You never want to have an emotionally disturbed child and you certainly never want your child to be unhappy for a prolonged period of time. This has been a hard post to write and I haven’t even been sure I wanted to share it but if it helps someone else going through the same circumstances to know they are not alone, then I’ll be glad to have hit the Publish Post button.
Anna’s special ed teacher called me Friday morning requesting a meeting as soon as possible with the team at school. We met that afternoon.
(On a side note, my digi-friend, Serena, was in town visiting her sister and I got to meet her! She was kind enough to come with me to this meeting and I really appreciated her support. She has a 10-year old daughter on the spectrum so she really understands.)
Sigh. Big deep breath. I have a lot to share. And I’m not sure where to start. And I’ve been writing this for two three days.
The reports coming home in Anna’s Apple Chart have not been good so far (the Apple Chart is our daily communication folder). So I knew that this meeting was going to be heavy going in. Anna’s inclusion teacher went first. She said that Anna is not participating in class. At all. All she does is ask to go to the nurse, all day long. If the class is meeting for carpet time, Anna chooses to sit at her desk. She follows her teacher around all day and if she can’t have the teacher’s attention, she’ll start acting out… turning the lights on and off, knocking stuff of her desk, then getting aggressive. She pulled another student’s hair last week. Can you imagine if your child came home and said someone pulled her hair? Ugh. The mommy guilt is terrible. Anna has even pretended to wet her pants in order to leave class. The teacher and the classroom is quiet and orderly. It’s not a sensory-overload environment. Anna has an aide with her at all times and everyone, including the kids, is supportive of her.
Then the special ed teacher shared that things are even worse when Anna is with her. This is a wonderful teacher, someone who has been working with Anna for three years. We suspect that she is getting the brunt of the behavioral problems because she is Anna’s safe person, if that makes sense. Anna is doing everything she can to get negative attention. And none of us know why exactly. We know she is extremely unhappy and hates school. I’m not sure what her motivation is or what her payoff is in acting out but she is doing it very well. In addition to hitting and kicking her teacher and peers, Anna is also being destructive… throwing things, ripping up things, banging things… you get the idea. Tuesday and yesterday were particularly bad and when I read what has transpired I feel nauseated. I took Anna to the psychiatrist Tuesday morning and because she was well-behaved while in his office, he feels that this behavior is not related to a chemical imbalance or medication. Anna is desperately trying to get out of being in class and her ultimate goal is to escape and be home with me.
So we are consulting with a behavioral therapist. Curtis and I meet with her on Monday, then she’ll meet with Anna, then she’ll come up with a game plan. She’ll observe Anna at home and at school and she will also help us with Dominic since he is also having behavioral problems at school. She specializes in children ages 3-11 with severe emotional disturbances including oppositional defiant disorder, mood disorders, autism, and ADD/ADHD behavior problems. She’s the one to call when you’ve reached the end of your rope as a parent, when you’ve talked with all the doctors and read all the books, and don’t know what else to try. I’m handing her the hope that is in my heart tied up in a little box with a pretty bow. Please.
We’ve been in constant contact with Anna’s team this week. It’s been 4 full weeks of school and they have not covered one single academic area on her IEP… it’s all been behavior management. Of course, I’ve thought about home-schooling her but everyone agrees that this will not help Anna learn to integrate into the real world as she grows up. She is very dependent on me and I’m not good with my boundaries, I do too much for her and enable some of these behaviors, though not intentionally.
All any parent wants is for their child to be happy. Really, you can deal with illness, academic gaps, social issues… but in the end if your child is happy, you can deal. This… this is unbearable. I ache for her.
I’ll keep you posted after we meet with the behavioral specialist. Thanks for your support.