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New School Year....back to the battles

How is it that every school year I have to go to battle for appropriate accommodations and modifications from the get-go?  Yes, my son has an IEP, but it seems the teacher doesn’t read it.

I always do an email before the first day, make sure I introduce myself and my son on meet and greet day.  Of course provide details regarding my soon-to-be fourth grader’s ADHD and dyslexia with all the trimmings, and yet the teachers always want to figure it out themselves.

They give him the same assignments as everyone else the first two or three weeks of school.  This, of course, wreaks havoc on his self-esteem and confidence we have worked so hard to improve.

I’ve gone to the principal, his sped teacher, etc.  they act like it is a new year, maybe everything is different!  My son has never met a benchmark for common core subjects, and is working two plus years behind.  Even with appropriate tutoring.

I’m a strong advocate for my son, he is medicated, we have a private tutor; the biggest problems are always school!  There are no schools here for dyslexics/ADHD/special needs.  How do we get the tide to turn?!

I guess I’m just venting.  Thanks for listening.  My friends and family are tired of hearing it…

Replies

I hear ya. Every year you have to “teach” someone new about ADHD and your kid. That’s after fighting for that sympathetic teacher (if there is one) in the first place, of course. It’s tiring. I’m lucky this year… grades 6 and 7 here keep the same teachers, so it won’t be something brand new for once. Assuming they ever get back into the classes… our teachers are all on strike. :/

Posted by Rai0414 on Jul 22, 2014 at 4:58am

You are venting so I won’t problem solve for you. One thing you are doing right is to continue to provide resources and support to your son.

I do have one question for you. What are you doing to take care of yourself? If you burn out, you can’t help anybody.

Hope I didn’t do too much problem solving for you.
Sue H in PC, Ohio

Posted by SueH on Jul 22, 2014 at 11:26am

Hi Pdxlaura!

We experience the exact same thing. Even when at the same school as the prior year, it’s a new classroom teacher and often a new SPED teacher. The attitude is always to see what he can do on his own and then go from there. It is insanely frustrating! All we can do is keep educating the teachers and advocating for our kids.

ADDitudeMag.com offers some strategies on effectively working with schools and advocating for our kids. You may find some new nuggets of wisdom and ideas you haven’t tried yet:

http://www.additudemag.com/slideshow/27/slide-1.html
http://www.additudemag.com/adhd/article/781.html
http://www.additudemag.com/resources/free-downloads/2737.html/success-at-school

Penny
ADDconnect Moderator, Author & Mom to Tween Boy with ADHD and LDs

Posted by adhdmomma on Jul 22, 2014 at 1:09pm

Boy, do I hear you.  Same thing for us, every year. Doesn’t matter if it’s the same school or a switch to a new one.  You still have to educate and re-educate.  My son had the same team of teachers for two years, and I STILL had to constantly try to educate them each year.  It often has proven to be futile, unfortunately. I have not yet been so fortunate as to meet a teacher who even remotely “gets it” at all.

We are switching schools, starting a new charter middle school this year, and I have to start all over.

I wish you luck, and I commend you for constantly being there for your son.  I wish there were more qualified teachers and schools that were able to accommodate our kids’ different learning styles.  Life would be SO much better!

All the best to you.

Posted by JAMurphy on Jul 22, 2014 at 1:33pm

Thank you everyone!  I will read all the links you gave me Penny.  @SueH—no such thing as too much problem solving!  I will always take any input, and come up with a mash up to navigate all this.

And you’re right, I don’t always take care of myself.  Especially not first.  Something to work on.

Cheers

Posted by Pdxlaura on Jul 25, 2014 at 8:59pm

What do you do when teachers do not follow 504 and principal does not insist that they do?

Posted by Suzicc on Jul 26, 2014 at 2:04pm

@Suzicc:  I find I have to be a squeaky wheel and very persistent.  It is a federal law that they must follow the plan.  This falls under the IDEA (Individuals with disabilities in education act).

