I am new to these boards and really admire the support system here. I am reaching out to you tonight to give me a thoughtful and honest opinion on my mission for my son to receive an IEP and help from the public school he is attending.
A little bit about my son he a 9 year old 3rd grader with an A/B average and has been formally diagnosed with ADHD , Anxiety Disorder, and Manic Depression. He as a person is full of zest and has a heart the size of the universe, he has trouble making friends but when he does make a friend he keeps them. He loves to go to school and he loves success.
Our lil situation, despite my sons Mr.Wonderful personality he tends to get into a ton of trouble at school and at home :( . He has been sent to the principals office 3 times since June for stealing, lying, and not doing his homework. The teachers say that he acts out in class, goes out of his way to lie, he gets to pull cards for getting his homework done, and not participating in large group discussions. My son comes home and tells me that he doesn't have enough time to jot his home work assignments down before class moves on to the next subject and that sometimes he only gets part of it down. He also tells me that when the teachers is talking he only gets the first half of what she is saying and by time he " looks back at the board she is talking about something completely different". When he goes to snack time he all ways forgets his snack and is really hungry in the middle of class. One day he came home with out his "agenda" in his binder ( where it is suppose to permanently stay) he interpreted " Students put your agendas up and turn to pg..." as " Students take your agendas out and put them away some where else". He was so upset because he had all of his homework written down in it but couldn't understand why he had to leave it at school! Last year it was the same problems but much worse the teacher worked with me and we got through the year just fine but she said that testing for and IEP ( individualized education program) was pointless because they would turn him down immediately because of his grades.
This year I met with his teachers and literally got the grade books thrown at me. I told them what my concerns were and asked them if they would do simple things in the classroom such as move him to the front of the room, pay attention for day dreaming and tap on his desk if needed, give the eye to mouth signal to help him focus, sign agenda, and give him a homework buddy. I got nothing but an attitude from these teachers and finally a reluctant agreement to sign the agenda and move his desk. I asked them if they thought that he needed a referral for any help outside of the classroom and I was looked at like I was a out of line child.
My family members think I shouldn't pursue the testing for an IEP and any other kind of legal action just because they think that it wouldn't make a difference and that it is a waste of time because he is making good grades, the teachers seem to feel this way too but I feel like he needs help ...am I just being an overly proactive parent in this? Should I just leave it at that and not pursue any thing else?
This is evidently bothering me to the point of discussing it at 1:30 AM ... HELP
I personally think you're being a diligent parent. And if he has actual diagnoses, you could argue the point that he qualifies for a 504 (similar in that they have to accommodate but they usually use IEP/504 incorrectly and most schools use 504s for a medical diagnosis).
Your son is not learning the study skills and classroom attention skills he's going to need by the time he gets to middle and high school--where he'll potentially (although maybe not) get blindsided. It doesn't matter what his grades are now--he's not functioning well in the classroom and just because he's capable of pulling off decent grades doesn't mean he's doing alright.
You know, is it possible that he is gifted? I would actually seriously consider that. Between the behavior, the emotional stuff and his ability to carry off an A/B average despite these things--it lines up. You'd need to speak to a good psychologist for that but I think you should strongly consider this even if you don't really see it. Not every kid lines up to the checklist for giftedness but what your describing happens to fit a large portion of gifted kids. The emotional issues with them are significant and they are also frequently misdiagnosed with ADHD.
Last, to help him in the meantime, grab a copy of "Smart But Scattered" by Dawson and Guare. It will help a bit with some of the organization and "executive function" skills.
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For the needs you describe, you need to figure out if he needs an IEP or a 504. The dividing line is if he needs something different in the curriculum (aide support, pull out for different instruction, etc) or a modified environment. 504s are generally easier for schools to swallow.
Start reading on Wrightslaw. Use google with their url in the search box instead of the wrightslaw search box. Start looking for info on 504 vs IEP, and look for the term "functional skills.". If your diagnosis is private, you now need to request, in writing, that the school evaluate him. Outline all the issues you see about how he functions at school. State in the letter that the letter serves as your consent to the evaluation. They are then legally bound to do so within 60 days.
