Problems with the school counselor

Amy - posted on 01/05/2011 ( 6 moms have responded )

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A brief background:
My son was diagnosed as ADHD in November of 2009. It was heartbreaking even though I always "knew" he'd be diagnosed. He's been on Concerta, Strattera, Adderall and Strattera, Adderall, and now Adderall and Intuniv.

He had so much trouble at school before he was diagnosed and medicated that we ended up switching schools. He had no friends. A nearby school converted to a science magnet, our son is a science lover, and it seemed like a good idea to give him a "clean slate."

I did not disclose his ADHD to his new school until parent teacher conferences. His teacher told me that he has a hard time focusing on his school work. My husband thought we should disclose... and it seemed like a good time.

Two weeks later, I get a call from the school counselor. The teacher told her about the ADHD (I should have thought to explicitly tell her she could not share that, blah blah, blah, HIPPA), and the counselor talked to my son twice.
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Her advice was this: "He does NOT have ADHD. There are no signs of it. He has anxiety, and didn't you see how he's pulled out his hair and has a bald spot? You need to take him off the meds and send him to a therapist for his anxiety... he's just one axious guy. I know there's something he's scared of, he hasn't shared it with me yet, but we'll get there."
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So because my son is medicated, you don't see signs of ADHD. I think this is a good thing. One side effect of stimulant medication is the increased tactile need, and we are working on the bald spot (which is quite traumatic for my son, and YES, I knew about it, you moron). He seems anxious because he's afraid of getting in trouble. He's had plenty of experience talking to principals and counselors over the years to be afraid of getting in trouble.
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So my question is this: what on earth do I do about this? She's not licensed to make recommendations regarding medication, and she did not seek out additional perspectives from his teacher, his parents, or his pediatrician. Seems to me that she's woefully incompetent. Who do I start with? Can I prevent her from seeing my son? It seems that I should have rights under "informed consent", and it seems as if the school district has a duty to provide competent counselors...

Part of me really just wants this chick to be fired and her license stripped. Perhaps I'm overreacting... and I'm sorry this is so so long... but what on earth can I do? Where do I start?

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6 Comments

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Naomi - posted on 01/30/2011

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Legally, she can't see your son unless you have already put in writing that she has permission to (unless some type of abuse is suspected-that's a whole different can of worms). But I do believe the school is required by law to offer counseling to him-however, you would have to come up with a pretty good reason as to why this counselor isn't good enough (not saying she's up to par or professional) for them to pay another therapist to come to the school specifically for him.

Kari - posted on 01/28/2011

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I think you should be able to request that she not see your son. My son is on medication for ADHD and it has really helped him in school. Along with prescribing the medication, his doctor also requires that he see a therapist weekly. My son really enjoys going to his sessions, I think it is just an outlet for him to be able to talk to someone that is there just for him. It's nothing too intense, they just play board games or read and talk about everything going on in school and at home. Maybe taking your son to an independent counselor would be able to help him express his thoughts and feelings. Good luck!

Amy - posted on 01/23/2011

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Thank you for your input! "Boundary issues" YES, this is the term that defines my concerns. She doesn't have a license, as she's a school psychologist, not a clinical psychologist, let alone a psychiatrist, who can actually write scripts. Based on that alone, I'm really really skittish about her skills at all. Perhaps I should talk to her. My bruised pride tells me not to, but that's not usually a voice to listen to.

I'll tell you, I did consider sending my son to school unmedicated for a day or two. The main thing that held me back was the knowledge that it would seriously damage him socially. He's worked so hard to overcome his social issues, and we started this new school so he'd be with kids that didn't know him before meds. The kids at his last school ostracized him and tormented him, and then HE'd get in trouble for not controlling his emotional over-reaction. Anyway...

I still need to draft up a letter to state that I don't want the counselor to see my son. Even if I do talk to her, I don't think I want her seeing him. She's fresh out of school, and after this whole thing, I'm thinking she's seeing all kinds of things she just got done learning about. I don't really have the time or inclination to be her guinea pig family.

Thanks again, gals! Sometimes I feel so crazy and alone and ... CRAZY. Nice to know I'm not nuts.

Elizabeth - posted on 01/23/2011

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I feel that you are asking all of the right questions. I have two sons with ADHD one is 13 and the other is five who was just recently diagnosed. I have to tell you I feel like I live on both sides of the fence when it comes to this school issue because I work as a counselor in a school but then when I leave work I have struggles with my boys that are similiar to struggles that the families I work with have. For a counselor to tell you that your child does not have ADHD is walking a slippery slope because if the credential is not there to support her reccomendations then this counselor may be having professional boundary issues that you could talk to her or him about. What is challenging for me as a parent is feeling judged or knowing that there will always be people in the field that make assumptions about how our children are growing and coping with life. I think this counselor should have first ask you what your concerns are before jumping to conclusions about your child. When in doubt always get a second opinion about your childs struggles and it's ok to ask about credentials. I always feel that one of the most important things a councelor can do is to develop trust and repore with a mom while problem solving together solutions and then wrapping a plan around that. I would strongly encourage you to talk to this counselor in person to address your concerns. Bring a support person with you such as a significant other, or a friend. Getting your child a therapist would be a reccomendation to follow up on especially due to your sons fear of getting in trouble. Sounds like you know your child needs well. Counselor approach to you sounds a bit gruff and judgemental.

Phyllis - posted on 01/06/2011

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You have every right to insist that she not see your son. A therapist is a good idea for any ADHD child, as they can help with behaviors, anger management and teach the child any number of skills to manage symptoms, anxiety, or even with the tactile issue. That doesn't mean it has to be this chick from the school. I would thank her for her input, and then put in writing to the school that she is not to see your son, (or any other school counselor) without your written permission. You are obviously doing everything you can to help your son, and now that his teacher is aware of his ADHD, hopefully he/she can work with you to help him. With a diagnosis, there are more programs available to him at school as well, and those may be worth looking into. Best of luck!

Sylvia - posted on 01/05/2011

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We have a very good Dr. and when our son started having problems in school I went to him and he told me to have the ppl that were complaining to call/email him and he would "school them" in ADHD... It seemed like all the teachers had just given up on him because his meds weren't helping(according to them), our Dr took him off his meds completely; it was the worse 2mths we had had. The teachers were calling me everyday b/c he was worse... so I finally had to stand up to them, I told one of them (she was the worse one of all, she is a know it all) that it was her fault that they took him off the meds and if she had anymore problems with it to call or e-mail our Dr and he would be happy to explain "ADHD and the medication given for it & how it works" to her. I didn't have any problems with her anymore. I also spoke to the team of ppl who are part of the ARD and I also threaten to go to the district office & file a complaint. Now a yr later he's on the same meds that his was on last yr and we've had no problems.

So I think u should stand up to her, n a way that she will know that you know what your talking about and in writing ask her to stop talking to you son b/c she's scaring him and if it doesn't work go over her head...

We r our childrens advocates, its up to us to fight/stand up for them. GOOD LUCK

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