Sunday, August 27, 2006

So This Is The Letter I wrote To The Teacher....

Let me preface this with the knowledge that she wrote me a letter yesterday, and in that letter, she approached dealing with Spenser as if he was merely just an ill behaved brat. I am desperately trying to get them to see he has an illness, and as such, he cannot be punished for being ill. Let me know what you think, Muir, I am talking to you in particular!

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I am glad the first week was good overall. Obviously I would have been much happier had the events of Friday not happened, but I am glad he righted himself eventually. I know he really likes Jen, and so I am ever so happy that she is back and he can speak with her when he needs to.

As for the IEP, yes, he will be getting one. I do not see any way to get through the year without having the safety net that is the IEP in place.

I cannot, and will not have him punished for being ill. I have to be the advocate for him, and so I have to take a stance in this.

In the end that is what it boils down to, he is ill, and like it or not, the illness has symptoms that are not pleasant. Sadly, because this is an illness that does not manifest itself in a way that is overtly physical in appearance, a lot of people will scoff and come to the conclusion that he is simply an ill behaved child.

I have had a doctor tell me that if he had to choose what his child was ill with, cystic fibrosis, which eventually leads to death, but there are physical symptoms and no one doubts the diagnosis of CF, or bipolar disorder, which many doubt, and the symptoms are not as physical in nature, he would choose the CF. I think that speaks volumes, that a doctor would choose a disorder that is nearly fatal in every instance, but visible, over an illness of the brain, that really you can't see, and people doubt the existence of.

Over the summer I read a lot about bipolar and the common threads that those with bipolar share. One common thread is the aversion to the physical act of writing. It has been noted that those afflicted with bipolar have a huge issue with writing, and of course they are not really sure why.

Looking back on last year, I noticed that a lot of his issues came from having to write. This will have to be addressed in the IEP.

I realize there will be instances where he has to write, but I also know there are times when there can be another way for him to accomplish tasks, without having to write as much.

As I mentioned several times last year, I do not want this to be an issue that makes Spenser dislike school. I honestly think it is a small issue that has unfortunately, become a huge issue. I think Jen's idea on Friday of the timed five minutes of writing is a good one. As we all know, he seems to change as quickly as we come up with strategies that work with him, so who knows how long this will continue to work with him.

I realize this sounds overly defensive, but I am honestly trying to figure things out as well. No one wants their child to have to go through so much, just to make it through every day. I am all about getting him through the day in the best way for him. I would like school to be a positive for him. I do not want him to feel the way I felt as a child about school.

I have been trying to bribe Spenser to behave for the school year, I know it sounds dreadful, but it is what it is. The bribes are as follows:

*If he behaves to the best of his ability, and I get no phone calls during the day about him misbehaving, I will pick him up from school rather then making him ride the bus home. I do not know whether or not this is going to work, but I am hoping he is interested enough in this that he can let you know when he is not feeling well, so that he can take a break and pull himself together, before an incident occurs and I get the phone call. Honestly, I think what I want for him to be able to do, is to figure out, when he is feeling wonky, and needs a break. I think if he can figure this out, maybe, just maybe we can avoid some of the problems we had last year with the inappropriate language and such.

*In this same vein, the more he behaves, the more I would like to volunteer in the classroom. I have told him the more he makes an effort to get through the day peacefully, the more I will come and help out. I think this will be a good thing for him, as I do not think he will act out when I am there. Although, who knows! I am planning on volunteering as much as you will allow, and as much as I can. I no longer have a job, so I think I can do this regularly this year. I am excited about it! I would like to be able to volunteer in the afternoons. That way it can be something he has to look forward to, in order to get through the morning! What do you think?

*Having lunch with him fairly regularly. It maybe once or twice a month thing, or even once a week. But he is going to have to earn it, and I do think that Fridays will be the day for that. Yet another "treat" for him to work towards.

*Finally, I am thinking of reverting back to the good behaviour tickets, like those he earned in Kindergarten. He really, loved those. Ms. S made it so that everyday they had the chance to earn those, and then at the end of the week, they could trade them in for a prize, or they could save up to get bigger/better prizes. He did love that so much, that I think I will have to do it! It can be something that I do at home, after I hear from you how the day went. I do not expect this to be a thing that you have to do, but your input is obviously going to be needed!

I am so happy that he has you again this year. I know he is happy about that as well. I have repeatedly told him that first grade was tough, and that is to be expected, but this year, well this year is going to be so much fun. Hopefully he will take that to heart and we can have a better year!

Sorry this is so long, but obviously there is still much to be done to get him to a good place!

Thank you for all you do for Spenser! I appreciate it so much!

:)
Robyn

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What do you think?
I tried to not let my emotions about what I perceive as him being treated as just another ill behaved child, come through too much. I also am not trying to blame his teacher, as I know her jon=b has to be so very frustrating. I want her to know that he is a sick little boy. Not your garden variety brat!

Oy, the trials of children!


1 comment:

Muir said...

Robyn,
Sorry I am just now responding. I thought the letter was very good. As a teacher in special ed who gets plenty of letters from parents that can often be over-bearing and (to put it bluntly) asinine, this one was to the point and clear. I don't think that anything was said by you that shouldn't already be understood by the teacher. This teacher obviously isn't new and so has dealt with kids who need a little extra attention in the past. It helps more than you know to get input from a parent on methods to try, and routes to take in dealing with issues.
It is often hard to not place blame on a teacher who may not react as they should with kids who are so unpredictable so I would say, be prepared. I'm sure you know that.
Make sure that Spenser has a "safe" place to go as an accommodation in his IEP to deal with his frustrations (sounds like that has already come up though.) The main thing here though is that these teachers need to understand that a student cannot be punished for having a disability that does not allow them to process situations or function as another student would.
It's interesting to me too, that if a student is able to show that he/she has the ability to write, a teacher would make such an issue of it. Especially since it isn't needed to "pass" state standards according to effed up Ohio. Students can have scribes on state tests so what's the big deal? Anyway, there I go off on a tangent.
Keep me updated and let me know if you need anything as it comes up.