Monday, November 10, 2014

Update on Joey

I have been meaning to sit and write another update on what has been going on with Joey, but things keep happening and I push off the post so I can include everything. Well, this won't have everything included in it, as I have his first IEP meeting on Wednesday and we get the feedback from his psycho - neurological evaluation on Friday, but this will catch everyone up some.

A few weeks ago I was helping out in the boys' school's book fair. My boys were so excited I was there and could spend their lunch breaks with them. Halfway through the week Joey asked me to go outside for lunch recess with him and I told him I really needed to get back to the fair, I wish I would have went to recess with him. After being back at the fair for about 10 minutes I see Joey walking down the hall crying, he should have been at recess. When I went to see why he wasn't on the playground, he told me that he had to sit in the principal's office and wasn't allowed outside with the other kids. According to the story Joey told me he was chasing some girls around the playground and the girls collided. Both girls and two of their friends told the recess aid that Joey smacked one in the face and punch the other one. Joey does have his moments when he'll strike out, usually at his brothers, but never a girl. After the principal couldn't get Joey to change his story and confess to hitting the girls, the principal called the school psychologist in to get Joey to "tell the truth". Usually if you confront Joey a few times he'll back track and tell you the truth (if he is lying). The principal also pulled me from the book fair for a meeting about the zero tolerance policy. During our meeting that lasted over an hour Joey was left sitting and crying in the office thinking he was in trouble. The principal confessed that no one really knows what happened on the playground, for no adults seen what happened. They had 4 girls saying assaulted two of the girls and only him saying he didn't do it. They needed to have something to tell the parents of the girls, should they call and ask what was being done with the brute that targeted their sweet little angels. The school's solution was that Joey really should lose his recess for the remainder of the week, but due to his issues that they would allow Joey to have his 20 minutes of recess by himself after the other students have had theirs. They figured Joey would be more of a behavior problem if he was not able to release his extra energy. They called Joey into our meeting and explained that he would still have recess, just that he would have to have his by himself for the safety of the other students, but that he was not being punished. Sounded like a punishment to me, so for the next two days I met Joey on the playground so he would have someone to play with (seems it wasn't a punishment). I'm sorry, but no child is going to burn off energy playing by themselves. Joey still stands by his story that he did not hurt those girls; I believe him. This wouldn't be the first (or last) time Joey got blamed for something by his classmates, just so he would be told to stay away from them because he's weird.

During our meeting the principal and school psyc. advisedme that Joey needs to be on medication. They went so far as to recommend two medications that are not stimulants, because I told them (repeatedly) the stimulants don't work for Joey. It really irks me that these two people (along with his teacher) who have known my child for mere months think they can diagnose and recommend medications for my child. The school psychologist also mentioned that some of Joey's issues and aggression may be coming from home and the way his brothers interact with him! I'm trying to keep in mind that I'm "working with" these people to help my kid, but sometimes....

I said it in my last "Joey update" and I'll say it again medication is not ALWAYS the answer! I just had a conversation with the boys' doctor about the school's push to medicate Joey. There are many cases where the schools will not allow students back into class until the parents have the child on medication. So the parents put their kid on the meds the school (where no one has a medical degree) have told them to and the kid gets into the classroom and stabs the teacher with a pencil, when previously the kid was not violent. The side effects of these medication affect people differently.

I'm not ready to resort back to medications. Joey has been doing better physically without them. He actually can fall asleep within a reasonable amount of time and sleeps uninterrupted during the night. He has always had an appetite, but now he is actually gaining weight. He has been on medications for 5 years and still had the same behavioral problems he has now. Granted he sat still a bit more in class, but he wasn't retaining any of the information due to be exhausted from not sleeping. I'm looking into alternatives to medicines. When he was first diagnosed with ADHD I was told our option was medication. Now I know better, I have seen changes in him (as well as my other boys) from removing food dyes, that I didn't even know about until 2 years ago. Which got me thinking what other options are out there we haven't tried. I'm not saying that if he needs medications to help him function that I won't give them to him. I just want to run out any other methods before saying medications are the answer for him.

