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Still having problems with my DS - 11 yo, ADHD AND gifted Still having problems with my DS - 11 yo, ADHD AND gifted

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  #1  
Unread 11-23-2002, 06:33 AM
Unhappy - Still having problems with my DS - 11 yo, ADHD AND gifted Still having problems with my DS - 11 yo, ADHD AND gifted

I can't believe it: my DS is STILL not back in school, full time There he is, suspended, for all intents and purposes, not benefitting from the services of a tutor and the school is making it sound like it's all our fault

The problem is that we're dealing with a brand new principal (and I mean brand new: she got promoted last June) who has no clue as to how to deal with him. And she's completely clueless as to what is available from the various agencies in the community. I was too, but learned through years of dealing with them. I've also realized that she's one of these people who hears what she wants to hear and conveniently forgets the rest

So, here we are, 6 weeks later, no nearer to having him re-instated: she's waited for us to make arrangements to have him sent to a group home. I've told her, after talking with the specialist, that there was no possibility of this. She said he told her that he was powerless and that he needed for us to get involved. I re-iterated (already told her this in October) that what he told me was that they had very long waiting lists and that this wouldn't happenned. And, frankly, I don't see the point: the problem is not at home, the problem is at school.

So, yesterday, I got very angry (it was a PD day, I called at 9 am, and she called back at 4:00... so I knew he wasn't going in to school on Monday)... and she's expecting him to do all his assignments, on his own. I told her, very bluntly, for the hundreth time, that he did what he could, but that there were things he didn't understand. Most of what he doesn't understand is related to French (they only concentrate on Math and French for cases like these.... the rest being non-mandatory). DH gets home earlier than me, but he took English in school. By the time I get home, it's supper time and then, after supper, it's useless trying to get him to do any work, because he's off all of the meds. She said: well have him do it over the week-end. I said: I beg your pardon, but I will try and get him to do his work over the week-end but I am not wasting my week-end fighting over homework. I too only have two days to rest. I also explained that there is a very good reason why I didn't go into teaching: I don't know how to teach!!!

Soooo... bottom line.... she said she was going to try and call his doctor on Monday (good luck if he calls back, it usually takes him weeks to return my calls) and talk to the school board and will get back to me on Monday afternoon.

I also told her, very clearly, that I want options and solutions from her... not the status quo which is going no-where.

What really, really gets me through all of this is that we've been asking for accommodations for him, for YEARS. Unfortunately, in our district, they favor integrating special needs children in the regular classroom. And they do not believe in gifted education. The idea behind the integration in the regular classroom is that they will get aids. However, in practice, they only provide aides for those who have learning difficulties. Since he's ahead, he doesn't qualify. I've been telling them, for years, that that doesn't work, that it's like asking a paraplegic to walk, just because the others can!!!

What really angers me is that there is, with a very high IQ and, at the rate we're going, he's going to be a HS drop-out!!! And there's my DD who, in the 1st grade, is not even performing at the same level he was BEFORE he started Kindergarten, and the world's the limit for her because she's a model student. So, or so it seems to me, these days, to succeed, you do not need intelligence... as a matter of fact, you're better off with less of it.... you need to know how to behave!!!! I thought school was about teaching and learning.... not about staying in your corner and not saying boo!!!

Sooooo, during the night, I also figured out that if they are waiting for him to show interest in school (they want him to behave like any other child (told them he couldn't... but they're now saying "I" said he could.... must have been in another personality that day) and they want him to do all of his assigned work), then I'm going to insist on assignments being well explained and easy for us to identify whether or not it's been done.... they way it's been assigned, we, the parents can't figure it all. And... I'm going to insist that a good try is appreciated... because that's NOT what they're doing. There he is, doing most of his work, and being slammed because one or two assignments are not done!!!

Sorry to be sooooo long-winded on this, but I've had it!!! There we are, the year before HS and we still don't know where we're going as far as HS is concerned. I also challenged the principal about this, because I know of others who's children are younger and they know where and how it's going to be addressed in HS and here we are, at the door, and still in the dark. In this really insightful principal replied: Oh, that's because that kid must have special needs. I replied: oh? you mean my son doesn't have special needs? Strange... I thought we'd just spent the last 1/2 hour discussing his special needs!!!

