Patricia A - posted on 10/27/2012 ( 23 moms have responded )
Hi, I am posting in the hopes that there are other moms out there who may be going through, or have gone through battling their school district regarding the placement of their child who has been diagnosed with anxiety/depression/bi-polar, etc.
My daughter has had problems going to school for over 3 years now. She started having problems when she started middle school. She could not handle the stress of going from class to class, and remembering her locker number, and what books she needed for her morning classes, and what books for the afternoon classes, etc. She is a bright student, scoring high on her ELA's, and Math, actually only points away from genius level. For a long time, she was not believed by teachers, and some of the other staff at the school, as she was sick every day with some vague symptom, mostly stomache aches, headaches, sore throats, tired, etc. After taking my daughter to several doctors, many of them at the school's request, and paid for out of my own pocket, she was diagnosed with depression, anxiety disorder and bi-polar. I am very familiar with CSE meetings, IEP's, and after three years, and 3 different placements, (two of them residential), I am finding it harder and harder to get through to the school that my daughter does not fit into any of the school's idea of educational placement. I have done much research on this, and have had conversations with doctors, psychiatrist, counselors, social workers, and most recently, a lawyer, who specializes in representation of disable children and children with educational challenges. Basically, I have found out that there is no kind of educational placement available for a child with anxiety disorder, other than mainstreaming them with the general population of children, and hoping that they can cope with the help of medications, and home therapies, or, like in my case with my school, sending them away to residential schools where they have to live away from you, and are in populations of not only other children with anxiety and depression, but children who have other emotional problems, like anger issues, behavior problems, drug and alcohol abuse, mental retardation, autism, and all kinds of other social/emotional problems. She sees a counselor two times a week, who basically thought that my daughter was manipulative when she said she could not get through a class because she was having anxiety. If she could not get up on time, or could not get up at all, they had one of the superintendants come in to get her up. If he did not succeed by telling her to get up, he would start banging on the walls, and closets, and her headboard with a stick. This did not work. My daughter is sensitive to sounds, and gets upset easily with high pitches in peoples voices. The banging on the headboard did not help her get any better in dealing with her anxiety. She is only 14, and she misses being home more than anything. She would call me every nite, crying, begging me to come pick her up. It's heartbreaking. The district keeps telling me "least restrictive environment", meaning that my daughter should NOT be home tutored, because that would make her regress, and not get, well. Well, let's see now, she's been trying for three years the way the school says is best for her, and although they have passed her to the next grade level each time, being a resident away from home has not helped her anxiety. One of the schools she was placed in was an all girls residence with no outside communication. No cell phones, no computers, i-pods, ibooks, no internet whatsoever, and no games, no tv. No going home on week ends either, unless it was earned. (A hard task to earn there). She was not allowed to call home if she had not gone to school. She might as well have been in a convent. It was awful there. The staff there could not get my daughter to go to school. For over a month. She gave up. Her consequences just kept mounting and mounting, and she felt as though she was being punished for something that she could not do. They figured that she would "come around" and want to earn back her priveledges. No. She was miserable. She could not get over the fact that all of her priveledges were taken away because of something that she was, in her mind unable to do. She did not get any counseling there either, because you see, the counselors were at the school. If you cannot get up to go to school, you do not get the counseling that you so desperately need.
The district is very sympathetic for my daughter, and to what we are going through. They understand that she has a debilitating emotional problem, and she needs additional help. However, they feel that the best place for her is in a residence. Because, the district does not have anything set up for children who have anxiety, or depression. They feel for me also, as it is difficult to watch your child flounder, and not feel as if they fit in anywhere. She feels as all she does is let me down, and make everyone around her upset. She feels like a failure in many regards. All she wants to do is feel better, and be able to go to school like other kids. My daughter needs help. At this point, I feel as though I am fighting a losing battle. The school feels as though I am just an mother, who, in wanting my daughter to have an education (which she has the right to), am steering in the wrong direction when I say I want her have some sort of one on one tutoring, with cognitive therapy and medication that will enable her to function without so much anxiety. Right now, in the least "stressfull" environment, at least for the time being, until she is able to go back to the least "restrictive" environment. It's not easy being the parent of a child that does not seem to fit the mold in what is classified as every child has the right to an education, but does every child fit what has been made the education basis? Not every child is able to cope with the standardized school settings. Is there a place or a way to educate children with special needs like my daughters' without sending her away? It's very easy for people to say "It's in her best interest", but it is also not their child that is being taken away from their security of home, and being made to stay away from their parent just in order to get an education.
Well, at the moment I am preparing myself for another emergency CSE meeting, and doing as much research as I can and am trying to have all my information ready, along with an advocate, and, if not an attorney, at least some good legal background on what I am in store for again. This time I am not giving up so easily. Its my child, and although I want her home for my and her own obvious reasons, I am trying to find some (any) sort of education that she can receive without having to be sent away. She is not crazy, she does not need to be hospitalized, she is not defiant, she wants to be schooled. I have my work cut out for me. I just had to vent. Thank you for allowing me the use of this space.