The line between anger and fear

By Mir
October 12, 2007

It is never a good thing when the phone rings in the middle of the day and it’s someone calling from school.

It is a double plus ungood thing when the phone rings in the middle of the day and it’s the principal calling.

My day yesterday was going pretty well; Otto and I went out to breakfast, and later Tammy and I went out to lunch. (Yes, that much eating out is unusual for me. Apparently I’m just not very good at spreading these things out.) I was caught up on my work and looking forward to the weekend.

And then the phone rang and in very short order I wished I was back in bed.

He took his time getting to the point of the matter, too, which made it even harder, to have to listen to a dozen related-but-not pieces of information before finally getting to the heart of why he called.

My son—my son who certainly has issues and sometimes loses it, but who is in general one of the sweetest and easiest people I know—bit another student.

BIT. With his TEETH. And let’s be perfectly clear, here: Monkey is almost eight and there is no justifying this. None. I am horrified.

With that said, indulge me in a few minutes of YES, BUT! Because, sweet cracker sandwich (thanks, Holly, for that phrase), my brain has been filling up with YES, BUT! ever since I got this call.

Let’s start with everything the principal rushed to tell me before telling me about the bite. Let’s start with the fact that my son has a diagnosis of Sensory Integration Disorder and Anxiety (the latter resulting from the former), and he has a 504 Plan in place, which is a federal mandate for the school to accommodate his issues. In moving to Georgia (and a significantly poorer school system) we have lost regular occupational therapy as part of Monkey’s accommodations, which is a big loss but, I suppose, understandable. OT is expensive. Although it helps him tremendously, it’s not that he can’t function without it. I get that. What the school has agreed to do for him, what the school is LEGALLY BOUND to provide for him by MUTUAL AGREEMENT, is something called The Wilbarger Brushing Protocol at regular intervals throughout the day. I will not bore you with the whys and wherefores, but suffice it to say that being brushed every 2-2.5 hours helps to “reset” his over-active circuits and keep him from becoming overly agitated.

Guess how many times Monkey was brushed yesterday. Go on, GUESS!

If you guessed “NOT AT ALL” you win a gold star and some righteous mommy indignation. Furthermore, if you guessed “HEY, SCHOOL ACTUALLY HAS BEEN SLACKING OFF ON THIS FOR WEEKS NOW” you also win a martini and a shot of outrage. BOTTOMS UP!

The school was supposed to designate an aide to be responsible for Monkey’s brushing and apparently they never did. He has been being brushed by different people every day (often his own teacher is doing it, which—while I appreciate that she’s doing that for him—is not her job), and only once or twice a day. His plan specifies that he be brushed a minimum of three times daily.

Monkey’s teacher was unexpectedly absent yesterday, too. Maybe not a big deal for a regular kid, but kind of a big deal for a kid with anxiety issues. And guess what? Anxiety issues + absent teacher + no sensory treatment + playground sensory overload + scuffle with another child = Monkey vampire. Who knew?

Does any of this EXCUSE my son for putting his teeth on another person? ABSOLUTELY NOT. That’s not an acceptable response at any time, for any reason, and I am angry and disappointed with him.

ON THE OTHER HAND, this is a kid who is prone to outbursts, yes. This is a kid who screams when he’s angry/frustrated. This is not a child who reacts with physical violence. (Threatening physical violence? Oh, yes. I’ve heard him threaten in the throes of losing it. Actually harming someone? No.) And this is a kid who now has a sizable bruise on his thigh where a child (who was much larger than he is, and also, by the way, hi, WHERE THE HELL WERE THE PLAYGROUND MONITORS??) kicked him for his refusal to relinquish his hold on a piece of playground equipment.

How far do you have to push my child to get him to react this way? I can’t be certain, of course, but this I know: Pretty damn far.

The fact that the principal felt the need to give me ten minutes of exposition pointing out everything the school failed to do yesterday tells me that he knows my child isn’t a bad kid. But my child DID do something bad, he emphasized, and there needs to be a consequence.

I agree, of course.

What’s the consequence for the school neglecting to take care of my child, though?


  1. Leandra

    Hmmm…I don’t know. I was tempted to try to make a joke and make light, but really this is a serious issue. What if they neglected to give him necessary medication? I mean, it’s sort of the same thing, right? I’m curious to know what consequences they think are appropriate for HIS actions, given their failure to hold up their end of the “bargain,” so to speak.

  2. Juliness

    Oh my gosh, Mir, what an awful thing to deal with – from both perspectives. And if Monkey not acted out, you would have never known the break down in the school’s part of this. That’s what makes me even angrier for you!

