Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Gimme-an "I", gimme-an "E", gimme-a "P"!!!

Still seeking an IEP for Genea.

We had her Parent- Teacher Conference this week, and it seemed to go well. The school psychologist sat in and even still, it lasted less than an hour.

Funny side note- my friend Sarah calls it the "Conference Walk of Shame", when the discussion of your child annihilates the time slots for 3 more kids, thereby throwing every single parent off track at least 45 minutes for the rest of the night. You slink out of the classroom, eyes to the floor, knowing that the other parents are wishing long forms of ill- will towards you. Ahem.

Anyway, Genea is not currently receiving extra support in school. She has an unofficial accomodation plan, which is essentially notes from last years teacher to this one. Otherwise, she has always skated the line and landed in "low average" in testing. She is not disruptive, she gets enough work done to grade. She was tested in 1st grade for speech and language, and it turned out she was faking a fluency disorder. The standard in our schools is the childs disability has to interfere with learning to be considered for an IEP and Genea's disabilities have not.

Mrs Teacher shyly brings up the mess of Genea's homework, like she wishes she didn't have to. This is what I said. I check her school folder every day whether she says she has homework or not. We make Genea and her sister go to their room for an hour every day to do schoolwork. The lights are dim and the room is quiet.  No talking, no radio, etc.  My husband and I then remind her on average 3-5 times an evening to put it in her backpack. She has a little book on a ring that I made her with detailed lists of the few things she needs to get done. We refer her to check her book another 2-3 times an evening. There are only 2 choices left at that point. We actually do it for her (umm, NOPE) or we beat the crap out of her when she "forgets" (also, NOPE). So, we let her suffer the consequences at school. That's going to have to suffice.

In comes Mr. Psych saying (20 minutes late), ok, lets start at the beginning! I must have audibly groaned, instead of groaning in my head like I planned, because right away he took it back by asking Mrs Teacher, what are some of Genea's strengths. Ok, great! Let's start there!

Mrs Teacher rambled through a few things about how Genea likes school, and she tries very hard, blah blah blah. I nodded frequently and tried to look supportive. Meanwhile, I am trying to shift my balance in a way that does not involve one ass cheek hanging off a chair meant for an 8 year old. There is just no dignity to be had on those little chairs. I didn't chime in. First of all, I have learned to not jabber on, making these things go longer than they need to. Secondly, I appreciate the effort to Be! Positive!, but the fact is I am well aware of my daughters fantastic strengths, of which there are many. Now, we NEED to work on other area's so lets please just get to the point.

Mr Psych asks if Genea has any mental health diagnosis. Umm, SURE, which ones do you want? Because we have Reactive Attachment Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, ADHD and PTSD. Maybe a few others I forget. But I pointed out, you may as well call it LMNOP Disorder, because with all that overlap none of it really answers anything. Messed Up by Orphange Life Disorder. FUBAR'd by Adults Disorder. Don't Ask Me to Finish My Homework, I'll Show You! Disorder. I explain Genea's background of extreme neglect, instability, abandonment and of course the fucktardmoron family. Moving on.

Mr Psych then wants to know is Genea in any therapy. Yes! I can say! We just saw a new psychologist last week! He spent an hour with Genea, then suggested putting together a "team" of professionals to work out a true diagnosis and intervention. She sees her new child psychiatrist next week! (Incidentally, Teena also had an intake appointment that day for possible ADHD. They do several appointments with testing and evaluations across a couple of months before they will come to a conclusion, however at the end of Teena's time, the New Guy says..... "quite frankly, she is really hyperactive". I KNOW THAT!)

Mrs. Teacher has a few concerns. Number one is Genea's inability to focus. I explain 'hypervigilance" as opposed to ADHD, and while she still carries that diagnosis I am now certain it is not accurate in the sense that she has no attention span at all but it's not due to the same region of the brain that causes ADHD. She goes on about how Genea plays with her hair, monitors everything but her paper,and needs constant teacher attention to get back on track. Hmmm, I think in my brain, I bet she's manufacturing a lot of that to suck in teacher time. Ahem. I let them know that Genea is the same at home. In fact at home she paces. Back and forth, back and forth, for hours at a time. She is never actually doing anything, but she tries to make it look like she has very important business on the other side of the room. The side she just left 7 seconds ago. And back again.

