Thursday, September 2, 2010

Windows Open

Justin has been one of those children that from the moment I got pregnant with him he has forced me to grow. (not just physically). When he was just two, I knew something was different. He was so happy and then in snap he was sobbing uncontrollably, biting himself and unbelievably sad and angry. His emotions were so dramatic and unstable. I cried myself to sleep many nights praying for help for this little boy.
Over the years we have been through many doctors, diagnosis and medication to try and normalize his moods and behaviors.
We had teachers that would be so willing to work with Justin and me to make is time at school a happy one. His Grade two teacher was one of them. She was so happy to see him every day! She was very huggy and lovey to him. And she always told him that she needed his help because he was such a great helper and she couldn't do it without him. He felt so important and loved there. He actually repeated grade two and got the same teacher for that year as well. She told him that she need to keep him in her class for another year because she couldn't let him go yet and she needed his help with the new grade two'ers. She focused more on his self esteem than his academics. And to this day is still Justin's favorite teacher.

After that it got harder and harder. Teachers were less willing to listen to what I said. They were the teachers and I was just the parent (with no degree). Justin would miss recesses and gym class because his homework wasn't done. He had notes coming home saying he needed to care more and make an effort in his school work. He was in trouble more and more and he was becoming more and more frustrated.

By grade five, he didn't have any friends. They had all passed him mentally, socially and emotionally. He fought me more and more about about going to school. There were days I had to physically push him out the door. During his grade five year I found a child psychiatrist that listened to what I said and was understanding. He signed Justin up for a four month program starting that next September. It was a school program that they ran out of a hospital. The classes were small (I think there was 8) and they had teachers that were trained to teacher children with learning disabilities and metal disabilities. It was great!! He was given a proper diagnosis by his doctor that worked with the kids at that school almost every day. His confidence was going way up. I couldn't even believe the amount of work HE was doing! Things were going so well, but I knew that this program would end in December and that come January, he would have to go back to "normal" school.

For the whole four months I was in meetings with teachers, principals and the school board trying to find a better program for Justin. I did not want him to be thrown into the main stream again.

Unfortunately, they told me that funding for special programing had been cut and that NO SUCH PROGRAM EXISTED and that we were just going to have to make the best of it.

After the new year, Justin went back to school. This time he had a stack of paper work from the "hospital school" explaining all his limitations and giving tips on how to work with him so he can succeed. Just a few of these things were "Don't give him home work", "He has very little reading comprehension skills so verbal instructions would be best for him", and "please provide him a reader and a scribe".
He had a little aid time but nothing else and after a week and a half I could not get him to go. He felt lost and didn't know what was going on half the time and he was beginning to be bullied. He cried every day wanting to go back to the "hospital school".
I pulled him out and for the rest of that year I (very unsuccessfully) home schooled him.

Grade seven was mostly the same. I tried again to find a better program for him only to be told again that NO SUCH PROGRAM EXISTED and that he needed to stay in his community school.
So I will spare you the LONG drawn out details of that year. Just know it was more fighting with teachers who were not willing to read the reports from the "hospital school". He was in trouble all time for not doing homework and not studying properly so "it's your own dang fault you got 12% on your science test"!
Then the school called social services on Justin because of his "acting out". But that is when everything changed!!!


The social worker came to the school and spoke to Justin and I called her later that day. After discussing many things that he disclosed to her about what was happening to him at school, she encouraged me to pull him out and she would help me find a proper program for Justin.

So in March (or April , I can't remember) I pulled him out of school yet again and spend the rest of the school year just trying to keep him busy. (Remember I had the twins then too)
I spent a lot of time on the phone with the school board and with the help of the social worker we found the PROGRAM THAT DOESN'T EXIST!! And funny enough it's in our community.

So with all frustration and anger aside, I am so unbelievably grateful that a window has finally been opened. This program is wonderful. It has just a few boys ranging from grade seven to nine. They teach the boys proper social skills, life skills and helps them gain an understanding of basic academic skills that they will need in the real world. This program is aimed at kids with high anxiety as well so they understand that a full day is a lot so it ends at 1:30.

I am sorry that this was so long, it could have been so much longer. I guess for me, I just couldn't give up on my sweet boy. He has such a good heart and he was getting so frustrated and angry that I felt like I was loosing him! I am grateful for people who invest their time in children with special needs. They have a place in this world and have so much to offer if you give them the right tools.


Janay said...

Great post Mel. I am sorry you've had to go through all this. You are an amazing mom!! So happy that you found what Justin needs! Good luck with everything!

Louise Wright said...

So glad that you never gave up looking for something for him and that someone finally listened.

Holly said...

YAY!!! I am so glad things have finally worked out and there is a great place for Justin to be able to succeed!!