Friday, April 08, 2005

Here I Am (I Said)

Our son (Z) was diagnosed with Tourette's Syndrome(TS) in the 3rd grade. He had been exhibiting symptoms since he was 3 yrs old, but we just thought it was weird little kid stuff. As he got older his tics became more noticeable (eye blinking, throat clearing, squeaking etc.). Then he began to have minor behavior problems in school(overreacting).

After he was diagnosed, we immediately enrolled him in our school's Special Ed program. In the beginning he just went to the Special Ed classroom when he was having problems staying "on task", usually the last half hour of the day, to catch up on his work. Later he would also go to Special Ed to "defuse", if he felt like he was about to blow up. We also took him to a child psychologist to help him cope with his symptoms.

Z has had problems with bullying in school since the 1st grade, mostly from "hockey jocks". We always brought the bullying issue up at school conferences. The answer was ALWAYS: "That would never happen here". Z's 5th grade teacher was an absolute angel! She had a background in Special Ed and would actually LISTEN to Z when he told her he was being harrassed. She didn't believe him at first either, but after careful observation she caught kids bullying him. This helped Z's self-esteem immensely!

6th grade was a totally different story. Z began having more trouble concentrating and got further and further behind. I started going to school every Friday to get his missed assignments and make sure that he had the right books in his backpack. I spent EVERY evening and weekend getting him caught up on his schoolwork.

The bullying started escalating at this time also. Z is an easy target for bullies as TS makes him overreact. Z would ALWAYS get caught when he retaliated against the bullies. Neither his teacher, the principal or his Special Ed teacher would believe he was being bullied. Their rationale was that he had lots of friends, therefore he couldn't be getting bullied. I can't, for the life of me, understand this rationale. The situation finally came to a head when 4 boys attacked Z on the playground. One of them grabbed the glasses off his face, broke them in half and threw the pieces across the playground. They then started punching and kicking him until Z managed to throw one of them to the ground and began kicking him. At this point the playground monitors finally noticed the fray and broke it up. Z returned to his classroom where he tried to calmly tell his teacher that his glasses had been broken. She kept ignoring him until he grabbed her arm and yelled "I can't find my glasses!". For this action he was sent to the principal and put into ISS (In School Suspension). Fortunately all of this happened in front of several of Z's friends. The principal promised to get to the bottom of this. Unfortunately, it took 2 weeks for him to get around to it. Bottom line: Z got another day of ISS for yelling at his teacher; the 4 boys got 1 hr of detention. The principal wasn't sure he believed all the witnesses when they said that the attack was unprovoked. We also agreed to get Z anger management therapy. Z's psychologist was enraged by all of this. He is also the school's psychologist and KNOWS what a widespread problem bullying is in that school.

Last fall I took Z to a pediatric neurologist where he was diagnosed with co-morbid Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). He gave Z a prescription that might help his ADD (it didn't). The school was ecstatic when they were informed that Z was on meds. All hail the MAGIC PILL!!

7th grade was a total disaster! Z was only allocated 1 hr of Special Ed time a day for the 1st semester, with no time scheduled for 2nd semester. This hour turned out to be a glorified study hall. Z had a terrible time getting the right materials to the right class because of his ADD. I spent ALL my time trying to meet with teachers to get him caught up. This was next to impossible as most of the teachers were out of the building the minute the final bell rang. When we managed to get assignments handed in, Z was given no credit for handing in late assignments. The Special Ed department did NOTHING to rectify this problem. His Special Ed teacher didn't even show up for conferences because he had a prior commitment as the girls basketball coach. By the end of the first semester Z had failed ALL his classes. This is a kid with a 131 plus IQ!

My husband (L) and I had finally had enough! We made an appointment with the Supt. of schools. We explained the whole situation and were told that he would come up with a plan for 2nd semester within 6 days. After 7 days I made another appointment with the Supt. At this meeting we met with the Supt. and the head of the Special Ed dept. Their solution was to have MORE meetings with us and Z's Special Ed teacher. Our solution was to pull Z out of this ridiculous system and homeschool him!


At 4/10/2005 11:21 PM, Blogger SME said...

Looks good! Have Dad get rid of those "edit this" things. Love you, Sarah

At 4/17/2005 6:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, it still says "Edit This"!

At 4/18/2005 5:55 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

I haven't even MENTIONED this to Dad yet, smartass!

At 4/19/2005 12:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why not?

At 6/17/2005 9:18 PM, Blogger European said...

I'm so mad right now on your behalf. I'm getting a teaching credential right now and I can't believe how ignorant those teachers were - especially the special ed people.
*shaking head in disbelief*

At 7/16/2005 2:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry to bring up an old post, but I was curious about your first one (post, that is). Congratulations for doing whatever it takes to support your child's development. Good luck.

- an interested passer-by

At 12/30/2006 7:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cool guestbook, interesting information... Keep it UP
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