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!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Please Review for me!

I plan to send this to the school along with a letter from Kitty’s social worker at the psych hospital with his/the hospital's recommendations for Kitty.

Please let me know what you think I should add/take away (I know it needs some IEP transition to adulthood goals - since Kitty is on the “minimum high school plan” instead of college track these can/need to be addressed).

I spoke to the IEP Meeting Facilitator yesterday and she implied that while they would hold an IEP meeting because I requested it, that she felt nothing needed to be or could be changed (she’s the one I refer to as saying Kitty’s “academic needs are being met,” and the new FIE is not complete, so there is no point in holding this IEP meeting). Their plan is to continue with status quo because Kitty is already receiving the maximum accommodations that the high school can provide and isn’t acting out in school, but obviously this is not working.

As of now, Kitty needs RTC (residential treatment center - long-term psychiatric hospitalization), but we’re waiting on funding from Nebraska. I don’t actually believe the school district will pay for RTC, but it can’t hurt to let them know I mean business right?

Oh and THANK YOU Struggling To Stand for all the research you sent me and hooking me up with ARC who also provided valuable info! I couldn't have written this without you!


Kitty needs to be able to function both at school and at home. If she’s “functioning” at school, but then coming home with all her internal resources depleted resulting in emotional breakdowns and hospitalizations then how is that addressing her needs?

Changes need to be made because she is clearly not functioning with the current system at school. It is unacceptable that she has to continue with no interventions or supports from trained professionals at school where she spends the majority of her day.

It has been recommended by several psychiatrists Kitty be placed in residential treatment, yet she is still not receiving the maximum equivalent education environment that the school district can provide. Kitty is entitled to a Free Appropriate Public Education. She is not receiving this. Therefore the school district should be reimbursing us for a private placement in residential treatment.

I acknowledge that the school wants to complete the assessment process before making changes, but I believe Kitty is in danger while the school struggles to make observations on a child that is frequently not in class due to hospitalization, appointments and visits to the nurse, and I have to question the validity of testing and assessments of a child who is clearly not stable. I believe the school needs to accept the IEE (Independent Educational Evaluation), which is in agreement with Kitty’s current FIE (Full Individual Evaluation - the school version of a psych eval), and make placement decisions immediately. I’m sure the school does not wish to be legally liable for her bodily harm (escalating self-harming behaviors) and potential death by suicide.


I was told that a new IEP meeting need not be held, because Kitty is “successful academically.”

At school her anxiety, stress, and feelings of being overwhelmed, have typically been expressed as being “shut down” and in somatic illness. Because her behavior and issues are not generally disruptive to the classroom, teachers have been very empathetic, and Kitty attempts to be mindful of her academic responsibilities, I believe that although Kitty is “functioning” most of the time, she is not getting the full education she is intellectually capable of receiving.

This is a child who loves school, and according to her last FIE has an average IQ (although low). {The recorded school IQ is much higher than the one recorded by the neuropsych testing less than a year later} She is in special education classes primarily for her emotional issues and her learning disabilities. Every year we are approached with requests that Kitty be put back in general education classes with inclusion help, and the primary reason this is not done is cited as her repeated demonstration that she is incapable of completing and turning in homework. So how is struggling through special ed classes, being “academically successful”?

Is she meeting her IEP goals? If she is, then are they too low?

When she is at school, how much is she actually participating in class? She calls me from class at least once or twice a day (I redirect her to call FOCUS {FOCUS is the behavior support aides. The 3 of them service the entire school of 3000 students so they're always busy, and are not especially well trained}). She is in the nurse’s office and/or talking to the guidance counselor for hours at a time. She tells me that she frequently rests with her head down in class, and her teachers are sympathetic because she isn’t feeling well or just got out of the hospital.

When I commented on how little school work she was given for the weeks she’s been in the hospital (this week only one assignment from World History – nothing from any other classes), I was told the other classes must be doing mostly class participation activities. So she is missing all of that. (I was also told the teachers may not have been given enough time to get the materials to Kitty – I felt 24 hours was sufficient, but I was not notified that there was more to come or I certainly would have picked it up). How will this be addressed in the future?

