Have I Overstepped?

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-03-2003
Have I Overstepped?
11
Mon, 09-29-2003 - 9:27am
When our DS (7) was diagnosed with ADHD (and also highly gifted) at the very end of the school last year, we told his teacher and the principal and we told this year's teacher. We didn't tell all the other teachers - he has several (art, music, Spanish, PE, etc). He got into some trouble in one of the other classes last week and I spoke with the teacher - she noticed how much calmer our DS is this year and I told her about the ADHD and the medicine he is taking. She didn't know.

So, I wrote a letter to all his teachers and the principal - I told them about the diagnosis - ADHD & highly gifted and I made copies of several articles about these issues. I included information on definitions about ADHD, emotional needs of highly gifted children, medication, and teacher tips. I even had them bound together at Kinko's. I also included a list of websites.

In my letter to them, I said that we found these articles to be helpful to us and perhaps they would help them in understanding not only our child, but others like him. I told them that we wanted to work in partnership with them and welcomed any suggestions or feedback.

So, did I overstep? Will teachers think I am telling them what to do? Will this stigmatize our son? I once read in a book about ADHD that you should not hide your child's diagnosis because all the teachers already know something is wrong anyway - so you're not hiding anything.





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iVillage Member
Registered: 06-25-2003
Mon, 09-29-2003 - 9:45am
Hi, Im an occaisionally-posting lurker, but I have two special needs children, so I know exactly where you are coming from.

I think you did great! It may have been a bit more PC to ask the principal first if it was OK to distribute this information, but I can't see the harm in it.

I know many moms like to keep thier child's disability 'in the closet' and I can see their point of view, but I don't agree with it. Hiding something is going to create conflict at some level. There are the raised eyebrows at soccer practice, or during certtain school activities. Not that I advocate stamping ADHD across his forehead either! but I think keeping information from someone involved in the child's life, especially a teacher is bad because:

a) it is demeaning to that person. S/he is in a position of care, trust and responsibility, and you don't trust themn with key information?

b) It is untimately counterproductive. Nobody can do their best if working on partial information.

c) It could become a health and safety issue (PE, recess etc)

I hope this helps. Good luck with everything.

-Paula

-Paula

visit my blog at www.onesickmother.com
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-25-2003
Mon, 09-29-2003 - 9:48am

You did not overstep.

Roxie

CL-mommys_crew

 

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-25-2003
Mon, 09-29-2003 - 9:53am
I left something out:

The other thing which works against a person who keeps a child's disability secret is that eventually a decision will be needed which will pit 'outing' her child against including the child in a class or activity which could benefit him.

For example a mother may find a class or activity for disabled children which would be *perfect* for her DD son, but signing him up would be be an admission in itself.

Some moms may choose to deprive their child of the benefit of the class, rather than risk the stigma.

I don't agree with this.

This is the conflict I alluded to earlier.

-Paula

-Paula

visit my blog at www.onesickmother.com
iVillage Member
Registered: 06-23-2003
Mon, 09-29-2003 - 1:51pm
Hi!

I am an occasional poster where, my DD is allso ADHD and gifted. In my opinion you deffintaly did not overstep. I would think that any teacher who realy cares about their job would be very happy to have the info you sent. Many times the school systems do not have the resorses for appropriate training in these areas, and the teachers have limited time to find all the info for themselve, so I woul think that having it all packaged up for them would be very welcomed.

With my DD I did not tell any of her teachers this year untill about the fourth week fo school because I did not want them to start out with the idea that she would be trouble from the start. I wanted them to see her as she is, and be able to give me some unbiased input as to how she is doing before I told them about how things have been in the past. I definatly think teachers need to know, but I dont allways think they need to know about ADHD before they get to know the child that the ladel is supposed to desrcibe.

Well, that is just my two cents worth, I think you did right in letting them know about the situation and that you want to work in partnership with them!



Wishing you and yours a great school year!

Annie

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-28-2003
Mon, 09-29-2003 - 2:26pm
I feel like a broken record, sometimes, but I think if i tell you a little bit of my story, it will illustrate the dangers on not telling.

