An old conversation I had with a respected friend a year ago about my li’l Rosebug:
ME: Her teacher cut down on homework significantly. I felt like 90% of her problems are attitudinal, with focus issues…. It is just so hard to pin point. When she is in a good, cooperative space (which is rare when it comes to any kind of homework) she is actually capable of doing the work. But she is very dependent on a person being right there helping her through every pencil stroke. Yesterday when I did a little role reversal and had her play “teacher”, and at first she was “teaching” me a bunch of gobbly-goop with random numbers that had nothing whatsoever to do with the figures on the page…..much like she does her homework if you leave her to do it independently (it was a very eye opening exercise)
But when I started asking her (as though I was the confused student) “what is this for? Why is that here” she was actually compelled to look at the paper, and she was able to figure out what was needed and tell me what to do. And yesterday our homework was done in under 10 minutes! With no trauma!
Z: I love what you did reversing roles. The ‘Bug does need nurturing contact. It’s like her bucket was empty and she needs it filled. With attention and hand holding.
ME: it was just suggested to me to try to get Rosi an “ABA tutor” to come to the house and do her homework with her? And that there are self-tests online that I can give her for dyslexia.
Z: What is an ABA tutor?
ME: I don’t know.
Z: The tutor we use for our daughter has a lot of expertise with Dyslexia. The issue there and with schools is that dyslexia is by itself is not a “qualifying” condition for special ed. That may be the issue but don’t use that word in the SST. Visual processing disability may be better. I think her fine motor issues are also important and OT support is warranted.
ME: I am sitting right here with her working each homework problem out with her. Giving her a penny every time she writes even one word correctly. This is intense….one to one. I gave up the goal of trying to teach her to work independently, for now, at least.
Z: Hi. Sorry I haven’t gotten back to you like I promised. Here are my thoughts:
An SST is usually the meeting where a decision is made to evaluate or not. They should bring to the meeting information and impressions re The ‘Bug’s issues to date and how effective in class modifications are. I would have hoped they would have begun an official evaluation and testing for special ed services but I expect not. If that is the case the outcome you want is to get them to begin an evaluation and testing. If they balk or want to take a “wait and see” approach then you, then you should emphasize the need to process now as The ‘Bug is in an extremely high risk group and is showing issues you think need addressed. If they still balk then smile and say “with all due respect I disagree and will fill a request for due process hearing immediately”. That should change there minds. Hopefully they will recommend testing.
Please understand that dyslexia, dysgraphia and such are not qualifiers as conditions in California for special ed services so don’t mention those words or testing for. It will give them avenues to refuse services. So no names. Just express your concerns. Note that The ‘Bug is behind most of your preschoolers – exaggerate if you can and ask them to please do an evaluation so the team can make data driven decisions.
You could even state that you believe The ‘Bug’s psychological trauma is so severe that she cannot focus or attend to her work without 1:1 support. They usually fight an in class aid but you can bring it up.
Remember your concern is not the schools resource limitations but the right The ‘Bug has to a free and appropriate education. And that includes support for disabling conditions.
Does that help?
If they are testing confirm the time period for its completion. I think it is 90 calendar days but I am not sure.
Also if they have a testing plan have them put in writing that you will receive the results at least one week before any meeting to discuss results.
ME: wow! A lot of information. I will study it further…Thank you SO much. what accomodations should I be hoping for, aside from a 1:1 aid?
Z: I don’t really know. Need to hear what they are seeing.
ME: What about speech? Hers is horrid. Immature. Bad grammar. Poor pronunciation. Lazy enunciation.
Z: I think she is going to need a diagnosis first. They need to do the testing.
ME: Testing includes speech?
Z: Yes it should. And fine motor.
ME: The other stuff… The focus, how do they test that? For the trauma?
Z: They should do a psych assessment. There may be a decision at some point on a 504 versus an IEP. An IEP requires a specific covered disability diagnosed through testing. A 504 is broader and is used for medical and other diagnoses such as PTST.
ME: sigh….Brain overload. I just hope we can do what is best for her.
Z: The ‘Bug must have a diagnosis from all of her trauma. PTSD cripples developing brains. I think a lot of the anger and agitation and talking with The ‘Bug has at least in part a PTSD root. Basically unless she is calm she physically can’t think or process. The wrong part of her brain takes charge. I think she intuitively knows she needs you or someone to help calm her and direct her mood. She can only learn or do homework when she is in a calm state. When primary attachments (as in to mom) are disrupted the normal developmental process gets disrupted. One way this manifests is by kids showing regressive behaviors.
Think of a baby and how they tune in to parents for mood modulation. They mirror parents and need them almost constantly to help them attenuate and learn to modify their own moods and self sooth. Traumatized kids may be very slow to develop these skills. Think of how The ‘Bug needs you with her almost in an infantile way to help guide her moods and keep her from escalating her frustration. The same thing happens in school but there she is on her own.
One of my adult daughters is still struggling with this. She tends to latch onto one person and uses them to tell her what to think and feel. She is getting there but it is slow progress
Does any of this make sense?
ME: OMG YES it makes so much sense. That is the clearest picture of The ‘Bug I have ever seen. Even in all of my overaanalyzing and deep thought about her
Z: Some people think that allowing time for a child to be “babied” can help. Like setting aside time to cuddle and basically role play being a baby. I never tried it as I read about it when my kids were older. Sort of like walking them back through a normal developmental process on their terms though not forcing it. Not “holding”.
She might really enjoy playing a baby. Just feeling safe.
ME: I’m not sure how far I could successfully role play that. I understand what you are saying and the theory, but my own baggage is all about “growing them up and teaching them to be strong and independent.” I have been feeling, though, that some of my personal philosophies are falling a little short of this kids’ special needs. However….
The best part of message that just rang through loud and clear in those couple paragraphs is making it much easier to feel good about sitting with her one on one and teaching her, letter by letter, word by word, and number by number. It was bothering me because I knew she could DO the work, why can’t she do it by herself? Now I feel like I understand.
Z: I understand. I am naturally more like you and am also from solid Midwest family where no one was babied. I have my own baggage. Funny how raising kids always makes us deal with our own issues. I had no idea before I had kids and especially my trauma guys.
ME: I’ve helped so many tough kids ( not necessarily in the system), because other people gave up on them. I have taken into my preschool 3 or 4 year olds that other preschools have kicked out. I have never kicked a kid out for behavior. I know a lot of my instincts are right on, for most kids. But her acting babyish just drove me NUTS! Now I have a better idea about it…a new perspective. If nothing else that will help ME, and by default The ‘Bug, on so many levels.
I can’t completely change who I am, and after 30+ years of successful childcare and preschool, I can’t be all wrong. But I am always looking and searching (sometimes desperately) for a new way to understand a kid. You just have me an “AH HAH!” moment
Z: You are welcome
NOTE: Z wanted me to clarify that she was only expressing her opinions, and has no training to make diagnoses, etc.