  3. Kim

    I’m curious as to how Monkey feels about his brushing. My son was brushed in preschool and he hated it. He is 18 now, and whenever we talk about his younger years, he brings it up. He is a very easy-going down to earth young man, but boy does he get ANGRY (“I HATED that! Why did you let them do that to me?”) when he talks about the brushing he had to endure. Does Money ever talk about how he feels about the brushing? Does it bother him or does he feel it helps? I’m just wondering if the anger is something specific to my son or if other kids feel this way too.

  4. All Adither

    Brushing…I’ve never heard of such a thing. And I’m kind of wondering if my four year old son has something similar? We’re already going to have to put a 504 in place for kindergarten next year because of some nasty and very serious food allergies. But i wonder about this sensory thing too.

    You’re a good parent, Mir. You consider all sides and seem like a very thoughtful, balanced mom.

  5. Lisa

    Mir, if the school won’t give you regular OT services, will they at least provide consultation? There are lots of other sensory diet techniques they can use in addition or as a substitute for the brushing. I think expecting brushing three times a day, which would be ideal and beneficial, is unfortunately and unfairly unrealistic. Monkey should have other strategies he can use by himself to regulate his SID. Chewing gum? Bear hugs from the teacher? A tent in the corner full of cushions? A wiggly seat (which works wonders for my 7 yo son)? Jumping on the trampoline before going back to class? Dragging tables and chairs around the room? Wearing a very heavy backpack or weighted vest? Holding a weighted teddybear in his lap? I know there’s more but I can’t think since I’ve only had one and half pots of coffee this time of morning, but an OT can surely offer you more options than just the brushing. I would use this admittance of neglect as ammunition for OT if you can.

  6. Megan

    So much sympathy – for you, for Monkey, for the other child… We’ve dealt with a couple of poor school districts and it is heartbreaking sometimes. I really hope the principal, after talking about all the ways they failed Monkey then announced that something was done to fix those problems!

  7. nancy

    Rogue teacher sticking up for the playground monitors here. I have to say that it is very difficult to watch every single child on a playground and unless an infliction is witnessed or reported by another child, a kick can happen quickly without anyone seeing.
    On the school and its consequences. You need to request a meeting (in writing) and have a new 504 drafted that elaborates on how the new school will maintain Monkey’s sensory diet. I’m sure someone as smart and pretty as you has already taken care of this. But if it is in process be sure to have a note in the plan that lists the need for an assistant to do the brushing, or bring in an OT to create a sensory routine that the school assistant can follow from a checklist possibly one that incorporates playground equipment or things that may already be available at school (beanbag and ball?).
    Finally, do the pop-in. You are a volunteer at the school and can come up with a random reason to stop by during the week to make sure your little one gets the help he needs.

  8. Jodi

    O M G. Outrage SERIOUSLY justified. My co-worker has a daughter with sensory issues. They moved sounth from NH, where her daughter had an IEP in place from age 3 for speech and occupational therapy. But, gosh darn, the schools herenot only haven’t honored her IEP, but assert that the child (now 6) doesn’t have any problems.

  9. RuthWells

    You have already gotten great advice from everyone — I will restrain myself to adding my sympathies, a virtual hug for you, and a virtual kick to the nether regions of the school officials who have failed your Monkey.

  10. BOSSY

    Time to kick some school arse.

  11. Paula

    I thought Nancy’s advice was spot on (and as a former school attorney, yup, get everything in writing, just in case).

    I sympathize: I got “one of those” calls two days ago, with all the same YES,BUT feelings. My 6 year old son got upset over some mistakes and screamed at his teacher:”I am very, very upset right now!” I agreed that he shouldn’t be screaming . . . but was so happy he at least verbalized his anger. Last year, he would have gone apeshit.

    It’s tough for kids and teachers alike. When my son reaches the tipping point at home, he steps outside for awhile or “takes a break” for five minutes to decompress. It works. In school, though, the curriculum is so packed and the teacher so pressured to plow through it that there’s no time to give kids “breaks”. There’s not much time for her to deal with behavioral issues at all, actually. And for my kid, the only option seems to be to “suck it up.”

    I wish the instruction was less packed and less geared towards the standardized tests.

  12. Kimberly

    You know I’m a teacher, right? I want that out there right now. I also need to disclose that in preschool Diva Girl was the victim of a biter in order for this comment to make sense. Now with that out of the way:

    OH NO THEY DON’T!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I’m going to go far, far out on a mommy limb her and say that this was NOT in fact Monkey’s fault. (And I abhor biters). That poor kid. The school did everything but pry his mouth open and clamp his jaw around that other kid.