Last year, when my son Liam was in K, after many P/T meetings (most attended by the Principal), the Principal told me she thought Liam had a very high functioning form of Autism called Asperger's Syndrome. She also explained that she had previously been the Principal of a school with 6 AS classes, so she should know! I took her very seriously, and quickly had him re-evaluated by the PhD who'd given him the AD/HD dx. He said no way, still, he didn't actually test him, so the principal disagreed. Next was the TEAACH center (just deals with autism in NC as part of UNC). Again, they said no, and didn't evaluate him. Again, the Principal said the TEAACH center was mistaken. So I took him to the PhD the TEAACH center and the school system used for second opinions and further testing. She wasn't going to test or evaluate him for AS until she spoke with the Principal. Then she told dh and I we had to rule it out. She actually still didn't think he was, but, because this person, who is in such a place of power thought he was, it could cause him harm not to know. She gave him the three most well known and respected diagnostic materials for autism: The GAS, ASDS, and Vineland. He scored <1% on these tests for autism, AS and autism spectrum.

The Vineland did show he has significant delays in his social knowledge. Socially, he acts much like a 4 yo then a 6 yo. He can not play with more then four kids at a time, and if there are four kids, he shuts down.

This evaluating has been going on for a year. I've known the results of those three tests for over a month. I've known from my own research autism was very unlikely. But, what I said was just my opinion, so I kept a lot of it just between me and the Principal. She thought I was in denial, and that it would best serve my son if she "shared" what she thought would be his dx. Honestly, (no sarcasm), she thought she was doing this in his best interest. Obviously, I am speculating about the sharing, but more then one well meaning teacher had conversations with me about autism, and the need to prepare myself.

When people don't know, I think there is a natural tendency to speculate. Now, I could care less what they speculate about if it helps my child, but in our case, they started treating Liam very inappropriately and caused some very bad behavior. Now they know what is really going on, and they have changed their treatment of him. he is now having to re-adjust to being treated like everyone else. Not like he is special, and shouldn't be punished.

And I am in full disclosure mode. What I know, his teachers will know. Because they can come up with some real duzies on their own. I know how that works! I bought into the possibility that she could be right. If I hadn't found out he also had Central Auditory Processing Disorder, which gives him a "dear in the headlights" affect at times, I would probably still be looking for that elusive form of autism that doesn't exist that actually fit my son.

Sio

Avatar for kathy_in_ga
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Mon, 09-29-2003 - 5:55pm
Sio, I think it's great your son can play with 4 kids at once. That is wonderful to me! Joiner can't play with many kids at once, he gets very aggitated. Usually for his birthday parties we have maybe 6 kids, but even that's too much for him. One playmate over at a time is usually our rule. That is normally how Joiner can tolerate them. Socially he is more like a 5 y/o than an 8 y/o even though he is very smart in some areas. He can also act like a 2 y/o. I have had to leave many of a place b/c of him acting like he's 2.
Avatar for kathy_in_ga
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Mon, 09-29-2003 - 6:03pm
You done good!

I also tell the school & teachers my son's DX's, ADHD/Bipolar. This way when they see something different they call me. Today that happened. Joiner's mania has been activated by the fall weather we finally are having. This happends every year. The teacher noticed Joiner was bouncing off the walls, throwing his lunch box in the air, refusing to do work, being very oppositional. She called me to ask if there was anything they needed to know about Joiner today. I told her that he had a very bad weekend. He couldn't go to sleep last night until after midnight, he has also eaten me out of house & home & is haivng inapropriate responces like laughing when he is being punished. Anyway, instead of trying different punishemnts they called me. I gave them a few ideas, then said if they didn't work I'll come get him. I didn't have to, so I am guessing the ideas worked. I was so glad they called, I also know that he is haivng a hard time in school, not just home.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2003
Mon, 09-29-2003 - 8:17pm
I personally, don't think you overstepped! Every year I meet with the teacher before my son starts school, to give background and history. Its so important to me. One thing your post made me think of was, in a therapy session I had with my therapist--I was telling her about something that happened last year with a teacher and she said to me "You have to remember, not all teachers even CARE about what ADHD means/what the research shows etc." She said that I was very good at trying to help these teachers (I'm a teacher too) know the things I've read, and for the most part people were ok about it, but that there are still going to be teachers who just don't care to know more.. and they may hear me, but not let it affect them or their way of teaching, one bit. Sadly, she's right. Every year i feel like there is a new challenge..even when one has a GREAT teacher for their child--there are still things that don't always get addressed in the way you'd hope or want..etc. I just wish more teachers were open and willing to be flexible and learn about our children.
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-03-2003
Wed, 10-01-2003 - 8:15pm
Thanks for the support - wish I had something to report back - but I only got one response - one person who said she read the info and thought it could be helpful - well, who knows - at least all the teachers now know.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2003
Thu, 10-02-2003 - 9:52am
well if you reach just one, that is a plus!! I would love to make all the teachers read Mel Levine's books too LOL.

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