Friday, May 30, 2008

Maybe This Is Not the Right Place

With all the talk about Alex Barton, I'm thinking a lot lately about Gus's school experience. I try not to take things personally or to get too freaked out about the reports of what Gus is going 'wrong' during the day, but when it's every day, sometimes I have to wonder if he could possibly do anything right in the teachers' eyes.

Then there was the question of medication. They were pleased as punch when I finally agreed to try it. But I am getting a sense of annoyance because I took him off within the first week. The reports from the two days he was off the meds were good until I let the teacher know that he;d been off the meds. Then the story changed. All week, the reports have been negative, and I'm not saying his behavior hasn't been as reported, but I have to wonder if they are more negative because the teacher thinks he's off the medication. He's been back on the medication (unbeknownst to the school) and the reports have been the worst yet. I got a very terse note from the teacher today about how Gus was yelling at people today, throwing himself on the floor and being generally rude. Again, I don't dispute it - I saw how he got on the lower dosage of this medication. I just wonder if her annoyance would be as apparent if she knew that he was still on the same drug.

I'm also thinking that it may have been a mistake to take him out of his previous program for one more geared toward mainstreaming. Yes, he's getting more in the way of academics, but I think the staff in the other program was a bit more...understanding about certain behaviors. I could walk into his class last year at any given time and just feel the love toward my son. There is very little, if any toward him where he is now.

I understand how teachers can get burnt out and fed up with students. I taught for four years. I can understand it, but that doesn't mean I want a constant stream of 'you're not good enough' being hurled at him for another year.

Should I get the district to put him back in his old school? Will that give him and even worse message about his capabilities? I just want my kid to learn and be happy - is that too much to ask? He's in a special needs class for a reason - because he's got special needs. One of those needs is for understanding and compassion, not irritation on a daily basis. And I increasingly doubt that one of those needs can be met from a little brown bottle.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Pardon Me, But I Think You're Full of Poop

An IM conversation I was having with a good friend:

"I hypothesize that if there were less a*holes in the world, our kids would have an easier time."

"That is also amazingly true, but for some reason being an a*hole is acceptable. Because it is the norm, I guess?"

Gus was on Strattera for six days. Of those six days, the first day was fine; second day he needed prompting in the afternoon; fifth day (a Monday) he had a bad day; day six he was okay at school, but wouldn't stay in his seat on the afternoon bus. Honestly, these reports could have come at any time, whether on the meds or not. They were pretty unremarkable except for the school bus incident. The end of last week he had two decent days off the medication.

Today, his first day back from the Memorial Day weekend (he never has a good day after a weekend or holiday), also the day the teacher found out that he'd been off the meds for a few days, he apparently had a terrible day. I got a whole laundry list of things he did wrong today. And suddenly it seems that she had a feeling he was off the meds.

I think she's full of something stinky.

I'm so fed up with the ridiculous expectations and the negative attitude. Not that Gus is an angel, but he's a pretty good kid. Seven-year-olds can be defiant, so can five-year-olds and teenagers. Why must my kid be singled out every day of his freaking life because he's not medicated?

We'll probably try a different dose of the Strattera before switching to the Focalin. Heaven help these people if he gets so out of control that he does something really dangerous to himself or if this medication harms him in any way. Heaven help them.

Edit: Doc and I have settled on a slightly higher dosage for a few days to step him up slowly. I have a headache now.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

A Society of Meanieheads

A few days ago a story came out about a five-year-old boy in Florida, Alex Barton, who was voted out of his kindergarten class. The teacher should be ousted permanently and I hope to heaven that the parents sue the school and the teacher for everything they’ve got because the behavior that the teacher displayed was all kinds of disgusting. Unfortunately, her attitude is not uncommon enough.

There’s always talk about social skills that children need to learn. Autistic children are drilled with them constantly. My daughter is starting kindergarten in September, and I was given a long list of skills that she should have in order to be ready for kindergarten. But what I see from some of this year’s kindergartners doesn’t exactly jibe with the supposed ‘social skills’ on the list. Instead I hear stories about our neighbor whose ‘friends’ were sitting on her and refused to stop even after she asked them to and said she didn’t like that. When she started crying and wiping her nose with her hand, they went to her mom on their way off the bus to tattle that she was picking her nose and eating her boogers. Her mom has often commented that the little girl was the sweetest, happiest child before she went to school.

I look at my own daughter and know that she is not the sort of kid who would be that mean spirited. Hopefully school won’t corrupt her.

Then there’s Gus. He’s another of those kind-hearted, laid-back kind of kid. He’s got an easy smile and he wouldn’t harm a soul intentionally. Yet he’s had kids even younger than him call him names. Even now I hear snippets of stories – little kindergarten girls in the schoolyard telling him to “go away” when he tries to use the social skills he’s made to learn at school. No wonder he’s started picking up words like ‘dork’ and ‘stupid.’ We thought it was from TV, but I think it’s the kids at school.

I have to wonder – who has the better social skills here?

I hope Alex Barton finds a better, more accepting school. He doesn’t need to be around those kids who are being taught that mean is socially acceptable.

Here's the Palm Beach Post article from last Friday, and apparently the teacher has been removed from class during the investigation.
Here’s the link to the St. Lucie school board if you want to voice your displeasure about this outrageous injustice.