    This is outrageous. Unacceptable. No, it’s not the teacher’s job to brush Monkey–in fact, her union would probably have kittens for several reasons if they knew it had happened–but it IS the school’s job to ensure that this is done. The fact that it wasn’t? That it hasn’t been? Is criminal in every sense of the word. Withholding his therapy because it’s inconvenient is no different than withholding his insulin because “needles are icky” or “we didn’t have time to work it in today.”

    I’m also going to disagree with Nancy in that it’s really NOT that difficult to keep an eye on a playground. Not even if you’re a sub (I know, because I AM a sub.) If the proper ratio is in place, it’s not that hard. Unless, of course, the monitors all clump together and chat, which I’ve seen more times than I can count. Scuffles certainly occur, but I think that this went far enough that a supervisor should have caught it before the kick, let alone before the bite.

    Communication book: In addition to recording Monkey’s highs and lows, there should be notations in there telling who brushed him and when each day.

    I’d like to bit the principal, frankly.

    Oh, did the kicker’s parents get a call? Were there consequences there, too?

  13. Bob

    my first reaction would be to go to the school district/board of education and bring the lack of compliance up with them. But, on reflection, I think I would schedule a conference with the principle and Monkey’s teacher and discuss it with them and draft a plan to bring them into compliance. I would also discuss his punishment and ask what was being done to punish the child who kicked Monkey. I would then bug the hell out of them to make sure they adhere to it. If they didn’t, then go up the ladder.

  14. Stephanie Chance

    Sorry to hear you’re having a tough time with his school. Hope your weekend is better!

  15. Ei.

    Your eight year old and my eight year old have much in common. Hugs to you. I gotta look in to this brushing thing.

  16. alice

    Nancy is smart. (As is everyone else, but when I came back from drop-off to finish my comment, she made points better than I would have.)

    Sadly, I think that this will have the silver lining of the school *definitely* taking Monkey’s 504 seriously, and the paper trail that I’m sure you’ve started will help with the problem of institutional memory. (Again, you’ve probably done it, but letter of the ‘thanks for admitting your role in this situation, and for copping to not following his 504’ variety is totally justified. Lawyers do it a lot to amke sure that the content of phone calls gets included in case files.)

    How is Monkey feeling about all of this? I’d guess that he feels awful for having things get out of his control, and I can’t imagine his anxiety is helped by it all either. I hope that (in addition to the consequences, which are totally justified), he’s gotten a chance to feel more in control about all of that. Hugs to the whole Mir/Otto clan – you all deserve them!

  17. Ariel

    Wow. *hugs* for all of you.

  18. Ren

    I realize the serious nature of this situation… really I do… and I ache for what Monkey has to deal with every day, but I also feel for you, Mir. It must be exhausting to have to fight every day for the rights of your child, to make sure he has the environment he needs. I’m so sorry that the world does not seem to be able to hold enough empathy or compassion.

  19. Rachel May

    Oh, Mir. I think there has been some great advice offered here, so I’m just going to tell you taht my mommy heart hurts for you and Monkey. I know you’re just the best mommy for him… Many, many virtual hugs to both of you from me.

  20. Karen Rani

    What about a logbook where the person responsible for Monkey has to sign off?
    Good luck honey – I know the frustration of dealing with the schools on doing what they are supposed to do. Last year Dylan had chest pains in gym class and was told to keep going. He has an aneurysm and that is one of the biggest signs of heart trouble for him. The school acted very quickly to make sure it wouldn’t happen again, and Dylan happened to have a rib out of place, not a heart issue, but damn I was scared – anything could have happened. I think I blogged it, can’t remember but the best thing I did was to follow up several times to make sure all staff were aware of Dylan’s condition.
    I would definitely make sure they document like mad though. xo

  21. Divrchk

    I think it’s time to get the superintendant involved. That is uncalled for that the school not do something so simple as brushing. Monkey was obviously pushed beyond any, non-sensory disordered child.

  22. Laura

    Oh. Just wishing all of you some good thoughts. I know that both your kids are lucky to have you (& Otto) and that you’ll do what you must to get the school on the right track and will love Monkey through this. I have almost 7 year old with a head full of red hair and the temper to go with it, yet I know it takes a lot to push him over the edge. Sounds like Monkey was pushed way out.

  23. Ree

    I’m gritting my teeth as I read this. We’re having some school district issues around here and I’m sooooo fed up with schools NOT doing what they’re legally bound to do.

