Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Was Annie Right?

Little red-headed Annie sings that the sun will come out tomorrow. I hope she's right, because there's a heck of a storm blowing today.

Ben's "great" first day has rapidly descended into disaster. On day two, Friday, his teacher walked him out to the car and said that from lunch on, Ben couldn't seem to stop punching and kicking other kids, completely unprovoked. We wondered if the stimulation of the lunch room was too much for him. Yesterday, Monday, I sent a behavior chart to school, offering Ben the chance to earn stickers for good behavior and later convert those stickers into prizes from me. He came home with three stickers, and a small note saying that he had some trouble with hitting other kids, particularly in the afternoon, but generally he was OK.

Today Ben said that he forgot to take his chart to school (he didn't; it was in his backpack, just where I showed him), but he announced when he got into the car after school that he had a "bad" day. When I took him to the library this afternoon he proved it by clawing gouges into my arms, kicking bruises onto my legs, and pushing dozens of books off the shelves while I tried to hold him. And an hour ago I received an email from his teacher, who wanted to know what to do. As if I might know.

She is alone in a classroom full--FULL--of six-year-olds, and she simply doesn't have the time to devote to Ben alone. Today was apparently the worst day yet: hitting, kicking, spitting until she feared for the safety of his classmates. He needs one-on-one help; he needs people who can take him out of the classroom when he falls apart and help him get calmed and centered again. He needs more than his teacher can offer, and I don't know what to do about that.

I'm wavering between crying and punching something. I'm angry that we're a week into school, and despite all my insistence that Ben have an IEP in place before school began, we are still waiting for the speech therapist to come to the school and do her testing so that her parts of the plan can be included. In the meantime, he's falling fast, and no one seems to be able to catch him. And I'm starting to question whether he's going to be able to succeed in a mainstream classroom.

Tomorrow, I'm rebelling against the psychiatrist who put Ben on new meds two weeks ago. I told him that I thought they were making Ben more difficult and impulsive than ever; he warned me that it will take a long time to find a medication, or combination of medications, that will work for Ben. But, guess what, doc? Ben doesn't have a lot of time. He doesn't even have a little time. So, even though you don't want to, I'm taking Ben off your meds and putting him back on the ADHD meds that he took last year. Were they perfect? No. But they worked far better than what he's on now, and we're in a crisis. We've only been in school for four days, and we're already in a crisis. So I'm taking charge. Next summer, we'll explore other options.

Tomorrow, I'm calling the school and making sure that Ben's testing is complete this week, and that his IEP is scheduled for next week. Tomorrow, I'm calling the school district and perhaps the state to find out exactly what resources are available if I'm willing to make enough noise to get them. Tomorrow, I'm calling an end to the storm. I sure hope Annie was right, because tomorrow, I need the sun to come out again. And so does Ben. Tomorrow.

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