Monday, June 7, 2010

Cluing in the Clueless..or Advocating for Your Older Adopted Child in a World that Doesnt Get it.

Ok..this is a rant about a teacher. Im not anti teacher, there are some great ones out there. I am related to a few. However, I call a spade a spade, if you know what I mean.

We have been having a bit of an issue with A's teacher. She claims he has Attention problems and when I go to conferences I have to listen to her complain about him, and even giving us a form for the Connors test, which tests children for ADD or ADHD.

Ok..maybe thats included in her job. However, these behaviors are completely managable at home and also at church, and anywhere else except for school. She would refuse to give him consequences for getting out of his seat, for instance. Refuses. Even when I suggested she might try that. She automatically felt it wasnt his fault. I left the conference shrugging my shoulders, because I KNOW what he can and cannot control. I am his mother after all. I cant tell you how many times I got in trouble for getting out of my seat in first grade. They tried putting me on meds, the teacher suggested it, the doctor told my mom to tell the teacher to stick to what she knows. lol. They tried doing the same thing to a few other people that I know who did not need it.

Im not anti meds, Im really not. But why is it is the FIRST thing some people, people who dont know the WHOLE story, run to?

Case in point: During our meeting with this teacher, counselor, and vice principal, our teacher was bringing up the fact that twice the previous day, A was seen crying. Implying that he has issues. It was hard for me to hold my anger in while she finished her list of "behavioral and attention difficulties" witnessed during that day, in preperation for this meeting, I might ad.

She admitted she didnt know why he was crying. Okay...isnt it her job to find out? Isnt she his teacher? Maybe she needs medicine to "stay on task". Im just sayin'.

I said that I did know why he was crying. He told me that very night. The day in question just happened to be the day the fifth graders, of which his brother L is, were giving their "goodbye" concert to the rest of the grades, as they are moving on to middle school. I explained (again) that they were recently adopted, and that they are very close sibling group, as its been the ONLY constant in their lives. Even that wasnt constant as they were split it briefly on a few occasions. I explained that "goodbye" to A, means something different to him than to other kids. I explained that the chewing on things, and fidgeting with his clothes could very well be insecurity, as they all three do this. The older two STILL have issues with fidgeting and sticking things in their mouths, but by no means do they have problems focusing. Neither are on meds, both are fabulous students. I realize that not all siblings are the same, but the child's history has got to count for something doesnt it? Not to them....stick them meds. Do it now, so I the teacher can have a better day. Sorry, its not going to be that easy to convince these parents of that, not when we have seen different in our home.

Moral of the story: If you are adopting older children, you should be prepared to fight the system and plead your child's case. Unless a big ole picture is drawn for them, they may try to lump your child into a category that looks like what fits them best, BEFORE they ask questions. Dont let them do it. Stick to your guns, you know your child, he cant speak for himself, you are going to have to do it.

Now, next year, after we get a teacher who isnt afraid of using consequences and asking questions, and who has read the report on this meeting (which they are supposed to), and he is still having problems of this magnitude, we will look into other avenues. We do want what is best for A, not for us...but finding the solution isnt always a quick. It would be a crying shame to stick him on meds that he doesnt need.

The getting out of his seat and general messing around are things I have seen at home, during times it was inappropriate to do so, like church, meals, study time, etc. These are also the things he rarely does now, because there are consequences for doing them. The oral gratification of sticking things in the mouth, or fidgeting with clothing, are all things that have not gone away, though they have decreased some. We see the difference, we are his parents. Hopefully our meeting will help for next year...the plan is for them to use consequences for the behavioral issues (getting out of seat, etc)and see if he is better in the classroom, not just automatically chalk it up to something "he cant help". If they still treat him he has no control, without at least trying consequences, well, then we may be home schooling, or sending him to a private school. There are always options.


Macey said...

Well, I'm a complete ditz and I don't have a teaching degree, but it's pretty easy to see that the teacher just isn't listening to you!
Hello, it's the end of the year anyway, can it be THAT bad? Jerkface.

Mama Drama Times Two said...

Sometimes what looks like ADHD is actually Trauma related coping mechanisms. Example: not paying attention is ADHD related-scanning, monitoring the environment for "dangers" and "threats" is Trauma PTSD related. The behaviors can look the same (kid is staring around class and looks like they are not listening). There are many different environmental supports and changes that can be put in place to help both types of kids that DON'T involve meds. As an educator I can honestly say that any school a month away from summer break is NOT a pretty place. Kids are melting down right and left and teachers are losing their patience and sense of humor. Not the best time to assess or make big decisions on a kid's future...glad to hear you'll revisit this next year.