Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Mommy Senses!!

As soon as my daughter turned 3 she asked us to put her in school. She literally begged until I gave in and began to look for a school that would accept her.  I looked up daycares in the area, but most were full and the waiting list were years long.  Not to mention the tuition or fees you had to pay.  It was a lot cheaper to keep her with the babysitter.  Which I didn't mind because my sitter is AWESOME!!!!! But, she really wanted to go to school.  I finally decided to call St Jerome's School.  (Everyone in my family with the exception of me attended it.  My grandfather, my mom, sisters, brother and my niece.)  I explained my situation to lovely, beautiful and intelligent administrative assistant on staff at the time.  She asked me a few questions.  Was she potty trained, did I think she was ready?) She was potty trained, and I felt she was ready.  So they had me bring her in for a meeting and to asses if they agreed.

After the meeting they all agreed that she was indeed ready to be in a classroom.  So they accepted her with the exception that she would attend pre-k twice due to her age.  I accepted and we enrolled her for Pre-K.  That September I took her to her first day of school.  She didn't even cry when it was time to separate from the parents and go inside.  Nope, not my little girl.  She was a trooper.  In fact she looked at the other children puzzled as to why they were crying and holding onto the moms' and dads'.  She adjusted well, made friends.  A couple of months into the fall semester, Devynn began to complain she didn't like school she didn't want to go.  Mornings were difficult getting her and dressed to leave for school.  I couldn't understand what was going on.  I thought maybe she was tired.    When it came time for parent/teachers conference, the teacher told me that she was doing well, but that she doesn't really make Devynn, do a lot because she is young and will be repeating again next year.  She told me about Devynn complaining she was tired, or that her head hurt.  So she would let her put her down or take a nap.  She also mentioned that waking her up was one of the most difficult things to do.  She would still protest in the mornings.  I found this odd, because what kid didn't want to color, and play with friends.  The year went quickly and Devynn was excited to get back to school to see her friends, after the break.

We did the same thing the following September, and again she went in like a champ. But this time she did look back for longer and didn't look as gun ho, like the year before.  We went through the motions, mornings were always difficult.  She didn't want to get up, and she didn't want to go to school.  This continued the rest of the year.  Finally we had her moving up ceremony and she was on her way to kindergarten.  Woo hoo!!!!

Again, parents know the ritual no school July to September.  So here came September and the start of kindergarten.  Now she had to wear a uniform.  And she was sooo excited about getting to wear a dress (uniform romper) vs. sweats.  (Yeah, she is a bit of a diva.)  Things seemed to be going well, homework time was decent and painless.    But, I kept getting general notices in her backpack saying that parents should work on letter sounds and sight words.  AND WE DID!!!! Devynn never really seemed to retain any of it and this worried me.  More so she showed no interest either.  As the year went by, and I met with the teacher.  She said that Devynn was doing well and that we needed to continue working on the letter sounds etc.  BUT!!! Those Mommy senses where taking over my body and I KNEW something wasn't right.  I asked to meet with the teacher and I expressed my concerns and I requested that Devynn be evaluated.  She didn't think it was necessary.  I met with the principal, the guidance counselor and her teacher.  We discussed Devynn hating school, not being interested in her work and decided that maybe she should meet with the Guidance Counselor one on one.  They thought maybe Devynn was seeking attention and may need some sort of therapy.  But the Counselor thought Devynn was okay.  So I insisted that she be evaluated and they sent in the request. 

I was contacted by the board of education and a date was set for her evaluation.  We met with a social worker and then a psychologist pulled Devynn from the meeting to work with her.  After the meeting was over, my husband and I sat outside in the waiting area for Devynn to finish.  The social worker brought her out and discussed the session. She said that Devynn was very bright and that she was even doing first grade work.  She suggested that maybe it was the school that she wasn't happy with. 

I put a lot of thought into this.  Here I am paying for her to attend a catholic school and she is retaining or learning anything.  The class was overcrowded and I Devynn wasn't getting any special attention.  It was clear that she wouldn't be attending catholic school the following September.  That June I started the process of transferring her out of catholic into the public school up the block from us.  We were all excited, especially Devynn.  She got new school clothes and supplies!!!! These were the highlight of her going to a new school!!!! At the orientation, I sat in the auditorium and I listened to what they had to offer.  At the end of the lecture part I introduced myself to the principal and began to quiz her about extended day and services.  I mentioned that I was concerned about Devynn and her reading and she assured me that if there was anything wrong they would assess it and get her help she needed. 

The first week or so the teacher met with each student and assessed what levels they were at. And my Devynn was way behind.  I continued to work hard with Devynn and became very familiar with her teacher.  At one of the parent teacher meetings I let her know that I was concerned that Devynn may have a learning disability.  She assured me that she thought Devynn was okay, but that she would keep a close eye on her.  She had promotion in doubt for most of the year, but some how managed to pull it through and make it to second grade. 

And it began Second grade.  Devynn was assessed and she had dropped two reading levels.  She went from being a level I/J  back to an E/F.  Homework was torture this year.  Not just for her but for me.  I couldn't understand why she wasn't retaining the work.  I began to think she was just lazy, and got angry.  I mean EVERYONE thought she was FINE!!!! up until now.  I wrote to her teacher and told her that I thought Devynn had a learning disability.  She responded by saying.  I understand and I will support you in your decisions!!!  Just like that I felt like the skies had opened up and the Angels were singing!!!! I proceeded to get Devynn assessed.

The psychologist met with her and the set up the IEP meeting to discuss the assessment.  At first I had to admit.  The Autism Mom in me was ready for it!  I had my game face on and asking questions, like How come I haven't received a copy of the report.  Why don't know what was the outcome of her assessment.  and the meeting began and Devynn's teacher was missing. Ugh!!! They called her and apparently she was never notified of the IEP meeting.  This was the most awkward and non productive IEP meeting I have ever had.  The psychologist talked in a very monotone voice and I began to drift off.  Until I saw that Devynn's teacher was talking now.  and She Said " Devynn is the hardest working student in my classroom.  She does all her homework, comes into class and starts her work immediately.  I child that works as hard as she does, she be way more advanced than she is"  YES!!!! I loved this woman and she didn't even know it!!!! The meeting continued and it was my time to speak. I expressed Devynn's situation and how I believed that she may have a learning disability.  I went on to tell them all my reasons why.  The psychologist then proceeded to discuss his evaluation and assessment.  As I listened, I wanted to push a button and hit fast forward.  I needed to know!  And there it was............. "I believe Devynn has dyslexia"  I let out the biggest exhale.  My fears and concerns were true.  I was right.  My princess had a learning disability, and there was the guilt!!! I felt so horrible and happy at the same time.  Horrible that I got angry and thought she was being lazy and happy that now I knew what was wrong and we could start working on getting her help. 

I can go on and tell you all about the HOT MESS of an IEP meeting it was, but instead.  I will leave you with this!!! Always go with you Gut!  If something doesn't sit well or just doesn't seem okay.  Get your child assessed.  Just like I learned with my Donomite and the whole process of getting him diagnosed.  We have to advocate for our children.  With or without disabilities.  We need to be involved and join forces with the teachers.  They aren't against us.  in fact she was happy that I spoke up and got devynn assessed.  She said the school listens more to a concerned parent than a concerned teacher.  Sucks, but it is what it is and it takes a village to raise a child! 

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