C.W. asks from Grove City, OH on July 28, 2008
4Th Grade and Not Medicating -- How to Deal with the School?
My 9 yrs was diagnosed at 4 yrs. with obstructive sleep apnea, and ADHD. I was recently divorced and remarried. We chose to change dietary habits (dairy protein intolerance), medicate for ADHD and behavioral counseling at that time.
I can see now that the ADHD was more a result from the divorce, and being gifted in all areas except writing and social skills. He wouldn't eat well on any of the ADHD meds. and with other statements he made, we had another sleep study done. He was recently diagnosed with Periodic Limb Movement, and the obstructive sleep apnea is basically nonexsistent. Basically his legs need to move, and it's not letting him sleep well. A tired kid acts more hyper. He is taking a medicine at night to help him sleep, when he doesn't have football practice. He was taking it every night but the dr. recently changed this.
I am extremely nervous about school starting in a month, expecially with the poor year last year. The teacher didn't work with him on reading skills for an entire month because he's more than two grades above what he needs to be in overall reading skills. I don't want to medicate him again and he doesn't want to be medicated because of how it made him feel. He's been on 4 different meds. for the past 4 years with different dosages. The school won't help with encouraging him to eat. He's gained more than 10lbs. and grown more than an inch in 6 weeks off the meds., since school's been out. He's happier, and follows my directions better.
He has his days though where I want to scream because he's bouncing, making noises, etc. The Sunday School teachers tell me he's good most days, but you can tell if he hasn't slept well the night before.
I don't know if he'll be able to do well socially, for 6.5 hours, especially when recess is indoors and he can't get the movement his body physically requires.
If I go for a 504, they will fight me tooth and nail. (We just don't do those in Elementary schools) He won't qualify for an IEP under academics. Right now my prayers are literally for another teacher similar to his second grade teacher who challenged him so much academically, that it kept him so mentally busy the physical need to move was acommodated. She also checked in with him as he got off the bus. If in that brief conversation she felt if was going to be a longer day, she had him go outside and swing hard and fast for the 20 min. prior to school starting. She complimented him near the end of the year by stating "He's seems like a typical 2nd grader."
Thoughts or ideas to calm my nerves and help him would be great.
I also work for the district as a Special Ed. teacher, which makes things a lot stickier.
P.R. answers from Indianapolis on July 29, 2008
Have the physician write the order for the IEP, something the school is obligated to perform if they have a medical request for one. You have my sympathy. I went through similiar problems with Washington Township in Marion County when my son was in 6th grade and my husband worked for them. As a matter of fact Dr. Eugene White (in front of an attorney, in his office with my husband, my mother, the attorney, and myself) made several comments about if my husband really liked his job he would do something to control me in my fight for my son's rights. Bad idea.
If he has been diagnosised and the documentation is available to the system they are required by law to co-operate. Eugene White learned that lesson the hard way one time.
If you don't address the issue with the Township Physchologist then they won't do the work.
You know the routine, demand a meeting with the teacher, present her with the documentation, describe his problems, ask her for help. If she doesn't comply go up the ladder.
T.P. answers from Fort Wayne on July 29, 2008
I have a son who is in 9th grade and is adhd. He scores too high academically for the iep but because of the adhd diagonis is considered other health impaired. That way he gets help with what he needs. The person who mentioned special seats (sisel) My son used that but around 4th grade he was more concerned about fitting in socially and did not want anything to make him stick out from the other students. After talking with the teacher, she allowed him to get out of his seat when he felt the need to move. When he received OT we learned that there is a chemical released in your body while there is compression on your joints, that helps to keep you calm. The teacher would allow him to stand at his desk to work if he was extra fidgetty. The most important thing is that you get a teacher who will work with you. We have had it both ways and a teacher who doesn't want to work with you will make your year seem like 10 years.
We have tried homeschooling when he just couldn't take some of the stuff at school (middle School 1 year) but he asked to go back to school for high school, I think he misses the activities there. (he had a lot of activities when we kept him home but he wanted the high school experience.) I had a meeting with the spec. ed. person at the hs and I think we can make this work.
