Tomorrow is Another Day

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It’s one of those nights I feel trapped. I just want to tear out of this body and run far, far away. There are moments I need to escape. The thoughts, the depression, the anxiety, all of it, I Just need to step outside myself and get some fresh air. Wishing for something impossible will only lead to more frustration. I’m not used to being behind and constantly running to catch up. I’ve always been the type of person who had everything and more done well in advance. Parenting a child who is always behind the ace ball is continuously challenging. The amount of responsibility I feel is crushing me, one bone at a time. If my anxiety had a voice, the sound would be deafening. There is that line in the sand between where our kids end and where we begin and unfortunately the wind has blown that line away. I do my best to help him anyway I can with school but I am a human being who needs a break. Everytime I start to breathe, there is another assignment missing or a test to re- do. I have a full time job trying to stay on top of it all and if I take a moment to step away… more work! More missing papers. More projects and papers to write. I didn’t ask for a child who would struggle in school. I didn’t ask for this to become our whole lives. But what do I do? Give up on him? Do I not do my part like the ones who turn their cheek at school even when they know he is entitled to these accommodations? I’m sorry. I’m venting but if I keep it inside it will eat me alive. I can do this. I’ve got my back and I am a sure thing. I just need a little sleep and a new day.

I’ll Fix Your Ass

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Be a nice person. I have been dealing with some who are not nice people lately. I noticed that sometimes when you ask someone to do something they don’t want to do, there is pushback. It’s like okay I Will give you what you want but you’re going to pay for it. It makes me sad.

There’s a weekly vocabulary test in science class. The kids are to look up definitions and be tested every Friday. Chase got a 70 on last weeks test. Not because he didn’t have word for word definitions from the dictionary, but because those particular definitions did not meet the teachers standards. The kid looked up the words, made note cards and studied, never having a chance to do well at all. How you could mark an answer wrong that comes directly from the dictionary is beyond me.

So, I sent an email asking the teacher to supply accurate definitions so he does not put in all that effort for nothing. School is hard enough. I reminded him Chases 504 reads: Chase will be provided Accurate notes BY THE TEACHER so he can complete assignments(including tests). That was last night and he never responded.

Today, I looked on the website and he changed the directions stating at the bottom, if students wanted to email definitions for ACCURACY before the test, he would take a look at them. We emailed him at 4:30 a list of definitions and he said he would look at them after school tomorrow and send me a separate email with definitions. I thought he meant tonight but since it is 8:45, he won’t have an opportunity to study tonight.That now leaves him with 2 days to study which is never enough for a kid with ADD. Now he has to look up definitions, email them to a teacher, wait until the teacher feels like responding, change the answers that were wrong, make notecards and finally study. He fixed me didn’t he?

Why?

The most dangerous untruths are truths moderately distorted. ~Georg Christoph Lichtenberg

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Innocent until proven guilty. Not in school.

I received a surprising email from a teacher that Chase had made a mess under his chair in class and was called back to the room to clean it up. 

Everything is not always as it appears to be. Maybe in science it may work, but when it comes to real life, you need to use common sense and read between the lines.

Chases story. He was sitting at a square table with four other kids and was taking a test. One boy pulled out toothpicks and started throwing them across the table. Another boy threw them back. Chase became distracted while watching them do it and was redirected out loud by the teacher to focus on his test. This is how the email read. 

Today during testing Chase struggled in keeping to himself during our Science Test. I provided multiple reminders that he should focus on the test and not interact with others at his table. At one point during the test I witnessed Chase with a half-dozen or so colored tooth picks in his mouth. After class was over I discovered multiple colors toothpicks broken and un-broken under his chair and around his chair…

Chase did pick up a few toothpicks and put them in his mouth. Imagine a kid with ADD picking up something that was sitting on a table in front of him. Hard to believe, don’t you think(Small hint of sarcasm there). He watched the whole thing unfold and looked at his teacher to see if he noticed what was going on. So what exactly did the words struggles to keep to himself. How would you interpret that? He brushed toothpicks out of his way as he tried to finish his test in the midst of distraction. At the end of class the teacher said to to him in front of the class, “Chase, I am sending your parents an email to tell them about the mess you made.” The teacher claims he told him privately. Privately would have been after class, not saying it quietly from behind his desk while Chase was at his own desk. 