Many of her grades/assignments over the 6 weeks were excused because of the hospitalizations. In math she received 100s on her assignments, but 65s and 70s on quizzes and tests. How can you know if her academic needs are actually being addressed?


Kitty is currently so overwhelmed from dealing with her illness, personal history, and emotions that she is unable to cope with any additional burdens. She tends to expend extensive effort in just dealing with daily living.

She comes home daily, anxious about bullying and teasing on the part of fellow students (I have no way of knowing if this is accurate or her perception of normal teenage behavior), and she told me that her response became physical at least once, but she refused to divulge the details (Apparently the boy had been “sexually harassing” her. She “hit him in the face” and he stopped sexually harassing her. She believes that because he stopped, and she apologized for hitting him, that this is unimportant.) I have repeatedly requested that she be given assistance with social skills, but the school has been unable to accommodate this request.

SPECIAL SCHOOL {closed campus public school program for the whole district, designed for emotionally disturbed youth in 6th through 12th grade that Bear attends part-time. It is considered the most restrictive environment the school district can provide and has only 11-25 students total}- She is anxious about others’ responses to her repeated absences, falling behind in school, what others will think of her if she goes to the Special School (she believes others will think she’s “stupid,” has “bad behavior” like Bear, and that her “friends will forget” about her. Not coincidentally, these are the same reasons and results, she believes about why she was placed in foster care and was abandoned by her biofamily). She prefers going to residential treatment (RTC) because it will be “over in a couple of months” (we haven’t told her it could be a year), and “all of my friends know I am suicidal” so she can explain it away without them making value judgments. She is also nervous because the special School is a new situation.

I believe Kitty’s IEP needs to be changed to reflect her obvious Emotional and Transition needs.{need to include some transition goals}

  • Behavior Intervention Plan developed from a Functional Behavioral Assessment that uses current data related to target behaviors and addresses behavioral programming across home, school, and community-based settings;

  • Daily schedules reflecting minimal unstructured time and active engagement in learning activities (for example: lunch, snack, and recess periods that provide flexibility within routines; adapt to individual skill levels; and assist with schedule changes, such as changes involving substitute teachers and pep rallies);

  • Planning for integrated living, work, community, and educational environments that considers skills necessary to function in current and post-secondary environments;

  • Suitable staff-to-student ratio appropriate to identified activities and as needed to achieve social/behavioral progress based on the child's developmental and learning level (acquisition, fluency, maintenance, generalization) that encourages work towards individual independence as determined by, for example:
    (A) adaptive behavior evaluation results;
    (B) behavioral accommodation needs across settings; and
    (C) transitions within the school day;

  • Social skills supports and strategies based on social skills assessment/curriculum and provided across settings (for example: trained peer facilitators (e.g., circle of friends), video modeling, social stories, and role playing);

  • Professional educator/staff support (for example: training provided to personnel who work with the student to assure the correct implementation of techniques and strategies described in the IEP).


“In General. To the maximum extent appropriate, children with disabilities, including children in public or private institutions or other care facilities, are educated with children who are not disabled, and special classes, separate schooling, or other removal of children with disabilities from the regular educational environment occurs only when the nature or severity of the disability of a child is such that education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily” 20 U.S.C § 1412(a)(5)(A).

Kitty is currently in the most restrictive environment that her high school can provide… and still struggling. I believe the severity of her disabilities is not being served satisfactorily.

Areas Kitty’s current Crisis Plan does not address:

  • Kitty not willing to return to class from nurse’s office, despite not being sick (fever, rash…).

  • Kitty having subjective symptoms – exhaustion, headache, stomach ache…

  • Self-harming behaviors.

  • Kitty’s feelings of not being safe (in particular from urges to self-harm unless she’s being actively supervised by someone aware of this behavior)

  • Feeling overwhelmed or stressed

  • Discussing her issues/concerns/ stressors with a non-trained professional vs. a behavior specialist

  • At what point should parents take Kitty home if not sick (fever, rash…) – what are the alternatives?

  • Time spent in class with head down/ not participating when feeling bad

  • Time spent in nurse’s office instead of class

  • No description of interventions and supports beyond FOCUS taking her to nurse or counselor’s office for assessment

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