Saturday, August 29, 2015

Little Did I Know

Two weeks of public school special education for Blossom has been 50x harder than homeschooling her. We are all so exhausted! Physically, emotionally, everything! The amount of time it's taking me on the phone, emailing and in meetings for Blossom has been so great, that my other two girls have had no lessons this week or only one per day. Apple went to bed last night at 9pm and I let her sleep until 10:30am this morning. It's 12:30pm and she's sitting in her highchair fast asleep right now.

The special ed. teachers changed Blossom's schedule without notifying the counselor. I think they mentioned it to me, but put it this way, "We share the students, so she'll begin in so-and-so's class in the mornings." What they meant was, "We are changing her schedule completely. She will no longer be in Transitional Math, but in Life Skills, where she'll spend more time playing. Today, we bowled in the hallway because in Oct. we have a field trip to a bowling alley. And she has homework for math. Yes, it's counting to 5 and writing the number. I know that YOU know she can subtract two-digit numbers and borrow, but I don't know that so until I can evaluate her, this is what I'm giving her."

Yesterday, I took her to the classroom that was on her schedule. School begins at 8am. In the classroom, by now 8:15am, the students were eating breakfast and watching a Curious George cartoon on PBS TV. They turned it off at 8:45am and started playing street sign Bingo. When I pointed out to the teacher that this looked like babysitting instead of school, she said, "Well, these students can't read and write like your daughter can."

The problem is that Blossom is at a level by herself. The other high-functioning special ed. kids are academically several grades ahead of her and not new to the English language. The lower functioning kids are very, very low functioning and can't read or write and many are severely handicapped, in wheelchairs, non-verbal, and this is where Blossom has been placed except for one class, English, but I can already tell it's way too hard. So is her one mainstream class, chorus. They were in class for 105 minutes and didn't sing at all, just did a theory workbook. It's way too hard for Blossom. I didn't tell her that, I helped her to do the work, but even My Firefighter couldn't understand the instructions. I could because I know music already and have a point of reference.

Legally, the school has to provide work and support at the level that Blossom functions and works at. The reality, though, is that there isn't enough staff to spare for one student who is somewhat well-behaved, but can't function in the higher level special ed. academic classes. There are just as many, if not many more, interruptions than we experience at home caring for the daycare kids, because the students with profound special needs in the classroom are always needed assistance, whether it's diaper changes or help in the restroom, to needing their hands washed and being moved away from the other students after masturbating (yes, a male student did play with himself, blatantly, but inside his clothing, right beside Blossom), drool that needs wiping up, attention when they get too loud with the spontaneous repetitive noises many of the students make. Blossoms verbal expression has already started taking on the characteristics of the children more affected by CP. I knew this was a possibility because in an orphanage, the key to survival is fitting in, blend in, don't be different. I didn't think it would happen so fast, though. When I picked her up on Thursday, I couldn't understand a word she was saying.

She's beginning to have behavioral problems at school, too. Boredom is one reason, but the other is that she's feeling that everyone thinks she's stupid and damaged because she's being given "baby work" and put in the "damaged area." (She's always called the area of her orphanage where the children with profound special needs lived, the "damaged area," even though I've taught her the correct terms.) I dropped her off on Thursday, got to the car and cried. I cried on and off all day and couldn't wait to pick her up, and when I did, that's when she was speaking unintelligibly. Thinking she had English class on Friday, her one class with a teacher who really sees her potential realistically, I took her to school, and that's when I found out her schedule had been changed without proper authorization. I've been sending emails and making calls every single day, giving the teacher samples of all of Blossom's school work and even gave them the names of the math computer programs we've been using here at home. So, yesterday, Blossom announced that she did CTCmath during class. I was glad she did some actual work. It galls the heck out of me, though, that it's work I bought and paid for and had to provide to a public school for my child.

There has been one good side-effect. It's made me think outside the box and come up with an entirely new plan. I don't know if it's feasible, but with a little research, I can find out. It's also showed me some things about Sissy that I really needed to understand and accept. Next to Blossom, Sissy seemed higher functioning enough that I've always believed she'd learn enough to be an independent adult. Seeing her without Blossom, it became startling clear that she has very similar deficits, but without the layer of trauma that Blossom has. I was, for the first time, able to see very clearly, the difference between memorized behavior and skills and cognitive ability (self-awareness and knowledge integration is extremely low). After doing some basic first grade level reading comprehension exercises, I took the results and my concerns on several other matters to my pediatrician and in a heartbeat, she gave us a referral to a developmental pediatrician. Bottom line for Sissy is that she doesn't have the intellectual ability to be an independent adult either. Looking back and remembering as I type all this out, EVERY SINGLE PERSON WE MET IN CHINA, except my guide, EVEN THE PERSONNEL AT THE U.S. CONSULATE, said upon seeing her, "Oh, I see you've adopted a child with a mental disability." I kept saying, "No, she just looks that way, but everyone says she's fine."

