Auntie...your guidance is needed... — The Bump
Special Needs

Auntie...your guidance is needed...

My son, Connor, is having a mountain of trouble at school. We've been in the ARD program for asperger's, dyslexia, and adhd since 2006. He began this new school 2 years ago. Over the last few months I have noticed changes in my son for the worse. He has expressed feeling "lost", "has no purpose" and has told the Asst. Prin he "wants to die".

He is written up (notes about his behavior are sent home each day) for losing focus, not paying attention, inability to complete his work at the same pace other kids are, that his aide (who is assigned to him) has to sit next to him so he does his work, etc. These are all things that coincide with either one or all three of his learning disabilities. I'm not sure if these notes are done to document the need for services for Connor but Connor is starting to feel that all he is worth as a student/person are the bad things that are written about him. I've requested notes of praise be sent home from the teacher for good things he does and none have been sent.

We have a speech therapist, resource classes, an aide for his mainstream classes and open lines of communication (or so I thought) with all his teachers and the counselor. I have even hired a 5th grade teacher familiar with Connor's disabilities to tutor him three afternoons a week.

He is an A/B student so the notes that come home really don't reflect the good grades he is bringing. He is grasping the information. I've also learned, though not confirmed this with my son yet, that the aide has in some manner eluded to Connor that he "is an idiot".

This last week he was punished for poking a kid with a spork. Connor admitted it, acknowledged his wrong doing and apologized. The other kid stated "Apologies don't fix everything". My husband and I met with the Asst. Prin and Connor to discuss this and I was upset to learn the AP sided with the other boy's refusal of apology. I didn't want to address this in front of Connor as I felt my disagreeing would show Connor to argue with an adult. That's not what I want to show. He needs to respect authority and the position that the AP holds. So I sent an email to the AP so we could discuss this issue away from Connor and between adults. This complaint went ignored.

I learned Connor was hit in the balls twice in P.E. by a kid who did it on purpose, a Coah witnessed it and nothing happened. Connor called me from the nurse's office and said he was in pain. I told him, if he could, try and make it through the day and if it was still hurting to call me and I would take him to the doctor. I addressed this in another email with the AP and she dismissed that complaint. I asked why nothing happened to the other boy when Connor said the boy was happy he hurt Connor. She didn't address it.

So today I get a call from the school district that Connor's school has called an ARD for next Monday. Normally our ARD's are in December so I'm finding this coincidental that this happens on the heels of last weeks events. I've sent emails to Connor's principal and teacher asking for a list of what is to be discussed in the itinerary Monday. Those have gone unanswered at this point.

Do I need to hire an advocate for Connor or an education lawyer who specializes in special needs kids? I'm trying very hard not to be "that mom" but he is my son. That little boy is my world and I'm very upset that he feels as depressed as he does. He's 10. All he should be worrying about is being a little boy, nothing more. The things he is feeling are adult emotions and it's draining him.

How do I advocate for him effectively without losing my cool? I know I am so close to this issue emotionally and I'm trying to be objective. This is very hard for me.

Re: Auntie...your guidance is needed...

  • Thank you so much. It's hard for me to not feel such a strong emotional attachment or distance myself emotionally because it's my son. He is in 4th grade, the tutor is a 5th grade teacher and she has a good rapport with him. She knows when he's stressed and they take a break. When she comes back he's regrouped and fast to work. This has been a big help for me since my working with him takes hours. It's exhausting and we're both fed up with each other.

    I will not allow my son to feel like he's lost or has no purpose. It's just heart breaking to me. I fear it will get worse before it gets better.

  • ...jumping in here...hope it's okay...

    Man, where to start?  First, I feel like I could have written most of your post verbatim.  We are going through almost exactly the same situation, with the exception of a few details, which I fear are on the way....  It is SO hard to parent this kind of kid and even though we lose our patience we know how wonderful their spirit is and will protect it fiercely.

    I haven't posted much on here for a while. Mostly too busy, but try to look it over to keep gathering as much info about what other moms of ADD kids are experiencing.

    Jumping ahead, Auntie, your replies are so thoughtful, helpful, and well put.  I know we have disagreed in the past- yes, you were right, the Developmental Movement Therapy didn't do jack...a lot of money wasted... but I don't know if I've reached the end of my rope and I'm desperate or I've just seen it for what it is, but everything you talk about re: ADHD is so spot on! 

    But, back to your OP,  my response is that every way the school is responding to you is unprofessional and inappropriate given the circumstances.  I would not tolerate it.  Be respectful, but firm with them.  This is a delicate situation to navigate but you are the driver of the ship! 

