11 January, 2012 12:17

It’s not been a good week for my son. While it may be the third day of the week, it’s also the third day I’ve received a phone call from him to let me know he’s staying after school because of late assignments. The count is up to five.

His teacher talked to me today. "He needs to take responsibility." "This is not going to work out going into the fifth grade." "He is belligerent." and on and on she went. I want to interrupt her and shout, "You know he’s ADHD, right??!!" I don’t know what else to do right now, hands tied and at work, so I write and hope you will understand.

After our meeting a month ago, things are no better. They are no worse, except for this week. While the teachers agreed that assigning my son a "buddy" to go over his assignment book to make sure it is complete (a total of five minutes would probably need to be dedicated to this concession), this has not been done. We do an inventory of the backpack when we pick him up from school. If the assignment book has nothing written on it, we have no idea if when he tells us just the worksheet is due if it really IS just the worksheet that is due.

I try hard not to doubt every thing he tells us. It’s not fair to him, but obviously it’s not fair to us, or to his class, or to his teacher, but god, this cannot go on.

Before I even dialed my husband, I called the school psychologist. And cried. I plead with him to help us get Doodicus the help HE needs. I hiccuped to him as I told him that Doodicus is a good kid. He’s not deliberately trying to get into trouble and that I’m sure all of his parents tell him that their kid is a good kid at heart and that "they just can’t help themselves!"

You know what he said? He said that most parents do NOT say that when they call him for help. Parents do not stick up for their kids, and my heart broke even more.

The impression I got from his teacher during our ever-so-brief phone call is that Doodicus is a burden to her. That she doesn’t have time to dedicate the time that is required when you have a student who most days is perfectly "normal" so that when he is disruptive and non-compliant, he’s too much to help through. Sparring Partner and I have talked in the past that maybe he DOES need to be in the public school system to get the IEP help he obviously needs RIGHT. NOW. but we see things improve and we stop worrying. Until something like this hits the fan at the private educational level.

I feel selfish for even contemplating the future and how I dread all the problems that come with our local public schools. I feel like a pile of shit for hesitating because I *just* got Aitch enrolled at pre-K at his school. I know she will excel, but that means my son will not. If I reverse the situation, there’s no guarantee that my son would flourish while Aitch would not, right? Maybe they both will be very happy. But of course, they both may be miserable.

This is so hard. As I paced the hallway of the office building I work in, which was the only way to have "privacy", I cried and blubbered on the phone. The psychologist said he would look into getting Doodicus into the handicapped program and now I start the crying afresh. He’s just ADHD, right?? That’s not a handicap!! His "friends" will label him. The teachers will refer to him as "THAT kid". I will wonder if he will ever reach the point of self-sufficiency when he reaches adulthood. How will he get a degree? A job?

And I feel helpless. Like I can never do enough. I feel like I haven’t done enough. And then I remind myself to stop being a self-centered whiner and think about how my son feels right now. He’s aware that the school has the option to expel him and he has to sit in the classrooms and wonder when the other shoe will drop and if we stopped loving him for something he can’t really control. My heart is breaking because I cannot and will not stop loving him.

22 thoughts on “11 January, 2012 12:17”

  1. I am so f*ing irritated for you right now. Having three kids go from k-12 we have had lots and lots of teachers. (In our system starting in 2nd grade the kids have more than one teacher, by high-school it is usually 6-8 different teachers each year). Out of all of those teachers, probably 1/4 actually wanted to be there. Most were burned out, or teaching because of some long gone sense of something. We like to believe that teachers are *better* than most. We like to believe they choose teaching because….well, they actually want to teach. It’s not true in many cases. (Teachers reading this, don’t get pissed. You know there are other teachers down the hall that you would like to send packing).

    I am not a label person, but damn it if one of my kids needs help don’t you dare ignore me. I had teachers tell me to start ADD meds, I had others tell me ADD is all bullshit and they didn’t “believe in it” that the kids were just not trying or were lazy. Those teachers are lucky I didn’t kick their asses.