    I will do my job as a parent, and participate and fund raise and make sure my son is doing what he needs to do. I’ll help with homework and with sports teams and ensure that he understands morality and is socialized and the difference between right and wrong.

    But guess what school? My taxes go to these programs. Get your shit together and do what you’re supposed to do.

  24. Amy-Go

    Craptastic. Hugs for you and Monkey!

  25. Aimee

    People who commented earlier have give better advice and suggestions than I ever could. All I can say is, I’m really sorry that happened, and *hugs* to you and Monkey.

  26. hamiam

    Having a daughter with the same exact issues as Monkey – this is my worst nightmare.

    And is why, as someone suggested up here, I specifically requested a daily log of sensory activities (we gave a variety of heavy work activities, not as specific as the WBP, that can be chosen from each day, a minimum of 3) be completed every day and sent to me in our 504 plan.

    (hugs) Mir…I know exactly the wrestling match you’re having re: Monkey’s responsibilities vs. those of the school’s.

  27. Cele

    Personally I have to ask what actions were meted out to the integator and bitee in this whole senario. It take two to tangle and Monkey best not be bearing the brunt of this all by himself.

    oh and everything they said too.

  28. Kerry

    My foster kids got violent in a respite home. I can’t even imagine them acting that way and it made me so sad for how far they must have been pushed. Poor Monkey. I understand the need for consequences, but the need for hugs and compassion trumps. He has had a really crappy day. Really, he was pushed beyond his limit. I’m not excusing the biting, but what else was he going to do? Be his soft spot today.


  29. Stacey

    I think I would call the Principal back and ask that question point blank. You worded it perfectly, it’s not even confrontational…my child DID do something bad, he emphasized, and there needs to be a consequence. Now, what’s the consequence for the school neglecting to take care of my child? Seriously, I would call and ask. This is not acceptable, and you need to hold them accountable in the same way they want Monkey accountable.

  30. rain

    ah, the school system. My favorite subject. NOT! As a mom to a son with SID, anxiety and some other things going on..the school is not my most favorite place if you get my drift. I found out the hard way that the nicer I was in regards to these “problems”, the more they walked all over me and let my son slip through the cracks so to speak. You are your sons only advocate. Go in there and kick some ass. I try to do it in a firm yet reasonable voice. If they arent doing the brushing (by the way, have NEVER heard of that and am going to look into it so thanks for the link) then I would demand a daily record sheet of when he was brushed, and by who. (whom? ahem, clearly Im not a teacher, nor do I play one on the internet). If you request a daily record, Im pretty sure they have to provide it.

    Im waiting for our first IEP meeting to come up. Those things are always tons of fun. Just having some sarcasm there with my cup of tea.

  31. beth

    Hey, I got the same call last year, and my kid was a year older. Bites do freak schools out. I never even thought it was possible to have schools brush kids; I know my guy would love it.

    My kid will bite if he is restrained. If some kid grabs him and starts hurting him, my boy will freak out and try to get away. That’s pretty much what happened last year. Also, if four or more kids pick on him at once (touching him and scaring him), he will go beserk and they will all end up crying.

    So I will be looking to see what the consequences should be. Biting is bad, and the first consequence is you become the bad guy — that’s what actually impresses my son the most. If he bites, people stop caring that much that six other older boys were beating him up. On the other hand, if the school isn’t preventing situations where many kids are bullying my son, do I really want to teach him to not to respond effectively? He’s pretty dang effective right now, and he never starts the situation. He is annoying though (sensory integration annoying — jiggling desks and messing up lines and stuff), and smart, which probably makes him more annoying because who wants a kid you call a spaz to make you look stupid in math? So he can learn to be less of a target, which is something he can control without getting hurt.

    So please come up with a wise and working response so I can copy you. Thank you.


  32. Lynn

    I can see that you got lots of good advice on dealing with the school. I especially like the follow-up letter and the daily log idea. Shame on schools who don’t follow the plans! I do like that the principal was upfront with you. I have dealt with other authority figures that would report the crime and you would have to pull it out from them that they hadn’t been doing what they were suppposed to be doing.

    Oh, and please give Monkey an extra hug, I’m sure he is devestated by his own behavior and confused why he did it. Monkey’s consequence should be small – maybe an apology and extra chore?

    Unfortunately, the schools have no effective consequence.

  33. cursingmama

    If you figure out what the schools punishment is I would love to know. Parenting a child who isn’t “average” is a challenge by itself, not receiving the support you not only deserve but are required to receive is another unnecessary challenge. Unfortunately it’s a challenge that parents of every child face far too often.
    Hope that you & Monkey are able to get things back on track quickly.