Next, Mrs Teacher shows us an assignment. The writing is large and off- lines. She has written 3 sentences about a "recent event in her life that she enjoyed". She has been telling Mrs Teacher that she just can't remember anything else. So those 3 sentences is what Genea has completed after a WEEK. Mmm. Now I am sure Genea is jacking her around. I explain a little about RAD to her. It's a hard thing to explain to a bright- eyed teacher in her 20's, who is incidentally pregnant, that this sweet, adorable, little 8 year old girl is lying her ass off in order to suck you in, but I tried. I let her know that of all the things in this world that Genea knows, FOOD is one of her favorite things. There is just no way she went to The Nasty Buffet and can't remember anything about it. She always eats the same thing, mac and cheese with a side pile of broccolli. She lives for that ice cream machine with all the germ infested toppings next to it. I gently tried to explain to Mrs Teacher that  she was getting played. I tried to soften it a little by letting her know that if Genea is playing you, it means she likes you! Really! She doesn't waste her time, otherwise she would dedicate her school time to sucking someone else in!

Not sure if that helped or not.

Anyway, it's about this time that I realize I have a booger growing in my left nostril. It feels as if it may have dislodged itself and is precariously balanced in there with the potential to vacate the premises, if you know what I mean. Mr Psych and Mrs Teacher continue their meeting while I try to figure out what to do about this growing emergency. A few discrete wipes does nothing, but also does not make it worse. I try to focus on breathing out the right side nostril so as not to cause any turbulance on the left. Sigh. The things I have to deal with.

Anyway, Mrs Teacher has a few more points to make. Genea is at a "Level J" in reading, which is a starting 2nd grade level, and has made no progress since starting 3rd. (I really think all of 2nd grade was a useless disaster). She hates to write and tries to get out of it. She seems to understand math, but has not come near mastery of the concepts.  She is behind, and falling further behind. Mrs Teacher has a few ideas that she wants to try which sound good. Specialized reading help, stuff like that.

(Just a note that this is what I have worried about all along. I could see this coming, the day Genea started school 3 years ago. The gap between what kids in 3rd grade are capable of and what she is capable of is getting wider and wider. I have said this over and over, and expressed that I have been trying to avoid it getting to this point every year for 4 grades now. So can we please fucking do something this time?)

Mr Psych then makes a comment that has me wanting to shove his non-dangling ass cheek off of his 3rd grader- chair. He says, "well, I'm on the fence. Mrs Teacher is going to start some exciting new strategies, and since Genea is starting with counseling I think we should wait and see how it goes".

Here's is what I am thinking:


 As my eyelids levitated, I tried asking the teacher if she felt that all these extra unofficial accommodations were really sustainable in her grade and in future years. You know, like, I know there are other kids in the class and while I appreciate you wanting to be almost a 1:1 with my daughter, the other kids really do deserve an education as well. OF COURSE! She rushes to assure me, SURE! She is smiling and defending herself and teachers everywhere. We can do it!

My brain groaned again.

But then I am also thinking, what if they are worried I might be upset if my child has special needs? Maybe they want to soft-pedal the point in time where they say, your kid isn't making it and probably can't. Most parents will take that hard. However, I adopted Genea knowing ahead of time that this time would come so, no devastation here. I decide to get to the point, not to mention I can hear at least 2 families shuffling around in the hall waiting for their turns.

I turn and look directly at Mr. Psych.
"I want Genea on an IEP. She has significant delays, she is not getting better. She needs extra help."

"well," he says, "we have all these things we want to try......"

I cut him off. I said, "Look, Genea is doing better right now than she ever has. In the past 6 months she has significantly improved. And she is still falling behind. She needs the extra help."

Then I employed one of my favorite strategies to get the other person to show their hand. Silence. And Staring. Mr Psych bends his head over his notepad and I catch him giving Mrs Teacher the side eye. Mrs Teacher is giving him the side eye back. Finally he says, okay, I will write up a referral for her and start testing for learning disablities. We will have a meeting to discuss the results in 6 weeks or so.

Great! That's all I wanted!


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