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Many of you have been with me since my site first went online in August of 1995. At that time, many of our children were in Kindergarten and First grade and the priority for me at that time, was to make sure that my son learned what I considered the "basics". Reading, writing and arithmetic, understanding these skills as well as being able to perform them, hoping that if he mastered these basics, it would only be a matter of time before he'd be like the other children, using what he'd learned in school and life to help point him in the direction he would travel as an adult.
Realistically though, I have to step back and take a look at the whole picture. While my son does well in school, the real truth is that given his particular learning disabilities and the nature of his ADHD that it may not be very easy for him to fit into the everyday adult world of living on his own and providing for himself. Also, I am afraid that he will not be able to support himself based on his academic abilities alone and I don't believe that a career based on a college or university degree is the answer either. So, I began looking into other possibilities and I ran across this information that I want to share with others who may be facing the same situation.
IDEA has specific laws in place, that combined with your particular states laws will help us prepare our children for their future.
[20 U.S.C. Sec. 1414 (d)(1)(B) which reads in part:
1. Beginning at age 14, and updated annually, a statement of the transition service needs of the child under the applicable components of the child's IEP that focuses on the child's courses of study (such as participation in advanced-placement courses or a VOCATIONAL EDUCATION PROGRAM);
2. Beginning at age 16 (or younger, if determined appropriate by the IEP team), a statement of needed transition services for the child, including, when appropriate, a statement of the interagency responsibilities or any needed linkages;
Taken from the Special Education Rights and Responsibilities Manual, written by Community Alliance for Special Education (CASE) and Protection and Advocacy, Inc. (PAI) in California and revised in 1998, it refers to this along with state education laws as the following:
[20 U.S.C. Sec. 1414 (d)(1)(B); 34 C.F.R. Sec. 300.344; Cal. Ed. Code Sec. 56341.]
" For students 16 years of age or older, the IEP must state the transition services needed, including, if appropriate, a statement of the interagency responsibilities or any needed linkages. Transition services are "a coordinated set of activities for a student ... which promotes movement from school to post-school activities... The activities shall include instruction, community experiences, the development of employment and other post-school living objectives, and, when appropriate, acquisition of daily living skills and functional vocational evaluation."
For each student, beginning at age 14 and younger, if appropriate, the IEP must include a statement of the transition service needs of the student. Statement/s should relate to those sections of the IEP that focus on the student's courses of study (such as participation in advanced-placement courses or a vocational education program).
While these are only "excerpts" from the laws and codes mentioned, I want to encourage those of you who have children nearing the age of 13/14 who might benefit from the inclusion of these types of services in their IEP to investigate the federal and local laws thoroughly and start working now towards getting these services included in your child's IEP at the appropriate time.
I am very pleased to announce the addition of Gabor Maté M.D. to ADDed Attractions. Dr. Mate' is a physician in Vancouver, B.C. He has been diagnosed with ADD, as have his three children. He is also the author of Scattered: How Attention Deficit Disorder Originates And What You Can Do About It. (available in bookstores, libraries, amazon.com, etc.) [in Canada: Scattered Minds: A New Look At The Origins And Healing of Attention Deficit Disorder] I hope you enjoy his articles.
The report of a Port Hardy teacher taping a seven-year-old hyperactive boy's head to his desk ought to ring alarm bells about the ill-preparedness of our educational system to cope with the increasing number of children struggling with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder and other neuropsychological problems. This particular teacher's response may not be typical either of her or of teachers in general. It does, however, exemplify the helpless frustration many educators feel when confronted with the disruptive and out of control behavior of the troubled child who, single-handedly, appears to have the power to make shambles of an entire day's lesson plan.
If we are to avoid the shaming attitudes that so often make the classroom experience of the ADD child a humiliating misery, we need to conduct a compassionate inquiry into the emotional life of the child and appreciate the physiological and psychological impulses that drive his behaviors. Beyond that, school boards and governments must avoid making individual classroom teachers solely responsible for what is clearly a growing problem of societal dimensions.