    In most cases it is far easier to have a child with a disability that shows. You know, needing physical assistance etc. If it shows, it has to be real. If it’s a learning disability there is no visible ‘proof’ and is poo-pooed as not being real.

    If you have him in private school for a better education, well, it doesn’t seem to be happening. Unless your public schools are horrid I wouldn’t dismiss sending him there. The stress to perform where he is has to be awful. Can you imagine sitting at work all day knowing your boss thinks you are a lazy underachiever while smiling and praising all your coworkers? It would be the equivalent to what Doodicus must be feeling.

    At any rate NO teacher should ever deny any student the extra help he needs. That kind of person isn’t a teacher, it’s just someone collecting a paycheck and accepting the accolades for the success of the kids that don’t need guidance.
    (and yes, I DO have friends that are teachers, and yes they DO know exactly how I feel)

  2. Sorry to hear that you and Doodicus are going through this. I would balk at the handicap status, ADHD itself isn’t a “handicap” and the school and teacher should be doing more, IMO, to help with this issue.

    Wish I had more to help.

  3. In the long run, your son will remember you as going to bat for him. In the long run, that teacher’s opinion of you doesn’t matter one bit. PUSH for what he needs. Get bitchy if you need to. Call them out. Tell the teacher that maybe she doesn’t think he’s a burden to her but her comments make it sound like she feels that way and that’s not acceptable. They can’t classify him as “handicapped” just because the teacher is lazy – that’s effed up.

  4. I’m afraid I have nothing helpful to say. I just feel angry, so VERY angry that the teacher is not doing anything to help Doodicus. HE needs to take responsibility? What about HER responsibilities as a teacher?! It is her job to teach the kids in her class. It is NOT Doodicus’ job to make her life easier as a teacher by trying to do things her way. She not only doesn’t understand ADHD. She doesn’t understand what it means to be a teacher.

    1. I’ve said the same thing in my mind, “It is NOT Doodicus’ job to make her life easier as a teacher…” I wonder if she thinks it’s my son’s life goal to make things harder for her? Why not believe that while my son can’t plan and organize his life five minutes from now that his master plan all along has been to be a pain in HER ass throughout the entire school year. GRRRRrrrrr!

  5. {{{Dawn}}}

    The Chieftain doesn’t have ADHD but the daily struggles are, none the less, somedays utterly overwhelming. And IEPs are, well. I haven’t had a panic attack. Yet.

  6. I’m with S – where’s that homework buddy?

    I know the school isn’t entirely responsible for him, but when you’ve tried to work out a plan, and they don’t follow it, what do they expect to happen?

    I hope you can find a solution that works for all of you – it sounds like the stress might be an added factor for Doodicus.

    1. When I asked the teacher about the buddy, I felt like she was thinking I deflecting blame back to her. Maybe I was, but I really felt as if they had let my son down. We were all at the meeting. THEY suggested it. So why it wasn’t implemented, I don’t know.

      I was talking to my boss about it tonight and he asked if there were any other kids in my son’s class with ADHD. Of course, we don’t know, but his point was that even if there were one or two others, the teacher’s responsible for getting the kids the right support. They all can’t be lumped together. Does she make the advanced kids stick to the average levels? No. So why make the kids who are behind work up, if you don’t make the advanced kids work down?

  7. No words to offer, but I just wanted to let you know this breaks my heart too. I hope you can find some ways to make it easier/better on all of you.

  8. I have a few tricks that you could suggest to your son’s teacher. I taught fifth grade for a year and a half, and am on leave from teaching 8th grade. There ARE other things you can try to motivate him. For what it’s worth, there are kids who struggle with homework completion in every class. It comes with the territory. Is it inconvenient? Sure. But I can’t believe that you aren’t getting more compassion from the teacher. This is, after all, her job.

