In Part Four of this series, I ended with Kim, the mother of an emotionally disturbed child, predicting that her daughter’s new teacher, initially all sunshine and smiles and optimism, would soon realize how truly disturbed Kim’s charming 7-year-old daughter really was. Kim predicted the teacher’s epiphany would take a week, but first Kim had to tolerate this all-too familiar scenario:
With (the teacher) on the floor, Holly is happy. Everything about her, her smile, her eyes, her bushy hair, her energy, seems exaggerated, electric.
“You know, Holly,” the teacher says, “if you read books, you can go anywhere you want.”
Kim holds her tongue.advertisement
“(The teacher) is in denial,” she’d say later. “They think if they give them TLC and love in the classroom, it will be OK. This is a mental-health issue.”
Most of you reading this blog can relate to Kim’s perspective. We have all dealt with school districts that can’t or won’t believe our children are as disturbed as they are, but instead are more than willing to label us as “too tough” or the ones who have the issues. (We DO have issues, but not the ones they think!) I can remember (as if it were yesterday) how my school district (the same school which Beth attends now) was so convinced that Tommy was being abused and mistreated in my home, they went completely off the deep end “compensating” at school. This included spelling the words for him on his spelling test (so he didn’t destroy the class’s opportunity to have a popcorn party if they all got the words right…)
No doubt my fellow blogger, Julie, will appreciate the following excerpt from this article:
“The typical kid in special ed has been known to be emotionally disturbed for years,” he said, “maybe five or six years. Most are not caught early. Schools are loath to identify mental illness. Part of it is cost. Serving four to five times the number of kids we serve now means you would have to spend four to five times more money, and hire four to five times as many special ed teachers.” That’s money most cash-strapped school districts can ill afford. Nor are they kids schools want, experts say.
“It’s not like we have people standing in line to have these kids in their classrooms,” said Rich Simpson, a researcher and professor of special education at the University of Kansas. “These are kids who spit and kick and cuss. They are the most neglected and the most poorly looked-after in the school system. They have the fewest advocates.”
Obviously, LuLu, Julie’s daughter, has one tough Mama Bear advocate, but most kids are not nearly so lucky.
Kim was wrong in her prediction. It took two weeks before Holly, already diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and Reactive Attachment Disorder, was in a special class.