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!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Dream Killer strikes again - study skills

We were having an unusually peaceful therapy session today, so toward the end we talked briefly about what would happen after high school.  Kitty mentioned that she'd thought about taking a year off of school, because she "needed a break," but her sister, Bob, had told her that people who took a year off of school tend to never go to college.  Her therapist asked if she'd planned to get a job during that time, and Kitty said she hadn't really thought about it.  I casually pointed out that to live in our house you had to be in school or have a job, and pointed out that if she wasn't in school or working, and wasn't living at home, then she'd have no way to support herself.

We switched back to what she needs to go to junior college, and Kitty was able to hear and contribute to our conversation regarding the fact that without accommodations she didn't have all the skills to go to college yet (study skills, note taking, handling large class sizes...).  We talked about other alternatives, like technical school, but Kitty had no interests other than teaching preschool.

We talked about how the school wasn't doing a lot to help Kitty get the study skills she needs (whether that was because they weren't bothering to try anymore after several failures or surrendering to fact that Kitty's brain is damaged and unable to learn this).  So Kitty's therapist started talking about how to get study skills, note taking skills, homework, and organizational skills.  She brought out her laptop and pulled up a website that had articles about acquiring study skills.

Kitty decided to read aloud from the article about note taking, and I wondered yet again how she could be doing as well as the school claims.  She struggled with about every 10th word.  She'd never even heard of outlining (one of the suggestions).  Even after we described it to her she had no idea what it was. One of her IEP accommodations is that she's to be given the notes on class lectures and I was going to suggest she try rewriting those (another suggestion in the article), but she said the teachers never lecture.  Which of course is how she learns best.  She said mostly she is given worksheets with blanks to be filled in.  She was struggling with the word banks for the blanks because there were too many words so they were overwhelming.  So her teacher broke down the word banks into smaller groups (sounds like about 3 words for 3 blanks instead of all the words for the whole page).

Maybe my expectations are too high, but that sounds ridiculous for a child they say is mostly on grade level and are talking about being ready for junior college (although she's on the "high school track").

Kitty also stated that she has to write things down verbatim, doesn't know how to summarize, has trouble remembering to turn things in.  Kitty talked about going to one of those places that cost a lot of money (we eventually figured out she meant Sylvan learning center).  I told her those places weren't really for people with learning disabilities like hers.

I went ahead and reminded Kitty that Grandma is a certified teacher (including special ed) and could put together something specifically designed for Kitty, but Kitty doesn't like Grandma very much at the moment.  We talked about how over the years Grandma has tried to help her, but Kitty wasn't interested.  Kitty suggested a neighbor is a teacher and could help her, but I pointed out that this neighbor has 2 jobs and 4 kids and wouldn't really have time to help (not to mention she has an elementary education degree, not special ed).

We agreed that we would discuss her need for study skills at the next IEP meeting (again!), and the therapist suggested she practice for 20min a night.  Kitty was down on this idea until we talked about using a child development textbook and having her read and practice summarizing.

Kitty is still being told by the school that she can go to college and become a preschool teacher, and she walked away from therapy feeling the therapist agreed.

I asked Kitty to wait in the lobby for a few minutes while I talked to the therapist (something I rarely do).  I wanted to talk about legal guardianship and whether or not it's the right thing to keep encouraging/ allowing Kitty to believe that she can become a preschool teacher.  The therapist pointed out that all work and study skills learned are good skills and she can use these in whatever job she ends up working in the future, and I agree...
                      ...BUT we learned the hard way with Bear that if we allow the child to focus exclusively on one career (in his case the military), then when it doesn't come to pass then they are at a total loss.  Bear just shut down and lost his way.  He couldn't accept this and find a new path.


After the therapy session, Kitty started asking what the therapist and I had talked about.  I tried to fob her off with telling her we'd talked about Bear (which we had), but she wouldn't let it go and since Kitty still seemed pretty calm and open, I eventually admitted that I'd talked to the therapist about whether or not I should continue to encourage Kitty in planning to work at a preschool by purchasing her a child development book.  Kitty was not happy that I still don't believe she can become a preschool teacher since she's "good with children."

I repeated a few of my concerns.  Having worked as a director of a child care center I brought up the fact that even as an aide the day care center will leave her alone with the children for hours (early morning and evening being the times it's most likely to happen) and Texas has HORRIBLE child to staff ratios (1 person as long as they are 18 with a high school diploma, can and WILL be left alone with 4 infants, 11 two year olds, or 15 three year olds, or 18 four year olds...).  The biggest one is that while if you're an accountant like my sister or an engineer like Hubby and you make a mistake... no one dies.  If you make a mistake with preschoolers then a child could DIE.  Kitty pointed out that could happen to anyone, but that was proving my point.  There are LOTS of reasons why I don't think this is a good career option for Kitty, but that's a big one.

Kitty tried to argue with me, but the reality is she has no good arguments and she knows it.  It's mostly that she doesn't WANT it to be true.  She quickly just said she didn't want to talk any more and she rode home in silence.

1 comment:

Adrian said...

Thats a terrifyingly good point about it being possibly dangerous for her to work with younger kids 00. Is it possible to reroute her to something a bit simillar but lower stakes, like a toy store, or a play pen at a mall or big store like IKEA? I've never seen them crowded and it seems even lower stakes than babysitting because lots of other people see the kids and could notice if anything is wrong.
It's a bit sad that shes at all close to graduating with such poor reading ability, it really drives home the post about guardianship.
Best of luck to your family.