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, September 10, 2012

Dream Killer

Image result for dream killer
Dreamkiller - my new official title. So much better than B*$@h, right?! *sigh*

Unfortunately, many people in a child's life believe that telling a child the truth about his or her abilities and skills will damage his/her self-esteem. Personally, I believe that if you tell a child that he/she can do and/or be anything he wants to be and then the child fails, then the child assumes that the failure is his or her fault.

I think children need encouragement to find the things that they enjoy but be gently directed away from unrealistic goals. A blind child who wants to be an artist might be guided away from watercolors and instead encouraged to become an amazing Sculptor or discover an interest in becoming an engineer.

Explaining Vocational Goals vs Skills and Abilities
I got to tell my 17yo daughter today that I think she needs to look at some back-up plans for her planned vocation, since I don't think the school can teach her "multi-tasking," and being a preschool teacher pretty much requires that ability.

I soooo hate that the school just goes along with my children's vocational goals being whatever whim my kids have at the moment, without taking into account their actual skills and abilities.

 The last dream of Kitty's that I "killed" was of her being a neurosurgeon. Not such a big deal in elementary and middle school, but she was starting high school and they were going to put her on the "Health and Sciences track."

I asked the guidance counselor why she would even consider this track when Kitty would obviously never be capable of being a neurosurgeon (just her memory issues alone meant that would never be possible). The guidance counselor mumbled something about maybe she could be an aide or tech.
Image result for cat in doctor costume

In front of the counselor, I asked Kitty why she wanted to be a neurosurgeon. Kitty only wanted to be a neurosurgeon so she could make lots of money and buy a no-kill shelter.

When I suggested that Kitty could do something along the lines of working in a shelter or for a vet, she refused because she doesn't want to see animals in pain.

Of course, I still got to be the one to kill Kitty's dream of being a neurosurgeon by gently pointing out that medical school required a LOT of memorization. She agreed that maybe something else would be a better fit.

Be All That You CAN Be
The school did the same thing to Kitty's brother, Bear. Instead of teaching him the practical life skills that he was obviously going to need, they told him he could go to college and be whatever he wanted to be. He graduated without the ability to do ANYthing, and now has the only job/life he's qualified for... prison inmate.

Image result for bear in football uniform
One of Bear's dreams was to be a pro football player.  He was 5'9" and 210+lbs by age 12, but then we found out he was done growing when he turned 14 and while that's not a deal killer, it was unlikely that he could go pro at only 5'9".

He was bigger than the other kids in middle school, but completely and utterly uncoordinated, so he only made the junior varsity B team. In high school, he realized he was no longer the biggest kid on the team, couldn't play because of his grades and discipline issues, and practice was hard work in Texas (especially since he always wears multiple layers of clothing so was constantly having heat strokes).

He also wanted to be a Marine but we knew that with his diagnoses and meds this wasn't possible. We begged the school to be the one to tell him this and encourage him to find a viable back-up plan. We tried for years to subtly push him to choose possible careers at which he could actually be successful but he, of course, preferred to believe his teachers and school administrators who told him he was college material.

We finally FORCED the school to be the one to tell him he needed to pick a different back-up plan and WHY (he kept picking options like Police Officer that weren't viable options either - and they let him).

Unfortunately, the school had avoided it for so long and did such a poor job, Bear still managed to convince himself that I'd made the school tell him this and that I was wrong.

Bear graduated high school {In my opinion, only because they wanted him out of school where they didn't have to deal with him anymore} with totally unachievable goals and no functional living skills. He doesn't even have basic math skills and reads and writes on a 5th-grade level. This is the child they were encouraging to go to college or trade school!

I don't want the same thing to happen to Kitty, who will most likely need to accept that she has to live at home or some kind of supported living for the rest of her life, because it is unlikely that she will ever have the abilities she needs to be able to live and work independently more than part-time.  It would be different if she felt so passionately about something that she would work hard to overcome any obstacles, but she doesn't really like much of anything.

This stinks!!  How do you encourage your child to have ACHIEVABLE dreams, so they won't constantly feel they've failed?  Someone once asked me what my child is good at and enjoys doing...  I can't think of anything.


This whole thing started because Kitty's IEP meeting is tomorrow, and on the way home from equine therapy, she and I got to talking about what issues we need to discuss at the meeting.  She's doing fairly well now, but we wanted to be sure that we prepared for the worst while we hoped for the best.

Here's the agenda I came up with and sent in an e-mail to the school:

My apologies for not getting this report to you sooner {Attached to the email was the results for the Auditory Processing Disorder testing - which show that she does NOT have APD, but scores significantly low on 3 of the 11 items - you have to score significantly on 9 out of 11 to have APD. Still, those 3 scores are significant to her functioning even though she does not have APD}  It was promised to me at the end of July.  There were several delays despite constant assurances that it was on its way.  I eventually received it at the end of August, but it had a major error that needed to be revised.  I finally got the corrected version this weekend.  For insurance reasons, it does not give recommendations (they wouldn't make recommendations unless we paid out of pocket} so I will refer you back to the Neuropsych evaluation completed at the end of last year that prompted this testing.