  34. Holly

    I know that my comment is probably, no, definitely the most ignorant of all, but if somebody kicked me I’d have a hard time not biting them! Doesn’t this kind of thing fall into the self defence category?

  35. InterstellarLass

    We have a fairly good school district where I live, and I still hate them. The things they do drive me crazy. And trying to get help for a kid is frustrating, but not having them live up to their obligations is even more frustrating. Hopefully this gets resolved to where it doesn’t happen again.

  36. Steff

    Well…neither one of them had a right to kick or bite…bottom lne…BUT Monkey did defend himself!! I agree a consequence should be paid however it is so hard to pick one when it seems the events of the day taught their own lesson.

    We had a similar situation at the same age, it takes A LOT to get our oldest son violent but apparently one kid did a few years back and he punched him right in the face. We had to have a conference with the Principal – odd for a good kid – he took it really hard.

  37. Wendy

    The consequence is to stick the principal in a small room with very loud music and constant clips of annoying visuals, then sent out to a bar where he hits on an attractive woman but is punched in the face by a man who wanted her first. When he is being pulled off under arrest for his reaction to being punched in the face, screaming that it wasn’t his fault maybe he will understand what went on yesterday at the playground.

    Good Luck to Monkey.

  38. Heather Cook

    What about writing a letter? I find that I come off much more sane if I write things down rather than try to say them!

  39. Sara

    I got nothin’ in the advice arena, but plenty in the “good thoughts for you” arena. Hoping it all works out.

  40. Sheila

    Ugh. I hope things are better tomorrow. You and Monkey both deserve a nice long weekend.

  41. jackie

    Mir, In Monkey’s defense… his teeth were the only thing that could he use to defend himself from that larger child! Monkey is not a very big boy and if he is going to be kicked what is he supposed to do to defend himself? What happend to the little brat that kicked him so hard it left a bruise? And your right where the heck are the play ground monitors?!?! I agree he needs to be spoken to however the school didn’t hold up their end of the bargin to not only protect him physicaly but they did not help him emotionally when you have a mandate in place say what this child needs! What is the school going to do to correct Monkey not getting his treatment? Sorry I’m just mad at the whole thing! Poor guy!

  42. Elleana

    oh, oh, oh, oh, oh…can’t. even. begin. to. speak. here. I have such a problem with school systems dropping the ball with my son. It’s a very touchy subject with me. If I was there I would get you all worked up into a tizzy and we’d storm the school together! THESE ARE CHILDREN, PEOPLE. PLEASE TAKE CARE OF THEM!

    Okay, now I must go breathe into a bag for a while.

  43. Jess

    OK don’t flame me but, this is why I have a problem with public schools. They do not have the money or man/womanpower to work with the children. If a child needs help in anyway shape or form to make it through the day, and a plan is in place for this to happen, by God it had better be followed.

    They try and shove as many children into a classroom as they can and stretch a teacher’s abilites to the brink. What kind of place is this for a child to learn?

    Ok sorry getting off my soapbox.

    Hugs to you and BIG hugs to the Monkey.

  44. kate setzer kamphausen

    Praying for your family – for blankets of grace & peace. Y’all are in my heart, like an extension of my own family. So sorry for all the shit you are having to cope with.

  45. cce

    We’ve got sensory integration over here too. A mild form that, so far, hasn’t required an ed-plan but I’m waiting for that call. Really, pins and needles. I can so feel your angst. Thank God it’s Friday. Bottoms up!

  46. Daisy

    That’s a toughie. I’m looking at possible solutions: is Monkey old enough to handle the brushing himself? Some kids can. Can the district contract out for the OT services? In the case of the teacher being absent, kids like Monkey need some assistance to handle the change of routine. You might want to work this into his plan.

  47. Heather

    This sounds so tough, Mir. I’m glad Monkey has a mama who cares about him so much and is smart and strong enough to tackle these big issues. I hope you get it all worked out (and keep us posted!) Hugs to you all in the meantime.

  48. Dawn

    An occupational therapist who has been trained to use the technique, and who knows sensory integration theory, needs to teach and supervise the Wilbarger Protocol. This statement cannot be emphasized enough. If the technique is carried out with-out proper instruction, it could be uncomfortable for the child and may lead to undesired results.

    Are they aware?

  49. vkj

    I remember reading several years ago that Jackie Kennedy had the same problem with John,Jr. I don’t know how old he was. but I think old enough to know better.