If you have any other questions feel free to email me ____@____.com
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R.B. answers from Toledo on July 29, 2008
First I want to say that your love and concern for your son are so apparent by your letter, and he is lucky to have such great support and advocacy from his mother! I am wondering what your husband thinks. Since you are a teacher, you may be familiar with John Taylor Gatto, who was a NYC teacher for 30 years and a NYC and NY state teacher of the year. If you google his name, you will find an article from 2003 called "Against Schools". He also has written books, such as Dumbing Us Down and A Different Kind of Teacher. I recommend reading his books if you haven't already, and I would also read books by John Holt, such as Why Children Fail. He was also a school teacher who became an advocate for homeschooling. Based on your letter, if there is any way at all that you could stay home and educate your child, I would do it. I strongly believe that in some cases, keeping your child out of school is a life and death matter. Trust your intuition above all, which seems to be telling you that your son will suffer if he goes back to school. His progress over the summer is your "sign", if you are looking for one, of what is best for him. Pray about it too, even if you don't pray. For the legs, I would suggest a homeopathic medicine called Restful Legs, which I take myself for Restless Leg Syndrome. It may help, along with doing yoga stretches before bed. Get him to a yoga class. As for medications, your intuition told you that your son's ADHD was the result of your divorce. Again, trust you gut feeling. 4 years old is too young, in my opinion, for a diagnosis of ADHD to have been given, and now he is stigmatized by it, and you will probably be pressured by the school to give him meds. Whatever you decide, have faith, courage, and confidence. God Bless!!
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O.T. answers from Youngstown on July 29, 2008
What is a 504?
Will getting a letter from his doctor saying he needs some extra physical time to function better in the classroom help?
Also, contact the teacher and see if you can get together and talk about your child. My son has an IEP and I contacted the teacher and set up a time to meet her and have my son see his classroom and where he was going to sit in the week before school started. While my son walked around the room I spoke with the teacher about the concerns I had.
Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't.
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M.N. answers from Indianapolis on July 30, 2008
Being the mother of a special needs child who is also employed by the school system he attends, I can understand you situation. The attitude I decided to adopt was that my child came first and that the school system I work for would be insanr to fire me for fighting for my child, it would not be a good PR move and I would make it an issue if I had to. Not that I cherrish the thought of doing that, but I mentally prepared myself in case it was necessary.
My advice would be to push for a 504 plan and incorporate sensory breaks into his school day (i.e. swinging, jump on a trampoline, running, wiggle seat, ball chair, etc...) There are so many things that could be used. Have you had him evaluated for Gifted and Talented programs in your school system, this might keep him challenged and allow him to focus better.
I hope this was helpful. Good luck with this situation.
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S.R. answers from Toledo on August 02, 2008
Hello C.. I have friends who put their children on Fish Oil from the health food stores instead of perscription ADHD meds. They all had great results from it. I can understand the problem of people thinking you are trying to get special things for your son since you work for the school. Have you considered putting him in a different school or working at a diff school from what he attends? My daughter is going to attend Catholic School, even though I am not a complete Catholic, and the price was affordable for us. My daughter helped raise the money to cover tuition with selling candy bars and collecting pop cans. Best of Luck!
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D.J. answers from Columbus on July 29, 2008
Hi! I have 3 children, 10, 7 & 5. My oldest, a girl, was diagnosed with ADD at the end of 3rd grade. She will be entering 5th grade this Fall. We are in Gahanna schools and we had a 504 plan for her in 3rd & 4th grade. I met with her teacher & school psychologist to draw up the plan. At the end of this last school year we met and decided she did not need the plan in place for the coming year. She earned all A's this past year and as long as her next teacher is aware she can get off track at times and she is on medication, we'll stay with this plan. If your son does not qualify for an IEP under academics, he should for behavior. If you haven't gotten your doctor involved with the diagnosis, I would talk to her/him. I am in education also and I know it helps alot if your son's teacher understands the situation and can work with you. You should involve the school psychologist & principal. Good luck! Debbie
A.B. answers from Indianapolis on July 29, 2008
I think you need to call a case conference and push for the 504. The School can't deny the process if you put it in writing. I would also check the laws to see if they can even say they don't do a 504 for Elementary Ed. Also when you meet discuss him being able to go swing or go in the gym and bounce a ball to help him get focused daily. If he needs time to regroup if having a hard time he could have a pass to go to the resource room and calm down and refocus. My oldest who is now 13 was diagnosed with Asperger's at the age of 9. These were some things that helped him with behavior in school. Definetly don't let the teacher not work with you son because he is ahead. They can always give him more advanced work. Hope this helps. I know how frustrating it can be working with the schools.
C.B. answers from Dayton on July 29, 2008
I have a similar case, although the meds work great for us. I would recommend the 504 plan development for the simple fact that it raises a red flag that your son may need some special attention. He may need to be cut a little extra slack from time to time. My son is also gifted in most areas, but the right teacher was the key. Now is the time to talk with the principal to discuss the right teacher for his (and your) needs. My son was almost expelled from school in the fourth grade, but had an awesome fifth grade with all A's & B's. Fourth grade we were trying to figure out what worked, fifth grade, we found it. The right teacher implemented and we all had a great year. It was as simple as being able to go get a drink of water or run to the bathroom periodically when he felt like he needed some movement. Nutrition definitely plays a huge role, but unless he buys into the strict diet and how it makes him feel good, it's hard to implement during school. I had my son trading fruit for sugary snacks, etc.
I hope that helped a little, I didn't read other responses.