Friday, August 17, 2012

The Honeymoon is Over

It was nice while it lasted, that calm, hopeful start to a new school year. It only took a week for the honeymoon to end, but I can't say I wasn't tensed up, just waiting for it happen.

It really began yesterday, officially one week into the year. I had scheduled an appointment with our pediatrician for a check up, and so we could discuss restarting meds and switching to something new.

Unfortunately, 98 other people also decided that yesterday was an ideal day for a check up. I get it; I really do. Start of school, immunizations, etc., etc. So I was patient. Dylan was, too, really. But with literally 30 other moms and kids in the first waiting room and the TV playing Disney Channel, he was not terribly successful in completing any homework. Even when we went to the second waiting room (it was so busy that they were handling it in triage fashion), it still was not an environment conducive to homework.

I thought maybe he could get started once we got in the exam room, but lo and behold, the doctor came right in!  We had a lot to discuss and honestly didn't make a decision on medication or rather, decided to postpone the decision for another week.  More than two hours after we first arrived to the practice, we finally left.

After a quick fast food dinner (coupled with multiplication practice), it was off to Cub Scouts for Round Up.  For those who don't know, Round Up is when you, well, "round up" new scouts.  Although current scouts are not expected to attend, Dylan is part of the color guard and was involved in the opening.  We literally raced to get there on time, and it was obvious Dylan was getting tired.  In fact, he had a melt down just before he went on but pulled it all together enough to say the Scout Promise (loudly!) in front of all the new parents and scouts gathered.  I was very proud of him for putting his emotions aside to do that!

The Round Up took another two hours, so it was after 8:00pm before we got home...and homework was still undone. I helped him attack science by sharing reading duties with him and letting him dictate answers to me.

Things began to get dicey when I read in his agenda that he had "not followed directions" in language that day. Apparently, the instructions asked him to underline the nouns, then correct the proper nouns.  Dylan had done that with no problem.  At the end of the page, however, there were new instructions asking him to go back and circle the subject and do something else with the predicate.

He didn't do that second part. Now, I'm not going to say he was right, but I can't disagree that the instructions were a little frustrating, asking him to do one thing, then go back and do something else. He told me, indignantly, that if that's what they wanted, they should have asked him at the beginning of the page!

We have had issues with his language teacher before. She has blatantly disregarded his 504 Accommodations and has been utterly dismissive about his learning deficits. Unfortunately, this is his third year with her and she's gotten no better better time.

He had another page in the same workbook for homework. The first part was similar to the the previous - he had to cross out the italicized proper noun and replace it with a pronoun. Although it was 9:00pm by this time and we were both exhausted from our hectic pace, he went through the problems with minimal complaints. That is, until the last item on the page, which asked him to write something.

As I mentioned in my last post, Dylan has now been officially diagnosed with dysgraphia, which is a written language deficit. Not only is writing physically difficult for him, it's mentally difficult, too. Somehow, there is a block between what's in his head and what comes out onto paper. When he has to write, he completely freezes up.

He needs to work on it. While he'll never become a calligrapher, we all need to physically write things out at some point. That said, 9:15pm at night after a long day is not the time to try to start a task that you are handicapped in. I told him to get ready for bed.

Ideally, he would have gotten up and done the writing this morning, but honestly, we were all still tired.  It was RockStar's day to get him up and going, and we all ran a little behind. It just didn't happen.  I told him to do it over lunchtime, but apparently that also never happened.

To be honest, things began to go south for him even before language class. According to Dylan, his table-mates were not working with him on a group project. I don't know if his exclusion was real or perceived, but it's evident that he became anxious. Very anxious. So anxious, in fact, that he began cutting his shorts with a pair of scissors.

I've since learned that when the teacher discovered what he was doing, she brought him into the hallway to discuss it and he began to cry. I later got a call from her, but because my cell service is terrible, I could only get a little of her message and only understood that she wanted to know if he were on medication.

That would have been bad enough, but language was yet to come. Dylan 'fessed up to the language teacher about not doing the writing part, although he did throw me under the bus by telling the teacher I told him to stop and go to bed. (He never mentioned that I told him to do it at lunch.)

The teacher (if you can call her that) actually told Dylan,"Oh, no!  You are not starting this again. You are too old for this." Keep in mind that this is the same teacher who tried to tell me that accommodations are not something you have for more than a short time. 

Dylan's day ended with him getting sick in aftercare. Stomach sick. I think all of this is working on him and literally making him sick. In fact, it's making me sick, too; sick and tired!

What kind of education are we giving our kids that they are so anxious they cut their shorts and lose their lunch? How can a teacher blame a child for his or her learning disability?

Of course, by the time I learned about what the teacher said to him, it was at the end of the day and it's a Friday, so I can't do anything until Monday. I'm livid with nowhere to go with it (but here).

How do you deal with your child's school? What would your response be to a teacher who really doesn't believe in learning disabilities?


  1. It sounds like you (and maybe Dylan) want to meet with his school counselor? Is he in middle school where they have counselors to help mediate with this kind of stuff? He also sounds like he has a lot of homework that is due the next day. Maybe it's possible to get a homework packet with more time to do homework so that you can plan around his activities when one night is busier than others?

    We had that switch in 5th grade and that helped because kids are super busy on different days.

  2. I'm going to call the school social worker. And yes, the homework is all due the next day. He has a 504 so it shouldn't be an issue because he is supposed to get shortened assignments (he never does) and extra time, but frankly, even with all things being equal, there's just no reason to treat him that way. This particular teacher just thinks he should be like all the other kids. Period. I'm just not going through all this for another year.

  3. I would attach a copy of his 504b plan to his unfinished homework as well as a descriptive, educational article about dysgraphia. I would tell her that
    " I am not going to do this to my son or to my famiiy life for another year."
    I would also state that it is against the law ( at least according to my school psych. in California) for a child to be graded down for accommodations for homework.I would say that I will modify homework for my son as needed on nights when he is unable to complete the assignments as I am trying to provide him with a balanced life that includes family time and social activities outside of academics. I would say that I support his learning,but that research shows that homework over a certain amount of time does not prove to be helpful to a child's education ( see Sara
    Bennett, Alfie Kohn, and Kenneth Goldberg{authors). ;)