I admit it....I was ignorant. Completely unaware of what people that suffer from a learning disability such as ADHD and ADD go through. I was ignorant until a few months ago when I started to strongly suspect my oldest was suffering from ADD.
In reality, we have known he has a problem with focusing since first grade. His teacher at that time, suggested he may have it and like good parents we took him to the doctor who poo pooed on the idea. Of course our son was not hyper active so there was nothing wrong with him.
Now I should say, that my oldest is brilliant. I know that all parents feel that way about their children but in this case I have the test scores to back it up. All of his teachers have told me how intelligent he is but they have all complained of his loss of focus, bad organization, and losing his homework. It didn't seem to affect his high marks in the lower grades but last year it started to become a big deal. His grades suffered and he started feeling bad about himself. We tried helping him feel better about it. I mean, he is only a kid.
This year we tried new ways to help keep him organized and help focus. To no avail. Then after a surprise ambush by the teachers in front of my son, in which one teacher suggested his math scores were of a special ed student, I got angry. Who says that to an eleven year old? Seriously. Especially, since they could look at his testing all of the years before and knew this was not indicative of what he has scored. He lost all self esteem and started to call himself stupid.
As any parent would feel, it breaks my heart to see him hurting and worse to belittle himself. As I and my husband confronted the teachers about their behavior, the testing for ADD came back up. Instead of listening to what the original doctor said, I started to research it. And my son was the epitome of ADD. I took him to his new doctor and got the paper worked filled out by his teacher.
Friday it was confirmed. My son has ADD. Finally an answer to his struggling. I was relieved because we now have a name and if you can name your ailment you have a better chance of fighting it. We have spent hours talking to our son about how this doesn't mean that he can't achieve things, he will just have to work a little harder than other kids. How many extremely bright people have this and have made huge accomplishments. That this in no way means that he is less smart than other kids. We have spent days discussing how this isn't his fault and that he is not broken or damaged or a freak.
Fast forward to Monday. I turned in the paperwork for the program my school is supposed to put him on to help him with extra time and to learn better organizational habits. He also will be getting therapy and counseling to deal with the anxiety and low self esteem that I believe the school has created. The school with it's belittling and inappropriate comments have made my brilliant child feel dumb. And I am pissed.
The paper my son's doctor gave me was supposed to be handed to the principal. Instead, I was told to hand it to his teacher who then proceeded to take me to the special ed teacher. I was a bit confused. Why was this lady asking me a bunch of personal questions about my kid if the meeting we were supposed to have hadn't happened yet? Why was she asking me about my child if the "program" hasn't even been discussed? Why does she want to know what he struggles with and if he will be on medication or not? She isn't his teacher nor has she reviewed his case.
Then I was told the school psychiatrist would have to diagnose my son. Which is bull , the doctor already did that. I was told he would not need a "Program" that they would just switch some things around, which I did not like because he wouldn't get the extra testing time he needs. Then the special ed teacher said he would get the program but this all depended on what the psychiatrist had to say. Which again, was confusing. I am unclear on how an official diagnoses from a certified doctor can be ignored. This is the United States...right?
Then I was asked if I would place my son in the after school math tutoring program which they assured me would "fix" his problem...
Seriously..... Like being in the class he hates three extra days a week is going to improve his ADD that specifically is active in that class. Being taught by the same teacher he has the worst time focusing with....Yeah that makes total sense.
Then I was railroaded down the hall to the math teacher's class and the teacher that was leading me around proudly proclaimed, that yes my son would be joining the tutoring for math class.
I was even more pissed. But I held it together because there were kids around and I didn't think it would be appropriate to yell obscenities in their presence, no matter how desperately I wanted to.
I was made promises that a teacher helper would go through my son's homework folder with him to make sure that all of his work was where it needed to be and to help him keep it organized, at least until they were able to come up with a program for my son. That was Monday, people.
Not one person has looked in this kids folder. Not one. Ever.
And the last thing that royally cheesed my cheddar, the piece de resistance as they say, was after all of the meetings we have had before this, after the official diagnoses, after the railroading I got on Monday, the math teacher had the nerve.....the...nerve...to tell my son I needed to sign his planner because he wasn't paying enough attention in her class.
I am just going to let that sink in for a second. I have done everything right. Gotten all of the paperwork together. Turned it in. Told everyone that my son has ADD and this is what I get. Snarky remarks that are totally ridiculous.
So I checked and signed his planner and I added a little note too.
"Since my son has been officially diagnosed as having ADD and I have filed for the IEP and 504 that is understandable."
And I sat there and seethed anger because this shit is just uncalled for. Seriously. Yay, let's as adults all pick on the ADD kid and just try to knock him down just one more peg. Because he doesn't feel bad enough about his issues. Because he doesn't worry that he will get in trouble for it, he now needs an ass whole teacher getting onto him in class, shaming him, and then making it seem like I was going to be mad at him because of it. Because of what, a disorder that he can't help!!!??? Are you fucking serious!!!
And just when I thought I couldn't be anymore frustrated, annoyed, disappointed, and angry I find out today that she didn't even bother to read his planner. She wanted me to sign it to make my son feel bad but didn't care enough to check and see if I even wrote anything back.
So right then and there I made a decision. Next year my oldest is going to be home schooled. I absolutely will not allow the public school system to tear down my son's self esteem any further. I will not allow them to take my brilliant, sweet, kind, compassionate child and turn him into someone who blames himself and hates himself. Because I have been down that road and that is something I do not wish on anyone, let alone my own child.
And it got me thinking....my God, my kid can not be the only one that has had this shit happen to them. He is not the only one that has been shamed and accused of not caring. Not the only to have felt helpless and stupid not because he was but because the school was too lazy or too ignorant to know how to help him. We are not the only parents doing absolutely all that we can to help instill a positive outlook a good self esteem and manage something like ADD and ADHD and get placated and lied to. We are not the only parents frustrated, and disillusioned, and frankly down right pissed. Pissed that our kids are demeaned overlooked and are left to slip through the cracks. Good kids, that frankly, in this day and age deserve a hell of a lot better. This is 2014 not the fucking stone age and there are programs that are state demanded to be used and yet here we are, angry, sad, and hurting for our kids. It's nuts. It's damaging to our kids, and it is unacceptable.
A few months ago if asked, I would have said that kids that suffer from a learning disability didn't have it any harder than the rest of the kids. I thought there was special help for them and that all schools were willing to offer that help. I admit that I was wrong and I was completely wholly ignorant. My eyes are opened to the reality and the reality is pretty damn sad. Kids with ADD and ADHD do have it harder. They do struggle and they are falling through the cracks of a system that has failed them in every way that counts.
I realize that now and it makes me sad. It makes me sad that I now have to try and undo the damage my son's teachers have done to his self esteem, his sense of self worth, and his belief that he can be anything he puts his mind to. And it not only saddens me, it devastates my whole belief in the public school system as a whole.