Sooooo.... my friends.... please so that we can come to a viable arrangement over this. I just don't want this very tallented and bright child to be destroyed by a system that doesn't address his needs.
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  #2  
Unread 11-23-2002, 11:08 PM
Still having problems with my DS - 11 yo, ADHD AND gifted

(((Dany))) what a trial this must be for you. I can relate in a small way, because I have two boys in a very academically challenging private school, and during the early grades both of them have had a rough time, not because they aren't bright (they are gifted as well) but because (being little boys) they couldn't sit still and be quiet for the entire day!

I can't tell you how many times I got phone calls and notes home because one or the other of them had (heaven forbid) run on the playground between classes, or tapped his pencil at his desk in class, or tipped his chair back. Mind you they start at 5 years old (the older one was 4 1/2) and go from 7:45 to 3:30, and other than recess they are expected to stay quiet and orderly the entire day. We're talking about BOYS here!

Finally we are turning the corner... they are now 12 (13 in a couple of weeks) and 9 1/2, and the older one is totally able to focus and stay quiet most of the day (although sometimes in class his enthusiasm gets the better of him and he forgets to raise his hand before speaking, and even though his remarks are totally on subject he gets into trouble). The younger one has learned to curb his urges but I've had to request the school to make some allowances for his nervous energy. Sheesh!

I hope and believe that our boys will be fully functioning, active, productive adults some day, and they will be better off than those placid kids who sit in the corner all day and don't speak or move. Maybe they're just out of sync with expectations right now, and their time will come. Maybe.

s,
-Linda
  #3  
Unread 11-24-2002, 12:43 AM
Still having problems with my DS - 11 yo, ADHD AND gifted

Dany:

Is there some advocate, or ombudsman within the school district who you can enlist?

And, much as I hate to say this, but in the L.A. Unified school district, sometimes it takes getting lawyers involved and lawsuits to get anything done. The school does have a responsibility to meet his needs (although it seems to be becoming apparent that they are not able to in that particular setting). And you will have to go to the district level. Especially this grade, which as you rightly point out is so important.

Your post mentions that he's not on his meds at home. Why not? Is it a problem with his eating? Zach's meds wear off right about the time he gets home, and I'm agitating with his mom and his doctor to extend the hours, so he can get to be "successful" at home and with homework too, not just during the day at school.

Dany, sweetie, it sounds like you've exhausted the "nice parent" mode with this particular school. I don't know the Canadian system, of course, but the legal system should provide you with some remedy to get your DS what he needs, whether it's tutors, aides in the classroom (there's a kid in my DD's highly gifted class who cannot function without his aide, he's SOO severely ADHD) or whatever.

At one point, you said that you had been involved with a parents' group -- that it was outside your immediate community -- any way to get back into touch with them, and find out if anyone has tried legal challenge in the face of the problems you are encountering? It just sounds like it's time. They need to find some way to accomodate this...whether it's bussing into another community to a special school, providing him with home tutoring, or an aide, or just trying a different school where the prejudices aren't quite so ingrained.

I have to tell you, Zach (as you know) got thrown out of his highly gifted magnet school at the end of fourth grade because of behavior problems and not getting any assignments done. This year, in a regular population but with an individualized plan and medication (finally!) he was named "Student of the Month". That's the first time he's ever been successful at school. It's the fourth school for him, but they're working with him and with his mom, to get him the support he needs. And hopefully he can start middle school (which presents some incredible challenges for this sort of child) with some foundation of success under his belt.

It seems as though you'll have to get even MORE pro-active, probably to the point of being adversarial, so that you don't lose this school year entirely. With a mind like your DS' that would be an incredible shame .

Dany, your DS and you are never far from my thoughts...I've wondered how it was going. But it's time to pull out some bigger guns than just a mom going to the principal. You need someone to fight for you, someone with a bigger sword and more clout, to get your son what he so clearly needs and deserves...an education...



