Thursday, September 25, 2014

Progress No Matter How Small Is Still Progress!

We are only 3 weeks into the school year and already there has been some bumps, but there has also been some progress. I was really worried about Joey going to school without any medications to help him control his ADHD. He had a great day the first few days and I started to feel more comfortable that between his teacher and I we'd find a way to "deal" with Joey's issues until he could be placed back on medicine. That comfort was squashed the week of his intake appointment with the Neuro-psycholigist when he teacher suggested that Joey be placed back on medication until his evaluation. She wasn't sure how she was going to deal with him otherwise, she'd be bald by the end of the week from pulling her hair out just trying to get him to sit and focus on his assignments. Joey wasn't staying at his desk, was very talkative, and mostly plain refused to do majority of his assignments. Everyday we were getting 5-8 assignments sent home to be completed because he just wouldn't do them in class. In less than a week Joey went from thinking he had one of the coolest teacher to thinking that she hated him.

When we went to the intake appointment and the doctor said to keep Joey off the medications at least until after the evaluation, then we could revisit  the need for medication. I asked her what was I suppose to tell his teacher and school psychologist that were pushing for something to help him with his ADHD. Her answer was, to explain that we were trying to get the most accurate evaluation so there would be no medications until after the evaluation. They would have to do the best they could with Joey until we knew more about what was going on with him. Basically she was saying tell them- he's not going back on the meds. Deal with it! (which I totally agree with.)

The down side of having the teacher "deal with" Joey is that his self-esteem really takes a hit. I get that teachers are suppose to treat all the kids equally and that they try, but it doesn't always happen. It's much harder to keep your cool with the kid whom you have to keep redirecting than the ones who follow directions the first time. That when a kid digs in his heel and refuses to any part of his assignment and sits staring at the wall for the 20 minutes instead frustrates the adult in charge. "Dealing with" Joey makes class miserable for all involved, the teacher is frustrated with Joey's lack of cooperation. Joey feels that the teacher is picking on him because she keeps insisting he do the assignment. The rest of the class get distracted by the battle of wills between the teacher and Joey.

Now, I'm not blaming the teacher for not wanting to deal with (or not knowing how to reach) an un-medicated ADHD child; over the summer I was at my wits end more than a few times. I don't know how much experience the teacher has teaching a kid like Joey. I've known Joey his entire life and sometimes I'm at a loss for what to try. What works one day doesn't mean that it will work the next.

I'm a strong believer in the partnership between parent and teacher. I check in with Joey's teacher daily. At first, it looked like I was going to have to gear up to battle for my child. The teacher decided that she wouldn't keep after Joey to get his assignments done and would allow him to either sit and do nothing the whole day or send him down to office until he could better control his behavior. While I feel that if he is feeling overwhelmed that he should be allowed to leave the room and calm down, but he was spending 45 minutes at a time a couple days a week just chilling in the office. Joey is the type of kid that a lot of things are a fine line, sometimes he does just need a break but he'll also take advantage of the chance to just get out of class if he feels its boring. For about a week he'd do minimal schoolwork in class and sat and visited the the school psychologist and secretaries in the office just about every day. Then came home and did all his schoolwork that was suppose to have been done that day. I started feeling like the teacher was just dismissing Joey because he required more time and energy. Every night he'd sit at the table and complete his assignments while I made dinner and cleaned up the kitchen. The whole stack of assignments would be done in less than 45 minutes! I started questioning why he could do the work at home without complaint (or assistance) but could get nothing accomplished in class. Turns out that if Joey didn't think he could finish the whole assignment within the allotted time, he wouldn't bother starting it; at home he was allowed to take all the time he needed. Joey sees a page with 20 math problems and 15 minutes to do them, as less than a minute per problem therefor not enough time to do them all; when in reality he could finish in 10 minutes. Now Joey is getting as much done on each assignment as he can and finishing the remaining couple problems as homework.

Last week Joey has made more progress, granted I had to go hunt down the resources. I started touching base with the school psychologist and resource teacher, just to introduce myself and inform them that we will probably be seeing a lot of each other in the coming months. The resource teacher, we'll call her "Ms. W" suggested that seems Joey likes to move around so much and wander the room and wiggle in his chair that an inflated bubble cushion might help. Joey is allowed to wiggle on the cushion on his chair (as long as he doesn't bounce). She also thought that adding stripes of Velcro on the underside of his desk top that he can run his finger across might be helpful to him. Both of her suggestions have been working well for Joey. Seems he can still move while on the cushion, he is walking around the room less.

Yesterday, I met another resource teacher that apparently Joey has been spending some time in her classroom recently. The boys school is working on MAP testing and the resource teacher happen to be talking with Joey's teacher when she noticed his lack of focus during his test. He has been completing his test in her room, she quickly realized that Joey would more successful taking the test with five other students present than sitting in the class of 30+ and trying to focus. I'm not sure if I've mentioned it, but it takes very little to distract Joey. Joey has also been granted permission a few times to take his assignments into the resource teacher's room to have the extended time to finish them.

Also, yesterday I turned in my request for the school to evaluate Joey for any learning disabilities even though we are are still pursuing the medical evaluation. I also requested that I be granted an advocate for IEP's as I'm not real sure what help is available for him. We still do not have an IEP in place even though we are starting to figure out which accommodations work for Joey. The teachers I have talked to seem to agree that accommodations will be needed. His teacher has agreed to allow Joey to use an AlphaSmart for writing assignments, but has yet to actually let him use it.

I'm not really feeling that his teacher and I are on the same page. While she is going along with the accommodations once one of the resource teacher brings them in the class, she does not seem happy about it. When I talk to her (daily) I get the impressions that she thinks I'm looking for "special treatment" for Joey, which is not the case. I'm just trying to figure out what works best for him so she is not struggling with him all day. I'm hoping she realizes that we are on the same side. I'm trying to lessen her work, not make extra for her.

Joey is still bringing homework home everyday, but it's only a couple of questions per sheet and not near as many sheets. Homework isn't a battle and is completed in less than a half hour (compared to the hours it took the first couple weeks). All writing assignments he types on the computer and we attach it to the worksheet to turn in. While he is doing much better, he still has some issues to work on. BUT...he is making progress (however small) while not on any medications!!!!

* I am not against putting any of my children on medication if there is a real need for it. I want to try other non-medical options before returning to medication.