    Try giving him a bright red folder, and put a sign off sheet on the front. When she gives an assignment, have him put the worksheet or materials in the folder, and have her sign off on the folder at the end of each day. SHE should also sign off on his assignment notebook at the end of each day. Praise him up and down when he has his materials and his notebook signed off, and you can even come up with an external reward or points system for having both the folder and assignment book completed and signed. At the end of each night, have him put his completed work back in his folder and sign off on the folder and the notebook. That way the teacher will know that you know what he should be doing, he will know that you AND the teacher are on the same page (very important), and you will be abreast of what is due and be able to have more confidence that he will have what he needs to do his work each night. Just a suggestion, but this has worked well for me in the past.

    1. This is a great idea and one they haphazardly would start at the beginning of each year, grades 1 -3. The teachers in the past would check each kid’s assignment book to make sure they had written it down. This year…THIS teacher, feels that he isn’t learning responsibility if she continues to check his assignment book. That he’s not getting ready for the fifth grade. She keeps telling me how much she likes my son and how she wants him to succeed, but it has to be on her terms. She actually wrote in her note to me that he “needs to get his act together.”

      1. That annoys the living shit out of me because it clearly shows me she has no idea how ADHD works; and 2) it’s like she thinks all the other times she has told us that he needs to get it together, we’ve ignored her. I want to ask her what she thinks I’ve been trying to do with him for the past six years he’s been going to school (2 yrs of pre-k)? Does she really think that SHE is the one to whip him into shape in 9 months when no one in the past has?? I want to smack her.

  9. Addressing your concerns on adulthood…I sometimes worry too…on the other hand some of the things that they get in trouble for in school are actually assets in the real world. And some of the stuff you are talking about changes is with maturity (I have seen this in my own son).

    Also, we have been exploring groups outside of school and doctor’s offices for social skills therapies, etc. M just started one with a group of 11-13 year olds (all boys) who have similar issues and they are learning how to work within societies “norms”.

    In the end–you got a smart, quirky kid on your hands (I can tell you know that!) and he will do fine–especially if he has a mother like you! 🙂

  10. I am so sorry that you are experiencing this! As a public school teacher myself, let me assure you that there are good ones out there. I always asked for the students with ADHD because I have it myself and I understand their unique nurturing needs. Try to be positive — if you make the move, the “label” will help him…and in the public schools, they MUST listen to your needs and concerns and they MUST meet Doodicious’s needs. Take heart — it might not be as bad as you think. also — if you make the move, have the Psychologist accompany you to the IEP meetings. You might also have hime go with you to meet the Principal before you enroll Doodicious so that you can choose a teacher who will take the time (and want to take the time) to help your son be successful.

  11. Ouch! That fucking sucks! This ADHD business is hard. You know your kid is smart and you know he wants to be good and fit in, but just can’t. It’s so unfair to him and you and everyone. I wish there was an easy answer, like switch class or something like that (which, duh, if there was, you’d have already been on it), but hopefully the school psych will be able to work out a solution that gets Dood the help he needs without another label…

  12. Ok, I don’t know that I have anything reassuring to say, but I think you are doing enough! The fact that you stick up for and by him speaks volumes.
    As for the school and teacher, if they haven’t kept their part of the deal (homework buddy for example), then how can they expect your son to? By not doing so, THEY are setting him up to fail.
    I don’t know if it would be good or not, but can you share some of what you wrote here to him, so that he knows you are on his side? You probably have already let him know that, I’m guessing.

  13. Okay. I wanna punch the teacher out. Really. I am so angry for you and your son right now…and I really am trying to be good and objective for ya.

    From the perspective of being in the public school system, I can say that IEPs do help a lot and I do feel like I have the backing of the system (generally). M has had some teachers that have been pretty “put out” by him, but generally, the system has been proactive, especially in Middle School.

    Fourth grade was the hardest by a long shot–and I totally understand your frustrations. I do think this is a time where the school is failing you and him. Is there a way you can get an advocate involved?


    1. So far it seems that my only advocate is the school district’s one and only psychologist. He’s been empathetic, but really hesitate to push for the handicap status. He said if we did, Doodicus would be only the second ADHD to be declared. I don’t know if that’s really a good thing or a bad thing.

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