This is what came next. 

Another student was responsible for a portion of this mess. I had both students re-called from their class to return and pick up the mess left on the ground. Chase claimed he was not responsible for any of the mess but that contradicts my observations and student reports at his table.

The real truth. He asked one kid, the kid who happened to bring the toothpicks into class so who created the mess. He of course blamed Chase probably because the way the teacher feels about Chase is pretty clear from the tone of the email. Kids pick up on that and it’s unfortunate. So who better to blame? 

Chases name was called over the school loud speaker to report back to the class where he was told he was responsible for the mess and he was to clean it up. Why wouldn’t he just keep him after class to take care of it then? Was it necessary for him to be called back in front of the whole school? He was NEVER asked to give  his side of the story but offered it in his own defense while he cleaned the toothpicks off the floor. There was no other kid there helping clean up the mess. Why did the email say another kid helped? So based on my observation of the situation, I would say the email wasn’t exactly accurate.

A half truth is a whole lie. ~Yiddish Proverb

Lucky for me I had a conference with that teacher that night. This was our conversation.

“Did you see my son throw a toothpick?”

“I never insinuated he threw a toothpick. He broke up toothpicks and dropped them underneath his chair” (Because he’s really stupid enough to incriminate himself like that. Makes perfect sense)

Me, pointing my finger at his face and pretty pissed off by now. “Did you see my son break and drop a toothpick on the ground? ”

“I saw a several colored toothpicks in his mouth.”

“Imagine that. How surprising a kid with ADD would pick up a toothpick on a table in front of him and put it in his mouth. (Louder now and saying one word slowly and clearly showing my disgust? “Did you it did you not see Chase break up toothpicks and drop them underneath his chair?

“No, but other kids at the table observed him doing it.”

When I asked why he didn’t approach the the table while it was happening and didn’t seem to be concerned with WHO brought the toothpicks into class, he told me he didn’t want to disturb the rest of the class. The ONLY kid who said Chase did it was obviously the kid who brought them in the first place and he was the ONLY kid who was asked privately after class about the incident. Chase confirmed with the other kids at the table and they stated they were never asked. I then offered to have a meeting with the entire table to get to the bottom of this which he told me would be illegal. I asked, so it would be illegal to walk up to a table during an incident and question all the kids present about what had taken place? Isn’t that how you find the real truth or had you already decided you knew what transpired? His answer was still, I didn’t want to disturb the class.

The truth is he could have kept them all after class but he had made up his mind that Chase was guilty. And the kid that brought the toothpicks, he didn’t pick up a single one.

This is an example of why I try to bring into awareness the unacceptable things that are happening in our schools. Somehow, we usually end up on the receiving end and it doesn’t feel very good. Guess what Mr. Teacher, not complying with a 504 is against the law too but clearly behavior is important and education is not. I can’t help that I have a class of 30 kids, he says to which I respond, I can’t help that I have a kid with ADD.

It’s bad enough I have to be an advocate for his education, now I have to be one for his reputation and self esteem.

Inspiration for Anyone Who Writes Outside The Lines

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“If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.” — Henry David Thoreau
Discovery consists of looking at the same thing as everyone else and thinking something different.”

– Albert Szent-Gyorgyi
“Tell me and I’ll forget. Show me and I’ll remember. Involve me and I’ll understand.”

– Confucius

Squirrel, pizza, dogs, text!

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Everyday, I discover something new about attention deficit disorder. Tonight, when I got the email regarding what would take place in school this week, as soon as I saw there were four tests in a three day period, I broke out in a sweat. Kids with ADD learn differently than other kids. Because of their lack of attention span, it is necessary to take breaks every 20 minutes or so. This is after 20 minutes of my son leaning back on his chair, petting the dog, getting up to get a drink, throwing down a piece of pizza and that’s just when he’s studying. Get the picture? It’s not like when you and I sit and give something 20 minutes of our undivided attention. It’s also necessary to study over a period of a few nights. One long night of studying never works. So how is this even possible when you have four major tests in four days? That is why I beg teachers to stay in contact with me and to let me know when tests may be coming up so we can get an early jump on the studying part. It devastates me to watch my son who is so bright struggle with time management the way he does. I sit here now as the tears well up in my eyes because of how much harder he has to work to get good grades and keep up with the work. He has very little free time and this week, he will have none. It’s also necessary for me to sit by him and help him study so he stays on task. Otherwise, he might very well sit with his paper in hand for two hours and not retain a thing. It really takes a toll on me and sucks up most of my time. I try not to let it get me down but sometimes, like tonight, it hits me pretty hard. We only have three days to prepare for two tests we just found out about tonight. I guarantee, when I sit down to see what he retains from class, the answer will be nothing. A test in biology and science in the same week is a real challenge. Somehow, it always works out this way. They seem to be the two classes where he learns absolutely nada in class and I know that’s true because of how much teaching it takes me one on one at home for him to finally get it. Sometimes I feel like screaming Why can’t you remember what we just went over? What will it take to make you learn? Can’t you just stop moving around? Will you ever grow out of this? But, somehow I find the strength to keep those thoughts to myself.

