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!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Kitty IEP

Kitty's behavior is getting worse and worse. She is having more meltdowns, especially around Hubby. Her PTSD is flaring high, and her issues with men are becoming more and more pronounced. Our theory is that she is behaving so well for the school that when she comes home she is already activated and unable to hold it together anymore. The slightest trigger and she loses it. Luckily she has no homework because she gets it done at school. She does have chores though.

I got a call from one of the school behavior specialists before the meeting, asking me about Kitty's behavior at home. She got an earful! She obviously had a questionnaire she was filling out about what triggered Kitty (everything - but especially men, criticism, being told what to do, and chores), what worked to calm her down (nothing if she is totally activated, staying calm and helping her regulate, and distracting her if she's not that upset), what consequences work (threatening to put her in the FAIR Club and sometimes bribing her - um, I mean, offering positive reinforcement), and what consequences don't work (nothing works if she is totally activated, threats, taking stuff away, guilt...).

Kitty had another IEP/ARD meeting today to review how she's doing (it's been one month). Kitty attended this one which was a little frustrating for us because we don't want to address many issues in front of her. It feels like criticism to her and puts us firmly in the "evil parent" role. I listed our concerns for discussion after she left.

She got her IEP goals. They were pretty basic. Most of the time in the meeting was spent explaining to Kitty what was going on - this was her first IEP meeting. Lots of praise for how well she was doing. She is getting a 75 in Language Arts and we were told that was because she was not turning in her reading log. She has a reading log?! We talked about the fact that she never gives us anything that is sent home and loses and forgets stuff all the time. It was one of her few original IEP goals to help her get organized and set up communication between home and school. Obviously that didn't happen.

The praise of Kitty got very deep. We were told that they didn't see a need for a behavior plan because they weren't seeing any behaviors! They did decide to do one for the one behavior issue she's had at school which is going to the nurse's office with minor complaints that she doesn't really need to see the nurse for. This have already been addressed, but oh well. At one point Hubby tried to clarify something with Kitty and she snapped his head off as usual. Later, the vice principal told her that she was doing really well in school, BUT that if Kitty acted as disrespectful in school as she did to her family just then, then she would be in MAJOR trouble (You GO Ms. G!)

We talked about Kitty's classes. She mentioned a substitute teacher in her theater arts class that she said yelled at the class and was unreasonable in his expectations. I clarified with the administrators after Kitty left that this was an excellent male substitute teacher, and that it was Kitty's perception not reality. So they are seeing her issues, but they are mild because she is still in the honeymoon phase. We did mention that when the theater arts teacher leaves at Spring Break to have her baby, that things will be very interesting if that substitute teacher becomes the new teacher (truthfully Hubby and I are half hoping this will happen so that some of Kitty's issues will be effecting her in school).

School ended and Kitty had to leave to get her stuff and get home with Grandma. Then the real fun began!

We knew that if it didn't have an effect at school we would have difficulty getting our concerns addressed. And Kitty was still firmly in the honeymoon period, but we mentiond the major increase in issues at home and our theory that it was caused by her working so hard to behave at school.

We talked about the books that Kitty has been checking out at school triggering issues for her at home (horror, including "I know what you did last Summer," and violent, gory stuff). The library is actually going to restrict them for her!

We talked about the unfortunate choice of "Men are Slime," as the play that Kitty had to memorize and act in. We were told to talk to the theater art teacher, but there was nothing that could be done now.

Then the school mentioned that they thought Kitty should go to a mainstream Texas History class! Hubby and I freaked! She can barely handle the stress of school as it is! We asked her one mainstream class teacher if Kitty was really doing well in the class since the teacher had mentioned that Kitty had had to leave a few times because the room was too noisy. Plus TX History has a lot of reading and note taking (Kitty has poor writing skills). It looked like we were going to be overruled anyway. Luckily someone brought up the fact that the TX History teacher is male! Suddenly they decided that we would wait until next year, but would let her visit some of the classes of the female teachers when they were doing a fun project. Yea!

When we got home, Kitty had yet another meltdown, over having to do dishes. We are the meanest parents in the world for making our child wash dishes, which she hates more than anything in the world. She once again brought up that she wants her sisters here, but this time said they would be hers and hers alone. I told her that if we adopted her sisters that they would be part of our family. She argued from her seat on the floor with tears dripping down her face. She was so activated it just kept going downhill from there. I wish we could just stop and give her a chance to calm down, but she won't allow it. She just keeps pushing and escalating.

Then I watched Wife Swap. One mom actually inspected her children's teeth brushing with a toothpick. Their list of chores made my list look like nothing, and if they did one thing wrong (which they did pretty much daily) they were made to do drills in the front yard where everyone could see (running laps, push ups, etc.). Step-Dad was in the military service. If it weren't for the horrible cursing I would show it to my kiddos! I'm a good mom, I am!


Adelaide Dupont said...

Yes, you ARE a kind and caring Mum.

I wondered why Kitty was able/allowed to leave the room if it were too noisy. Noise is (was) a big trigger for my own long-standing PTSD, especially in the classroom setting. I am sure I would have spent more time out of the classroom than in, if that were the case!

Yes, some of the issues resonate very very much. I thought the twist of the History class was unexpected. It must be a very academic class - is she genuinely interested in history or good at it? Has she had past successes in the field?

Could the theatre arts teacher arrange for Kitty to do stage craft instead, like lighting or sound or even stage management? (That would be great: to micro manage everything!)

The assistant head mistress is a great woman.

marythemom said...

Kitty qualifies as emotionally disturbed. The school has a behavior program that comes to them if they are having behavior problems, this program can pull them out into the hall. Kitty's brother spent more time out of the classroom than in, and eventually had to be removed from all regular ed classrooms. I honestly think Kitty has similar issues, but is not violent or very verbal about it, so it is easily overlooked. She merely falls further and further behind because she can't process information when she is overstimulated. This is often not noticed by the school.

Kitty is of average intelligence and learns well auditorially (sp?). She is mainly in special ed classes because of her learning disabilities in reading and issues in processing (which are probably mostly related to her PTSD). Therefore the special ed teacher felt that the abbreviated version of History that Kitty was getting wasn't keeping her engaged and she needed more activities to keep her interested and learning. If she goes to a mainstream class she would often have an inclusion teacher there to help her and she gets certain accomodations like getting the teacher's notes for the day.

I found that ALL of the children in theatre arts are doing "current teen issue" themed plays, including subjects like bulimia. So Kitty's choice just happened to be one that coincided with one of her many issues - any of her choices probably wouldn't have been much better. I will be talking to the school counselor and the theater arts teacher about whether this was the right choice for my child, but I imagine they see it as doing a public service for all the other children - and I suppose they might be right.

I will definitely speak to them before the next plays are chosen, but even knowing all of Kitty's issues in advance (the theater arts teacher has never been apprised of Kitty's specific issues and even I don't know all) probably wouldn't have helped much. She seems to develop new ones on the spur of the moment!

Thanks for the kind comments!