This blog is my place to vent and share resources with other parents of children of trauma. I try to be open and honest about my feelings in order to help others know they are not alone. Therapeutic parenting of adopted teenagers with RAD and other severe mental illnesses and issues (plus "neurotypical" teens) , is not easy, and there are time when I say what I feel... at the moment. We're all human!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

School Assessments and Other Issues

Sept 23rd
ARD/ IEP Meeting - For the school this meeting was supposed to be confirming that Bear's academic classes and IEP did not need any adjustments. Instead I took over the meeting and began talking about all the trouble we had over the Summer (skipping school, sex, drugs, skipping football practice, dropping off the football team at the last minute...). We learned that Bear had failed the first session of Summer school with a 37 and the second session with a 72. The vice principal asked if the class were for credit, and we explained he'd made good grades in the class, but kept failing the TAKS (Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills). The VP stated, that Bear probably knew it wasn't for credit and he didn't really blame him. Uh, thanks for the backup. I'm sure that wasn't the only person Bear got that reaction from though.

Most of those present barely knew Bear. He had spent most of his Freshman year of High School at a special school for emotionally disturbed youth. This year he would be spending the majority of his time at his home campus. I wanted them to be aware that he needed to be well supervised, because I knew he was sneaky and would slip under the radar.

We also reaffirmed that we wanted to have a school assessment done on Bear - cognitive, behavioral, and of course academic. We felt that the school was ignoring, or at least not applying, the many psychological reports we'd brought in over the years. We felt Bear's academic difficulties were being glossed over and that he would be graduating without the skills he needed to survive in the working world. We also felt that there was an underlying issue(or 10) that wasn't being caught that was keeping him from being successful on standardized testing and with anything that involved reading and writing.

November 10th
ARD/ IEP Meeting - This meeting was to talk about Bear's plans for what to do after graduation to determine what courses he needed to be taking. The school had him on the "highschool plan," but Bear wants to go on to college so they talked about what he'd need to do. Of course they didn't really address the fact that he just won't be prepared, because of the type of classes he is taking (applied classes - which are small groups 4-6 students who are studying the same subjects as their regular ed classmates, but are getting just the basics).

We talked about the fact that Bear will not be attending the special school next semester. The special school has stopped being supportive because Bear is only there for a couple of hours two or three days a week so I'm fine with that. One less thing for Bear to hate me for (he blames the fact that he's still in the program all on me - I kept saying he needs the structure).

Minor irritant was the transition plan that Bear's caseworker put together for him because she couldn't find time for him to do it. She made more spelling and grammar errors than Bear would have - and she spelled his name wrong throughout the whole thing.

Assessment was supposed to be done - wasn't. *grr* The whole "team" was a little confused as to how we're supposed to make these decisions without this, and why we didn't delay the meeting until it's done - which we were told would only be a few more days. We're afraid we'll have to have another meeting to redo his schedule at the last minute. I talked to the coordinator of the assessments after the meeting. She wasn't in the meeting and claimed she didn't know the meeting was imminent. She promised to call me the next day to give me a brief summary.

November 11th

Hi Mary,

sorry, I didn't get a chance to call this afternoon, but I wanted to shoot
you an email to give you an overview of Bear's testing results. Academically,
Bear's skills are significantly below age-level expectations. Broad skill
weaknesses were noted. Cognitively, he had a relative strength in fluid
reasoning, which is his innate problem solving ability that contributes to math
development. Also within normal limits was his short-term memory and auditory
processing skills (which underlie language development). Normative weaknesses
were noted in crystallized knowledge, which develops through schooling and
largely based on the investment of other cognitive abilities. Additionally,
weaknesses were noted in long-term retrieval and processing speed as well as
visual processing. Findings indicate that Bear's cognitive weaknesses and
history of mental health issues impeded his performance academically. I will try
to observe him next week and then will write up the report, which will have much
more information and interpretation of data.

Needless to say I'm anxiously awaiting an interpretation of this and how it will effect his school work, and of course the actual report. So of course, this is the e-mail I get over a week later (after I'd left several messages).

November 19th

Hi Mary,

Sorry for the delay in response, but it's been hectic and I've been out
sick. I will have Bear's report written by 12/01, so I can have a copy ready for
you that Wednesday, if you want to come by {Bear's special school for
emotionally disturbed youth} or I can mail it to you. I think {his
home school's counselor} emailed you in regards to scheduling a meeting to
discuss the results and address any questions you have. As for cognitive
deficits, those aren't remediated; Bear will learn to compensate for his
weaknesses through strategies. This, of course, would be an investment on his
part. Academically, the applied classes appear to be a conducive setting in
meeting his learning needs. Hopefully, within those settings they are working on
developing strategies for solving problems and dissecting texts. Bear will need
to learn a systematic way to approach similar tasks, which will help him to
organize and analyze information. I will get the report written, so this will be
more integrated and not so disjointed. Sorry, I know you're eager to get the

Eager? Ya think?!!

Not only am I having trouble understanding what she wrote (and I have a Masters and a very big vocabulary!), but "for some reason" I find this extremely frustrating.

Then I got this e-mail after sending out an e-mail about Bear's recent theft.

Thanks for sharing the update about Bear. I will let Bear's Home campus' Support Counselor, know about what is going on with Bear. I think it would also be helpful for the campus to have consent to speak with his outside therapist. If this is okay with you, I can send home a consent form for you to give the school permission to communicate back and forth with Bear's outside therapist.

Should I give the access to Bear's therapist? We're struggling to get everything done as it is. Do I want to potentially be left out of the loop?

Guess there is nothing to do but wait. This stinks!


Essie the Accidental Mommy said...

Sounds like... I mean I really have no idea since I don't know any of the people but to me, it sounds like she is saying aim for a structured work setting. She thinks he should focus on firming up things he already knows, work on "daily living skills" sorts of things, and vocational skills. This is only my opinion! But it reads like, forget trying to teach him anything else academic, get him ready for the world.

Mom 4 Kids said...

I guess it is that time of year. We just got our first graders mid-term report, which confirms she is not passing reading and math and may be "retained" in the first grade if things don't improve. I knew what was going on and how she is struggling but for some reason it was still a blow to the gut to get the paper. Our IEP review is going to be Dec. 2.

Here's a hug and sorry things stink right now!

Struggling to Stand said...

"Cognitively, he had a relative strength in fluid reasoning, which is his innate problem solving ability ..." Right. His fluid reasoning helps him flow right out of a self-created jam, figure out another lie to make up for the one that was caught ...

Like my A, your Bear has relative strengths exactly where caregivers do not want them.

So many years of A's life were wasted at school ... But if Essie is right about the way the report sounds, be sure the report-writer is in the ARD! Do you have an advocate? ARC offers free ARD advocacy (for all disorders).

marythemom said...

Don't you have to be MR to qualify for the ARC?

Mary in TX

Struggling to Stand said...

No, you do not have to have MR. I am on a list for kids w/ aspergers and many of those parents get ARD help, some from the ARC. I'd had that same worry before I first called them.

It *might* be that they are more specialized in handling barriers-of-the-mind rather than barriers-of-the-body. But Bear falls into the former category.