Monday, April 7, 2008

We Fought the School... and the School Won...

We had our IEP meeting at Collette's school on Friday afternoon. It did not go well, although in my opinion, it never does. It was a large meeting with Collette's Teacher, school Reading Teacher, school Speech Therapist, school Occupational Therapist, my dear "friend" Shrinkie (the school psychologist see The Trouble with Shrinkie), a representative from the school district, our private speech therapist Eric and myself. We listened to each of the participants reports and were essentially told by the school group that they want Collette to go into a more severely handicapped class. We have been adamant about keeping her in a more "typically developing" classroom since she's been in preschool because being exposed to normal speech patterns is a huge influence in her desire to speak clearly.

Dearest Shrinkie had performed an IQ test on poor Collette (we had tried our hardest to opt out of this test and were strong armed into letting them do it). Shrinkie was so very pleased to present her report - you could just see the look of triumph in her face. She has concluded that because of her score on the IQ test, Collette officially falls into the category of "Mentally Retarded". (Gee, we have been to a highly respected Children's Hospital in our area and had the exact same test done - their conclusion was that this was not the case... hmmmmm... who do you think is correct - Shrinkie the flunky school psychologist or one of the best Children's Hospital's Developmental Psychologists???... hmmmm).

We argued for quite a while with Shrinkie and she insisted that her diagnosis was going to be the primary reason Collette was going to receive Special Education services - nevermind the fact that she actually does have an official diagnosis of a speech and language disorder from a speech specialist - nope, her little nugget of knowledge is the basis for which my child will be judged for the rest of her life. Even though Shrinkie and I had a little verbal smackdown - she managed to wrangle her term into the paperwork (although we "officially" disputed the condition - it doesn't really do much good, you can't unring the bell). We did manage to get her placement the way we wanted, but still that doesn't make it any better.

Shrinkie won - and that really ticks me off. She had the nerve to expect me to shake her hand and make nice at the end of the meeting - was I wrong to ignore her?? I'm pretty sure that she must not have children. Anyone who is a parent would not be so quick to label a child with a very restrictive label that cannot be "unrung" for the rest of her life - and this is all based upon one test, given by a flunkie psychologist who thinks she knows all there is to know. Well, Shrinkie, I have news for you - you don't know my child and you don't know what she is capable of doing. Just because you want to give the school fodder for giving up on her and putting her in a "Life Skills" class so she can learn to ride the bus and go grocery shopping instead of trying to teach her to read and do simple math. I have news for you - you said she would never read two years ago and today she can read simple books - We're not giving up on her like you are. If I have to go into her classroom every day and be her one on one tutor, then so be it - but I will not let her become someone wandering the street asking people for the picture menu at the McDonalds so she can eat lunch. Nope Shrinkie, I will not let you win the war - you may have won the battle, but you're behind in the long run..... Parents 0 - Shrinkie 1... but it's not over yet.... you've just met your match Shrinkie - Mom's in the house!!

Posted by Liz of Pink Lemonade

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Boutique said...

Liz, coming from an equally determined plan headed for Italy, but grounded in Holland, I feel the heaviness and the strength in this post. I commend your strength and your positive attitude. Collette truly couldn't have a better mommy in this world.

I hope to learn to make a beautiful shade of pink lemonade given these lemons. We just finished our 3rd OT appointment. I cry and cry. I hate when they remind me that she's not "normal"....when I get the smug looks on the faces from a few cold Doctors or specialist who want to be "right" about whatever diganosis might be in the back of their minds or on the tips of their lips.

I pray to God I'm strong enough to do all the fighting that must be done. Most of the time I just want to lie down and pull the covers over my some secluded farm where we don't see all the "normal" people reminding us we aren't like them.

You are an inspiration. Keep fighting. And, thank you for showing me that there is an alterative to accepting all these negative tests and comments.

mls said...

I guess I've been given the opportunity to see issues such as these through the eyes of many. I was a special education teacher for autistic children and had to attend I.E.P. meetings with the clinical team and parents and had to present some heart wrenching reports.

For two years I was a shadow teacher for an autistic child in a private school whose parents thought she would never learn to read. The second year I home schooled her...and she did.

I was also the parent of a child who had serious behavior problems and I requested special education in spite of her average I.Q. score. She hated being in the "dummy" classroom, as she put it, however, I knew that her behavior interfered with her ability to learn and was a daily distraction to the other children in the classroom. In addition to special education, she had been on various medications, endured six psychiatric hospitalizations and attended weekly therapy lessons for six years. After spending much of fourth grade in the special education classroom, she was mainstreamed into regular classrooms until she graduated from high school, but always carried the "label". I didn't care about her being labeled "special ed" since it never determined what she was capable of doing.

Today, at twenty, she is living on her own in her own apartment (no roommates), works full time at an upscale restaurant (Oprah and Obama recently ate there on separate occasions) and she attends a private, fine arts college full time where she is majoring in advertisement art. Does she still have problems? Yes, but she continues to learn how to deal with her anger through natural and logical consequences (and having an adoptive, single parent, mother who never gave up on her has helped).

Tara said...

oh NO!!! I am just starting down this road and I am already frustrated with my son's school. They certainly do like to label kids don't they? I'm so sorry for you and your child. What a mess. Stay strong. I admire your strength in fighting for your child. I have to do the same.

Anonymous said...

I feel your hurt. I wish to send you a bit of encouragement. Keep up the good fight! Don't despair. Pour all the love you have into your little her bloom and grow!

I wish I could help. Before I married, I was a teacher, and hearing these stories, my heart cries out, "Let me help!" Unfortunately, I am in Australia and you are in America. I do hope you find a compassionate teacher to help you with some one on one tutoring.

God Bless You!