Audrey
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  #4  
Unread 11-24-2002, 07:56 PM
Still having problems with my DS - 11 yo, ADHD AND gifted

((((Linda)))))) and (((((Audrey))))) thank you sooooo much for your kind words and insight

Linda: I can't believe how strict your sons' school is I know that "I" wouldn't have been able to be that quiet and I'm not a boy and not hyperactive. Must be really hard on your little guys. Sounds like they're doing wonderfully, though. You must be sooooo proud of them.

(((((Audrey))))) You and Zack are never far from my thoughts either I'm soooo happy he's doing better this year. What a difference medication and a nurturing environment makes.

MA's not on meds in the evening because he has a very hard time sleeping as it is. In fact, he's on Trazodone in the evening, to help him sleep. Otherwise, I'd try for the meds after school, to give him a chance to do his homeworks.

I really have no idea where we go from here and I'm getting ready for the battle. I'll know more tomorrow. The problem is this new principal: she's new at it, has a very unrealistic view of things (we found that out on the PTA as well, when she casually brushed off a few things and a few of us came out of it with an unfinished feeling). She just thinks that he should function at the same levels as the other kids... or that we should accept that he's not in school if he doesn't.

I'll have to look into the possibility of umbundsman or advocate... but I don't know of any. The problem is, that in the Province of Quebec, the Health system AND the school system fundings have simply been depleted and all are throwing the ball in each other's court. If I have to higher a lawyer, I really don't know how we're going to manage: things are very tight as it is. However, we're ready to fight for his rights and, while we're at it, for other children's rights. We're also ready to take this to the papers. I think it's gone on for too long as it is and that it's time that school system wakes up and works with these children, instead of expecting the children to fit their man-made molds.

As far as the CHADD chapter goes, I doubt it could be very helpful: it's located in Ontario and the laws and approaches are different there. For one thing, they have gifted and special ed programs, unlike our area that believes in lumping children all together. That makes advocating from one area to the other a lot harder. What we have in our area is a very ineffective organization, AQUETA, a provincial organization that has not been too successful at starting support groups for parents. So far, the only thing they've succeeded at is a very expensive day camp. They have them in the summer and on Saturdays throughout the Winter months. MA attended one year, and liked it. He went for a second year, and found himself with severely handicapped children and refused to go after that. And I don't blame him: it only served to lower self-esteem even further.

The thing is that I'm getting sooooo fed-up with all of it.... and tired..... and depressed and I really feel like I'm fighting wind-mills... it's all been sooooo useless.

I'll know more tomorrow, when the principal promised to call me and I won't settle for the status quo. I'm ready to compromise... to point... but they'll have to compromise too.
  #5  
Unread 11-26-2002, 02:06 PM
Update :(

Soooo.... we met with the school this morning and he's suspended. Turns out that he was turning violent... I don't doubt this, I know he needs anger management counselling.... however, I also know that he never used to be violent and that he was never the instigator... I think that, somehow, something in the way they handled him told him that this was the type of behavior they expected from him ..... Because of this, he was putting everyone in a situation of liability, where they could be sued. Bottom line? They're all to scared to have him in school, so he's suspended.

Where it gets a little better is that we were very clear that we want a tutor for him and they are going to provide this, starting next week. I also was very clear that I really don't think that a Group Home placement is out of the question. That we've Been There, Done That and that, in the end, it didn't do much good. I also got them to admit that the only 1 and 1/2 year that he performed well was when he had male teachers. The "shrug-it-off" principal said: so what, we live in an era of women teachers. However, again, I was very clear that all research points to the fact that these children, and that goes for a majority of special needs children, respond best to male authority.

All in all, I'm left with a bittersweet feeling: On the one hand, I figure that he's going to get help and that things might improved. I'm not pleased with the fact that he's home all day and, to be honest, neither is he. He's bored and he's frustrated. However, if he gets a good tutor, things might very well improved.

