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, October 21, 2011


Kitty's IEP meeting was today. I had requested it while she was still in the hospital two and a half weeks ago. I had sent an e-mail requesting an immediate parent/teacher conference and requesting an IEP meeting - citing my concerns for Kitty's safety, and that we felt another placement (special school) would be better. I had told them about the psychiatrists' plans for residential treatment, and gave them a letter sent by the hospital psychiatrist stating that she needed an alternative education placement (and to follow the parents' directives).

For today's meeting, I reprinted the therapist and skills trainer's letters (from an IEP meeting earlier this year) stating that she needed more supervision and services than she was receiving in her current school environment. I had brought a letter (written mostly by my wonderful friend Struggling To Stand) which I passed around. I'd also printed out the safety letter I'd sent out earlier in the week to refresh my memory.

I had requested documentation regarding the number of visits to the nurse (9) and counselor (only 2 documented), but wasn't given access to the behavior staff visits and class pullouts (a lot I'm sure). Of course her panic attack yesterday (she was supposed to give a speech) and all the visits to the nurse since her last hospitalization weren't documented. I'd also printed out her grades (but never bothered to pull them out).

We were told that the results of the FBA (Functional Behavior Assessment) were ready so these would be discussed at the meeting. We knew the FBA was a requirement for a change in placement so had requested that the results be discussed even though the entire FIE {school version of a psych eval} wasn't complete yet.

Those in attendance:

  • Kitty - for only the first half of the meeting while they gave the results of the FBA - {during which she ate lunch, because she'd forgotten to pack one, and was supposed to take her morning meds, which she'd forgotten this morning, but forgot them AGAIN! I'd taken Bear to a meeting so wasn't there this morning when she got ready, and Hubby didn't know how much reminding she needs.}

  • Hubby and I - {I have to say I was VERY impressed with how much restraint he showed during the meeting, the few times he lost his temper he managed to rein it in very quickly.}

  • Kitty's MHMR Case Manager (affectionately known as "the useless lump of flesh") - who only spoke to ask repeatedly why Kitty's skills trainer couldn't come on the school campus, when other schools allowed it. She was told over and over it was "district policy" and wouldn't be allowed, and they had no idea why other schools allowed it. That's all she contributed to the conversation.

  • IEP Meeting Facilitator - who has told us repeatedly that Kitty is doing fine in school so therefore there is nothing the school can/ should change regarding her placement.

  • Mr. New AP - who replaced the old Associate Principal two weeks ago. He was distracted toward the end by something going on with some students and basically kept pushing to wrap things up since we weren't going to get anywhere on placement changes and were out of time.

  • The Behavior Specialist (hereafter known as Ms. BS) - this is the one I've spoken to on the phone. She only works part time on the campus so I'd never actually met her before. She had interviewed me, the teachers and observed Kitty in class, and written up the FBA. {The FBA determines if a child needs a BIP - Behavior Intervention Plan (apparently Kitty does not - according to the Behavior Specialist). Allows them to come up with behavior items to place in Kitty's IEP. And of course can show if Kitty qualifies for a change in placement.}

  • District Behavior Specialist - she didn't talk much. Never seen her before. I'm guessing she was there to make sure no one spoke out of turn.

  • School Casemanager - she taught Kitty last year, but doesn't actually have her in any classes this year. She didn't talk much either. Except to say that Kitty was supposed to communicate to her with hand gestures any time she saw Kitty in the hall, about how Kitty was feeling {Get your mind out of the gutter! Thumbs up, thumbs down or off to one side for so-so}

  • General Ed teacher - never met this teacher before. She teaches "Reading 180." She didn't speak at all.

Who noticeably wasn't there:

  • The part-time school psychologist - who'd actually spoken to the hospital social worker about his recommendations for Kitty, and has been doing testing with her.

  • The school guidance counselor - who Kitty is supposed to go to if she's feeling overwhelmed and stressed. Who has actually seen Kitty as close to a meltdown as she gets at school, and has had to send Kitty back to class when she absolutely doesn't want to go because she doesn't feel safe or feels overwhelmed.

