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 Post subject: special education
PostPosted: Tue Sep 18, 2012 5:04 am 
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ol' garly cooch
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Do any of you have children with special needs or who are in special education classes? Talk to me about your strength and experience.

Blasto began preschool a few weeks ago and within the first week, we were contacted by the school with concerns about Blasto's behavior. They won't say it, but they're skirting ADHD. He's undergoing a series of tests and we have a case conference slated for November. If they determine he needs extra help, we'll get some special services. This is cool, but I can't help personalizing all of this and blaming myself for his unruly, and strong willed behavior. He's been this way long before the divorce stuff happened, so I'm not blaming that situation, I'm just feeling that oh-crap feeling about him catching crazy DNA from me and worrying he'll actually be like me emotionally, something I don't want for anyone.

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 Post subject: Re: special education
PostPosted: Tue Sep 18, 2012 6:25 am 
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Addicted to B12 Enemas
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Hi, both my children (husband too and some relatives) have an Aspergers diagnosis. My son was an angelic child but when he started kindergarten (from age 3.5 to 4.5) he showed some serious behavioural problems which were put down to being ourt fault. Out of that social environement there were zero social problems. Do NOT blame yourself. We ended up getting assessments done after we withdrew him in disgust (he was treated really badly by the teachers, except for one who turned informer and quit over their treatment of my son and some other kids and is now still a dear friend).

Be careful as ADD/ADHD is mentioned as a sort of a catchall phrase for any 'difficult' behaviour. I have seen so many kids be medicated unnecessarily when, in some cases it all came down to things like Aspergers, or a food sensitivity, auditory processing difficulties, or a highly intelligent child who is bored, Sensory Processing/Integration probs, to name a few). ADHD was thrown around when the kindergarten were discussing my son and there is no way on earth my son has ADHD but unfortunately it seems to be this one-stop-shop label these days :(

I don't know how assessments work where you are, but if you haven't already, I seriously suggest you look in to the things I've mentioned. I honestly would try and get assessments done to rule out anything that may make a teacher/doctor/etc tell you your child needs to be medicated. I know some of these assessments may sound scary, like Autism Spectrum Disorder, but if you can rule them out, great. If your child gets a diagnosis then you have that starting point.

Sorry if this freaks you out. I've been in your position and when ASD was raised I had trouble processing it. As it turns out, Aspergers runs on both sides of my family and through my son's diagnosis I learned a lot about myself. I pretty much feel duty bound to mention this, only because of the number of preschool kids getting labelled/diagnosed as ADHD, medicated and then down the track they realise the diagnosis and medication was wrong.

Always be his advocate. I kick myself still for not advocating more and being stronger when my son was in preschool. I feel the guilt that had I been firmer with the kindergarten, some things would be different (my son remembered things that happened there for years and they caused anxiety).

Again, sorry if this freaks you out and if I sound like I am preaching. It all got better in the end, but boy did other people make our lives difficult (or try to... when I became more confident I was able to stand firm and not let myself be pushed around by therapists or anyone).


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 Post subject: Re: special education
PostPosted: Tue Sep 18, 2012 7:51 am 
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Addicted to B12 Enemas
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I forgot to add that I would also get an IQ assessment done if possible, because tests like the WPPSI can pick up both areas of strength and difficulty. If the examiner is a person who really knows their stuff, they can also note down things like concentration, interaction, social dialogue etc as well as the actual test stuff. My son's IQ test was thrown in as part of the assessment but if we had it done any other way it would have cost $600 minimum (in Australia). So if there's any chance you can have it done, I'd definitely go for it.

Best of luck to you :)


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 Post subject: Re: special education
PostPosted: Tue Sep 18, 2012 8:53 am 
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Seagull of the PPK
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does your state have a parent advocacy group? i used to be involved in our state's Parent Information Network, and a great part of what we did was parent advocacy in special ed evals/IEPs (indiv education plans)/meetings. Often just simply support, someone else who'd gone through it before to be there by your side, to strategize before meetings and interpret what really happens, as it's a whole new world of processes, vocabulary and legality.

My kid got in through early intervention (right after birth, more or less), but then transitioned to the district. We had her in a special school due to the severity of her medical issues, but the process was the same as if we had her in a typical classroom, as the school district paid for the special school (your child's right is to a Free and Public Education appropriate to his needs, assuming you can convince the district to pay for it).

