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!

Friday, April 22, 2011

School Days

Triplehmoms: "I thought I remembered you saying that Kitty had low to low average IQ and other issues surrounding learning too. I was just asking what you expected her to "get" out of school.

I am not sure what is available in your area in terms of alternate schools. I know here, we have different alternatives, both public/charter or private. It just seems that SO much of Kitty's school issues surround the other kids, not necessarily the work she needs to complete. So, perhaps a different school setting is in order, even an online setting. This would just give her the option of 'self-paced" to complete her work and not have to deal with the kids. Yes, I realize that she will eventually have to deal with the public in the work force, etc. but she doesn't HAVE to do it now. I hope that makes sense."

Generally both kids have general IQs in the low 90s, which isn't bad. EXCEPT, they have major issues with memory, they have many areas areas they don't do well in (especially math, reading and writing/spelling), and when they are under stress or feel anxiety, they can't process well and regress to about 2nd grade level. Add in the fact that they are emotionally disturbed...

Will be interesting to see if the new evaluation tells us anything different. Of course taking it during her current issues seems like it would skew everything, but it's probably always going to be something.

Our adventures with schools


Kitty came to us 1/2 way through 5th grade with an IEP for her ADHD and learning disabilities. She was working on about a 2nd grade level and we were told she HATED school. Just before school ended for the Summer we got her put on Concerta and she jumped academically to about 4th grade! She was mostly in the resource room, and was failing the few regular ed classes with inclusion help that she had.
(That's Bob in the background. Kitty on the right. The other girl was one of Bob's best friends)

Kitty was much more focused on being popular, especially more popular than Bob (who has been with most of these kids since she was age 3, but is introverted and not interested in being popular). Bob tried to warn her about the popular girls (who could be very mean), but Kitty couldn't accept her warnings.

Kitty tried to make friends with the other kids by making Bob look bad. She also tried to ingratiate herself with the popular kids, and briefly she was new and the kids were paying lots of attention to her, but while Kitty is very friendly, she doesn't have many social skills so couldn't maintain the friendships. Plus her black and white thinking got her into trouble pretty quickly as the other kids did things that she considered wrong and she started taking sides.

The public school said they intended to mainstream Kitty with inclusion help, despite the fact that she was failing all her mainstreamed classes. We couldn't let that happen so we started looking into private schools (we'd never heard of charter schools). No one would touch a kid with Kitty's learning disabilities. A neighbor started teaching at a small private school (less than 40 kids in the whole school Pre-K through high school!) that took kids with special needs - focused on kids with attention differences (quite a few kids had ADHD and Aspergers).

We enrolled Bob, Kitty and Ponito. (Bear was in residential treatment and then the special school, and with his issues there was no way the private school could/ would accommodate him anyway - although they had let him attend "Summer school" briefly right before he got into the RTC. We had him zombified on Dep*kote until a bed opened up, so while there he mostly slept or cried for a few hours a day - giving us a little respite.)

The first year was pretty good. They did assessments and started helping Kitty fill in the gaps and get caught up. We assumed that most of her academic issues were the untreated ADHD and social issues. The school used a workbook format so Kitty could work at her own pace and none of the other kids were aware that she wasn't working on the same level as everyone else. I was surprised that she did OK with the workbooks, but maybe it worked because she could switch subjects whenever she needed to. The teachers (one of which was our caring neighbor) were right there to answer any questions.

Kitty's relationship with Bob improved (partly because we'd moved them out of the same room, and partly because Bob got significantly taller than Kitty and Kitty was afraid of Bob). Kitty made friends with the only other girl in their age range. Bob wasn't interested in the gossip and made other friends.

Kitty continued to have issues with academics though. She was also chronically tired, "ill" (headaches, stomach aches, tooth aches...) and frequently smelled so badly (RAD stink) that she had to be sent home. She wouldn't/ couldn't let me help her with makeup work and slipped further and further behind (she was supposed to do a certain number of pages a day, but wasn't able to get them done). We tried to continue on over the Summer to get her caught up, but it didn't go well and we experienced multiple meltdowns.

Kitty's only friend, the other girl in the class, went back to public school. We were having major issues affording tuition. Kitty's learning disabilities seemed to be causing her more and more issues. I think academically the concepts were getting more abstract, which Kitty couldn't grasp. We had her assessed by the public school system in the school district she attended private school in, (telling them that no matter what they wouldn't have to provide services), and got a pretty accurate assessment (in my opinion). They said Kitty was still acting as though she had just left a war zone and that was why she was having so many issues with anxiety. When she was under stress, she dropped from operating on about a 5th grade level to a 2nd grade level.

Half way through the 7th grade, we finally decided we had to put Kitty (and Bob) back in public school. (We'd already put Ponito back at the beginning of the year). With a lot of advocating we got Kitty back in all resource classes. She was in and out of psych hospitals all that year.


The school said they wanted to put Kitty in several regular ed classes with inclusion help. I pointed out that she had never successfully had a class with homework, and felt that starting high school with homework too, seemed stupid to me. I managed to convince them to put her in all Applied classes and suggested they assign homework. They haven't done that yet, so I don't see them convincing me to put her in mainstream classes.


We've looked into charter schools, but most of them won't take kids with Kitty's learning disabilities. Online and homeschooling is not an option for the same reason. Plus Kitty is an extrovert and craves being around other kids. I wish we could put her in a school with younger kids who don't have the same issues that she's exposed to in public school (private school was a little better, but not much when it came to other kids' attitudes and drama).

1 comment:

Mommy's Journeys said...

Sometimes I think blogger hates "ate" my comments and so I type them again. argh!
Thanks, Mary, for responding. That does give me a better picture of Kitty and school. I KNOW that it is oh SO easy for me to sit here and give my input/thoughts when I am not the one involved. I KNOW that this issue is not black and white and that YOU know the dynamics of your children the best. I'm just trying to help you to think of what might be options for Kitty.
What about charter schools now? You mentioned that you looked at them before. The charter school that my daughters attend has a very low student/teacher ratio. They don't offer a lot of special services but the lower ratio can help with a ton, I think.
Can Kitty distinguish between school and social times or is that one in the same for her? In other words, could she do homeschool/online school with a set schedule and have PLANNED social times (by planned I mean something regular, not "let's get together with XX friend today) and "get" it? So, schooling is daily from 9-11 a.m. and then we meet with the XX group at 1 p.m. for music/art lessons. This wouldn't necessarily give you any respite time BUT if Kitty was more regulated more often, perhaps your need for respite would be taken care of at other times, like with the Saturdays with Grandma.
Again, I don't know if any of this is "workable" for you and your family. Just trying to help you think, from an outsider looking in.