I'm also contemplating starting a movement so that these kids get the help they need. The root of the problem is that he was put in the regular classroom, with very limited help. Yes, there was a Special Ed Technician available, but he was not with him, in the classroom. That's what he needs. The sad part is that he would have received that help if he'd had problems learning on the accademic side, which is a blaring descrimination against gifted children

Sooooo.... on we go.... and we'll try to make the best of this. Thanks for being there, dear friends , and for letting me vent and rant in this way.... it helps to get it off my chest and to
think it through. And if, through all of this mess, I can help another family from going through this hardship, well, I won't feel like it was such a waste of time, for all of us. And maybe, just maybe, that wonderful little boy of mine will come through all this and succeed as a functional adult.
  #6  
Unread 11-26-2002, 02:26 PM
Still having problems with my DS - 11 yo, ADHD AND gifted

Dany he can, you've got to believe that so HE can believe it. He's probably also soooooo tired of getting negative feedback and hearing about what a problem he is, that at school he may just throw up his hands and figure that if they're going to see him that way, he might as well live up (or down) to their expectations. I know that having him home all day isn't what would work best for you, but maybe for now it's better for him than being in an environment where the deck (attitudinally speaking) is stacked against him.

I have every hope that the tutor will make a big difference. I hope it's a male tutor! I never really thought about that until you said it, but both of my boys like female teachers better but perform better with male teachers. It probably is the male authority figure thing. Being a single mom I am too used to being the "female authority figure" to consider what it's like for them when they're in a different setting.

I admire your tenacity and passion in this situation, I know it can really wear you down. I'm sure whatever you decide to do in terms of trying to make some more global changes, it will benefit others who come after you as well as your (((DS))).
Hang in there, mom!

-Linda
  #7  
Unread 11-26-2002, 04:27 PM
A question:

Dany:

A thought that came to my mind as I was driving today, and thinking of you: doesn't your DS start middle school next year? If I were you (and Margot is doing this with Zach this year too), I would go to the middle school this year, and try to find out what they're going to be able to do to accomodate his special needs. Speak with both the gifted coordinator (hoping there is one) and with the special ed coordinator. And, if there is a school psychologist, get to know them. In short, get to know them all NOW. They may well be able to help your tutor plan a curriculum that properly prepares him for middle school, as well as work out a plan of action for the very different psycho-social-academic requirements he will be facing this next year.

As far as the legal front, I don't know how Canadian law works. But here, I know that poor families can still somehow find attorneys that work with them for school issues such as yours. It does take significant knowledge of the law on your part as well, , but you'll be dealing with this for some years to come, so following the law and legal rights (which of course the school is not going to give you -- if they even know what the laws are, which they may not) will help enormously...

Dany, please know that you are always in my thoughts. I've started researching some of this for Zach, and will keep you in mind as I do my searches...and share whatever I can find...

-- I know it's not enough, but it will have to do, for now...

Audrey
  #8  
Unread 11-26-2002, 07:39 PM
Still having problems with my DS - 11 yo, ADHD AND gifted

Thanks for the feedback, (((((Audrey)))))) and (((((Linda))))))

Linda: yes, the male authority thing is both amazing and terribly downing to the authoritative, equalitarian females in us.... makes you re-thinking this whole "men and women" are equal theory. I still think we're equal... just not in the same manner BTW, you're quite right about him living down to their expectations. However, they both don't believe it and won't admit it. And, to them, because they were expecting the same things from as they are from the other kids, and then he didn't rise to the occasion, it's just proving them right and us wrong. They simply don't get it.

Audrey: Our system really stinks, where preparing for the future is concerned. I actually found out today that they planned to just send him on to high school, without any accommodations, or at least much less than one he has now. That all goes with this "let's integrated this special needs kids in the mainstream" idea. If anything, this year's unravelling might open their eyes to his needs.. something that would not have happen otherwise.

I just find it all very frustrating that we had to get it down to crisis management... again!!! And he's the one sufferring in all this, just because they didn't do their homeworks in the same manner I did. Of course, my motivation was different: I was fighting for my child, he's just one child among many.

I just feel sooooo guilty through all of this: I keep thinking that if I hadn't called last Friday, and insisted that they re-instate him in the program, he would still be going in twice a week.... now, we're stuck with him at home. And this means that, on December 17th, one of us will have to book the day off, 'cause MIL has all day testing at the hospital... since DH has taken lots of days off lately, to be with the kids, I guess it will have to be me .... me and my big mouth.... but I just had to right this wrong and to confirm that the principal was expecting the impossible.
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