If you know a family with a child who has ADD, give them some support. You have no idea how difficult it can be at home. I’ve thought about making a documentary where someone could spend a week in our home when we have several tests taping what goes on so I could use it as a teaching tool to make teachers understand. They just don’t get it and they don’t even try. How do I know this? Because they won’t even stick to a 504, a plan that under the law, they are required to follow. Who’s going to make them? The government? That’s where I would have to file a complaint. Yeah, I bet you just laughed out loud. There’s  a major flaw in the system but isn’t that true for most things they stick their hands into? 

I needed to get this off my chest. If you or anyone you know has any tips for studying and retaining information in the most time effective manner for anyone with ADD, please share them with me. I am desperate and it’s so hard to do on my own.

When Life is Out of Focus

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Focus, focus, focus, please focus. I find myself saying this over and over a million times a day. I know many people do not believe in ADD but I can tell you this, whatever name you want to call it, there exists a condition in which someone finds it extremely difficult to concentrate attention on just one thing. The result is devastating.

This year is particularly hard for my son. I feel like he is back in 5th grade when he couldn’t complete a thing in class. We would help him with hours and hours of homework and there was never time for anything else. This year is a repeat. The work load in 8th grade is so much greater than any other year. He completes quite a bit in class now but the amount of time it takes him to study and complete homework is affecting us all. We reach a level of frustration that is hard to overcome. I try my best not to get frustrated with him but time after time I fail. My daughter is starting to resent him because he takes up so much of our time. “Let him fail.” That’s what she says and every time I hear it I am more determined to make sure that never happens. I grit my teeth and do whatever it takes. He did much better on the medication but he didn’t like the way it made him feel. His loss of personality was the most difficult side effect for everyone. So, last January, we made the choice to take him off of it.

Sometimes I Just want to cry. I want to cry for him and how difficult it is for him to keep up. I want to cry for the free time he never has because there is always something else to do.  I want to cry for my frustration and inability to show him patience when the clock turns none-thirty at night and there is still work to do. I want to cry because I need a break too and it is no kind of life for any of us when it’s always work, work, work, aggravation and no play. The clock does not exist for someone with ADD, they can only move at one pace.

 He is so smart. I think that’s the hardest part to understand. I tested him over and over on his Spanish words last night. He just couldn’t remember them. He finally starts to get something and then his brain overheats and everything melts away. He needs breaks. Hours of work at a time is not good for someone who has difficulty concentrating. The misconception about ADD is that there is a lack of attention span. That couldn’t be more untrue. Their  focus is just divided up among several different things at once. It’s hard to channel it on one particular thing. He is listening to me, climbing under the cushions on the couch and petting the dog at the same time. I can feel my blood start to boil as I say, go and take a 15 minute break. Like it or not, those breaks are necessary but that also means me will finish 15 minutes later than we should.

I don’t have any answers. I do my best to educate everyone about how difficult this is for families as a whole. Add that to the belief that this condition is made up and the result is not receiving any support. I dread evenings now because I know what they bring. He dreads them too. My daughter resents them and I’m sure my husband wishes my mood wasn’t so affected when home should be a happy place. He is just a kid who wants to go outside after school and ride his dirt bike. I want that for him too. 

