Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Back to School Blues

Welcome to Week Five of the school catastrophe. If there was a mistake to be made, we've made it; we now stand as an example of why appropriate service is absolutely vital to the success of a disabled child in school. You can't just shove a child into a program, it has to be individualized with appropriate support- both in quantity and quality, and year-round. Poor transitioning results in disaster.

Transitioning seems to be a major weak point in our school system and faculty training. The teachers Joey has are, to be clear and honest, working their butts off trying to get his puzzle figured out and come up with appropriate solutions to support Joey. However, it is hard to think of solutions when you don't have sufficient understanding of or training in the problem. When one tends to focus on behavior rather than understanding communication and issues, everything becomes a problem of discipline. This can be reinforced when Joey can pull himself together enough to be functional when someone such as the principal or one of his old teachers comes into the room. That the distraction might give him extra incentive to swallow the frustration he is trying desperately to communicate is something that seems ignored, or at least unrecognized. How does one get teachers to recognize that my child is so overwhelming, he has shut down?

And in the meantime, what to do? I have a child so completely overwhelmed, his teachers feel the need to separate him, and have gotten to no academic work in five weeks. When I say this child has shut down, I mean he becomes so completely non-functional that he is removed to a 1:1 self-contained setting- and still gets nowhere. How do I help my child survive this problem of transition, this overwhelming new-ness, this bump on his road?

When the stress is overwhelming, what do you do? After all, shut-down is not an option for most folks who read this blog. We have to keep going, keep functioning. Our children are depending on us to be functional. We're not allowed to be tired and overwhelmed. How do we dive through anxiety, exhaustion, depression, and frustration, to come out the other side with smiles, clean clothes, and possibly a cooked dinner?

Tomorrow, we are going to the doctor with Joey. I haven't yet gotten him into a psychiatrist, so we are going to try a back door- our family physician- to see if there is anything we can do; in other words, we're exploring medication. This is a touchy subject, and I am sure I will get comments and emails, some in great detail, for both sides (pro and con); but sometimes you realize you are fast running out of options, and running out of time, and damage is being done. Sometimes you have to examine the options, so that educated, reasonable, and informed decisions can be made. If Joey continues to be overwhelmed and uncomfortable at school, we could go from bad to worse in a way that would be even more catastrophic.

We'll keep you posted.

P.S.: What she said. That's kind of my life right now.


kristi said...

Hugs. Luckily TC does good without medication but you do what is best for your little guy.

Anonymous said...

De-lurking to wish you and Joey all the best.

Many of us have been through similar experiences, and can empathize; I know how hard it is to see your child struggle so hard and feel like you're getting nowhere.

It will get better, and it sounds like you're doing everything you can to get there.

farmwifetwo said...

We have been in both places, meds for the eldest, shutdown for the little one - ABA therapy.

Neither is fun, and both are extremely personal issues to be dealt with. The winter after I dealt with little boys ABA disaster, if I hadn't had that blog... the burn out was incredible.

Should you wish the "pros and cons"... just ask. Hoping it goes better soon.

Niksmom said...

Oh, honey, you wrote what's going on in MY little guy's world, too. For us, the meds have, so far, not been the answer. But, as Niksdad likes to say "Your mileage may vary."

We're looking at some new options for placement soon, too.


Casdok said...

Hugs from us too. So very difficult all round.
I know you will find the answers that are right for Joey.

Tracy DeLuca said...

Every child is different, every situation is different and every situation and every child will require a different solution. NO parent has a right to judge any other. HUGS to you. I know you don't know me but I wish you the best. I hope whatever solution you find works wonders for your lovely boy.

Connie Hammer, MSW said...

I hear your angst Joeymom and in an attempt to help I am going to get brave here and introduce you to another resource out there for parents such as you. Please excuse me if this sounds like self promotion but I believe it is important that parents such as you know there are people such as me out there as another option to try.
I am a parent educator and parent coach who supports parents of young children diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. As a licensed social worker, I worked in the school system for fifteen years, advocating for parents of special needs children so I know my way around the system and how to help parents find there way to get the services their children need to reach their full potential.
I work with parents to uncover their child's abilities and find the way to make them shine as the unique individual that they are. I am also an expert in conflict resolution and bully prevention which is another big issue for all kids but especially this vulnerable population.
I encourage parents to explore the option of the help you can receive from a qualified parent coach from the comfort of your own home by phone. I have Parent Coaching Institute colleagues that are just as well trained and competent as I. Google PCI parent coach with the word autism or special needs and see what you find. It may be just the thing you have been looking for.
I wish you well and should you choose to post this comment I hope it helps some parents find a great new resource.

Unknown said...

I think you know your child better than anyone so I think that you will do the very best you can. I love your blog.