“Kitty’s auditory attention and discrimination abilities as measured in a structured, quiet one-to-one environment were within normal limits (100th  percentile). However, she had significant difficulty accurately perceiving words in a simulated classroom environment ( less than 1st  percentile).   She also had difficulty as the task increased in complexity and she had to inhibit automatic responses in favor of novel responses.  Slow processing speed was evident on all tasks.  Her working memory and processing speed are significantly impaired and represent significant weaknesses for Kitty.”

Some items we’d like to discuss at the ARD {IEP Meeting}:
Auditory Processing Disorder test results (see attached).
Recent diagnosis of Esophoria (Esophoria is characterized by inward deviation of the eye usually due to extra-ocular muscle imbalance.). This occurs primarily when she is tired and can result in eye strain or double vision.
These difficulties while reading and doing near work can be problematic for learning and can cause a
variety of discomforts, such as a feeling of tension and a headache that gradually increases with
the use of the eyes during the day; fullness in the lids; dull pain in the back of the eyes and brow;
Visual Esophoria and Exophoria  5 and spasms of the muscles around the eye.
Failed the Language Arts TAKS {State standardized testing}.
No more double block math.  Is she in a review class now?  Is she going to be able to take Algebra II next year as she expects?
Equine Therapy – she will be absent every Monday morning until 11am.
Speech – Did she get the promised credit for taking it?
Transition Plan – what is being done to meet these goals?  Child development classes?
Skill Building.  Kitty is requesting skill building in multi-tasking and prioritizing
Calming Techniques – practice, place to do them, someone to help her with them?
The Education for All Handicapped Children Act ( EAHCA) was enacted by the U.S. Congress in 1975. This act required all public schools accepting federal funds to provide equal access to education and one free meal a day for children with physical and mental disabilities. {Does this mean she qualifies for a free meal?!}
What to do about meals?  Her skipping, forgetting, means her meds aren’t working well.
How to handle Kitty’s chronic somatic issues – headaches, stomach aches, tiredness…
How are issues reported to parents? {In other words, they aren't being reported to us!}
Who is her case manager?
Protocol for when she’s upset or overwhelmed.  She wants to know what to do.
Issues with males,
She is stressed and uncomfortable in the cafeteria when the general ed high school students (versus the special school program that Kitty is in} are present

Additional Posts:
DreamKiller Letter to Kitty's School - explaining "dream killing" concerns to child's school case manager
Choosing Joy - Explaining Age-Appropriate Parenting to Your Child
Co-Conspirator Dreamkiller -
enlisting others in explaining dream killing concerns
Life After High School - College, Career, Lifestyle - handling the difference between vocational goals and skills and abilities
Overlapping Diagnoses in Children - why "our kids" often struggle with differences in their skills and abilities
When An Adult Child Moves Out -
attempting to explain limitations to an adult child.
Marriage and SSI Benefits - how having limitations can affect a child's future.


Anonymous said...

Esophoria - do you mean "convergence insufficiency"? I ask because your reference in from 1931. I think there are newer terms for it. I have CI in one eye and wear glasses with an inverted prism in the lens during close-up work. A developmental optometrist should be able to help with that.

And EAHCA was replaced by IDEA in 1990. Lol, I don't think they give away free meals anymore (not that you necessarily want your kids eating the cafeteria food anyways - have you seen the horrible stuff they pass off as "nutritious"?)

marythemom said...

Anonymous - I don't know why I used that ancient reference, but Esophoria was the diagnosis recently given. She doesn't show a problem consistently enough to get treatment with the prisms on her lenses, although it was discussed. It only shows up when she's tired and/or stressed. The second time we saw the doctor they couldn't get her eyes to do it.

Thanks for the heads up on the EAHCA. That would have been embarrassing. Now I've got to figure out where I saw it and let my friend know.

No, I don't really want my kids eating cafeteria food. Our school district doesn't take Federal funding for food so they don't have to meet Federal guidelines. In elementary school, the most popular meal with my kids was the "vegetarian plate" - a cheese stick, a "fruit" yogurt, and a piece of fruit, usually 1/2 a canned pear with colored sugar sprinkles. The food is so disgusting and unhealthy.


jwg said...

On behalf of all the Early Childhood professionals out there, thank tou. There seems to be a perception ouy there that "anyone can work with little kids" and so the (mostly) girls they don't know what else to do with get dumped into vocational programs that supposedly train them to work in preschools and day care programs. Sometimes it works out fine. There will be a sweet kid who really likes children and is quite content to be a spare pair of hands and has no expectation of "teaching" or being in charge. But all to often the girls haven't the patience to deal with little children who aren't always cute and compliant nor do they have the intellectual grasp of just how complex the field is. They become frustrated with the kids and upset that they aren't being promoted. It often ends with the girls being angry and their self-esteem even more shaky. When the placement works out it is a good thing for everyone but when it doesn't the girls are the ones who suffer the most.

Miz Kizzle said...

Have you looked into Job Corps?

marythemom said...

I've looked into Job Corp for both Kitty and Bear. It seems a good alternative for Bear, but we were told most of the population were kids remanded into it by judges and it was a very rough environment. "6 year old" Kitty would be completely overwhelmed and unsafe there.