Two weeks ago I was a gas station and noticed a business called Life Balance across the street. Thinking it may be another place to try to get Joey in for his occupational and behavioral therapies I stopped in. (He's still on waiting lists at two different places) Turns out they do therapies, but just not the kind I thought. They are a brain balance center. While the receptionist explained how they go about balancing one's brain, I started thinking this is too good to be true. It's the simplest thing, my kid sits and plays a video game, reads a book, or whatever, and they put headphones on him. Through the sound waves and some computer it will find what ever imbalance my kid has and will corrected it by making the brain connections that his brain isn't doing on it's own. Here's the catch, it only has an 80% success rate and most people need 12-15 sessions. Each sessions is $100, and most insurance companies won't cover it!! I have heard some about Brain Gym sessions that are all over the place, my friend's son's Choi class offers them to their students. So there seems to be some science behind why this may work (some, but not enough for $100 per session). I vowed to look more into it.

That very same day, I came across a book at the library about brain balancing your child with ADHD, ADD, or Autism. The books claim was it could cure all this things and more. I didn't quite believe that it was going to cure Autism or ADD, but it was an opportunity to get a better understanding of this brain balancing thing is about. I've gotta give the author credit, it makes logical sense that in theory this could work to some degree. I filled out all the checklists and had Joey do the assessments. I figured we'd give it try, after all it was a library book and we could try it for free. While the theory behind it makes sense, some of the exercises don't seem like they would help much other than to get my kid doing regular exercises. How doing 45 sit-ups in a minute in going to balance my kid's brain is beyond me. While others I can see the connection to why they may "balance" my kids. I did learn some interesting things about Joey I never thought check, like his sense is smell is off. Which explains why he will eat weird concoctions of foods or eat just mustard if its on his plate. He's sense of smell effects the way foods taste. There are a series of exercises to do to strengthen his little sniffer. (Actually those exercises were a favorite amongst all my boys.) We are two weeks into the exercises the book recommended for Joey per the results of the checklists and assessments, the book says that he should be mostly if not completely "fixed" by the end of 12 weeks on the program. I'm not expecting to this thing to work as it claims, but it's worth a shot to see if there could be any improvements on Joey's behavior. I'll keep you updated on how well balanced our brains get :)
Joey can now after two weeks identify 9 different smells while blindfold when held 6 inches away from his nose. He has very recently started trying small amounts of new-to-him foods, and liking most of them. Otherwise I have haven't noticed any changes that make the think this could be the Holy Grail for Joey.

A week ago was suppose to be our first IEP meeting and after sending a email to the school psychologist, we decided to push back the meeting until after our neurology appointment. Our IEP was for 10:00 am and the neurology appointment was for 2:45 that same day. I had made phone calls the week prior to the neurology appt. to make sure that the feedback from the psycho-evaluation would be sent to the neurologist by our appt date. I was assured that the results were completed and would be available at our appt. Long story short, the results were not sent to the neurologist and Joey and I wasted over an hour for nothing. Only good thing that came from the appt was the Neuro. told me that she would not prescribe any medications for Joey that if I wanted him on medications I would need to go through the pycho- neurologist. SO when the school called about rescheduling Joey's IEP and if I received the results of the evaluation and were they going to medicate Joey again. I could tell them flat out the Neurologist would not medicate him, and they backed off about when I was going to get him back on his meds. :) Seems Joey is not going back on medications (at this time) it didn't matter if we went ahead with the IEP before hearing the results for the medical evaluation that was done and could just base Joey's plan off what the school concluded. However, depending on what I learn on Friday from the psycho-neurologist I may need to set up for another IEP meeting.

I am excited and scared about our first IEP meeting. I am so very ready for us to figure out what will work for Joey to get more out of his school days. I've nervous because this is new to me. I was part of my nephew's IEP team when he was in my care, but his accommodations and goals were clear and easy to address. Also I knew my nephew's teacher (they were fellow staff members and we had been in the school for 6 years) and they were willing to work with me (and Matthew). Joey is a bit more fuzzy when it comes to seeing what will work for him. We are still relatively new to the school district and the school itself. So far this year I haven't seen much in the way of open communication or willingness to assist Joey from his main classroom teacher. In the last 10 years (since Jordan started school) this is the first time I have encountered a teacher that willing to work with me. I do have my list of demands....I mean, my requests for modifications and accommodations ready for our meeting.

Side note:  His teacher is still marking spelling test wrong due to handwriting issues.