Ever since BG was diagnosed as being on the spectrum, I’ve done so much reading. Part of that reading includes joining message boards on Facebook and checking out other parents’ experiences with their kids. I’ve seen so many comments about the hell parents dealt with to get accommodations and services for their kids. I felt relieved since we worked with the school in the past to get a 504 Plan for my son, and even though it took longer than I would’ve liked, it wasn’t an awful experience by any means.
And then today happened.
We requested a meeting to discuss a 504 Plan and speech services. LM had speech services at his teacher’s request when he was in second grade (before his 504 Plan was implemented), and I figured it’d be pretty easy to get them for the girl, too, especially since her speech issues are more severe. (I didn’t even realize LM wasn’t pronouncing his S’s right until the teacher told me.)
We expected to meet with the assistant principal (who also helps coordinate student services), the guidance counselor, BG’s teacher, and the school psychologist.
The school principal, a lady who coordinates speech therapy through the district, the school resource teacher, and the lead psychologist for the school district came as well. The school psychologist, who we absolutely loved with LM, wasn’t there. Things got off to a rough start with the lead psychologist (who we’ll call Asshole) asked why we were meeting. I was thinking, dude, there are like nine people in this room and you have no idea why we’re here?
I told him we were there to discuss accommodations for Norah’s ADHD and autism, plus talk about what speech services the school can provide.
“And where are you even getting this stuff?” Asshole asked condescendingly. “Where are you pulling that diagnosis from?”
My husband reminded him that we sent a copy of the report over weeks ago (and frankly, even if it didn’t make it to his desk, he should’ve come into the meeting with an idea of what’s going on). I brought in some extra copies I printed off and slid one over to him. Asshole made a face as if I placed a turd in front of him.
“I don’t want words on paper,” he snapped. “Where are you getting this stuff?”
“We aren’t just getting it from anywhere,” I said. “Following years of behavioral issues and developmental delays, we took BG to a child psychologist, who did a full work-up. Over the course of about a month’s worth of appointments, he did extensive testing and diagnosed BG with Asperger’s, or high functioning autism, and ADHD. He also noted that she has a language delay, sensory processing disorder, and motor skill coordination disorder. All of that is on the report from the psychologist.”
Asshole glanced at it and said, “Well, she might have a clinical diagnosis, but that doesn’t mean anything in a school setting, so I don’t know where you’re pulling this from.”
The speech lady spoke up and suggested we discuss her speech issues. So we did, and she said that BG likely wouldn’t qualify for speech services right now. They prefer to wait until they’re eight to start for the main sounds BG has trouble with. She did say that she would talk with her teacher on reminding BG how to form those sounds. The resource lady asked a lot of questions about her sensory processing and motor skills issues and said she could definitely work with her on that. She said she’d like to get an FM system for BG, too, and that it could deliver the teacher’s voice directly to Norah through headphones and that way she wouldn’t have to deal with so much background noise.
“She has to have an IEP and be a special ed student to go to the resource room,” Asshole interjected. “And I don’t know if we’re going to even evaluate her for an IEP. Maybe we’ll consider a 504 Plan.”
“We didn’t ask for an IEP meeting,” my husband answered. “We wanted her to get a 504 Plan to discuss classroom accommodations and speech.” I added that her teacher was already making the accommodations we wanted, but that it needed to be put in writing to follow her to other classes/grades. The lady over speech services said that she’d have to get an IEP to get formal speech therapy services, and we asked why LM got them without a 504 plan, and she said the speech services LM received were separate from that.
The resource lady asked if BG’s hearing had been tested and said some of the students she’s had before had speech issues because of hearing loss. I told her she was diagnosed with a mild higher frequency loss, but that her audiologist wanted to have her retested after she gets her tonsils out. She asked if there was a history of loss in the family, and I told her about my hearing loss.
I shit you not — Asshole chuckled. “WHAAAAAT?” he said in a loud, slow mocking voice. I’ve heard that mocking voice — the one indicated deaf/hard of hearing people are stupid — far too many times. If looks could kill. No one said anything for a bit until the assistant principal asked BG’s teacher how she did during the fire alarm yesterday, shifting gears back to the sensory processing stuff.
“Fine, no problems,” she said.
“Well, how’d she seem when you picked her up?” Asshole asked me.
“She was fine when I picked her up,” I said.
“I don’t see how there’s a problem with all of this then,” Asshole said.
“Oh wait!” BG’s teacher said. “I’m sorry, but I was wrong. She wasn’t there for the drill. She had already left for her therapy appointments when we did the drill. But I’ll make sure to give her a head’s up so she can put on her headphones next time.”
Asshole shrugged it off. The resource lady asked about meltdowns at home, and we discussed those for a while, with Asshole chiming in saying that these meltdowns are normal for kids in elementary school. Resource lady and the guidance counselor told him that while kids might have tantrums at home after school, that it wasn’t normal for a kid to have multiple meltdowns that get as extreme as hurting others and themselves. More shrugging off. He gave zero fucks.
The meeting lasted an hour. We were so pissed off by the time it was over. Again and again, Asshole made snarky comment after snarky comment. I can’t remember the last time I was around anyone who was so rude and condescending. I could tell he pissed off some of the other people at the table, too, because he was equally dismissive of their concerns or suggestions for helping BG. He also said it’d be easier if she’d just continue with her private therapies. I should’ve asked why he thought a kid with no problems needed private therapies, but I didn’t.
When it was wrapping up, the resource lady asked if she could keep a copy of BG’s evaluation. If she’s anything like the resource lady that I worked with years ago, she’ll probably try to help out BG whether she has an IEP or not. (The resource lady at my old school was an absolute saint and would include the kids whose parents would allow testing since she knew they needed help anyway.) The guidance counselor also asked for a copy.
“You can have this,” Asshole said and tossed it to the other end of the table. “I don’t need it.”
Perfect way to wrap things up.
I don’t get how someone who has never met my child, never heard the first teacher’s report about her, who wouldn’t even look at a psychological evaluation that’s sitting in front of him could just make up his mind and act like that. The lack of professionalism blew my mind.
After we left and discussed how horribly it went with that guy, my husband said he was going to talk to the principal and tell him that under no circumstance should that psychologist have anything to do with evaluating BG. Ultimately, all she needs is a 504 Plan with some accommodations in place, since we can continue taking her to therapies. And I know for a fact that we don’t need Asshole to initiate that. It’d be nice if those therapies were supplemented so she can make progress more quickly, but I’d rather keep things the way they are than have that douche anywhere near her.
On a positive note, I texted BG’s speech therapist yesterday morning about the tonsillectomy and said she’d miss next week. After her appointment yesterday afternoon, she told me she looked at her tonsils and was shocked at how large they are. She said that she’s had some patients in the past who had tonsillectomies that made incredible progress afterwards. She said when the tonsils are so large, it can push the tongue forward and cause speech issues. She said it’s not a guarantee that it’ll help with that too, but to keep our fingers crossed.
It’s amazing how much removing those tonsils could help. It will theoretically make the sleep apnea go away, which means she’ll get a more restful sleep. One of her doctors said that sleep apnea can cause ADHD like symptoms, so maybe those symptoms will improve. I’m sure that being more well rested would reduce her crankiness. And removing them might be able to help with her speech issues. It won’t help much as far as some of the other issues go, but that is still a lot. ❤