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Sunday, April 1, 2012

I've gotta get this out

I've thought about writing this post for a while now, and then thought better of it, but I've gotta get this out because holding it in is affecting me too much.  I've got school, and the possibility of art school, and Dante's running track again so I've got to make sure he gets where he needs to go, and I'm not getting anything done.  I've got Dante's sweater to knit, a Christmas stocking to finish, 6+ repair pieces to do, a computer on the fritz that will surely cost me every last penny I've managed to save, two designs fighting to get out of my head, and one more I've been asked to take on.  And while this isn't exactly new for me, I'm highly distracted because Alex is having difficulty at school.

If you've read this blog for any length of time, you'll know that Dante has ADHD and that I went back to school for a degree in psychology focusing on child development and Applied Behavior Analysis so that I could better advocate for him at school.  While I was there, I began to see warning signs that Alex might need some help too.  He's been involved in early intervention through the Providence Center since just before he was 3-years old.  He was evaluated by a child psychiatrist and diagnosed with Disruptive Behavior Disorder-NOS.  When children show most of the signs of either Oppositional Defiance Disorder or Conduct Disorder, but they don't have enough of them to be diagnosed with either of those disorders, they are diagnosed with Disruptive Behavior Disorder. 

Alex is older now and we've been doing our best to manage his behavior, but he is very sensitive to sleep disturbances and the affects of medication (such as allergy medication or sedatives).  Every Day Light Savings, his sleep is disturbed and it takes weeks to reset him.  His behavior suffers during this transition.  Every time he has an allergy attack (which is often) and he needs to take an oral allergy medication, his behavior goes off the charts.  Any time he needs to be sedated (for a minor medical procedure, and we've had to do it several times), his behavior suffers for a week or so.  Every time there is a change in his routine (extended school vacations or absences due to illness) his behavior is off for weeks.  You're getting the picture here.  March was a difficult month, between the stomach virus, the pink eye, and the start of allergy season, and he received three behavior write-ups from school.  The school doesn't understand these issues and they've requested a conference.

I spoke to the teacher and his principal, and they expressed their 'concern regarding his behavioral readiness for 1st grade'.  They are hinting that they want him to repeat kindergarten because of his behavior.  Academically he's more than ready.  So I started calling anyone I knew who had anything t do with the RI school department, to find out if they can force him to repeat kindergarten against my wishes.  It sounds like they can't but I've got a fight ahead of me.  I went to The Providence Center and picked up a copy of his diagnosis.  While I was there, a supervisor gave me a form letter to follow, requesting that the school evaluate Alex for special ed services.  I've discovered that there are behavioral IEP's, and it looks like he's a candidate for one.  So, I typed up the letter and mailed it out.  Meanwhile, I've contacted his caseworker to make an appointment and we'll be getting him scheduled for a new evaluation.  My understanding of the process is that the school can't move forward with any plans until after the evaluation process, so by requesting one I've basically halted them in their tracks for the time being.  I believe that a behavioral IEP will stop them from holding him back simply for behavioral concerns.

I really hoped that Alex wouldn't have to go through this like Dante has.  It's really difficult to see him struggle to make friends, and try so hard to behave according to classroom standards but not be able to.  He told me that he was moved to a new seat in the classroom, away from his friends in the middle of the room, isolated from everyone else.  He told me that he has to sit in a chair in the corner off the rug during rug time.  He said "it works".  I can tell that he knows it's for the best but he's sad about it.  I can tell that he feels different.  Right after that, as we were talking home, he said "I love listening to the birds sing.  I wish I could fly with them".  He's so sweet and loving, and my heart is broken for him.  I can't stop crying about it.  I know the fight that's ahead and I'm weary from fighting this war with Dante's schools.  I wonder about the larger eternal purpose of their struggles, and what they are destined to do in the future that will require their strong personalities.  I wonder if I'm truly strong enough; if I'm a fierce enough mother to fight this battle for them until they can stand up for their selves.

I'll be busy for a little while, working on homework and trying to get Alex straightened out.  If I can't get the school on my page, I'll be preparing to homeschool him for a year (maybe two) while we work on improving his behavioral interactions.  He's more disruptive if he's bored, so keeping him back a year will only backfire.  I need to make sure he remains challenged academically.  I'll be working on new designs as well, because it's a welcome distraction. 

I just needed to get this all off my chest, and my blog has become a source of support.  And while I thrive on that support, I'm going to turn off the comments on this post.  It's all too fresh for me and I don't want anyone to feel like they have to comment.  Thanks for listening.