    Good luck to you and honestly, I have you, and all the other moms on here in my thoughts daily as I struggle through our families challenges. He is lucky to have such a committed and loving mom!!! 

  • Loading the player...
  • I often feel like I am the only parent going through this and feel like we're freaks or something.

    I got Connor from tutoring at 5 yesterday before we went trick or treating. I asked him why he's crying in class (which is at least 3 days a week and a written daily sheet advises this) to which he said he is frustrated. I asked what makes him frustrated and he said when his aide has her angry voice. That was unsettling because I'm expecting a special needs aide to not use her angry voice. Connor said she has a happy voice, sad voice and angry voice. She uses her angry voice and yells at him in class "Hurry up! Get your work done! Come on go go go! If you don't finish this you'll be doing it during recess!" things of this nature.

    I'm highly ticked off. I asked Connor if he wishes for his aide to continue to help him and he said no, he does not like her and the way she talks to him makes him feel bad about himself. She talks to him this way in front of the class. He said after she uses her angry voice and he cries, he feels how she speaks to him makes him feel stupid and an idiot.

    That makes sense why he would tell DH his aide 'told' him he was an idiot. Smart kid. She didn't outright say it but her mannerisms and verbage make him feel that way. I've been saying he's hypersensitive and sees things most people ignore because that's how his world is 'painted'.

    I'm very tempted to send a copy every week of just what Connor's symptoms are from aspergers, adhd and dyslexia. I did not realize that many of these symptoms overlap from two to all three learning issues.

  • You are definitely not alone in your experience! I don't know if it's some sort of strange comfort to know that, but you're not alone!

    I think that is a great idea- to send in the information weekly to your son's teachers.  You have to advocate for him and I suppose that means taking the training element into your own hands.  Who knows what their background with these issues are...it seems that education will lend to a broader understanding of learning challenges.

    One thing that has helped me lately, when I'm totally overwhelmed in the present, is that I try to think about who my son is and how his attributes will eventually (and hopefully) be beneficial to him in the world.  For example, having a high or strong emotional I.Q. is considered by some, to be an attribute one must have to be truly successful.  It's not so much help now, but will be so valuable to him later.

    Also, the whole idea of divergent thinking is something that I feel most schools are lagging far behind in- and that these kids (the "not paying attention" "zoning out" "not finishing his work" kids) excel at.  I would rather my son excel in divergent thinking than the regimented, cookie-cutter ways of thinking the school purports. 

    Also, lately I've been really thinking about how my reaction to my son affects him.  That is, it's been a journey for me- understanding his deficits and such- and I had to realize that no matter how many times I yelled at him, or raised my voice, or told him it was time to "figure it out" and "c'mon!!!! let's go! what is taking SOOOO long" and "how many times do I have to go over this with you???!!!" that ultimately, it weakens not only my relationship with him, but corrodes his own sense of self-worth, which at this point, is my number one concern.   If that can be kept in tact, then I'm confident that as he ages he will settle down into a life that befits him.

    P.S.  I'll post an interesting thing I came across lately that I thought was really well done- let me know what you think! 

  • jumping in...

    I wouldn't disregard when he says she uses an angry voice or is otherwise mean to him. I would investigate that, if I were you.

    I witnessed something similar this week when I volunteered in my son's class. There is another boy with autism in his classroom who doesn't have his own BII, rather an aide that comes and goes...sort of a resource aide, I suppose.

    This boy is moderate-to-severe, in my opinion, so a lot of the times he simply doesn't follow what's going on in the class. Other than that, I find him very loving and wanting to socialize in his own way. He has no violent or disturbing behaviors that I have noticed, he just doesn't seem like the kind of a kid.

    Still, his aide got so irritated with him because he spaced out and wasn't finished with his task, that he angrily seethed through his teeth to get this done already. He had such hate in his face, his gesture and his voice towards this little 6-year old, it startled me. And this happened right in the classroom, in front of everyone, so it makes me wonder what happens when just the two of them walk from class to therapy and there's nobody to see them. I just got a really bad vibe, kwim? And this is suppossed to be a professional.

    When I saw the mom at the end of the school day, I felt like I should tell her what happenned, but I didn't know exactly WHAT to say....it was just a moment, but it was a moment of hate towards her child, I'm sure of that.

    PS: I have ABSOLUTELY spied on my aide in the past, it was someone I wasn't thrilled with and thanks to me spying on him, I knew it was right to fire him, so I did. I did so by frequently volunteering at the school and watching him from a distance. We got a wonderful aide after that.

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