HELP with preliminary results from school evaluation

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mom2tkh
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12 Dec 2013, 2:04 pm

momsparky wrote:
I think it's true that there is a wide variety of views within the fields of psychology and psychiatry, and that people don't always avail themselves of the most recent data.

Unfortunately, you can't check the credentials of a school psychologist (or you can - but it won't do you any good, really.) You're assigned one and you are stuck with them.

Unfortunately, autism is poorly understood - so many parents find themselves in the position of educating someone with a PHD. This is one reason why it's helpful to have an advocate - it's easy for someone with a doctorate to tell one person (or one family) they're wrong to their face, but it's harder for them to say no to two, especially if the second person has some professional credentials. Schools, sadly, tend to be dismissive of parents - even though in many cases a parent has more years of experience with their own school-aged child than a PHD has had years in school.
Sometimes, parents need to point that out, loudly and clearly.


That is the truth. I think the psychologist that I am dealing with is scared that the school Is going to disagree with him. I tried to tell him you are the phd not them. They should respect your diagnosis.



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12 Dec 2013, 2:24 pm

You're probably right-- my point of view should probably be discarded. Not so much for optimism, but for hopelessness and black cynicism.

One would HOPE they would be intelligent enough, in the 21st century, to understand that a mood disorder DOES NOT IN ANY WAY EQUATE TO "DOING IT ON PURPOSE," and still requires services and accommodations. If they don't-- well, I doubt the full weight of the law can convince them to treat ASD in a sane manner either. They're probably still seeing a cross between Rain Man and Adam Lanza-- and that may be the kind of treatment that diagnosis garners.

Please bear in mind that I'm typing from the depths of my own PTSD-level abject terror.

We've toyed with the idea of having my therapist write up a 504 based on an assessment of "anxiety disorder," with a lot of the same accommodations-- that outbursts/meltdowns should be treated as mistakes not misbehavior, that fidgetiness and excessive talking should be handled with things like rubber bands around the chair legs, Velcro inside the desk, a notebook to doodle in, extra breaks if necessary, that good behavior should be pointed out and rewarded more than bad behavior is pointed out and punished.

We're not doing it-- dragging him for a private evaluation on Monday instead-- because I DON'T think anxiety is all of, or even most of, the problem. I'm still a MOTHER-- I want to identify the problem, address the problem, and give the kid all the skills possible to make the best go of his life he can.

It just so happens that I've also been discriminated against because of my diagnosis enough times that the FIRST thing I am going to bring up to the evaluator is that we need to keep that fact in mind-- that I want to get at the truth so we can find the best treatment for the problem, but that he needs to weigh that against the possibility that having those three letters or four letters (or not) can very well have as much impact on his life as having the condition (or not) or getting the right help (or not).

My PTSD, of course, may or may not be your experience. Personally, I'm listening for the sound of breaking glass (that's a reference to Krystallnacht) while I'm looking up countries in the developing world and trying to choose five or six that would be good places to run to in the event that they DO start "mandating that those with certain dangerous conditions like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or high-functioning autism be placed on a registry similar to that for sex offenders."


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mom2tkh
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21 Dec 2013, 5:17 pm

Well the results are finally in and my son is diagnosed with ASD. After I spoke with the psych about my concerns with labeling him ED instead of ASD he understood where I was coming from and couldn't deny an ASD diagnosis.
I was right about him thinking the school was going to disagree. He said he didn't know if I was ready for a possible fight with the school over the ASD diagnosis. Apparently after he talked to the principal and told her I would go for an outside evaluation if they tried to put him under the ED qualification they decided to agree with the actual diagnosis.

The psychologist tried to say he was trying not to label my son too early. He is 6 and isn't early intervention better for kids with ASD. He was wanting to wait a couple years since he is so high functioning. That would have put him in 3rd or 4th grade. In my opinion that is just way too late.

I am just glad that he finally will have a chance to get the help he needs. Thank yall for all of your support and help through this process!



