Here We Go Again

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The anxiety is starting to reach a level that I am finding difficult to handle. Tomorrow I have a meeting with the Director of Special Services and a new principal and the stress of having to go over and over this with new people year after year is starting to take its toll on me. I am at my breaking point spending endless hours trying to help my son at home and being on the receiving end of backlash from the school the entire way. I actually reached out to the Office of Civil Rights and the lawyer on the end asked, why have you waited so long to file a complaint? I didn’t even have to think of an answer. The truth is, I thought all teachers cared about students. I really in my foolish heart believed that teachers would do whatever it would take to assure their students would be successful in school. Boy, I was so wrong. Even when by law they are required to provide certain accommodations, there are a few that will resist on every level. So how does the school react? They attempt to change the words in my sons 504 to protect these same teachers that refuse to meet the accommodation. Are you kidding me? Is protecting a law breaking teacher more of a priority than doing everything they can to make sure a child learns? I guess I didn’t believe anyone could be so cruel, so uncaring that even when you ask for their help, they will not give it. I am so naive when it comes to people. It is hard for me to not expect the best in them because I could never act that way myself. I am a parent and I do whatever it takes to help my son because as a mom, I know I am the one person in the world who will always have his back. I am sad and broken and trying to ignore the palpitations that keep me up at night. I will continue this fight because the support from many of you gives me the strength I need to carry on. Wish me luck tomorrow. I will give it one final shot and then I am left with only one other option. It’s time to move in a different direction.

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?

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.

A New Direction

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Today I am hopeful. I met with a new principal who is taking over Chases 504. He listened to me and really heard what it is I am needing for each individual class. That is the problem with a plan of action. Teachers do enough work as it is so I would never want them to do more than they need to do. Different classes require different needs so why force all teachers to do something if I only need something specific in one or two classes? I think he understood our situation a little better after providing him with specific examples of the reason behind why I believe Chase is struggling so much and after I polished off an entire box of tissues sitting on his desk.

I got Chases state test results in the mail yesterday and although they have little significance, their findings reinforce what I say over and over again. He scored a 20-30% on reading comprehension which is why it is so important for him to be provided with notes. The results show that his ability to teach himself information by sitting in class and reading a chapter to fill out answers in a packet as a method of learning does not suit him well. 

My response to him saying it sounded like I am at a point where I am very frustrated with teachers was this. I am not frustrated with teachers, I am frustrated that I am the one responsible to make teachers follow the law. I saw him write that down at the same time I saw the lightbulb appear over his head. This is more than misplaced aggression toward teachers. This is a serious, serious offense. To those who say teachers are overwhelmed, they can only do so much, I reply with this, if you get pulled over because you are not wearing your seatbelt and you explain to the officer you are busy and overwhelmed and your life is crowded up with too many things, I believe he would probably respond by saying, too bad, a law is a law and you have broken it. The reason just doesn’t matter.

Wish me luck as we come up with a new plan and he takes over the job of reinforcer. I don’t know if it’s a step in the right direction but at least it’s one in a new direction.

What I Learned From Consecutive Integers

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As I was helping my son with his Algebra homework, something became very clear to me. I believe we make life more complex than it needs to be. We push beyond our limits and we lack the intelligence or the self control to stop and say enough is enough. 

Let me explain. Chase has a test tomorrow and they started a new section today that will be combined with two other sections to be included in the test. There were 12 problems and the progression of the problems went something like this:

1) The sum of 2 consecutive integers =45. Easy right? 

8) Find four consecutive odd integers whose sum is 56. Getting tricky…

12) Find three consecutive integers such that the sum of twice the smallest and 3 times the largest is 126. Forget it!

12 problems, so much knowledge and a test tomorrow!

We have got to slow down. We need to allow ourselves to grasp one thing in our lives before we are tripping over our own feet running to get to the next. This is why we miss the details and walk around in a fog asking “why did I walk into this room again?” We are not paying enough attention in this moment because our mind has us jumping ahead to the next. We cannot survive peacefully and happily if we continue to live like this and follow this path. For me, it didn’t start until I became an adult but our kids face it at an earlier and earlier age. Just another realization that jumped in my brain that I felt worthy to share. I don’t know, what are your thoughts? 

Yes, it’s Monday!

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Today started off with a bang. My husband was kind enough to take over kid duty today and let me sleep in. Last night I decided to check my sons biology homework and inadvertently forgot to put his workbook back in his binder. Faintly, deep from dream world, I heard the habitual notification from my phone. When I got up to check it, I had 15 messages from my son that looked something like this. Mom. Mom? Mom? Did you take my biology flex book? Mom, are you up? Mom. Mom. Mom? Can you please hurry and bring my book? And just like that, I was off to the races. I threw a pair of sneakers on and the first pair of shorts and sweatshirt I could find and I was on my way. Of course, he takes 0 hour which is 45 minutes before school actually starts so now it was a battle between me and the bus in front of me that stopped every couple of feet. Finally I arrived at school and wouldn’t you know there was no one working the front desk? I just walked right in and down the hall I thought his classroom would be in but the room was empty. Luckily the teacher has a distinctive voice so I followed the sound and luckily found my son sitting in the front row of what looked like the lab. Like my old 8 year old self trying to pass a note all those years ago, I whispered Chase a few times which caught the attention of every student in the first third of the class and he met me in the hall to grab his book. I didn’t see this coming for my Monday morning. You just never know. How did your day start off? Hopefully less hectic than mine.

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.

Calling All Teachers and Students

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I really hate to bother anyone with school issues but I could use some advice. There are certain classes my son has where he is given a study guide for an upcoming test. It is usually long and takes up a big chunk of time to complete. The study guide is due the day of the exam but they are allowed to use it when they take the test. Both the study guide and the test are graded. 

For years I have struggled with the idea that this is counterproductive. Sometimes the answers are not correct and the kids take time and effort to study the wrong information that will ultimately lead to them answering questions wrong on the test as well. Wouldn’t it make sense to grade the study guide and return it to students before the test and not use it on the actual exam? Also, what benefit does grading both exam and study guide have if the same answers are going to be wrong on both?

I’d love to hear what you think the logic is behind this whole idea. I could use your help.