Children with ADD or other learning disabilities do not, for the most part, act the way they do out of conscious choice. Far from committing willful misdemeanors, the child is acting out impulses which he little understands and over which he has little control. The hyperactive seven-year-old in Port Hardy cannot sit still for the simple reason that his brain will not let him. The part of his cerebral cortex, or gray matter, that is meant to inhibit the impulse to fidget and move about is not up to its task.
Blaming such a child for his restlessness and trying to control it with punishment or coercion will not work. In the short term he may be helped by medication, but the long term question is how to enable him to develop so that he can acquire some psychological rest and impulse control. Schools cannot on their own meet these highly sensitive children's hunger for attention, love and acceptance, but they can begin by not making the problem worse through ill-conceived disciplinary measures.
How to deal, for example, with the child who compulsively acts the part of the class clown? Like all ADD traits, this behavior has its inner logic, unseen by the child: if he cannot gain the spotlight by achievement, he will do so by acting the fool. Lacking the acceptance of the adult world, he will strive for the attention of his peers, at whatever cost. The solution is not to chastise and humiliate him in front of his classmates, but to give him the message that he is fully accepted as a valid and valued member of the school community no matter what his shortcomings.
He is valued for who he is, not for what he may be able to achieve. Difficult as it is for the overworked teacher in the hubbub of the busy classroom, reaching out to such a child each day, even for a brief moment, will go farther than any number of sternly delivered instructions. It is often noted that many children with poor attention skills can function quite well in the presence of a caring adult. The reason for this apparent paradox is that emotionally nurturing interactions produce positive changes in the child's brain chemistry.
Dopamine, the brain chemical deficient in ADD--important for attention and motivation--can be supplied not only by a Ritalin pill, but also by a nurturing interaction with an attentive adult. Time and time again children and teenagers with attention deficit disorder have told me how much better they are able to perform for certain teachers who speak to them with warmth and respect and who treat them not with condescension or cold authority, but with empathy and reassuring humor.
A teacher can work wonders if she sees and hears the vulnerable and hurt child behind the bored look, the off-putting tone, the seemingly defiant gesture. Not everyone's brains work the same way. It is folly to impose uniform expectations as if there were no differences in brain chemistry, emotional needs, or maturational levels from one child to the next.
There has to be enough flexibility in the system to allow for individual thought patterns and learning styles In these days of cash-register approaches to education among the first to be sacrificed have been learning assistants and teachers' aides--the very people who could give classroom teachers some respite and offer the many needy students in our schools patient tutoring, individual contact, and emotional support. The most troubled of these children are increasingly lost, desperate, angry, and, sooner or later, almost beyond help. If such policies continue, the cost to society will be enormous, to the children devastating. The incident in Port Hardy should wake us all up.
A parent writes: "We've had it with our middle school son. It seemed like he changed when he turned twelve. It's been down hill since then. Arguments, moodiness, over-reactions, you name it, he's got it. But the rest of us don't want it! Is this just a phase or are we destined to share our home with Hagar The Horrible?" The middle school years can be some of the most challenging for parent-child relationships.
This transitional period between childhood and adolescence is distinguished by a child's high emotional intensity and low coping capacity, a recipe for increased family conflict. One father once remarked, " I feel like there's a stretch of land mines throughout our home when my son is around. Anything can set him off." These circumstances are attributable to increased biological, psychological, social, and academic forces impinging upon an unprepared and relatively immature psyche. In other words, they feel very out of whack.
Parents may be just as unprepared for all the emotional turbulence. Some of us have trouble with the notion that our children are getting older but they are behaving like they are getting younger. And while all this is happening, they expect us to agree to their unrealistic requests, grant more and more freedom, and listen to their viewpoints, no matter how loudly they are offered.
