Learning the basics and benefits of good IEPs

Diana - posted on 01/05/2010 ( 3 moms have responded )

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Dear Parents,

My youngest son is now 18 as of December. Trust me when I tell you that I have been through the ringer and back over these 18 years. I've known since my son was 2 that he was going to have ADHD and have had him on medication since he was in first grade. We never used Ritalin, but other medications that weren't as controversial. I've dealt with the bed wetting, inattentiveness, the behavior problems, the oppositional defiance, his fearlessness, the stealing, his younger years being such a socialite and then his middle school years being an outcast, and the last few years of the temper, the mood swings, the stubbornness, the smoking cigarettes after he swore for years he would never smoke, and everything else in between all of this. I've gone through all the counseling with him and for him, begged and pleaded for the counselors to provide behavior modification, tried beyond all measure to connect the communication between the teachers, the counselors, the doctors, the psychologists, and anyone who had any interaction with my son. All of this with extremely little success!

Now that I have worked in the NH Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program for the last 6 years, I have seen, heard, read, and become aware of the research that has been, is being, and will continue to be done to connect lead poisoning and other environmental issues with ADHD, ODD, LD, Bipolar, etc. I've looked at this from my most logical point and made suggestions that if the researchers could find the source of the problems that lead to all of the developmental, emotional, and behavioral issues, we would all be better off treating the source of the problem rather than trying to treat the symptoms! So far, no one is listening carefully enough to take this for truth.

I can suggest for those parents that have IEPs for their children to look into a website that can provide you much information at www.wrightslaw.com. The information they provide in understanding, participating in, and assisting the language writing of your child's IEP is of clear, understandable language that unravels many of the questions you may have. Otherwise, the best thing I can offer you is to network with as many people as you can, share information of your successes and challenges, research your questions and listen carefully to those who are willing to help, even if it's through the internet.

Work hard at getting the circle of communication open and to be strong with everyone who has any interaction with your child. Stay on top of the teachers to ensure they are following the IEP and calling you whenever they are having a problem with your child, no matter how big or small the challenge may be. Don't give in to your child; even if your patience is at its lowest level. Teach them the difference between right and wrong, hold them accountable, don't let them get the best of you! Despite the challenges, you have to stay in control and be the stronger person in this. Whatever you do, you cannot allow your children to take the lead because they have absolutely no idea what they really need or want and if you give in to them, they are the ones who will most likely fall into the justice system. Your direction and persistence is exactly what they need - so stay strong. I don't always get back here to check on your messages, so if you feel a need to contact me, my personal email is drichard44@comcast.net. I'll be happy to share some of my experiences and suggestions with you. Most of all, I wish you all the best in handling this difficult issue and please, do not give up! Be strong and find strength in others. Push for further research, develop groups in your community or school district and most importantly, contact your legislatures and pressure them to submit bills to ban the mining of lead and any other metals that affect our children's health. Prevention is key, but after our children are affected, we are all responsible for ensuring our children learn to become responsible, financially stable, hard-working and law-abiding adults. The late Dr. Michael Shannon said at a speaking engagement at Keene State College, Keene, NH, that once a child suffers from lead poisoning, they are essentially brain damaged. Lead poisoning is irreversible and can be devastating in high levels. Children between the ages of 0 - 6 and pregnant women are most at risk. Avoid lead dust, clean well on a weekly basis, and if you have any renovations done or windows replaced, learn the EPAs new law beginning in April 2010 regarding the Renovate, Repair, and Painting Rule at www.epa.gov/lead/rrp.

Best of luck and I'm here if you have any questions or concerns. Feel free to email me.

Diana Richard

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Diana - posted on 01/07/2010

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Maureen,

You're so welcome for the information. To provide you further information, let me first say in defense of your child's birth parents and so many others out there, not everyone knows the full ill-effects of lead poisoning. And unfortunately, children continue to be the indicators of lead paint in older housing (built before 1978), of which there are millions of these buildings in the U.S. alone. While lead paint during the 1930's was known in several countries including Europe, Asia and more, to be highly toxic with detrimental effects, those countries banned the use of lead in paint. Mostly due to greed, paint companies in the United States continued to use lead. It wasn't until the 1950's that the U.S. government encouraged paint companies to cut back on their use of lead and finally in 1978, it was banned in the U.S. In performing a visual test, any paint in these buildings that is chipping, peeling, or flaking should be painted with an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-approved encapsulent paint. Tenants should educate themselves and if they find paint in poor condition, they need to bring this to the attention of the landlord and insist that those areas be corrected. Also, check your state's laws regarding eviction protection if this is brought to the attention of your landlord as eviction may be illegal. With the EPA's new law effective this April, anyone disturbing more than 6 square feet of interior painted surfaces and more than 20 square feet of exterior painted surfaces are required to be certified by the EPA in lead-safe practices. You can find this information on their website.

Logically speaking, from what I have learned and read over the last 6 years, the disabilities my own son has (he did not eat lead paint, however I feel that his disabilities are hereditary) and the conversation I had with Dr. Michael Shannon, I see a direct correlation between the effects of lead poisoning and ADHD, ADD, ODD, LD, Bipolar and other disabilities. I do know that research continues in an attempt to find the sources of disabilities and some facts have been published. It just amazes me that as the United States is considered such a leader among world countries, how we can be so ignorant and/or greedy to put money ahead of human lives and contribute to our environmental damage to the degree it is now!

What happens when a child or an adult is subject to lead poisoning, it enters the body and is absorbed into the blood stream and the soft tissue. At high levels, chelation therapy may be ordered by the physician where some of the lead adheres to the drug and is excreted in the urine, but even this therapy does not eliminate all of the lead from the body. Therefore, it eventually settles into the bones and as we age and our bones become soft and brittle, the lead leaches out back into the blood stream and the soft tissue (muscles, organs, the brain, etc.). This is why Dr. Michael Shannon said that once a child is poisoned, they are essentially brain damaged - this is a lifetime problem. He also suggested that this could be a cause of dementia.

I'm sorry to provide such negative information, but these are the facts as best I know them. Much information is available through the internet and the medical community. However, from the number of calls I receive from the medical community, there are a fair number of doctors and nurses that can use more information in the treatment or prevention of lead poisoning. I would suggest looking for your state's childhood lead poisoning prevention program or contact your closest EPA office for assistance and information.

I wish you the best of luck and encourage you with the deepest amount of patience and understanding you can find within yourself, dependent on the degree of poisoning of every child who is diagnosed. Please, take this seriously, gain information and educate yourself, fight for broad communication between yourself, your child's teachers, doctors, counselors, psychologists - essentially anyone and everyone who has any interaction with your child. I cannot stress that enough. Good luck and let me know if you need anything further.

Diana

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Germaine - posted on 01/09/2010

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Thank you Diana!! I also agree, be a strong ADVOCATE for your child. Always keep constant communication. If the school system does not follow through the IEP process there is a Due Process Hearing you can ask for. I would recommend you also contact the Georgia Advocacy Office http://www.thegao.org/. They have resources they can provide for you if they are unable to assist and/or if you qualify for legal services will let you know.

Maureen - posted on 01/07/2010

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Thanks for the great post! I am interested in what you wrote regarding lead poisoning. My son ingested lead paint while he was living with his birthparents. He apparenlty ate leaded paint chips. His lead level was high enough to necessitate chelation. I worry how much of that explains his current diagnoses of ADHD, ODD, Sensory Integration Dysfunction. I can't believe that, with all that is known about the danger of lead paint, his parents exposed him to it. Of course, looking back, that's probably the BEST thing they did for him. My poor baby suffered such abuse.

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