Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Father gone, Learning Challenge, ADHD: My Baby the Giant Killer

I know these things don't define my baby; yet, here we are.

I posted on my widow forum, that we have the diagnosis. After years of struggle, tutoring that didn't help, many nights of frustration, of feeling helpless and just plain tired, what I suspected was true. I had no problem accepting the ADHD diagnosis or the Dyslexia diagnosis. What I knew was that I had a child no less intelligent than anyone else who was struggling to read, (though has improved a lot), took forever on her homework even with me sitting right there (though there has been improvement there too) and was tanking almost every test. I wanted answers. I needed answers. I was desparate for answers.

It was not an easy path to the diagnosis. And the path hasn't been easy since I had it. The choice of a school for the upcoming year is still not final. She has a seat in a public elementary school near the school she attends now. She'd need a scholarship to go the private school I toured that already has an impressive program for children with learning differences. Three others were closed options as in they only had children with learning differences enrolled and that is not what I want for her. Her current school like almost every other private school, is not used to dealing with children who need accommodations. We have been there for a long time. She was in the daycare and went straight to the elementary school. Our pastors are the CEOs (aka headmasters) so naturally after all they have done for us, I was not going to remove Ariana without a conversation.

Well, here's what happened. Due to his own history, my pastor wanted to provide services for children with learning challenges, and prior to Ariana's most recent evaluation he said he would look into it, but the research on costs, staffing needs, accommodations and modifications required had been put aside due to other things being addressed. It took a while to get the diagnosis due to some delays in paperwork, but I eventually had it. Within three days of getting word of the diagnosis and my sincere angst, but willingness to change schools, he had put together a team of six people to bring in what Ariana would need in hopes that she would not have to change schools.

I don't know if all this will result in her being able to return this coming year or at a later time, but I certainly appreciate the effort. Everyone agrees there is no reason to retain her and that doing so in her case would do more harm than good. The path for her will best be served with remediation and accommodations in the classroom. Her school has the psychologists recommendations. I sent the psycholoist's report to her pediatrician and had an appointment with him yesterday. I now have a prescription for an ADHD medication and with the summer to see how it will work, and make adjustments if they are necessary. The public school told me that due to scheduling an IEP would not be written for her until after she'd been in school there for a while anyway, so I am not rushing to get them the report.

I have contacted several sources for tutoring over the summer. I heard back from a lady certified in the same program the therapist (who saw Ariana saw back in November) wanted to use. I also have the home version and will finally have time to use it over the summer, and hope to only have the tutoring 1 hour per week. She costs $50/hr, but at least it will be one on one. I have replied to her asking about her availability and the logistics on how she works. The pediatrician is referring us to a speech therapist who will contact us for an appointment.

Today, I have a meeting with the resource teacher and administration from her current school. So, after hours of research with the psychologist’s report by my side, I compiled an initial list of 11 accommodation/modification requests for Ariana to take to this meeting at her school today. The list may need to be expanded or reduced depending on the effects of the medication and the tutoring she’ll be getting, but it is a place to start. An individual education plan also consists of a set of goals, so at the bottom of my request list is a request for the goals the school has for 4th graders so I can decide whether or not to have those goals adjusted for Ariana.

Along with those requests I have printed copies of my research sources from the websites the psychologist provided to support my reasoning in making those requests. I’ve also made up a check list I’ll be requesting Ariana get to use each day to make sure she has everything she needs when she packs up to go home. It is called “My Take Home List”. I listed every book she’ll have next year, and there is a section called homework sheets with each subject listed as well. Each line has a box to check. I’ll be asking that she with help from the teacher or a friend, take the sheet and the homework assignment sheet and get help checking things off as she packs at the end of the day.

She would often come home either without the worksheets she needed to do her homework, without the books she needed or both. I actually had extra copies of some of her books that I had purchased in case she forgot the sheet at school. This was usually demoralizing for her because she might have done half of the sheet between end of instruction at 3:00 and when I arrive at 4:00, but would have to start over with a blank sheet once we got home.

I realize this will be the first of many of these meetings. I’m slowly wrapping my head around getting the mental energy to keep going. Lord only knows there might be other undiagnosed children in there that end up getting help without having to change schools. My pastor has been appreciative of the push to move forward in expanding the school’s capacity. If it doesn’t work out for this coming school year, I am confident she will be able to return and that is comforting.

I guess we're going to have to be world beaters in our house. Bring on summer. I think we’ve earned our vacation.

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