I wish I'd stopped listening long ago to all those out there around me who kept saying things like, "all teens are like that," and "just throw them out there, they'll either sink or swim," and "it's just a language and culture thing."


Anonymous said...

What are your plans for your two oldest who you mentioned will not be able to function as independent adults?

Anonymous said...

The school system can't change your daughter's schedule or IEP placement without your permission. You can call an IEP meeting to make changes to your daughter's program and request that her Regional Center case manager attend. Don't count on the school to invite the Regional Center case manager, you need to do it. If you don't have it already, you might want to check out the book 'The Complete IEP Guide How to Advocate for Your Special Ed Child' written by Lawrence M. Siegel.

K said...

One has already qualified for life-long assistance which will include an "independent living" program, a program where they live as independently as possible, but there is always a helper, in special homes and apartments set aside for individuals in this program, and special job programs along with continued education in life skills.

The other will probably qualify for the same program after her evaluation is complete.

All of this begins when they are 18, though they can also live at home if that's working out for us, and still participate in the education and job programs.

Anonymous said...

Try to find out how much your school district gets paid by the state for each special ed student at Blossom's and Sissy's age levels. If it's typical for US school districts, the combined amount is probably high enough that if it was paid to you, you wouldn't need to do daycare. Use that info when you're screaming bloody murder about the district's utter failure to provide appropriate education for Blossom (and given the experience with Blossom, I think you can be pretty sure they educate wouldn't do any better for Sissy). Threaten to sue. If the district can't provide an appropriate education with it's own staff and facilities, it has to pay a private or charter school (usually a lot more $) to educate the child(ren). See if you can cut through the red tape and become a private school approved (after a pile of exceptions, needed to get past stupid state and district rules) to educate special ed students. Your ability to educate both your special ed daughters is easy to document, and you've already undergone extensive background checks, home studies, etc, in connection with your adoptions.

Anonymous said...

Kim, I'm so sorry that you've found your family in this boat! Have you checked out this:

It sounds good on paper . . . and it looks like they have a transitional program to mainstream students back into "regular" schools when ready.

Keeping you all in my thoughts and prayers!


sammmomtoliv said...

Kim, I am sorry that you've had such a bad experience with school. We're also grappling with what to do in terms of homeschooling or traditional school. Our 10 year old son, adopted at 22 mo, has had increasingly bad behavior and trouble learning to the point where we had a learning evaluation done. He was diagnosed with ADHD (no surprise) , dyslexia, auditory processing disorders, and long term memory and working memory problems. This is all on top of RAD. We looked into a private school that would be great for him but it is the most expensive school in our state, offers no financial aid, and it will be so hard to homeschool our other kids while taking him back and forth and dealing with all the school 'stuff.' I have heard the public school has paid for some kids to go to this school If they cannot meet the needs in school. But because we don't want him in public school we've never had the IEP and all that. It's so hard to figure out, isn't it? Were considering hiring tutors to teach him at home. At this point it is almost impossible for me to teach my other kids while he is at home, with his behavior problems and inability to focus to do his work independently (what I rely on with my older kids). Praying for you and that a solution becomes clear to you.

Anonymous said...

If you just get an attorney, you'll see all of this resolve. An individual aide is less expensive than a lawsuit and the district knows it. You need the attorney to come to the IEP meeting, it'll be the best $200 you've ever spent. -Patti

Anonymous said...

I think you are diligently trying to get the education for your daughter and applaud your tenacity. Hope all works out. Document, get an advocate and cc Principal. Anonymous writes get the private school paid for route. Does she realize she is suggesting to stick the taxpayers with this expense and a backdoor opportunity to not have to have a daycare. This route of private school is designed for the few very exceptional cases. Anonymous your energies and threatened lawsuit spent toward your motivated self-serving end results is wrong.

Anonymous said...

I hate public school. I have a Chinese daughter that is on the other end of the spectrum. Very bright. Two years ahead in her studies in math and science and 1 year ahead in all others. She MUST be home schooled because the public schools would put her with her age peers not her mental age peers and she would be bored and rebellious too. Private school is not an option either as it is too expensive and they would also want to put her in with her age peers.

I don't have any answers for you, but I am thinking if I were you I would be back to home schooling her myself.

Hang in there!