We finished out the school year by going for only half days. I brought him to school after lunch and before recess, that way he doesn’t have to struggle through the morning. The mornings were a difficult time for the boy because he was called to do “rug time,” where he was expected to sit still on a rug and participate in the morning rituals. Shortly after rug time was “rotation station,” where the children worked on projects at a table for a few minutes and then they would rotate to the next table, where they would have a different project to work on. This is a brilliant idea for 5-year-olds because their attention span is so short. Except with a child that has ADHD/ADD it may take them the entire time at one table to bring themselves under control, and they may have just started on their project when rotation time comes. Plus, transitioning may sometimes be particularly difficult for children with special needs, so I could see how a “rotation station” could cause frustration. So we did away with the difficult mornings and just came for some recess, social time, and a little more learning in the afternoon. Unfortunately the shortened day was still difficult for him. I had assumed everything was going well because I was no longer receiving the phone calls every couple of days, or even daily. I found out later that he was still needing to leave the classroom and sit on the beanbag chair in the separated part of his room several times a day. And that he was running around like a madman in the gym, screaming and clapping his hands over his ears, etc. The biggest surprise was when I was told that he would be on the computers and if someone so much as brushed up against him, he would scream at them. I couldn’t believe my sweet, social boy was turning into an angry kid who yelled at his peers! His teacher told me, “He’s had a pretty rough year, maybe he’s just ‘had it’ with his classmates.”
When we were experiencing failure with medicine after medicine, and the end of the year was approaching, I put in a formal request for the school to do a “positive behavior assessment.” Once you request one of these to be done, by law, the school has around 2 weeks to start the process and an additional 30 days to complete the assessment. These are very involved, so I’ll just give you a general idea of what they are and why I requested one. First of all, I should tell you that my son has an IEP, or Individual Education Plan, for speech. He has been in speech therapy since age 2 1/2, when he just completely stopped talking, or even attempting to pronounce or repeat words. At age 5 1/2 his speech therapist told me that he was completely caught up with his age group’s expectations, and that she was going to release him and he would no longer have an IEP. I immediately thought to myself, “Woah, this isn’t good! We do not have his ADHD even slightly managed, and now he is going to lose his education plan? If anything, we should be adding addendums to his education plan in regards to his ADHD!” I wanted some concessions made for my son, I need him to be given the opportunity to step outside of his classroom and be able to collect himself when he feels like he is becoming overstimulated. I may need to request extra time on tests or maybe that he be given his tests in the library. He may need an assistant or therapist inside the classroom to help redirect him back to his studies. He may need to go out of the classroom and have some individualized one on one tutoring to keep him up with the rest of the class. If he lost his IEP now, he would be expected to perform as well as the rest of the class, and without any provisions to help him achieve his goals. No, I couldn’t throw the boy to the wolves, so to speak.
The meeting for the assessment didn’t go quite as expected. There were 7 people in attendance, including myself, the boy’s current teacher, and his speech teacher. They opened the meeting by asking me what I want for my son. I told them the best I could, that I felt that if some concessions weren’t made, and if my son was expected to perform up to class standards with his disability, that next year was going to be another unsuccessful one. I told them that I wanted stuff that helped my son this year, like being able to leave the room and relax on a beanbag chair in a quiet safe place, to be in his IEP so next year’s teacher knows what to expect. I want the kindergarten teacher to have a list of things that helped the boy to be successful, and a list of things that caused him to become overwhelmed. But I ended up arguing with the special education director most of the time. She even told me that I didn’t know what I was asking for, and that I was misunderstanding the definition of a “positive behavior assessment,” and even an “IEP.” She argued that the boy wasn’t going to lose his IEP, and then she argued with his speech teacher about it. So, thankfully, the boy’s speech teacher took over and got everything in writing and got the ball rolling on the assessment.