Talk about a tall order for parents! But we can help lower the family emotional output, even with a middle schooler at home. Here are a few ways to start: Calmness counts. As tempting as it is to return your child's verbal swordplay with a lashing of your own, don't. This just escalates the conflict and closes the door to any productive discussion. Demonstrate that you can disagree with him/her without becoming too disagreeable.
If you find yourself in one of those arguments that often leads to a "war of words," point out that disagreements don't have to lead the two of you down that road. Emphasize that it's much easier to respect their rights and opinions when they are presented in a responsible manner. Be vigilant. Some discussions lead to dead-ends. In our zeal to communicate with our kids, it's easy for us to fall into the trap of persuading, preaching, or lecturing.
If your child introduces an important topic, be careful not to inject your own views too quickly, or you will just as quickly be branded as narrow-minded. Give them plenty of freedom to verbally experiment with expressing different ideas. They also might be testing your reactions as they bounce different views off your ears. Don't allow yourself to be governed by the fear that if you don't tell them about the evils of so and so, you might never get another chance.
If you're not sure what to say, it's better to offer an open-ended comment such as, "I need time to think that over." Acknowledge feelings rather than take sides. It can be very isolating to live in the "middle school mind," especially after a problem situation. Retreating and blaming are ways they try to cope with the problems their behavior creates for others. Both responses divide them from us.
Often this includes a perception of parents as the "bad guys" in life, withholding pleasure and fairness. If we try too much to debate right vs. wrong, it doesn't bring us any closer together. It only reinforces their view of us as "on the other side." Instead of debating or reviewing a problem situation, let them know you feel bad when they feel bad.
Suggest a compromise between their request and your rules. Try to steer away from concentrating on the facts of what happened if it's only going to lead to an verbal impasse. Offer a distraction that you both can do together, i.e, take a walk, listen to music, or play a game. And be flexible when they dig their heels in. (c)Dr Steven Richfield's column appears monthly. Dr. Richfield can be reached at www.parentcoachcards.com or 610-275-0178
When you have a child that has a disorder(s) there are many times when parents are misunderstood. These misunderstanding happen when the child acts out whether it be mildly or in what is more common-extreme. The parents are generally tagged as abusive or that they have bad parental skills. More often than not it is the child that is abusing the parent! I can testify that I have in the early stages of my son's disorders been close to either an emotional breakdown or physical collapse from the amount of energy put forth just to be able to handle my son on any level.
I could make a call in the morning (after having a night without fear of what was going to happen next) and have someone bring my documentation and then go get my son. Sad but true. My ex husband and his parents have been against everything good that I have ever accomplished with my son from the time he was born. They speak with smiles and carry a loaded weapon.
Since I know this is whom I am dealing with I have kept every letter from both stating what a good parent I am along with documentation verifying their behavior over the years interacting with my son. Jon would come home and wet his bed, mood swings, anger/aggression, and not knowing who's telling the truth. It has been to my benefit that I have kept all of his health records since birth along with any evaluations he has had.
It is far better to be prepared than not to be and even if it happens years later. (as in my own case) Presently, my ex husband and his parents are planning on kidnapping my son this summer on visitation. I know this from living in Arizona and taping all of their phone calls to protect myself and my son. Within the past six months I have had a restraining order limiting the phone calls to be made only by my son and for the ex not to call the house. My ex was very verbal, etc.
I am now seeking community legal aide because I am of limited income and cannot afford an attorney. The documentation of my ex and his family by phone, his delinquency in child support, and more should speak for itself. I do have a request to those who have made a habit of reading my article each month and those that I have helped in any way to please email me at email@example.com or send them to Michelle Davis P.O. Box 10757 Prescott, AZ 86304.
The letters you send will verify, along with everything else; that my son belongs in a stable and loving environment which I have supplied for eleven years through the bad and now the good. This is another form of documentation that can only help. Hopefully, I have helped to bring light on yet another area. God bless and thank you in advance. Michelle Davis firstname.lastname@example.org
ADD Coach Academy: www.addcoachacademy.com/
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