Look out, man of action on the loose

First of all, I'd like to say Happy Anniversary to my lovely wife of 22 years.  Looking forward to many more together!

Ellen gave me an unintended anniversary gift today.  Quick background, Christopher has been struggling in a couple of classes this year, the last two of the day.  He didn't turn in assignments, got poor grades, etc.  We tried to get assistance from the school guidance counselor but her solution was to tell Christopher to write all of his assignments in his agenda and see his teachers for help after school if he needed it.  They should pay me her salary to give such useless advise.  This week was a MAJOR blowout with him that had my stomach in knots for 2 days.  I even had a sit down with him yesterday to try and figure out what was going on and what were we missing.  He said nothing was going on and he "just needed to get organized."

Then Ellen sent me a link to THIS site.  A read a couple of articles and had a "holy shit" moment.  Several of the articles talked about how ADHD kids really struggle with organization and hate it and will fight you tooth and nail against it and will try and take care of everything themselves.  Basically, it was Christopher.  DAMN!  All along I was thinking the problem was him but I got it only half right.  It was him all right, but there was no problem!  His lack of organization is how his brain works.  And I'd forgotten that somehow along the way.  I also realized I'd failed him in properly advocating for him at school.  Since he was no longer getting specific services, I assumed he no longer needed help.  WRONG!

So while working out at lunch, I had the brainstorm.  I came up with a plan.  You want to talk about relief and a weight coming off of my shoulders?  I'm a person that needs to take action to solve a problem.  This was killing me since there was a "problem" and I couldn't fix it.  But now, there's something I can do.  I called the school.  I asked Christopher's current counselor (the useless one) who his counselor was going to be next year.  Then she made the mistake of trying to talk to me about what I SHOULD be doing.  BIG MISTAKE.

I let her have it.  I told her how we'd come to her for assistance and her solution wasn't a solution at all.  I told her that though the school SAYS they want to partner with parents, that the school had failed to do so.  She had the audacity to ask me if we'd seen his doctor to adjust his medication as that would be a "first step".  Which we'd done in November, BTW.  And THEN she started going on about what the teachers COULD do to help parents stay informed as to what's going on!  With one week to go in the school year she tells me this!  I then told her it would have been nice to be given this information at our meeting 4 months ago.  She was smart enough to recognize that I was frustrated with her.  You think?  I've talked to other parents (and other teachers in the district I know) and they all agree she's lousy at her job.

So I now have a call in to Christopher's 10th grade counselor.  We WILL meet before the school year ends to discuss strategies for the summer and for next year.  Then we WILL meet again at the start of the school year with all of his teachers so they understand MY expectations.  I'm through being Mr. Nice Guy and making requests of his school.  I won't even make demands.  I will simply make statements and expect my child's needs to be met.  Or I'm walking into that school and raising bloody hell.

Yes, I will be THAT parent.  They've awoken the sleeping lion in me.  They have no idea what they're in for.


Jammie J. said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jammie J. said…
Happy Anniversary to the two of you! :)

Once the school sees your determination and focus, I don't think they'll fight you much. It's the parents who expect the school to lead are the ones who get into trouble, I think.
Jude said…
Thank God for Ellen and the link she sent. Here's hoping from here on there won't be so many problems!

Happy Anniversary you two love birds! :-)
Kate said…
As a teacher, you are exactly the best kind of parent and any staff of the school that is worth their salary will be ecstatic to work with you, listen to your ideas, and devise a plan of attack to make sure your son is successful in school. I say kudos to you, as a parent, I know how important it is to be your child's advocate because those teachers that aren't great, will attempt to take away a kids voice, even if they're only asking for help.

I also think this is a great example for Christopher. So many great lessons. He needs to learn to advocate for himself, which he will from watching you, and he (hopefully) will understand that he's not dumb or incapable but he deserves to be respected as a student and as a human because I know for sure that he has great contributions for the world and he can only give them if he has the right tools and accommodations (just like the rest of us)!!

The organization was a light bulb moment for me. I totally get it now. In my experience of working with kids with ADHD, this is so true and I didn't understand why it was. I always told my kids they could have their desks and lockers however they wanted as long as they could find what they needed and it was kept in decent conditions. I also allowed kids who learned better standing so they could sway and just not be so restrained stand during the lessons and work time. I would just move their desk to the back of the room so they weren't blocking any other students or to the side of the room.

You understand this "counselor" very well. If she was any good, the least she would have done is check in with how her "advice" was working and when you told her it wasn't, she should have searched additional strategies.

I worked with younger kids, but another thing I found that worked was something they could manipulate in their hands that wasn't distracting. It would keep their bodies busy so their minds could focus. Silly puddy, stress ball, or I would stick some rough velcro to their desk and they could play with those. Peanut butter also (for some unknown reason to me) is magic with kids with ADHD.

The counselor also shouldn't have said anything about the doctor, the only thing the staff is legally able to say (at least in my district) is that you should share your concerns with your child's doctor.

This has gotten me all riled up...sorry!

My last piece of advice for you is find people who are willing to help, and you will know who they are. Don't bother with the other one's.

I so hope Christopher the last 2 years of high school be great for him (that's a horrendous sentence). He is very blessed that he has you for a dad. This experience will prepare him for college or whatever he chooses to do next.

And happy anniversary to you and Ellen!
sydwynd said…
Jammie: Thanks! I'm hoping the school will be receptive. But if they're not, then they'll simply conform to my wishes. I win either way.

Jude: Isn't she awesome? One of the many reasons I married the woman. And thanks for the warm anniversary wishes.

Kate: You can easily forget with an ADHD kid that they still have things to work on. We got so focused on our younger boy that we forgot the older one needs our help as well. I'm hoping we get better response from the school next year. All the feedback I've received on this counselor is bad. Basically a person collecting a paycheck and doing the minimum. It's unfortunate. One of my many issues with "the system".

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