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, August 29, 2010

Better Letter

You guys are sooo great! Thanks! Is this better?

Dear School Teachers and Staff,

My name is Mary TheMom. I am the parent of 9th grade student, Kitty. Kitty is served by the district as a student with an Emotional Disturbance (RAD, bipolar, C-PTSD), Other Health Impaired (medicated ADHD), and Learning Disabilities (cerebral dysrhythmia). If you have any questions or concerns regarding any of these diagnoses or the others that she has, please feel free to e-mail me at or call me at (###) ###-####.

It is my hope that Kitty will have a successful school year. Because she is quiet and a hard worker in class, Kitty tends to not always get what she needs to reach her full potential. I would like to share some information with you to help you better understand Kitty’s reactions, anxiety and issues, so you can better support her and provide an appropriate learning environment.

Kitty is a former foster child, who was discarded into foster care at age 9, because she was “out of control.” This was due to the lack of proper parenting provided by her mentally ill mother, abusive males, and Kitty’s untreated mental health issues. It is rarely seen in her behavior at school now.

Due to trust issues, Kitty’s reactions are often subtle at school, but believe me she is frequently under major emotional distress - at which point she “shuts down” (not learning or remembering!) and is extremely emotionally fragile and at risk. Her Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – causes her to overreact to things you or I might consider minor. It’s difficult to learn math and spelling when you’re in the middle of a war zone!

Some things to watch for:
• Gentle teasing, constructive criticism, or even just the feeling of disapproval, is often perceived as yelling, accusing, and hateful. Kitty has difficulty with teasing, (both peers and adults). She “dishes it” (we are working on this), but she can’t “take it.” Kitty’s usual response to this at school is to dissociate (freeze, change the subject, or tattle – based on her interpretation of events).
Tip: Kitty responds best to caring structure. If she doesn’t believe the person cares about her, she will attribute all sorts of negative motives to them (especially males).
• If Kitty’s speech or laughter sounds loud and pressured, she appears agitated, is overly sensitive, or she is popping her knuckles – she is very distressed and overwhelmed.
Tip: A calm, quiet space so she can emotionally regulate, and a calm, supportive person can really help.
• Although fairly stable now, Kitty has been both suicidal and aggressive. Due to her attachment issues, the child you see at school is not the same one that lives with us.
Tip: Please believe and support us when we tell you how Kitty is doing and notify us of any issues.
• Kitty’s distress frequently exhibits as physical illness (nausea, stomach aches, tiredness, ear aches, headaches…). This feels very real to her, and occasionally it is real.
Tip: Ask her to rate the pain on a scale of 1 to 10, with over 5 or 6 allowed to go to the nurse. (I believe this is in her BIP). Otherwise she will be in the nurse’s office frequently - days with substitutes almost guarantee this. Calling me as needed is always fine.
• FYI, she has some bladder issues and may not be able to “hold it.” I strongly recommend letting her use the restroom if she requests it. We can keep a spare change of clothes at school if needed.

Please contact me for any and all issues with Kitty. I need to be kept abreast of all situations, and I will do the same for you. I am available 95% of the day. I do work, but have flexibility on my job and can be reached by phone at almost any time. I will return your call as soon as possible if I am in a meeting, or you can reach my husband, Hubby, at (###) ###-####.

Yours in Partnership, Mary Brush (###) ###-####.


Meg said...

This is really interesting and a great letter. This letter describes my son as well almost to a "T" (although he does not have the RAD or severe PTSD but does have bipolar disorder & learning disabilities). I think your daughter's teachers will finds this helpful. I'm going to use a version of this at our next school ,if that's ok.

Mama Drama Times Two said...

Bobby perceives everyone as mean and yelling at him - no matter the sex of the person. He usually goes to the principal to report the staff and tell the principal to fire them. Really. Anyhow - your tips might give the teacher a place to start from rather than just throwing their arms up and saying "I just don't know what to do!". We met with Bobby's new middle school team and explained his issues and gave them all fair warning of their year ahead. Best of luck to all of us!