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I wish to extend my apologies to all my readers. Recently, a virus went through my hard drive and I lost a lot of email. While everything else was backed up, the personal messages sent to my email were not.
Missing is a lot of information that had been shared with me regarding the release of new books, conference information and other important and interesting info that was worth sharing.
If you have written to me since the last newsletter and have not received a response, nor seen the information you passed on to me in this newsletter, please email me with that information again at Contact Us. It would be greatly appreciated and again, my apologies for this inconvenience.
Brandi and friends,
I have enclosed a document that I produced when I went to meet a group of parents who needed advocacy help. This is the Primer I gave them, that tells you what to do, if your school is not following the codes found in State and Federal Law, especially IDEA. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. If you all follow these directions, it very well may save your child's education years from now. Even though you think you may not need to take these actions, believe me when I tell you, that over the years, 100s of parents who have read my advice wished they followed my advice. I hope it helps
WHEN YOU FIRST FIND OUT YOUR CHILD MAY HAVE A LEARNING OR BEHAVIORAL DISORDER 1. Learn all you can about the disorder named AD/HD. Buy any book by Dr Barkely or Hallowell on the subject. My bible on ADD was Driven to Distraction by Dr Hallowell.
2. Call your State Dept. of Special Education and get the Parental Rights in Special Education booklet. Also request the States Laws relative to Special Education. (this may be totally different from the Parental rights booklet) It will show you every law pertaining to Special Education in your State. It will show you all the rights your child and your family have. And most importantly, what the school is mandated to do. Medical exams, hearing tests, etc. 3. Download from the web, a copy of the Federal Law called IDEA. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. If your child is ADD, look under the section called " Other Health Impairments" . It is in this section that you will see where Attention Deficit Disorder is covered. The key word in the section about ADD children is they "CAN" be classified. That means not all AD/HD children will be classified as disabled. The word can, is for many schools the excuse for not wanting or willingly granting your child any services. If they say the ADD is not causing your child any educational problems that gets in the way of your child's learning, they will not grant services. This is the most important distinction you need to understand and deal with. What constitutes getting in the way of your child's education, is your responsibility to know? It is not the school's responsibility to solely decide if your child is deserving of mandated help. Do not take their word for what constitutes getting in the way of your child's ability to be educated. To a great degree it is a subjective decision based on your school's concept of need. It differs from school to school. You must be part of the team that decides your child's needs
4. Buy a small portable mini tape recorder with a telephone recorder attachment. Buy extra batteries and tapes.
5. Start a formal diary. Every time you have any dealings relative to your child, whether it is your doctor, or your child's educators, you write down the time, date, who you spoke to, what was discussed and what was decided or not decided. This is of paramount importance!!!. If your school is antagonistic towards children with ADD (they won't tell you to your face) there WILL come a day where it will be your word against their word.
6. Join a web site group for parents of ADD children. ADDtalk.topica.com or ADDventures@yahoogroups.com are two great sites. The people on these sites have been there dealing with school problems long before you and can give you great advice on school issues, medicine, doctors, legal issues etc. It is a place where you can vent anonymously.
7. Assume for the sake of your child, that no matter how many people smile with you from your child's school, that they MAY NOT be on your child's side. You never let your guard down until you know, for sure, that they truly care about your child, and will do everything to help your child. And they execute the help they told you they would provide.
8. Learn what accommodations are appropriate for children with AD/HD
9. Learn the art of negotiation early on. The first time you get angry at teachers or special education personnel, or school administrators, you become their enemy. If you are going to fight or need to fight for help, you want to do it on your terms, not theirs. Hold your anger until you need to vent that anger without causing your child to lose the help they need.
10. The first time you realize that the school is violating any codes at any level, or they tell you something about your rights that YOU KNOW is incorrect, you MUST start to tape record every future conversation you have. This is totally legal, and may very well be the one item that saves your child's' education. Put your tape recorder in a shirt pocket, or your pants pocket, or bag and start the recording a mile away from entering the school. And don't stop the recording until you are a mile away leaving the school.
11. If the above exists, and you live in New Jersey, it is totally legal to tape record all telephone conversations and in-person conversations at school. New Jersey is a one party telephone state. If one party knows a tape recording is going on, it is totally legal.
