Friday, June 1, 2012

Never piss off the Mama bear

Just a quick update on my running life at the moment.

Umm.. there isn't any.  Ahh, blog post finished -- is it too early for beer?

Just as I feel fully recovered from a bout of flu and I was able to pull myself back into the running gear -- and after a month away from running, pulling is an understatement.  The phrase "Quart into a pint-pot" comes to mind.

So, I was fit(ish) and ready to go. Then D became sick.  Poor lad, he was full of flu and he spent 3 days  (plus a weekend) away from school.  On the Monday when the school returned D still seemed under the weather, but he insisted he wanted to meet his friends.

I arranged a short day for him and let him go.  The first day was difficult but okay.  However, days 2, 3 and 4 were not so manageable.  Yes, having a difficult day is an improvement to what happened to D over the following days.

His class was evacuated 3 times in 3 days.  The violent outbursts were dramatic, prolonged and actually uncharacteristic.  As I mentioned to his Resource Room teacher -- he hasn't had any violent tantrums in months.  Even on these off-days he was still calm at home.  I was at a loss to help her.

What has resulted is the beginnings of a battle.

On investigation it seems as if D may qualify for a little sub-set of Autism called "Pathological Demand Syndrome" or PDA.  It's a very new version of PDD-NOS which has primarily been investigated in the UK but little elsewhere.  When reading the diagnostic description it was chilling.

D never fitted well into the Autism mould.  I concede he does have developmental difficulties, but his social behaviour, imagination and his basic empathy seemed to be at odds with the classical Autistic definition.  The documentation also cited that conventional Autism behavioural techniques are more likely to increase problem behaviour not reduce it.

PDA fitted all of these anomalies as well as explaining in detail why he had these violent outbursts.  His therapists agreed that he seemed to fit the profile, although they weren't qualified to diagnose him as such.

It was clear at the end of the "week of hell" that D's mental state was in the toilet.  He had no self-confidence, he was on the verge of being depressed and it was clear he was having anxiety issues at school.

Issues at school -- this was the problem.  He didn't exhibit any of these issues at home and only very briefly in therapy (once, on the day he came down with flu).  Only at school.  This to me indicated that there was something at school that was triggering him.

I kept him home and decided to home-school him for a bit until we could come up with a plan to integrate him back to class.

The plan provided by the school was the same plan they created before spring break.  Two hours a day, stuck in a room by himself with little un-orchestrated, social interaction with his peers.  A plan that may have prevented some triggers, but a plan that increased his sensory-seeking behaviours at home and reduced his ability to socially interact naturally.

In one of the meetings with the Resource room teacher, she made a comment that made me wonder.  She asked if I had discussed the issues happening between his classroom teacher and his previous SEA (who is off sick indefinitely) in front of Dylan.  Umm.. what issues?  I admit, I had heard random rumours.  I had been a little confused by some comments D had made about how he had been treated in the classroom and I was fully aware his teacher didn't like me or D that much.  But this made me wonder -- was there something more?

I made a decision that I wouldn't send D to school until we had an acceptable plan to deal with his behaviours (that didn't involve un-official exclusion) and any incidents between his SEA and teacher were fully disclosed.  I needed to know if incidents in the classroom had created an anxiety in him in regards to school.

Let's say nearly three weeks on and it is clear the school believe D's behaviour has nothing to do with them, and I am getting more concerned that it does and they aren't addressing it.  I can't see how putting a 7 year old in a room on his own will stop him reacting negatively if he is given a demand which is a potential trigger.

This is starting to get messy.  Lines are being drawn in the sand and we are amassing our own armies.  My army is D's home therapy team.  The school has the Autism Outreach team.

I don't care -- I know in my heart that the situation with the school has created educational and mental issues with D.  I have seen the change in him since he has been home-schooled.  He has managed 3 months of work in 2 weeks.  His maths, reading and writing have improved.  He is happy, confident and smiling.  He wants to learn.  The change is dramatic.

Keeping him at home all the time may not be an option as D needs to learn and test his social-skills with his peers.  I am also not letting the school board keep his funding money without providing him any resources, which is the scenario that would happen if he was home-schooled.  Trust me, it appears home-schooling D would be a "win-win" situation for them.  They don't have to spend time dealing with a "difficult" child and they get $18,000 to spend on SEN kids they can manage.

I am on a battle-quest.  I have the school-board in my sights and I am squaring up for a fight.

I am a pissed off Mama Bear, hear me roar!  Then run away bloody quickly because this is going to be a battle where there will be casualties and that list of injured will NOT include D!


  1. I think roar is an understatement as to what you should be doing! Wow!

    Praying you make some progress, as I would agree.. It sounds like it's the school. I have a friend in Washington state who homeschools, partially because of this (one of her kids is autistic).

    Many prayers!

  2. Battle on Mama Bear, our kids are the most important thing in our lives, and it puts a huge smile on my face to hear you talk about D over the last few weeks. The trips to the plantarium, museums and of course the coffee shops show me that it is definitely the school that is the issue. D is one smart cookie, and he has a Mama that loves him dearly, and it shows. This is a battle that you will win. Good thoughts are being channelled your way.

  3. I agree w/Bob. I still thiknk he has just blossomed from the homeschooling-he is also very intelligent.more HUGS!!! and prayers

  4. Kate, you might consider the SelfDesign DL program. Basically they're a homeschool support program run through an independent school -- and they can pass a lot of the funding they get on your child's behalf along to you. They're Very Good People, operating on a very open-minded child-centred, outside-the-box model. My unschooled kids were registered with them for many years. My friend has two adopted FAS kids whom she has registered with them and she just gushes about the support she gets.

    In dealing with the current school, you might find less defensiveness and antagonism if you make it clear that you're not saying there's any blame or fault at play, but that "there's something about the school environment that's a poor fit for him, and I need your help in figuring out what it is."

    Good luck! This sounds like a very very difficult situation indeed. Stay strong.

    1. Thanks for the hint Miranda.

      I know I am being defensive and antagonistic, but the situation is that it has taken a lot of the school refusing to let us help that has got us into this stage.

      I have been as helpful as I can over the last school year. I have pulled D out more than we should have, spent our funding to help them and tried to ensure we have made the path D and the school have been on as easy as possible.

      The defensiveness comes from the shock of being blamed ourselves. We aren't the best parent's in the world, however we work pretty hard ensuring D has the systems in place to enable him to cope. I think it was when it became apparent that the school dismissed his behaviour as being part of his Autism and landed the blame on us as being ineffective parent's. They then refused to listen to anything we have to say.

      Then to find out they are keeping important facts away from us regarding issues in school -- facts that would have explained a lot of his behaviour and made us treat the situation incorrectly at home and in therapy. That's just wrong. We have been very open about our home-life so they can deal with D effectively, but to not have the same consideration returned because of "politics", that's very upsetting.

      It seems as if the overall objective of nurturing the child has been forgotten by the people we had come to trust.

    2. Kate, I used the words defensive and antagonistic in reference to the school staff, not you! You're emotionally bonded to your child, and any protective feelings and frustration on your behalf are totally understandable! The defensiveness and antagonism that needs tearing down is the stuff that's coming from the school. I just thought that if you used the "goodness of fit problem" line with them you might help them move past it a bit.

      They may be too entrenched in their stance at this point, though... sigh.