  50. Katrina Stonoff

    Oh, gosh, Mir. How incredibly frustrating! This makes me grind my teeth. Though at least your principal does recognize some culpability.

    I can relate. My daughter has sensory issues (as well as Down Syndrome); we did the brushing until we found something that worked better for her. She’s on an IEP, similar to a 504 plan except it has more teeth because it’s for children with more severe disabilities.

    Though most of what Nancy said was valuable, she gave you one piece of advice that I think is VERY bad advice. Do NOT set up a meeting to establish a new 504 plan–you already have one! The school district is in non-compliance. You’re a lot more likely to lose ground you already have if you agree to a new 504, than you are to gain ground. I can just hear the school district saying, “Oh, but we tried the brushing thing; it just didn’t work.” The ONLY reason to agree to a new 504 plan is if you wanted to push for OT.

    Don’t let the district off the hook about brushing 3x a day. Trust me, they’ve already made all the concessions needed because they don’t have the staff or the funding, or because what Monkey needs or you want isn’t “realistic” (as Lisa said). THAT’s why you don’t have OT. THAT’s why he only gets brushed three times day. The 504 plan is what they have already determined they can (and will) provide, and three brushings a day is the compromise they’ve already agreed to. Don’t back down from that unless brushing three times a day isn’t helping Monkey.

    What you need is simply compliance to the 504. Ask for a meeting with the principal (and others if you think you need to). Make it a formal meeting with an appointment set up in advance, and get Otto to come too.

    At the meeting, insist the aide be appointed (or hired if necessary). Insist they set up a measurement tool since they’ve failed to comply, and make sure you have access to it (i.e. a log of who brushes and when). Check it often but at irregular intervals. Also ask Monkey every day how many times he was brushed, and keep your own log. Compare the two occasionally (he can’t be trusted necessarily to always remember accurately, but if their log always says he gets brushed three times a day, and he can’t remember being brushed all week, there’s a problem).

    As gently as you possibly can, assure the principal that you’re sure this can be worked out without resorting to a special ed attorney. But if you can’t work it out, find the attorney. It’s a last ditch choice, but sometimes a lot of battling can be avoided just by letting them know you aren’t going to cave on the issue.

    In fact, it might be helpful to pay for an hour’s consultation, but make sure it’s an attorney who specializes in special ed law in your state. ARC or a similar organization should be able to help you find one.

    I’m sure all the teachers on this list will think I’m being unreasonable (and I *was* a teacher, before I was a special ed parent), but let me assure you: our relationship with the school district is MUCH smoother and much more cordial since the year we hired an attorney. All she did was write one letter. One letter. We still don’t get everything we’d like from the district. But we DO get listened to, and we do get the minimum the law says we’re entitled to. And that’s something only a handful of special needs parents in this district can say.

    Good luck. It’s a tough job, especially when you have to balance Monkey’s learning about appropriate behavior with battling the school district. My heart goes out to you.

  51. Chris

    Poor, poor, Monkey. That he was actually put in this position in the first place! Yes, I agree, punishment must be forthcoming in some sense of the word. BUT…where were those in charge. He is afterall, just a child, of 8….where were they? Did you ask that question? No, I’m sure not because you probably were mortified. Poor Monkey, go easy on him…..please.

  52. Sports Mum

    OMG – I just re-lived a similar tale from two years ago with my son. Jackson has a diagnosis of Aspergers/ADHD. We moved from California to Ohio in 2003 and discovered that he no longer qualified on an IEP because it was not hindering his “learning” therefore we qualified for a 504 for behavioral issues.
    Without the gory details – we had several accomodations in place that fell apart on one single day…
    His teacher was absent (without my knowledge), he had not taken his ADHD meds (dropped on floor – also without my knowledge), they had a field trip and he was supposed to be line leader because he had been proclaimed Student of the Week!
    So, starting with the line up for field trip when another child cut in front of him – he tried to tell the substitute who ignored him, he pushed the other child, the substitute pulled him out of line, he kicked at her and ran away towards the play-ground, they chased him, caught him, took him to the principal. THREE HOURS LATER they called me to ask if he had taken his meds because he was under the table in the guidance councillors office – YA THINK?!?!
    Long and short – by law, they were able to suspend him for THREE days because he endangered himself and others.
    What did I do – I got a new OHIO diagnosis that qualified him for an IEP – he is now in middle school with a multitude of accomodations in place – including “what to do in the case of substitute, field trips and NO MEDS!”

