 pmPost count: 906November 14, 2013 at 2:25 pm #122862
kc5jckParticipantNovember 14, 2013 at 2:25 pmPost count: 845November 19, 2013 at 1:09 pm #122966
sdwaParticipantNovember 19, 2013 at 1:09 pmPost count: 363
So, here is a question, because I think you raise an interesting point.
You’re completely right, as far as nobody choosing the situation. I wish there were another model for learning.
You mentioned – maybe on another thread – and I’m not sure I have this right, but I think you said something to the effect that for a long time you didn’t know you had ADHD, and maybe it was your mother who tried to tell you about it, but you weren’t hearing it? Did I get that right?
Anyway, part of the challenge in our situation is that my son doesn’t want to hear a single word about ADHD. He thinks he doesn’t have it. He thinks nothing the school does will make a difference in his learning. I’m stressed out because if he doesn’t acknowledge he has it, how is he going to get help for it? I can’t force him to accept help – all I can do is try to slip in some help around the edges without telling him. And I kind of suspect that his refusal to learn about it is itself a manifestation of ADHD. He doesn’t understand how it affects him. He thinks he should “try harder” in school. He thinks he’s “not motivated.” He thinks he “can’t concentrate.” Um, yeah. And why is that? He doesn’t want to hear why. He won’t take medication or cooperate with me at all around his IEP stuff. He doesn’t do homework, and half the time doesn’t even attend his classes. I’m watching a disaster unfold that I feel powerless to stop.
What would you say to someone who is totally in denial about ADHD?November 19, 2013 at 4:01 pm #122972
Dealing with the School Systemsdwa2013-11-06T16:45:53+00:00
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