Feeling Thankful

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Thank you to all of you who have been so supportive lately. I did have my meeting at school yesterday and I do believe we made some headway. Already, two teachers have followed through on their part of the 504. The new principal was clear that teachers do not have the option to comply or not, they must comply. Only 3 out of 6 teachers showed up so that was disappointing but baby steps are better than back steps. I am exhausted and drained today. These meetings and my constant fight to stand for what’s right takes its toll on me but I will not back down. Someone has to do it and somewhere along the way, I have been chosen. It is in my nature to be an advocate for kids. I just cannot help myself. Your kids, my kids, the neighbors kids and every other kid out there is my responsibility. It is my mission to stand up and fight for what is best for everyone, not just myself. I have been shunned, called names, humiliated, been left standing on my own but I will never give up. I just need to recharge and take it easy today. Thanks again for all the advice and encouragement. I really appreciate everyone’s kindness.

Help Me Hang In There

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We are a couple weeks into school now and my old familiar anxiety is starting to creep back in. My son has ADD and his lack of focus and organization has been an on going challenge. We decided to take him off his medication last Christmas and found out with our constant nagging, the teachers staying on top of things and Chases determination to do this on his own, he will get there one day at a time. It’s a big responsibility for me to oversee his work. Trying to maintain the right balance between schools expectations and his struggle to do the work leaves me in a tough place. He is very smart. Everyday, he surprises me more and more. Sometimes though, when I start to relax a little too much, disaster strikes in a moments notice. I checked Parent Portal this weekend to find Chase is missing 4 math assignments. We have a 504 that is similar to an IEP that requires teachers to contact me at the first sign of missing work or when he is falling behind. This is what happens when I don’t check and they don’t let me know. It turns into a massive stress fest at home and my husband and I feel the brunt of it. He spent all weekend trying to re-do the work he seemed to misplace. The fact that his writing wrist is broken does not contribute to the cause in a helpful way. Every year, the transition of getting used to new teachers in addition to the time lapse of them discovering his 504 seems to take longer and longer. On a good note, we try our best to work as partners so Chase can be as successful as possible. High school starts next year so this is a big transitional year. He is in 3 classes now that will give him high school credit and I am confident he can handle them IF he keeps up with the work. There’s always that one class he slacks off to make up for the amount of work in other classes. I hope this will be the year he finds his balance and I lose some of this worry and anxiety. I am looking forward to the day he gets his cast off and can get more of his work done in class. Two more weeks, hold on, almost there.

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

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Here we are at the end of another school year. I am so grateful and proud when I think of the growth from 5th grade to the end of 7th. There was a time when school was so difficult for my son and I did everything in my power to make sure that one day he would be successful all on his own. For those of you who have followed our journey with ADD, I made the decision after Christmas to take him off his medication. I was nervous but he wanted to give it a try so I reluctantly agreed. The end result was nothing short of amazing. He is completing his work on his own, handing it in most of the time and his confidence has grown leaps and bounds. What I’ve learned is there are good teachers, great teachers, and horrible teachers and parents just need to fill in the gaps when something is lacking. I am so disappointed that my sons team this year did not follow the plan to email me about his grades, his focus and the quality of his work. I believe communication is crucial especially at a time a student is transitioning off of medication, not to mention it is part of his 504 plan. They didn’t think twice however to email me the handful of times when his behavior was less than perfect. Just today I received an email from a teacher who intended to send me a message notifying me that Chase made a comment during his class. The problem is that instead of sending the email only to me, he typed the words while the whole class read them on the projector in the front of the room. Of course, he was emailing me to apologize but can you imagine the embarrassment and humiliation Chase must have felt in those horrible moments as his classmates were reading these words? Personally I don’t understand why I even got an email home. Was this grown man not able to handle this situation on his own that he felt an email was even warranted? Remember, I have begged for communication when it comes to his progress and school work but never do I get an email regarding that. I end this year a little sad. It’s so disappointing that behavior seems to be more of a concern than learning but I have decided to let that ship sail and focus on the positive. There was a time my son couldn’t complete a single paper on his own and now he is rocking it all on his own.

I guess what I would like everyone to know is that it is devastating for a parent to watch their child struggle in school. Some people believe ADD exists and others think it’s just a myth but parents do what they feel is in the best interest of their child. They don’t need to be judged or shamed because they choose one way or another, they need love and support because this can be a very difficult time. It’s easy to have an opinion but the only way to really understand a situation is to live through it yourself. Be kind. Be empathetic and keep opinions to yourself unless you are asked to give some advice. There are enough critics, sometimes people just need the support of a friend,