So I decided to privately hire the psychologist that my son had been seeing to go into do an observation of my son. I was leaving for a family trip with to the Philadelphia Zoo, Baltimore Aquarium and then ending up in Washington D.C.. We were also taking our au pair Melanie and her friend Michaela. We got the van packed but before we left I told my husband to stop by the school so I could hand deliver my request for my son to be observed by the psychologist he had been seeing. My case manager said after viewing my letter, “You are becoming difficult and you are not going to get the services you want for your son.” I was so taken back but managed to say, “Is that a threat?” She did not reply. I went back to the van and we left for vacation. I was extremely stressed and so glad we were getting away.
I knew for sure by this point that my son did NOT belong in the Multiply Disabled class. I had been gathering my own data. I photocopied my son’s communication book each day. After he started mainstreaming more I got this note: “Best day so far in kindergarten. He was happy to go in the mainstream class, smiled, and interacted well with the other children. He is also making friends with some of the other children. He seems much more relaxed- he is used to the routine.” Also in a conversation that I had with the mainstream teacher she informed me that my son was able to sit with some difficulty to listen to the lesson. Then she said when they broke into smaller groups with worksheets my son was able to do the work with guidance from his personal aid ( to clarify, they had one of the classroom aids leave with him any time he was in the mainstream) with her repeating the directions and helping him time to time.
My son also verbally expressed to me how much happier he was at school and had become more interested in learning.
I had also been keeping in touch with my son’s former pre-school teacher and she gave me a warning that I’ll never forget. She told me to get my son out of district. She said she had seen stuff like this before. Building a case against the child, teachers and child study team members to who she referred to as “coffee clutchers” talking to each about a kid in the lunchroom. I was scared and I listened. I thought she was a bit over the top thinking I should get my son pulled out of district (after all I wanted my son to remain in the same school system from kindergarten till he graduated high school) but I took her input VERY SERIOUSLY. To this day, I will never forget her or her advice. I will always respect and admire her!!!
When I returned from vacation I found out about something called an “Independent Evaluation”. It was an evaluation that my son would be entitled to at “public expense” in the event of a disagreement between myself and the child study team. Additionally, I read about a particular assessment called a “Functional Behavior Assessment” to look at the causes of a child’s behavior. What happened just before the child’s behavior (for instance was the child asked to complete a worksheet, did the child just transition from one activity to the next?) They would also look at the behavior (was the child avoiding an activity, did the child throw the worksheet on the ground to get out of doing the work because they found it too difficult? ) This seemed to be exactly what my son needed.
April 2, 2002 I sent a certified letter requesting a full Independent Evaluation including a Functional Behavior Assessment to help determine his needs, goals and placement for next year.
Two weeks later I received a letter from the Special Education Director denying my request because they (the new district) had not evaluated him. Although my son had been evaluated just prior to our move in our old district they wanted the opportunity to evaluate my son. I agreed that they could do a complete evaluation of my son as long as it was done in a timely fashion. After all the kindergarten year was almost over!
During this time I also sent a letter to my son’s neuro developmental pediatrician asking for her supply us with a letter of medical necessity and referral to a developmental behavioral optometrist to explore the cause of son’s visual perception problems. Similarly, I also requested that my son have a Central Auditory Processing test at the Speech and Hearing Clinic. We would need a letter of medical necessity for this too.
I also had already scheduled a follow up visit with her in July.
Lastly, I called our pediatrician to schedule a physical to have my son screened for lead, sugar, iron and thyroid.
I explained to both doctors that I would feel much more comfortable being able to accept my sons ADHD diagnosis if these things were ruled out.
In the meantime, the school evaluations were beginning and what did I do: HIRE ADVOCATES!!!
Copyrighted 2011: danadogooder and DMT