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!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Going back to public school

Due to financial difficulties, it doesn’t look like we’ll be able to keep our daughters in private school. This means going to public middle school (7th grade) for our 13 year old adopted daughter. I had pulled her from public school 1 ½ years ago because we were informed that going into 6th grade they wanted to mainstream her with a little inclusion help (she had failed the one mainstream class they tried in 5th grade and couldn’t handle the stress of being around her peers, but they insisted they didn’t offer resource rooms in middle school).

Academically she’s working on a 5th grade level. She has learning disabilities, particularly in the area of reading. She tests with an IQ of 76 (although in 3rd grade she tested at 106). She has ODD, PTSD, ADHD (medicated), and depression – probably bipolar and is on meds for it, but is not officially diagnosed. She has attachment issues, but luckily not RAD. She has lived with us 2 years and after 1 ½ years of attachment therapy she is “insecurely” attached. She’s also been in EMDR therapy since July.

Her school assessments, which have to be done every 3 years, “expired” in February. Last year she had a full psych eval done by a private psychologist that may show more issues then they were aware of when she left public school (admittedly I don’t really understand it all). So a new assessment may qualify her for more services, but I’m not even sure what to ask for! We have started the assessment process, so she will be tested while in the private school. Not sure if that’s a good or bad thing. They are “pretty sure” she’ll be labeled emotionally disturbed. Because of the location of her private school she will be assessed by a different school district then she will be attending.

Her private school does not have a special education program and no experience working with IEPs, but she has done pretty well there. There are only 40 children in the whole school (age Pre-K to high school), and her sister is the only other girl in the middle school program this year. Even with the lesser stress at the private school she misses at least 30 minutes a day due to “illnesses” (stomach ache, headache, toothache, dizzy… nothing “really” wrong). She doesn’t have homework unless she doesn’t finish her work. When she does have homework it triggers her ODD and is very hard to get her to complete even though she wants to please her teachers (the ones she doesn’t “hate”). Some days I just take her to work with me and let her do her school work sitting next to me. This can get embarrassing if she’s having an “ODD” day, but I’m the boss so the staff ignore it.

Kitty has major issues with her peers. She is very friendly and makes friends easily, but she doesn’t know what to do next. Her world is completely black and white too. If one friend tells her that another friend did something “mean,” then she immediately HATES the “mean” friend and will spread nasty rumors about them and try to get others to not like them. She will do “anything” for the popular girls in an effort to be popular. She also gets overwhelmed in groups and shows off. She teases and “play fights” and doesn’t understand when it leads to hurt feelings (or worse). Or she gets overwhelmed and shuts down. She has threatened other children (but doesn’t usually follow through – especially at school), and she’ll probably be able to control this at school (saving it for home).

My worry is that we’ll be forced to put her in mainstream classes (which will be academically way over her head) where she will struggle and fall apart, but she probably won’t be aggressive (which is what eventually got her brother into a special school program for emotionally disturbed youth). I worry that she’s high enough functioning not to get put into special classes, but that she’ll stop learning and lose what ground she’s made due to being emotionally overwhelmed. They have a program to help children with behavior issues, but it’s only designed to be a place where the child can leave class until they “get it together” usually a few minutes or a few hours. Her brother ended up being in there all day, but the program was not designed for that and it happened only after the police had to come to the school when he was charged with “terroristic threat.”

I don’t want my daughter to “fall through the cracks” just because she’s not a complete mess. I would love some advice on what to ask for. I know the system and I’m a strong advocate, but I also know the school isn’t going to give me any more services then they have to (as evidenced by her brother), and they won’t voluntarily even tell me what those services are. I kept hoping the money for the private school would come through, but barring a Christmas miracle, we’re going to have to make the best of it


Torina said...

Good luck. We had to change public schools with Tara because they wouldn't provide her with enough supervision and then would complain to us when she would run away or beat up a kid half her age. The one she is at now is great but it is smaller and everyone knows everyone. One thing I stress is that the LRE (least restrictive environment) is a matter of interpretation. For kids with Downs or epilepsy or a more well-known disability, mainstreaming them can be great and is actually an LRE. But for a kid with emotional disturbances like ours, a mainstream classroom is more restrictive because it is overstimulating and overwhelming. At least that is how I explain it to the principal and other teachers. I also bring in the big guns, like letters from our therapists, disability representatives, disability social worker, and more if there is ever a problem. We also have a Special Education advocacy nonprofit in our area and I have brought in advocates to our IEP meetings. Check with your local PACER ( for more resources in your area. You are fortunate that you are not shy :) Good luck! Hopefully, it will go okay.

Anonymous said...

I have no suggestions but I am anxious to follow along and see how this goes. Keep us posted.