Tuesday, November 18, 2008

When Does Parental Choice Become Neglect?

We have several students who NEED to be on medication. Badly. Not just your ordinary run of the mill ADD medication but serious drugs. The kids throw things, run away, defy all authority, refuse to learn and do their very best to ensure their peers can’t learn. They can’t control their behavior – they have severe emotional issues.

The parents can’t or won’t agree to medication. Some pay lip service to the idea and then they don’t fill the prescriptions, they let them lapse or they “forget” to administer them. They send the meds to school but don’t follow through on the weekends. The school nurse goes as far to driving to the pharmacy that accepts Medicaid to personally fill the scripts. Money can’t buy the service she provides.

One parent keeps talking about “that diet I read about on the Internet”. Only problem is, the gluten free, additive free , sugar free, diary free diets that are suggested as possible alternatives require great discipline, organization and vigilance on the part of the parents. The Texas food stamp allotment doesn’t stretch far enough to cover organic produce and hormone free beef and this is a parent who can’t manage to get their child to school on time..

Another parent wants to “home school” because the child never has any problems at home. Of course the child doesn’t – they get to do whatever they want to at home. Technically we can’t stop the parent – the home school laws in Texas are pretty loose. We try to squash the idea since the parent is a high school drop out with poor parenting skills. They are sober now, but a past substance abuse problem took a toll on their cognitive skills.

Yet another doesn’t want their child to carry the “special ed” label. She fears it will mark her for life. Once a school wants to apply it, she ups and moves and enrolls her in a new school without telling anyone about his prior problems. She knows it takes time for the records to arrive and the wheels of school administered testing grind very, very slowly. The child doesn’t have a special ed label yet, but she’s has a number of others - “holy terror”, “spoiled”, “better your class than mine” – none of them flattering.

These kids take up some 90% of their teachers, the nurse, the counselor and the Principals time, leaving the rest of the children to muddle along on their own. They keep their classrooms and the school in an uproar. Everyone walks on eggshells waiting for the next explosion. They aren’t learning and they aren’t happy – they have no friends and the other kids shun them.

So when is it parental choice and when is it neglect?


MsAbcMom said...

Everything you said is so true.

We have a new nightmare in California, RTI, Response to intervention. The premise behind RTI is that you do interventions at home and at school early on and you may be able to help kids and keep them out of SST's, IEP's etc.

The problem is that the kids you mentioned, and others like them, need SERIOUS interventions NOW! We have to wait and wait to see if our "interventions" will work before we can even meet for SST. The time line I was given is about 6 months but I have no guarantee that we will meet in 6 months! For example, I have a 2nd grader who was retained in kinder. He now has been in school for 3 years and can't read a level 1 book, the most simple, predictable level of book. He can barely write his name. Hi mother is a drug addict and is not involved with him even though he lives with her. He is such a classic example of a red flag but I am stuck "waiting to see if RTI will work for him." In the meantime he gets further behind and more difficult to handle in class.

What do we do???

Mamacita (Mamacita) said...

I almost always agree with everything you say, and this post is no exception. And, you say it so WELL! Thank you for sharing.

Vierling said...

I empathize with your frustration... it does seem that there are more and more students who are "special" these days and these extreme cases never seem to be on medication. I think it's important for us as a society to question medicating our children and to really think things through before we give them prescription medicine... However, sometimes drugs are in the best interest of the child!