Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Counselor Conference

So here is, as promised, the synopsis (and my commentary and processing) of my meeting with the counselor at the kid's school this morning.

I was running late, and I hate running late, so I was a bit flustered going in. But, Ms C was overall quite lovely. I shared with her our concerns and that his pediatrician had diagnosed him with an Adjustment Disorder. I did decide not to tell her that I was actually the one who made the diagnosis, and the pediatrician just agreed with it, without even looking at the DSM (aka the bible of mental health). I explained that our top concerns are the lack of communication from Mrs L, despite our varied attempts to do so, and how unhappy the kid appears to be (i.e. he can't come up with anything positive to say about school and often quickly changes the topic when Mrs L is brought up).

I was a bit nervous going in, particularly that Ms C would be resistant to the 504 plan. I met with a counselor at a different school yesterday (regarding one of my clients) and that counselor made the 504 sound like this big huge deal. Well, the kid's counselor stated that she feels if a kiddo needs support, then that's what they're going to do, and she has no problem handing out 504 plans. She gave me a few papers that need to be filled out. Once I get those back to her (hopefully next week - once I can get the pediatrician to sign off on them), we'll get a meeting scheduled within a week or so. Which is fantastic.

The modifications we're requesting are: daily communication from Mrs L indicating the kid's behavior throughout the day; more positive rewards and discipline (i.e. no writing sentences, no taking away recess); movement breaks; even socialization breaks throughout the day; an occupational therapy evaluation (or at least observation) to determine if there are any additional strategies that can be used to further support him with his fine motor skills.  If anyone else has any suggesions about other modications, I'd LOVE to hear them!!

Ms C seemed to understand our concerns about the teacher, and even agree with them (without directly saying so, you know, school politics and all). She plans to talk with the principal and thought that he will probably want to be present at the 504 meeting.  Apparently it's pretty uncommon for the principal to attend 504 meetings, but, because of the issues with the teacher, she thought he probably would want to. I made sure to explain that we have no interest in getting Mrs L in trouble, we just want our kid to be in a nurturing environment where he can be academically and emotionally successful. She assured me that the school wants that for all kids as well (though, really, what else could she have said in response to that) and she also thanked me for being calm and rational. I'm sure she gets some pretty ticked off parents in her office. I don't envy her her job.

So the one thing that kind of, okay seriously, ticked me off (because, it's me, so you know there had to be something), was this. As soon as I mentioned the Adjustment Disorder, the following conversation ensued ... "Okay, the kid is adopted right?". "Well, yes, he was adopted." "Right, well, you know lots of kids who are adopted have that attachment thing. You know, oh what's it called...Reactive Attachment Disorder." "Um, no, he doesn't have that. He's been with us since he was born and --." "Well you know, lots of adopted kids still have that and have issues, you know." I - trying hard to control my mouth - reiterated that the presentation of the kid's issues coincided with his beginning at that school. And that he absolutely, by no means, has any kind of attachment issues. Period. I mean, if you're going to start throwing out diagnoses, you should probably know what they are, and what the hell you're talking about. Just sayin'.

So, the synopsis, Ms C was great today, with the exception of her stupidity regarding adoption and DSM criteria. We're headed towards the kid's 504 plan, and hopefully some positive changes in the way the teacher deals with him and us.

Today's lesson: As a commenter - and friend from way back in my elementary school days (Hi, LCR!) - said, what a difference it would make for (at least some of) our kids if public schools functioned more like montessori programs. If classrooms were smaller, and there wasn't quite so much focus on the ever important TEST...sigh...


M said...

I'm glad you were able to meet with the counselor. Hopefully your child will get the help he needs. I am a second grade teacher in a public school, and it frustrates me that there are so many teachers who aren't willing to go the extra mile for their students. Those teachers give all of us a bad name. Good luck and thanks for your comment on my blog!

ICLW #51

Jenn and Casey said...

I'm glad the meeting went OK... *minus the misunderstanding about RAD*... are there any social groups that kiddo could join? Also, good thinking with OT evaluation! Don't know if the school offers it, but I do play therapy in schools is that an option? Hoping that things turn more positive for everyone, involved!

dspence said...

I am so glad to hear you had a successful meeting a look forward to hearing about the positive changes now in the works!

Kelli said...

I hope things get better with your son's teacher and I agree with M..those teachers do give us a bad rap. I teach Kindergarten and I am glad to hear how you are being proactive for your son! Thanks for stopping by my blog!

Peg said...

Glad to hear you're getting a plan together. He sounds like a cool kid, with an overwrought teacher who pegged him as a "difficult" kid. I am glad you are advocating for him so well.