12. If you can afford to have your child privately tested, do so. Having an independent evaluation free of possible politics is the best investment you can make. It may even be covered under your health insurance.
13. If your child has a diagnosed disorder, have the testing group or doctor list all pertaining DSM-IV codes. The DSM-IV codes are the official book on mental disorders in this country. If it is not listed in this book, it does not exist. Under AD/HD it lists all the variables, and weaknesses of your child.
14. If your child is very aggressive, and very outspoken, yet has not gotten into trouble with fighting or cursing (younger grades especially), tell your doctor that it is part of the problem. In high school, when aggressive high school students deal with ADD issues, many times it will convert into fighting incidents. Given fighting and cursing are the two most used violations of school code used to suspend and expel, protect yourself from retaliation by listing those behaviors with the school and in the diagnosis
15. After every conversation (tape recorded) with school teachers, administrators, or special Ed. People, follow up with a friendly letter to that person, describing what was discussed, what was decided and agreed to, what wasn't decided, where it took place, and any disagreements you may have had. Follow it up with an entry in the diary repeating what was in the letter and mark in your diary that you have a tape of the actual conversation not by writing it, but putting in a big TR (tape recorded) notation. For instance, Met with Mrs. xxxx. She told me AD/HD is not a classifiable disorder 12/25/2001 2:30 at her office when having a meeting about the need for total and complete testing of my child. Sent letter to her and Mrs. X. the head of Special Ed for the district. etc. You then know you have an exact reference and proof it took place and what you were illegally told about your ADD child
16. If the school personnel start to get nasty and you feel that they are trying to break your will or deny help that should be granted, start to send letters to that person who is creating the hostile feelings, along with a copy to that person's boss. Keeping it very friendly and non-threatening, but listing the hostility that seems to be present. Use terms like, although I would like to create a team effort to help my child with his/her diagnosed AD/HD, it seems like I have received some resistance from teacher Mr. / Mrs. xxxxx, and you don't quite understand the reason. You still want to remain calm, reasonable and quite willing to work with everyone.
17. If the school will not test your child, saying it is not warranted, have your own doctor call the school and demand testing be done. Follow that up with a letter saying your initial request was turned down, and now your doctor has made a formal request. Send that to the head of Special Education, the specialist who told you testing is unwarranted, and the Principal of the school. If you get a call from school. And don't have your tape recorder handy, tell them you are in the middle of something important and you will call them back or have them call you back a bit later. Have the tape recorder going at this point. Over the 8 years of my advocacy, this is the time when educators will tell you the most lies and distortions, about your child's needs, and the laws pertaining to your rights. Keep in mind, most teachers never have read the laws within IDEA. Most haven't a clue what is classifiable and what is not, and this is the time educators will try to razzle dazzle you with educational mumbo jumbo. You may hear things like, Oh, yes, ADD is covered in Federal Law, but not for a child like yours. Only children with are really in bad mental shape get services, or your child is really borderline and doing fairly well, therefore requires no services. Or ADHD is covered but for severe cases of which your child does not fit. Or ADD is not a viable disorder. Your child does not need services because he/she is passing all their classes. That one is a personal favorite of mine. There is No where in any Special Education State or Federal Law where you can find a statement that states before any child can get special education services they first must be failing their class. It does state that if your child's disorder is getting in the way of your child being educated, then they must provide services. If your child's grades are falling without reason, if your child is getting more and more depressed because of perceived difficulty, if the ADD behavior is becoming more pronounced, if the distractions in class are getting to be more often and more severe, then it is getting in the way of their education. Whether they have an "A" in the class or a "F". You want those statements made to you on tape. PLEASE
18. In the back of the diary, keep a running list of every item that they are violating code on. For instance- 3/15/01- was told by xxxx that ADD is not classifiable- 3/17/01- was told by xxxx that my child is not covered under IDEA because he is passing his grades- 4/1/01- was told they will not test my child by xxxx because it doesn't seem warranted in spite of our own doctor )= telling the school to test because of his official diagnosis-They started the testing on 4/07/ did not test for hearing, did not send my child for a complete medical- did not check my child in all areas of suspected disability. People present when it was discussed xxxx and xxxxxx and xxxx.
