Our Journey Raising Two Children with Special Needs

This blog chronicles our life raising two children, Nicholas 14, diagnosed with Prader-Willi Syndrome and Weston 17, diagnosed with Autism/Asperger's/ADHD. It's the ups, the downs, the joys, the sorrows and most importantly, the beauty of living a life less perfect, a life more meaningful.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Weston's Woes Worsen

All year I have been posting about Weston's difficult transition to the middle school. His troubles include:
  • Difficulties with transitioning between classes
  • Troubles in gym class
  • Troubles the cafeteria
  • Troubles before school starts
  • Detention for not bringing pencils to class
  • F's in most of his classes
  • MCAS scores in extreme warning range
  • Punched in the stomach by the same boy twice
  • Suspended for slapping another student
  • Ostracized by his classmates when an entire table in the cafe stood up and walked away when he sat down

As I mentioned, I have been working very closely with the school to rectify these issues. We have done the following:
  • Performed a Neuropsych evaluation which revealed another diagnosis of mild aspergers
  • Added a second dose of long-acting ADHD medication given during school hours. 
  • Emergency IEP meetings
  • Invited Weston's psychologist to educate all his teachers on Weston's severe anxiety issues and techniques for handling his behavior....twice! Paid for from our own pockets.
  • Implemented a special MAP program/classroom designed to be a safe haven for Weston and other students who were similarly diagnosed
I thought we had done our jobs to ensure we did not continue to damage his self esteem. I was wrong!

Last week, the "special needs" teacher hired to implement the MAP program and provide Weston with the safety net he needed at school, sent Weston to the Principal. Why? Because he hit someone? No! Because he threatened someone? No! Called someone a name perhaps? No!

He was sent to the principal because he was not focused on completing his homework during class! She became frustrated, lost patience with him and sent him to the office. This is the teacher who attended all of our "emergency meetings" about the need to provide positive teaching techniques so that we could protect Weston's self esteem. This is the teacher who was informed of Weston's medication wearing off during the last class of the day and the need to understand the challenging behaviors that accompany this medication transition. She also has a slew of school professionals as well as our own, to assist her in reaching Weston in a positive manner.

I sent an email to the superintendent who at first told us we needed to contact the principal and become better "team players"!

Subsequent emails to the superintendent and finally a meeting with her, resulted in promises that next year will be better.  He will be participating in the compass program, a class designed for children on the autism spectrum with teachers trained in the educational and behavioral aspects of these disorders.

Weston will however, also continue to receive instruction from general ed teachers and it is this scenario that I fear most. I have expressed this fear to the superintendent since again these teachers are not trained to handle Weston and his needs. I have followed up with her in writing to express these concerns. I am not convinced that next year will be better and we may need to consider an alternative school for Weston. My husband and I have decided to hire an advocate.

We have two more weeks left of school and I am holding my breath.