I've spent many, many nights awake and stewing. It's awful to send your kid to school each day knowing the environment doesn't fit.
In the mean time, start a notebook. Note any significant event that pertains to his diagnoses, and save any piece of paper that comes home that illustrates the issues he's having. Add the date in pen to the top. I organize my files as one for returned school work, one for my notes -- including a note of every single conversation and correspondance I have with a teacher or adminstrator about my child, one for report cards and testing data from the school, one for private testing data and reports, and one for printouts of the special ed law -- find the federal law, but then print off the corresponding state law-- and state department of ed policies (my daughter is 2e with a radical subject acceleration, so I have the policies on acceleration and retention, as well as the policies for IEP qualification).
I did a lot of that organization between 2-4 am in the month before we got our IEP. I understand the sleepless anxiety.
Please let us know how things progress. Good luck.
I think your son needs an IEP or 504 plan and some formal plans for helping succeed need to be put in place. This is going to get worse, not better, without accommodations. Life gets more complicated every year, the transition to middle school is especially complex.
Some of his problems, such as not getting the homework assignment written down (which was also an issue for my DD) are really easy to accommodate. Part of the reason to formalize accommodations is so that you don't have to reinvent the wheel every year, or eventually reinvent the wheel every year with 7 new teachers.
I also think that because your son has manic depression, he is inherently at high risk for emotional problems during adolescents and the teen years. Pushing him until he breaks seems like a bad idea. Figuring what he needs to be successful and then forcing the school to provide that seems like the more humane option.
but everything has pros and cons
Welcome kay. You've gotten some great advice so far and I want you to also know there are two other forums here you might want to know about:
You might want to poke in those forums as well and do some additional reading on what has worked for others!
Um, wow. I would be looking for another school. But if this is your only choice I would look into having an advocate with you for meetings. Wrightslaw.com has information on why doing a consult with a special ed attorney may be helpful.
Last year it was the same problems but much worse the teacher worked with me and we got through the year just fine but she said that testing for and IEP ( individualized education program) was pointless because they would turn him down immediately because of his grades.
You need to learn the law; Federal regulations and state law that implements those regulations govern special education services. Go to your dept of ed website and look for a procedural protections guide for parents.
Good grades do not preclude having an IEP under IDEA; it's whether his disability affects his ability to receive FAPE (free and appropriate education). When my ds (8.5yo,--ADHD, Asperger's) started K his teacher thought his behavior issues were primarily due to being bored because he knew most of the curriculum already; his reading level has been about 2.5years ahead of grade level, his grades are good, and the children's hospital eval scored him at above average intelligence. My ds has a more comprehensive IEP in place this year, last year it was only for speech (social reciprocity and pragmatics), as OHI under IDEA; this year his primary 'qualificaiton' is the ASD. 504s may be "easier for schools to swallow" because they do not offer the legal protections that an IEP does.
I recommended getting a copy of "Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy"; the information from the book can be found on their site as well (Table of Contents) and "Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 2nd Edition". All About IEPs is also a good book to read at the beginning of the processes.
Under IDEA/IEP, if your child has a disability that adversely affects educational performance, your child is entitled to an education that is designed to meet the child's unique needs and from which your child receives educational benefit.
A 504 (from section 504 of the American's with Disabilities Act) is helping your child get the same education that everyone else is getting--more for a student that needs accommodations to help them learn (like sitting next to the teacher) or for behavior, and that they are not punished for things that they cannot control due to the ADHD (like needing to work standing up or not sit inside a group).
[A IEP or 504 is not an escalation or punishment for the teacher/school. It's more about getting all appropriate parties involved and on the same page. The student, parent/legal guardian, teachers, principals, Pupil Services administrators, support staff (i.e. nurse, counselor, psychologist, language/speech pathologist) as well as the student's physician or therapist may be involved in the placement process including the 504 meeting.]
You need to "start the clock" in your letter of request; the school has 60 days from the date they received parental consent for a comprehensive evaluation to do the evaluation and 30 days from the evaluation to present it at an IEP meeting (your state may have stricter requirements); your written request should note that this letter is the consent for evaluation. (And, if you did not do it in writing, it never happened!).
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