  • The behavior program staff - who have been interacting with Kitty all school year when she gets upset.

They started by reading the results of the FBA.

A month or so ago I was contacted by Ms. BS for a phone interview. She asked me what was my primary concern for Kitty. I informed her that MY primary concern was the meltdowns (which were happening once or twice a day), and she asked me several questions about what comprised and caused meltdowns. I told her many times that I know that meltdowns only happen at home, and my concerns at school involved her obvious anxiety (which was contributing to the meltdowns at home) as evidenced by Kitty "shutting down," frequent trips to the nurse and counselor, self-harming behaviors, poor boundaries with peers, nervous laughter and pressured speech... which of course she was internalizing and bringing home where it was "safe" to express (in meltdowns and suicidal ideations).

The FBA stated that Kitty was being assessed for "Meltdowns" (described as crying, screaming, yelling, threatening self or others) through observations and interviews with school staff (including her case manager who no longer has Kitty in any classes).


I know, you're shocked right?! Therefore based on the FBA results it was determined that Kitty did not need a BIP (Behavior Intervention Plan).

In the process of interviews, it was determined that Kitty's frequent visit to the nurse's/ counselor's office might be an issue. (although the nurse "didn't see the frequency of the visits as a problem at this time"). So they added added a Behavior IEP:

Measurable Annual Goals: Kitty will improve her emotional well being by mastering short term objectives by the next annual IEP meeting.

Short Term Objectives:

  • Using a scale, Kitty will verbalize or express her feelings to a trusted adult in the school setting a minimum of 5 times a week {this will be a thumbs up, thumbs down, thumb to the side gesture to her case manager and/or the AP}.

  • When Kitty is expressing anxious feelings, she will request the assistance of a trusted adult 5 of 5 times.

We then moved on to discuss her "Crisis Plan." Hubby showed a great deal of restraint. (*understatement*)

Basically we were told the Crisis Plan that was already in place looked great and although they tweaked it a little, we ran out of time.

At one point, Hubby confronted them on the fact that they were stating that a child only 2 weeks out of the hospital for suicidal ideation and self-harming behaviors, was to be trusted to tell someone if she felt like harming herself. He asked them what they were going to do if Kitty left the lunchroom walked into the bathroom and hung herself. The AP stated well, she could walk into the school and be hit by lightning too. I asked him if he was seriously comparing the odds of being hit by lightning (while inside a building) with the odds of a teen recently hospitalized for suicidal ideation of actually committing suicide. He backed down a little.

Hubby and I kept trying to discuss the real issue of placement, but were told in no uncertain terms that the FBA clearly showed Kitty did not need other placement.

We were told that the letter from the hospital social worker signed by the psychiatrist only stated that Kitty "be considered" for admission to an alternative education environment and the statement to "accommodate Kitty's academic and social needs per the family's request" was not within the psychiatrist's power to grant.

Summary: There is nothing wrong with Kitty at school. Therefore nothing at school will change.

We have been granted another IEP meeting in 10 days since we disagreed with the results of this one (but mostly to finish revising the "Crisis Plan". We weren't even offered the page to sign if you agree or disagree. Possibly because this is was a Revision IEP Meeting.


Sarah said...

Wow. How frustrating!!! Your Kitty is a lot like my son-- school is his #1 trigger but they don't see the meltdowns at school, he saves them for me. It is so hard to explain to them. Good luck to both of you!

Johanna said...

Can you get an advocate involved? I've heard people say they can be really helpful? or barring that a lawyer? I'm angry for you all just thinking about this!! And praying hard that there is solution waiting in the near future for you and your family.

Tudu said...

You need an advocate. I don't know if she can or will help you on this one but look up The Jani Foundation on FB. Ask Susan to talk to you about it. She offers her services for free for children with mental illnesses. She has a talk radio show called BiPolar Nation in LA.

I think the biggest load of crap about your meeting was their lack of compassion for your daughter's suicidal issues. I would threaten the Hell out of them for comparing them to being struck by lightening. I would demand they put in writing they take full responsibility for her safety while at school and on the bus.