There is a lot of info about this, and also your district will even have this in their special ed info online.  Print this stuff and make an appointment with the principal to present it.  It does help if you know your child’s right under the law.  They will take notice.  Just be polite but insistent.

There are also others in your school who you can go to:  the psychologist who wrote it.  They are all very well aware they must implement and follow a 504 or an IEP.

If you still don’t get immediate compliance, take it to the next level at the district.  Look for the chart of the chain of command of the special ed administrators.  This should also be online.  Emails cc’d to the principal and psychologist will get action.

Also, see links above as to how to work with the school that Penny posted.

Hang in there, you have the right and obligation to advocate for your child.  Good luck!

Posted by Pdxlaura on Jul 26, 2014 at 5:22pm

Every public school has a uniform complaint proceedure.

After you have tried to gain the teacher’s cooperation and the school administration’s compliance, contact the office of special education at your district office. If the 504 accomodations are not then set in place, ask the school office for a copy of the complaint form. It too is a long process, but schools don’t like it, so it gets results.

I’m sorry this is a difficulty for you. I always ask my learning director for copies of all 504s in the week before school begins. It is so much more successful to know what is likely to work before hand.

I do frequently reccommend some changes to 504s after some time has passed. Every student/teacher relationship is different and I often find accommodations that work better for me than what is on the 504.

I’m sorry the process takes so long and must begin again every year. It should be smoother than your experiences have been. My school is run pretty well and I am thankful for that. Unfortunately many aren’t.

Posted by pub.sch.teacher on Jul 26, 2014 at 7:17pm

Thank you for responding @pub.sch.teacher.  It’s nice to know that an educator is plugged into this site.  I’m afraid you are the exception, not the rule based on my personal experiences.

At our school and district, before one can file a formal complaint, the first requirement is to have a meeting with the teacher and principal!

Of course, this is very uncomfortable and intimidating to a parent.  Hence, we don’t do it.  I have let a teacher bully get a pass because of this, as well as her principal who asked me what dyslexia was.

Our current principal said to me this past year “dyslexia is so hard to identify,” referring to my third grade son working at first grade level.

Why frontline educators are not better informed is beyond me.  It will take teachers like you to be the change.

Posted by Pdxlaura on Jul 27, 2014 at 5:57pm

Dislexia is tricky because it is not a recognized disability. The word itself just means “not able to read.” So you won’t get much response to that. You might have more success just describing his reading difficulty as frequent letter reversals.

If your son has never been tested for light sensitivity, it might be useful. It is a tendency for white paper to “wash out” black print. One treatment method is to cover the print with a colored overlay. Clients are tested for their prefered color. Mine is medium blue. Unfortunately, this disability is not well known and is not recognized, but it often accounts for reversals in children over 8 years old.

Posted by pub.sch.teacher on Jul 28, 2014 at 7:15am

Well jeez, if he is two years behind that is good!  Children with ADHD are functionally 30% behind their peers.  So if your son is 9, then really he is operating at 6.  Imagine being a 6 year old around 9 year olds all year long.  It sounds like he is holding his own and doing fine.  Maybe your expectations need adjusting?  Or maybe at least put on hold until you see what the reality actually is.  Sounds like you are projecting past experience on future experiences that have not yet happened.

I know for sure, that if you start with an adversarial attitude you make more of an uphill climb than ADHD already is.  Can you maybe take a more hopeful, wait and see attitude?  And each year is an opportunity for you to communicate what ADHD is to a teacher who may not really know. But as you know I’m sure it is much more difficult to hear someone who comes in guns ablazing than who comes in with an “I hope I can help you to understand my child better”.  It is all subtle communication.  I’m sure you are pre-frustrated from years past, but try to take a deep breath and start afresh.

It sounds like you are being an amazing advocate for your son.  You have gained more than many parents have been able to so be proud about that.  You can help other children too to the extent that you can help educate teachers about the condition.

Posted by YellaRyan on Jul 28, 2014 at 6:32pm

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