So now I'm working on making sure that Kitty is getting what she needs in school. A good friend of mine, Kathy, works as a vision and hearing specialist and she goes to daycares and small schools to test the children. One year when I was working at a private preschool, she noticed that my thyroid didn't look right and warned me to get it tested. She caught what could have been a very serious issue (so far it's not, although I've been delaying getting the nodes tested for cancer because we can't afford the deductible right now).
While testing Kitty's vision, Kathy noticed Kitty's difficulty with reading. Kathy has a son with dyslexia and she called me and strongly suggested I get Kitty tested. Now we've always known Kitty had Learning Disabilities with a focus on reading, but our priority was to get her into a setting where she could function. The public school had told us that when Kitty started 6th grade she would be mainstreamed for all her classes (in elementary school she was only mainstreamed for one class which she failed miserably). We said heck no! 15 minutes of inclusion a week would not be sufficient! Plus, Kitty cannot handle the social aspects of school - it is totally overwhelming for her. A stressed out, overwhelmed child cannot attach to her family and most definitely cannot learn.
So we decided on a very small private school, and it worked. Kitty is able to function and has progressed from being 2 years behind to only one and one-half years. This Summer we wanted to help Kitty catch up even more, so she continued with her school work all Summer (let me tell you this did not make her a happy 'non-' camper!). Her diagnostics revealed that not only did this not help, but she was actually a little further behind! *sigh*
Then Kathy pointed out that while the school was not making Kitty worse (unlike the public school), she wasn't learning what she needed to learn to become successful either. She wasn't learning the "tricks" that I learned to help compensate for my dyslexia. She wasn't learning to spell.
If we hadn't addressed her emotional needs Kitty wouldn't be able to handle or focus on her academic needs, but now it's time to figure out how to get it all. So I'm looking at getting her assessed for bipolar disorder and dyslexia. Neuropsychologist and/or regular - will my insurance pay for both?! The school tested her for learning disabilities 2 years ago in a tiny little town in rural Nebraska, so they feel that their responsibility is over in that respect (until 12/09). I do have calls in to them to find out if we can access any special services based on that testing, and to get copies of her testing. The tiny private school Kitty goes to accepts children with special needs (ADHD, Aspergers...), but they do not have a special education teacher or the wherewithall to get one.
The next question will be what to do with the information. Force the public school system to provide services (will that even be possible without making her attend public school?)? Hire a private tutor or therapist to work with her one on one before or even during school? (I can't even imagine the expense). There are free special programs that work with kids after-school, but she's either too old, or they won't take kids mid-year. There is a special school just for kids with dyslexia, but they aren't sure they can handle her other special needs and cost more a year then it costs to put all 3 kids in private school.
Meanwhile, we have a parent teacher conference with the school next week due to Kitty's poor hygeine (this week she was almost sent home because her shirt smelled "soured" - normally it's body odor). I have to admit I'm a little frustrated with this because they haven't talked to her about it! She thinks we're crazy, and being picky and mean to her when we make her change because her shirt is stained with breakfast (or other mysterious marks), or wear socks with her shoes, or wash her hair with conditioner and shampoo, or wear clothes that have seen the washer since she last wore them.
We will be bringing her to this conference and they will address this with her! I've already got tons of points in the hygeine category of The Meanest Mom competition - they need to handle this. I'll handle the fact that my 6 year old niece won't play with her because she smells and that she has 4 loads of dirty laundry a week, but never has anything to wear.