I finally did it. I sent the email I have been dreading. I had lump in my throat wondering if I was truly helping my son or if this was going to “MARK” him in the eyes of his teachers. How is a mother supposed to know if she’s doing the right thing or just “stirring the pot”? However, it was clear by now that what I WAS doing was getting him nowhere. Something has to change.
Something has to make an impact on these professionals to help them understand what my child is experiencing on a daily basis. So reluctantly and much trepidation, I hit SEND.
The email was sent to his four core curriculum teachers. It outlined in no uncertain terms what my son’s diagnoses are and how they affect his ability to function in the classroom and in the world at large.
Here is an excerpt from that email:
1) Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder-impulsivity type. He has difficulty controlling his impulses which include but are not limited to: talking, moving, touching, picking, making inappropriate noises and comments. He has a hyperactive mind in that he is constantly thinking and not always about things that are on topic.
2) Obsessive Compulsive Disorder which means that he picks at things that are not there until he has holes in his arms and legs. I have to hide tweezers, needles, pins, clippers or anything that could be used to dig or pick at his skin. He compulsively touches his hair and head. He has obsessive thought in that he thinks about things that average people DO NOT, obsessively-What if’s? Global Warming, Hurricanes, His weight, car wrecks, pollution….to the point of not sleeping due to worry. We NEVER watch the news.
3) Sensory Processing Disorder which means that he never wears NEW clothes. All clothes are used or hand-me-downs so they will have a “certain feel”, he is startled by sudden loud sounds to the point of tears, doesn’t like noisy places (school bus-uses earphones to drown out noise and only able to ride the bus starting last year which was a HUGE achievement), won’t go to the movies, mall, skate rink, or arcade (Dave and Buster’s) due to the noise, becomes overwhelmed and frustrated by too much sensory input. There are actually eight senses if you are really interested. Up until 7th grade he would only read hard back books because of the texture of paperback books. He carried the same piece of cloth in his pocket for nine years just for the feel. The seams of his socks must be “just so” and his sheets cannot have any rough spots or wrinkles and covers must be HEAVY. He moves slow; at one pace at all times. It’s like there is only one speed. They tell me it has to do with proprioception and his ability to know where his body is in space. He likes to explore textures and pours out anything (pancake mix, flour, corn meal, rice) in to pans or bins to run his hand through. He uses clay as a medium for his art work, but it has to be a specific type because of the texture. He love Legos and will spend hours constructing and deconstructing. He is tactile seeking and tactile avoiding at the same time; auditory seeking and auditory avoiding at the same time. He will NOT eat certain foods because of the texture and has a very limited diet. Food is a big issue and I’m happy he will eat at school now.
4) Anxiety and Depression which means he becomes overly anxious when things seem overwhelming causing outbursts of rage, crying, and the inability to cope leading to episodic depression.
Please know that my son is medicated for these conditions. They are monitored as is he, regularly.
He has NO friends outside of school. He gets no calls, no invites, NO NOTHING and NEVER HAS! He has gone from a child that hid under the table, was self-abusive, and could only attend a 1/2 day of school to the young man you see today. I’ve fought very hard to get him where he is.
Before school began, I tried to arrange for a tour of the school and a schedule so we could walk through his day. I was denied. I tried to contact his counselor about his 504 but was sent from one person to another. Finally, the counselor responded and said she would talk to him about organization skills and tips on HS. Not exactly what I was looking for.
Needless to say, I’m trying to teach my son to advocate for himself. He took a big step in talking to you about his 504. He has that in place because he NEEDS the modifications on that so he DOES NOT become overwhelmed. He needs them OVER and ABOVE what is already done for the entire class. That’s why they are specifically written out in the form of the 504 documentation.
You may not see everything that I see while he is at school because he tries so hard to hold it together all day. It’s harder than you can imagine. But I’m the one that has to deal with melt downs, rage and tears at home. He has cried almost every day since high school started. He has been unable to attend scouts or church due to the sensory overload. While his grades are good with the exception of Spanish, the stress of the transition is very hard on him.
I do not pamper him by any means. I try to help him cope and come up with solutions. Our goal for this year is self-advocacy-just asking for help when he needs it. It’s not easy because he doesn’t have the adult connections he had in middle school. He’s still working on forming these relationships.
So wish me luck on the replies. Hopefully, his teachers will have a better understanding of WHY he has 504 accommodations and realize that he is not JUST another student looking for the easy “ticket”.