  53. Laura

    Katrina is absolutely right. Be as nice as possible, but work the word attorney in there. It should *so* not be the case that that is the only thing that they respond to, but it is. They should do what Monkey needs them to do and what (not for nothing) is REQUIRED of them under the law because it is the right thing to do. However. Speak softly- sure, but have that big stick at the ready.

    And on a purely mama note- I’m so sorry you got one of those calls. My daughter’s teacher always starts any phonecall she intitates during the day by saying “Hi Laura! Nothing is wrong!” because she much know that when you see the school district office pop up on caller ID… Heart attack!

  54. Chris

    I hate those calls. Having an ADD kid (mine) is exhausting enough without that crap. I’ve often thought about homeschooling. I get so worn out dealing with people who decide I’M doing something wrong because my kid (whose brain I cannot control) is different. When I’m firm with him, I’m a harsh parent; when I’m tolerant and patient about his problems (because punishments don’t really work with ADD), I’m babying him.

    At least you have the 504 and the principal admitted they screwed up. Your poor little boy. I’d be ready to kill. No, wait, I guess I wouldn’t. I’d be too worn out. It would just be another “NOW what?” for us.

  55. Brigitte

    I guess I’m an exception, because I side with Jackie. I was an unpopular, small, shy, geeky child constantly subjected to mental and physical abuse in our hideous, small-town school. When a group of larger children were dragging me off by force to do who-knows-what to me, I also felt that my only recourse (as screaming and lashing out had no effect) was my teeth. It worked, and I STILL feel justified, lo these many years later.

  56. Michelle

    Don’t know if I can really add much to the discussion, but here goes anyway. I completely agree with Kimberly’s comment. This is no different from the school withholding meds. Monkey has a medical problem, they have a responsibility to him that they just ignored. Yeah, you can’t just blow off that he shouldn’t have bit, BUT really not his fault.

    I totally empathize with both you and poor Monkey. Those calls from the school always make me feel like throwing up. The first year my son was in school was a minefield. I received those calls so often I started having Pavlovian responses to anything that SOUNDED like the phone. Buddy has ADHD, developmental delays, and a whole bucket full of we don’t know what the heck the diagnosis is problems. During that first year he had a sinus infection that had him on three medications with red #40. His usual transgressions were mild, but two days into the medicine and he threw a fit that had them emptying the class to get the other kids to safety. He also threw lots of chairs. Fortunately, the chairs did not break the tv or injure anyone. We now know that any ingestion of yellow #5 or #6 and red #40 and he is no longer accountable for his actions.

    There’s a whole lot more swirling around in my head to say, but it’s mostly incoherent sputtering. Poor Monkey to be pushed so far that he lost control! I hope that at least this incident will get the school to pull their collective head out of the sand and provide him with the help he requires.

  57. barb

    First off, let me establish that I am both a kindergarten teacher AND a mom of a kid with a 504 (oldest son has type 1 diabetes). I work in the district and building where my son attends kindergarten and I insisted on him having a 504 in place before entering school because I KNOW how often the principals tell parents “oh, sure we will do this or that” and then don’t follow up with the teachers. And as a classroom teacher I know how easy it is to get overwhelmed by the intense daily needs of 18+ small people and forget to do something that I had meant to do that day. My principal (and several coworkers) made it clear that they thought I was basically being a PITA for insisting on the 504 – especially since the only other child in the elementary with diabetes does not have one – but I held my ground and forced it through.

    Mir – DO NOT go make a new 504 with these people. Insist, with the power of an attorney behind you, that they honor and fulfill the 504 that is already in place. There needs to be a specific person (and that should not be his classroom teacher) who is responsible for making sure that Monkey gets his needed brushing and who LOGS exactly when that was done. In the event that person is ill or not at school for any reason, there needs to be at least one, and two would be better, other specific person(s) who are ready and able to step in and do the brushing. There needs to be a log that is kept at the school (in the nurse’s office is my first thought) and a copy sent home to you each day to verify that the brushing was done. Something that records time began, time ended, and the signature of the person. This is not an unreasonable demand (notice I did not say request!), especially in light of the recent incident. AND there needs to be an amendment to his 504 (notice I did not say a compeletely new 504) that specifies this in exquisite detail.

    Several people stated they wanted to know, or you should ask, if the kicker was punished. Unfortunately that is information you are not going to get. It is a violation of that child’s rights (and before anyone jumps on me, imagine being the mom of the kicker and ask yourself, would you really want the principal discussing your child’s discipline with a stranger?). The most you might get is a bland “the other child was punished as well” or “I have handled the situation”.

    All that said, I’m so sorry that Monkey had all this happen and I hope the principal realizes how much deep doo-doo he could be in for failure to fulfill the 504 and that the situation is fixed QUICKLY.

