Dear Social Worker At My Son’s Preschool

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Dear Social Worker at my son’s school,

Jacob is my first-born child. I loved and cherished him as a little one in my womb while mourning the loss of his twin. I walked around for months with cankles and spent half my pregnancy with my head in a toilet. I gave birth and attempted breastfeeding. I joined mommy and me groups so I could make friends with other moms and he’d have playmates. I listened to everything I could about how to be a “good mom” and tried to do it all. I read book after book at my child’s request, cleaned up mess after mess, and changed diaper after diaper.

A few years into his young life, after I swallowed my pride, I took him to the Doctor and shared some concerns I had. When my son’s Doctor dismissed me, I pushed because I knew, I knew, something was not right. I had him tested and, with delays found in multiple areas, he was put in Early Intervention. After learning he had some difficulty processing his senses I researched everything I could on Sensory Processing Disorder. I sat through endless hours of therapies to help him catch up to his peers and then he was tested for preschool and he qualified for services in the public school district. Fast forward to the end of his second year of Preschool and today’s IEP meeting where I sat, outnumbered, in a room  listening to how worried the school staff was about my son.

This wasn’t the first meeting that I’ve endured but somehow this seemed to be the most important that I’d ever have since this was the meeting where we’d start discussing placement for Kindergarten. This is a heavy decision for any parent, including myself, because it’s the one that would probably determine the rest of his school career. I knew once he was in a track at school, be it special education or children labeled with “behavior problems” or regular education, he would most likely be in that category for years to come and I’d have to fight to change it if I ever felt like the placement needed to change. I’ve heard horror stories of parents trying to change services or add things in and I knew my journey would be a long one. I wanted to make the right choices now and it was a lot of stress knowing that I was making such a big decision in the coming months.

All the school personnel on Jacob’s team shared about their experiences with Jacob, both what he was doing well and what their concerns were. Then it was your turn. Seeing that a mother was hurting, worried, and anxious it would have been best to assure me that we would figure this out as a team and that, in the end, everything would be okay. Instead you decided to use many of your words to bring me down and attack my child.

You told me how your team couldn’t be expected to change my child’s behavior that he’d spent the past four and a half years learning {assuming, I guess, that I had not spent the past four years trying to raise him correctly}. You told me how the school personnel was ultimately the one who’d decide placement for my child and basically told me that in the end it wasn’t up to me and I could make suggestions but they wouldn’t really make much of a difference. Then, and this really, really hurt, you implied that I would do anything other than what was in my child’s best interest when all I was doing was trying to understand the different options that were available.

What hurt most of all though, and what made me meltdown once I was safely in the hallway away from you, was that you spent the majority of your time criticizing my child. You used the results of a survey his current teacher and his old teacher had taken and pointed out everything that was “wrong” with my son. Not once did you point out one of the great things about him. Not once.

But that’s probably because you don’t know him. You’ve spent, what? 15 minutes with him?

He isn’t perfect by any means and when you brought up attention problems and ADHD I believe you probably aren’t too far off. All those other things you listed? Yep, those are issues I’m aware of and we are working on.

You seemed to have missed a few things though. His smile. His belief in right vs. wrong. His willingness to help. His laugh. His ability to remember the smallest detail. His inquisitive nature. His joy for life. His love for others. His excitement. His concern for friends who aren’t on the bus or at school.

Any of these qualities you could have pointed out among the other things but you didn’t. Instead, you chose to look at a chart full of dots that represented all his “problems” and completely missed the child behind the chart.

I’m begging you, next time you are in an IEP meeting, think about the parent sitting on the other side of the table and at least one positive thing you can say about their child. Of course, to do that you may actually have to get to know the child you are talking about. They are more than just a list of behaviors, dots on a chart or a diagnosis. They are special regardless of what problems brought their parents into that meeting with you.

Signed,

Jacob’s mom

Comments

  1. Melissa R. says:

    Oh sweetie I feel and completely understand what you are going through. We knew something was wrong with our son early on but all the doctor ever said is that he has some developmental delays. He made the kindergarten cut off date by literally 4 days. So last year I was in contact with the old principal and expressed my concerns. I was told I could keep him home another year but they thought I should just send him anyway. Right from the beginning his Kindergarten teacher was mean. She said that I hadn’t been working with him and that he had never been disciplined. Uh yes I spent the last 5 years trying to teach him. For weeks she complained about how he never sat still and never paid attention and basically put the blame on me. Hmmm….yet under her care he never learned nor changed. Suddenly it was oh maybe he has a learning disability. It took till nearly the end of the second semester for them do all their testing. We all agreed to have him go in to special ed. The thing about it is that he has blossomed since he got in there. He is retaining more and is happier. He is no longer being teased by the other kids (his old teacher lied and said he wasn’t being picked on). One morning he was crying and refused to go to school. He looked up at me with his big blue eyes full of tears and said “but mommy they are going to laugh at me”. In his new class of the kids love him and are excited to see him. His kindergarten teacher never once said anything positive about him ever. Whereas his new teacher and the aides that work him having nothing but praises. Instead of focusing on what he can’t do (which is what his old teacher did) they’ve been working on what he knows and expanding on from there.

    No the school is not the one who can decide everything for you. Most states have rights act for those that are tested positive for developmental/learning disabilities. Follow your instincts. While it hurt me to have my son go into special education I knew that he was never going to catch up to his fellow classmates. In regular classrooms he would be lost among all the other children. There are only 7 other children in his classroom plus he has his own aide to assist him all day long. That has made the biggest difference. He has gotten the one on one help that he so desperately needs. Find out who is in charge above her and get in contact with them. Complain about her and explain that this is a stressful situation for a parent to go through and that her manners were unacceptable and that you worry that she wont be doing what is right for your child.

    Anyway sorry this is so long. If need someone to talk to who understands what you are going through please feel free to email me at blumblebees at yahoo dot com

  2. I have been there. But I haven’t ran into a person at an IEP meeting that treated me or my husband that way, or I would have ended up ripping them a new one in front of everyone else. My son sounds exactly like your son. He’s been in school since he was 3 years old, but the difference is, he’s had the right teachers who have taught him how to behave, how to sit still, that there are consequences to his actions, and more.

    They even brought in a behaviorist to work with my son and to teach him how to behave and calm himself down, all paid for through the school district.

    We also through to seek out therapy for our son at a private facility that our insurance would have covered, but I decided not to send him there and keep working with him at home and see what the public schools here in TN could do for him.

    I am so, so sorry that your going through this. I am sorry that she treated you that way. I would honestly, request a private meeting with her and let her see what you typed above. Ask for her help in how you can work with your son more. Ask around and see where you can take him for some more therapy to help him learn how to act and be, what everyone else considers normal.

    I am learning that NO child is normal. Not even my daughter who is 3 1/2. Honestly, you would think that she has some sensory issues, but hers aren’t as noticeable as my son’s are. She too, is getting help with speech.

  3. Daily Woman (Lacey) says:

    Oh my goodness, this seems like I am reading my exact experience with our public school. One of the reasons that caused me to decide to homeschool my kids. I don’t think the teachers, principal, and social workers think about the parents sitting there while they are having these meetings.

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  1. Dear Social Worker At My Son’s Preschool…

    Dear Social Worker at my son’s school, Jacob is my first-born child. I loved and cherished him…

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