Aside from getting yourself in with whatever resources your state offers (and i'm sure there must be a group there, pm me if you can't find it, i'll get in touch with my old colleagues to find out what their national network suggestion is), i have a few suggestions:
-as a special needs parent, the following were super helpful to me:
*keep a notebook especially for Blasto's stuff. Record all doctor's visits, evaluations, etc. Any questions that come up. Any relevant data. When you go to the neuropsych, for example, you'll be all stressed out and you may forget to ask the questions you really want to ask. Keeping everything recorded also shows the doctors and district that you are serious, you are not going to let things slip. Even record every phone call, letter, etc with the state, just in case.
*see if you can get a trusted friend to come to the school district meetings with you (whether you get an advocate or not.). It is really intimidating to come into the meeting and see a whole table full, especially if you and the district do not have the same vision of what your child needs. Bring your backup.
*be extra nice to the secretaries and assistants and receptionists- whether it's for psych evals or school district stuff, these (usually) ladies hold the keys to the kingdom and often can really save your asparagus or- conversely- make your life really difficult.
*be as professional as possible in every dealing with the district and the doctors. I found we got very different treatment if I wore a suit to a meeting with them than if i went in my normal slummin' togs [rude, patronizing and presumptive, but in my experience true], for example. Same with communications. Consider it a role you might have to play to get what your kid needs. In their defense, lots of these professionals deal with parents who are quite rude, and so i suppose they expect the worst.
*learn the terminology, look at http://nichcy.org/schoolage/keyterms
*just to emphasize- DOCUMENT EVERYTHING

as a teacher, who advocated for my advisees with special needs:
*don't let the special needs or IEP process make you feel bad about your kid. I had several kids with LDs who could have totally benefited from extra test taking time, or using a laptop, or easy interventions. The parents were afraid of the stigma of LD going on their "permanent record" and avoided interventions, and at least two kids dropped out of high school, which was a damn shame.
*don't assume everyone you meet in the IEP/special ed process is out to screw you. Some might be, but most are on your (kid's) team.

Don't be pushed into anything you're not comfortable with. And you can't catch crazy!!

Go to the library and get Molly Ringwald's Parenting in Captivity, or listen to her thing on the Moth, you might feel better. Let me know if I can get you any resources.
you might want to check out http://www.seriweb.com/ as well.... i have lots of resources and don't want to overwhelm you, but really believe that the better prepared you are, the better you and Blasto will do.

Big hugs and take it easy, wookie mama.

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 Post subject: Re: special education
PostPosted: Tue Sep 18, 2012 9:13 am 
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Semen Strong
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Wow, torque, I love you.

I just wanted to add my hugs and love and support for you and Blasto. I don't know if that makes you feel any better, but my husband's brother had an ADHD diagnosis and went to a special school because of it, but is a very funny and successful adult. Seriously, he is one of those amazing sparkling people whom everyone knows and adores. He noticed that sugar was a big trigger for him, so he now eats a sugar-free diet, and that has helped him stay more evenkeeled.

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 Post subject: Re: special education
PostPosted: Tue Sep 18, 2012 9:19 am 
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Sick of Cupcakes
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Everybody gets DNA from their parents. It's not your "fault" any more than his eye color or the length of his toes is your fault! I'm sorry I'm so far away because I would totally go with you to the meeting, but pretend I'm in your pocket, okay? If you want to talk with me more about this, let me know...I know a good bit about working in the special ed system; I was in it myself as a kid and I've supported other people going through it. <3

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 Post subject: Re: special education
PostPosted: Wed Sep 19, 2012 2:13 pm 
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jewbacca: If you are unfamiliar with what happens at a "case study" meeting, I can fill you in - at least on what is supposed to happen. The "wrights law" website also has good information. Did you already have a "Domain" meeting?

Definitely keep all the documentation. You can also ask for reports ahead of the meeting. In my district we aim to send things home a week in advance. It gives parents a chance to read through things and call us with questions so you aren't quite as overwhelmed at the meeting. I'm sure they'll get you a draft ahead if you ask nicely and say you'd like some time to process. There are so many terms that the school throws around and forgets that parents don't always know what they are talking about. It can be really overwhelming, but always stop and ask questions. Also you can always take paperwork home to look over before you sign anything. In general, all special ed paperwork only goes into effect 10 days after the meeting (you can sign to waive the 10 day wait period).

This might not apply to you, but please remember the school and therapists are supposed to be on the same team as you. The whole purpose of the process is to get your kiddo what he needs. Hopefully they don't come across as blaming you. And hopefully you don't blame them as well. It is so hard when parents (or advocates) come in ready for a fight.

Teachers aren't really allowed to say ADHD, they might ask if you've ever talked about it with your doctor. But since they aren't doctors they can't make a medical diagnosis, which is why they bring up things like attention, executive functioning, etc. Meds do help a lot of kids, but so do sensory breaks, move & sit cushions, velcro under tables, fidget toys, eliminating artificial dyes in the diet, getting more sleep at night. Meds are generally the last thing to try if all else fails.

Good luck


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 Post subject: Re: special education
PostPosted: Wed Sep 19, 2012 3:29 pm 
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The Real Hamburger Helper
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chiveggie wrote:

This might not apply to you, but please remember the school and therapists are supposed to be on the same team as you. The whole purpose of the process is to get your kiddo what he needs. Hopefully they don't come across as blaming you. And hopefully you don't blame them as well. It is so hard when parents (or advocates) come in ready for a fight.

Good luck


This is my experience as well. Getting services is not a bad thing, it is meant to get kids back on track.


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