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21 Dec 2013, 6:29 pm

Good deal, congratulations! Next step: get an IEP in place that sets goals for the non-educational issues that concern you (google "functional skills" in Wrightslaw) I think there are sample IEPs stickied on the top of this board.

Keep this distinction in mind when you're talking to the school - If there are things (even non-academic things) your child needs to LEARN, he needs an IEP. If there are changes the school needs to make to provide an appropriate environment so your child CAN learn, he needs a 504. Don't let them confuse the two: breaks and extra time and chewing gum or toys and such are well and good if that is genuinely all that's needed, but they aren't going to replace teaching your child to show appropriate social behavior, or to handle his body in space, or to manage the volume control in his voice.

Good luck! Sounds like things are going really well!



mom2tkh
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21 Dec 2013, 6:51 pm

Thank you! We will absolutely have an iep. We have a meeting January 7th. He was already under a 504 but showed he needed more support. That is how we even got the special ed evaluation. I requested the autism evaluation because the school didn't think that was something that needed to be evaluated. Apparently they were wrong.

I am just ready to see how this meeting goes and what accommodations we can get so that he can start doing better in school. I have been on wrights law quite often lately. I need to get my stuff together for the meeting though. I'm glad we have a little time before the meeting and he gets a break from school too.



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21 Dec 2013, 7:17 pm

Just to be clear: your child doesn't need accommodations alone (that's what the 504 offers.) He needs individualized education. Hopefully, your school won't be one of the ones that you have to stay on top of, but just in case, here are some things I wish I'd known (had these troubles in elementary school - our middle school never gave me a problem; it isn't every school.)

He needs to be implicitly taught things that other kids do not. The IEP (individualized education plan) should be, essentially, an outline of a curriculum just for him, along with a grading rubric (goals) that shows his progress in learning the stuff he needs to know.

Schools like 504 plans - and also to treat IEPs as though they are 504 plans - because there is no accountability on THEM to teach; they just plop down the accommodations and that's supposed to fix it (and, sometimes it does - sometimes, just not having to wear a scratchy uniform sweater if that's what is really the culprit of everything - sometimes that is enough, right?)

Problem is, if that doesn't work, schools are notorious for putting the responsibility back on the KID: e.g. "Well, we provided a homework planner, but your DS just WON'T use it properly! Can't you come into school and help him write down his assignments?" (You think I'm kidding? I was asked to come in to school once a week to clean out my son's locker and desk.) If you're dealing with emotional outbursts, be prepared for the school to try to put that on YOU. "We followed the accommodations, but DS's behavior isn't improving: is he getting enough sleep at home?"

It is their job to see to it that your child is taught to use whatever strategy they plan to employ to help him. They have to do it. Be prepared at your meeting to say "so how are you going to implement that?"



mom2tkh
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21 Dec 2013, 7:32 pm

Thank you! That does sound like something my school would do for sure. I will be prepared for that in our meeting. I guess I didn't think about how accommodations and individualized education were different. I thought that the iep would still be called accommodations. I think I just had my words mixed up. I also have never been to an iep meeting so I don't know what to expect.



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21 Dec 2013, 7:47 pm

No worries - the reason I'm posting is that I've found that school teams can often be overly literal (ironic, ain't it?) and having the "magic words" is important.

For us, the IEP meetings generally involve an entire group - his "team" (which is how it's referred to in general,) consisting of all DS's teachers, the school social worker, the speech therapist, the school psychologist and my son's SPED teacher. My son has ONLY functional goals in his IEP - academics are not a consideration (so don't let them tell you "his academics are fine")

It can be a little intimidating - so make sure you bring your child's therapist or your best friend or somebody who is connected to you and your child but not to the school, not because the school might screw you over (they most likely will get on board and do fine from this point) but so you have a sanity-check. It's supremely difficult to manage your own emotions AND be professional AND provide oversight - bring backup. They don't need to be a professional (though that can help.)



mom2tkh
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21 Dec 2013, 7:56 pm

Our behavioral therapist is planning on coming to the meeting with me. Thank you for all your advice about the meeting. It's nice to have a little personal insight from others before the meeting.