Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Invisible Disability

I have been struggling for a while now about Logan and his school "behavior." I have also been struggling with how his behavior is being addressed at school. I really do like his teacher as a person, however, I don't think she knows my Logan like I do. It has been a real struggle for our entire family.

Basically you have a class of 24 kindergartner's, one teacher, a behavior plan that is followed for all children, and a little boy that isn't your "typical" cookie-cutter child. The behavior plan goes like this: Child starts out on green...if he or she has a great day...he stays on green all day. During the course of the day (6 1/2 hours to be exact) if he or she is asked once or twice or given a friendly reminder called a "Think About It" they move to yellow. If the child does that same behavior or a different behavior that is unacceptable after the yellow - they get moved to red. First things first - I do NOT disagree with this method as a whole. My girls had very similar classroom rules when they were younger and Hailey still does in her 3rd grade class. These types of things work well overall - but Logan is not the "average" child.

Since the second or third week of school Logan has been getting red at least 4 out of 5 days...and here is 5 out of 5. This consists of a "Think About It" paper that gets sent home and he is supposed to write a sentence about what he did and another sentence on why he will not do this behavior again (mind you - he is in Kindergarten). I did call his teacher and told her that I would not make Logan write these sentences - he doesn't even know how to write all of his letters yet. I did explain to her that we discuss the behavior he gets in trouble for each and every single day and that we discuss ways that we can try to avoid certain situations or why his behavior is disruptive. She agreed that she was okay with the not writing sentences. Thank God. That would have only taken our entire evening and then some...

Here are the latest reasons for his "red" days:  Saying "he is done" with his work, laying on the floor touching the chairs during circle time, touching things on the teachers desk, not sitting still in carline, turning in his papers unfinished, calling his teachers name across the room, speaking out of turn, having trouble keeping his hands to himself, and being "the ONLY child that doesn't stand in line nicely."

I put a call into his teacher and discussed some of these things - I suggested that we needed to come up with short-term goals first before expecting my child (that has Impulse Control Disorder along with ADHD) to sit for an entire day without any of these behaviors showing themselves. I asked her if I provided the stickers and a chart if she could reward him with a sticker after each activity ie: He completes his letter "K" practice sheet, she gives him a sticker...He goes to gym w/out incident, he gets a sticker... He sits quietly and fairly still through circle time, he gets a sticker...etc. She disagreed! She said she thought he is doing this for attention and that would only reinforce the attention seeking behaviors. <<ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME?!?!>> That's what I really wanted to say, but I didn't...I just asked what she thought. She said that she would split his day into morning and afternoons - so if he messes up in the morning he has a chance at green in the afternoon or vice versa. I agreed that she could try it that way...but I have yet to see a single thing. He doesn't get two papers sent home - he gets one - just like before. I also had asked that when he shuts down and refuses to do his work if it would be possible for someone (the couselor, principal, etc.) to take him out of the classroom, talk about why he is upset, give him a short break, and then encourage him to try again. She once again disagreed with me stating "He is so smart - he knows what he is doing. That would just be giving him the break that he wants and I am not willing to do that." Her saying that makes me feel that Logan has control and thinks ahead to what consequence might happen. Logan is not a "planner" thus the IMPULSE CONTROL DISORDER. He is an in the moment child. A here and now child - not a child that stops to think - "Hey, if I don't do my paper, I might get to go for a walk with the pricipal." Or "If I don't do my paper I might lose recess." He doesn't think of those type of things. He just thinks "I don't want to do this right now." That is all his little brain is thinking - he doesn't try to plan ahead in spite of his teacher!

Another issue we discussed was his carline behavior... He was sneaking to sit with his sister and then she was trying to help "control" him and that doesn't work well AT ALL. His teacher was really beside herself about this behavior so I did ask if there was a reason he couldn't have an assigned seat with his class in carline. She said she thought that was a good idea (2 weeks ago)...until yesterday when I spoke to her and she told me again how awful he has been in carline and how he was messing around with his sister. I questioned her again about having an assigned seat and then I felt that she was stumbling with her thoughts. She said "Oh, I am not down there every day. He just isn't listening to the teachers that are down there." I asked if the teachers know that Logan has an assigned seat and she said they did, but she said he is choosing not to follow instructions and they can't watch him every second while they are calling out the numbers. However, there is not a single consequence set into place if he doesn't stay in his carline spot. I feel that is a huge problem - you can't set something in place and not have a back-up plan if that plan falls through. This would be a perfect example of when there needs to be a consequence.

He has been super antsy lately and I completely understand the frustration that his teacher has. It hasn't been a cake walk at home either. I can't say I think the tantrums are adorable, or the pulling of his hair is just too cute either...but the fact of the matter is that he is struggling internally as well as externally. It isn't just the ones around him who are suffering from his "obnoxious" behavior. He is struggling to find control of himself and it's a losing battle. How frustrating would that be if you were in his position?!

This disability isn't something you can tell by walking by us at the grocery or the Fall Festival - if you didn't know us and saw us out,  you would probably think "Great parenting skills people - Get your kid under control!" However, there is so much more to this. It truly is an "Invisable Disability."

I pray every single day for Logan - for the doctors that care for him - for the teachers that are around him - and some days even for my sanity! ;) I hope and pray families in similar situations have an amazing support group like we have because I honestly don't think I could do it without all of my family, friends, and readers who are so encouraging, supportive, thoughtful, etc. Thank you!!! Seriously - If you know another mom/dad stuggling with similar issues feel free to share my blog. I find comfort in reading other blogs and knowing that we aren't the only ones coping with this type of lifestyle.

I will post more later...we have family pictures tomorrow and Logan's parent/teacher conference on Friday. :) Have a blessed week!