19. When they agree to testing, make sure they do it within the time frame allowed. Make sure they get complete and total family medical history. Tape record all of these meetings, at school, at home or on the telephone. If there is anything in family medical history that you would prefer not to discuss, discuss it anyway. Family medical history is one the key issues in ADD cases.
20. If you followed the above recommendations, I can assure you that your child will have the needed services they need from the time your start the process to the time they graduate. If they granted services without aggravation or hassle, then have a party and burn all the records. But if you are one of the unlucky ones, that have a child in a school that doesn't believe In the disorder or in your child's needs, these records will stop them cold from denying your child the help mandated in law. And if they try to retaliate against your child for you fighting back, you will have enough ammunition to cost your school district dearly. Those tapes will prove that the whole lot of them openly and defiantly lied to your face, and was caught red handed. The feeling of power that you will have will be totally and completely amazing. For the first time, you will control the future education of your child. Not them
21. The one secret about educators that most of us never learn, is that educators survive by keeping parents in the dark about the law, your rights, and what your child is entitled to. They know, that most parents will never challenge their statements to you, the parents, for fear that it will turn the teacher off to your child. The truth is, when you show them and prove that they have violated your rights and that you can also prove it to a third party, through diaries, tape recording and letters, it means you have reversed the roles and you are now in power. They won't like it, and they will make you into a monster or threaten you or your child, but the proof is in the letters, the diaries, and the TAPE RECORDINGS. Today, You have no idea what those tapes will do for you. It will no longer be your word against theirs. You will have proof.
22. Fact: When it is about who told the truth and who didn't in the world of school politics, it is never teachers or administrators or special Ed. people who lie, it is always parents. If they mislead you, or told you things that are not in law, or denied legally mandated help, when questioned the entire school will rally around the people who lied and cheated, and then blame you, as an overbearing, out of control parent And most due process hearing officers will believe them, unless you can prove they lied, cheated and distorted the truth. And your school employees won't blink one eye while doing it. They are not accustomed to being challenged. They have lied to parents for so long; they may even believe what they are telling you.
23. Very important: You must get your IEP in place or 504 accommodations in place before High School age. The reason is quite simple. At the very young grades, if your child's disorder is recognized early on, most schools will willingly grant your child help after testing. If your child is like my child was, extremely bright, and aggressive, your child's disorder may be confused with that aggressiveness, and not diagnosed. Teachers will say things in your child's report card, like, extremely bright, personable. I just love him to pieces, if he would only sit still. Or let's work on getting little Jimmy to sit still for more than one minute. We all have received report cards like that. My son grades were all A's through grade school. But every report card had comments like these. Once your child gets into middle school, the work becomes more demanding and it is quite possible your child's problems start to multiply. Yet your child could still be passing all of his/her grades. When they finally reach high school, school administrators and teachers believe if children have not been granted special education services as of yet, then the parental desire to find a new found just an excuse for their child's poor behavior. It is nothing more than parents asking for testing, finding ADD and then grant him protection from future punishment, so my child will protected from his own behavior. And the truth is, according to Dr Edward Hallowell, in the Book "Driven to Distraction", he states that undiagnosed or untreated children in high school, especially in the sophomore and junior years, are the most vulnerable children because In those years, it seems that ADD children lose their coping mechanisms, that has got them through the early years. they find the level of work so difficult that these children, start a major downward spiral. Including getting into trouble with the law, drugs, fighting, friends changing, and major school problems. I know this is real because that is exactly what happened to my son in his junior year, when he was finally diagnosed, after a life time of troubles.
24. If the school starts playing hard ball, and threatening your family or child, get a copy of every school record in existence, before it becomes a legal affair. You will be surprised at what is in those files. You could find teachers recommending child study team evaluations over the years that you were not notified about, which is illegal (Child Find Law). You will find your child was sent to the school psychologist and they didn't tell you.
25. All of these things will seem to be overkill. But if you are not getting needed services today, then it will be harder as each year passes. Once they deny services now, it will be on the record. And once anyone from the school sees a denial of help, they will assume it is not warranted now.
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