  58. Pamela

    Change school ! I think it will be good for you and Monkey.

  59. Lisa

    Wow, I’m so impressed with all the great advice here. So much wisdom and experience is a huge resource!

  60. Mom101

    I’m looking forward to hearing the answer.

    It must be hard enough to be in a new school system let alone one you’re worried isn’t taking care of your kid. You’re lucky to have so many amazingly smart readers.

  61. Shash

    Yikes. Sounds like neither one of you had a good day!

    I had NO idea that they use brushing techniques in schools! Cool!

    I’m wondering if an IEP wouldn’t serve you better over the long haul. I’d also meet with the principal and find out WHY that aide hasn’t been hired. This incident is a PERFECT example why time is of the essence. I’m also curious as to why there is no OT service. ALL schools have access to OT services, no matter what economic level they sit at. It might come from County, they might not be there in the school every day, but they should have OT; even if they have to contract for it from an outside entity. I’m not sure if 504 Plans have the same pull that IEP’s have as far as federal monies for services, etc; but if they do then county allocates funds, then the principal at your school hires the staff.

    Speaking from experience, sometimes this doesn’t get done.

    Sometimes you have to be a hard a$$. Sometimes you have to politely tell them that they need to get their stuff together or they’ll leave you no choice but to call the Georgia Department of Education and report them. (Schools don’t like that) You’ll be amazed at how quickly things get done when you do that.

    While you might feel that you don’t want to make those kind of waves, just remember, it’s not personal. You have to do what you have to do not only for Monkey but for the other students too. If more parents were as concerned and involved as you, what a wonderful world this would be.

    If I can help you, let me know. I have advocated for my sons for years, as well as for other parents in other states. Just let me know. Good luck!


  62. LuAnn

    What’s the consequence for the school neglecting to take care of my child, though?

    Sadly, probably NONE.

    My oldest was attacked (dare I stretch things and call it a sexual assault) on the playground by four classmates (all of these boys were 8 years old at the time), who pulled down his pants 3 times in rapid succession. So he’s 8, so he dressed himself that morning, so he did not put on underwear. The boys admitted what they did. There were 3 teachers supposedly “monitoring”, none of whom would admit to seeing anything. The boys were not sent home. The school’s solution was to KEEP MY SON OFF THE PLAYGROUND while the perpetrators had continued access. The school did not call us until several hours later.

    We complained to the district. The district called the school. All of a sudden the principal was very interested in talking to us. What did she have to say? “HOW DARE YOU GO OVER MY HEAD TO MY BOSS!” She threatened our younger son’s access to special education services the next year (he has SPD as well).

    And, go figure, someone at the school called CPS and told them our son had ‘exposed himself’ on the playground.

    So, what happened as a result of the school neglecting its responsibilities for my oldest son? We now homeschool … IN ANOTHER STATE!

  63. Angel

    INEXCUSEABLE on the school’s part. My stomach is hurting for you and Monkey (((((Giant hugs))))))

    My daughter’s best friend has a sister with SID and Brushing works wonders for her, she loves it so much (and combined with her other OTs, she has just blossomed). I totally agree with one comment, it is no different if they didn’t give Monkey daily medication.

    Certainly, I can understand you having to deal with Monkey’s actions. But bless his heart, and yours too. I hope you get all this straightened out and the school gets their shit together.

    (((((More hugs)))))))

  64. nan

    Oh gosh. What everyone else said, but also: can you do some brushing yourself, first thing in the morning and at bedtime? That might work as hug-time for you and monkey, if he likes it. (and seeing as you have nothing else to do… Ow! OW! Stop hitting me with your shoe!)

    Seriously though, that would take care of two brushing sessions, so even if he does get three at school, the more the merrier. And if he doesn’t, well, he might survive the day. I often wake my middle boy with a massage, and it seems to make his whole day better. I am impressed that brushing is offered at school, but is it done correctly, calmly, lovingly? Or do they wait till he is falling apart and grudgingly pull him aside?

  65. Katherine

    My younger son (7 at the time) had an incident where he bit another kid on the playground. I was mortified to hear of it, but it was seemingly the only way he figured he could defend himself. Another bigger boy grabbed A in a headlock and wouldn’t let go. A told him to let go and struggled with him to no avail, so he finally chomped down. The other kid did let go at that! Evidently the teacher saw at least some of this, but was on the other side of the playground. She had a talk with my son and called me, but she said it seemed justified to her, so the incident didn’t go to the principal.

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