Monday, February 4, 2013

It has been just over a year since I posted anything and it's probably appropriate that I bring my blog up to date just a bit...

The year has been very busy.  Due to many circumstances out of anyone's control, we managed to make it through the last school year and brought Brendan home to Katy the day after school was out in May.  It wasn't ideal and none of us were (or are) very happy with the decision to put him back into Katy ISD but we really were left with that as our only choice.

Summer started out wonderful for the family.  We had an Ezell family (my side of the family) reunion at our house.  We were sad that Karla, Lyle, Laura, Rebecca, Tim and Margaret couldn't come, but it was great fun to spend several days with Allen, LaRona, 'Rena, Allyn, Dori, Gary, Garrett, Elizabeth and Elena....and of course Grammy and Papa!!  We swam, cooked out, went to SeaWorld and talked and laughed until our sides hurt!  It was just great to be with family.

I was dreading the end of summer and school starting back up and my "dreads" were realized!  I had contacted the school back in June to let them know that Brendan would be coming back and to offer to bring them his paperwork from the school in Alma.  See, Alma had worked VERY hard to get a game plan in place to assist Brendan and he seemed to be thriving in their Special Education department.  When a child already has an IEP (Individual Education Plan) in place, by law the new school has to accommodate the child at the same level.  Seems easy enough, right?  WRONG!!!  We were first told that he would not be allowed to enroll in school until August 15th.  So I enrolled him on August 15 and plunked down the huge file of documentation on what his needs were.

Lawlis Peavey had provided us with a firm diagnosis back in January (can't remember if I wrote that earlier) of PDD (Pervasive Development Disorder) on the Autism Spectrum.  This was an extremely difficult thing to swallow...which is one reason I haven't written much.  Please realize here that this diagnosis drained our bank accounts and took a team of like...17 or so doctors to compile!  And they took over 120 days to get all the data in, analyze it and burp up the diagnosis.  We have had three doctors now confirm that Brendan does NOT have ADHD.  Keep that in mind.

Shortly after school started, we had the required ARD (Admission, Review and Dismissal) meeting to put into place a temporary IEP until the school district had time to do their own tests and make their own recommendations.  By law they have 30 days to do this.  I can't remember the exact date but the 30th day would have been a Monday.  On Thursday, I felt very uneasy about the situation.  My dear friend Sandie had been telling me for a year now that I NEEDED a child advocate and after calling her for a chat, I decided now was the time.  I called the woman she recommended, Robin Rettie from Lighthouse Learning.  I had to leave a message and after about 36 hours I had heard nothing.

In the meantime, the school assigned psychologist had met with Randy and I for couple of hours on Tuesday.  He also pulled Brendan out of school for an unknown amount of time on Wednesday.  Dr. Crawford called us on Thursday night to go over his report.  He was absolutely refusing to accept ANY of the diagnosis OR recommendations from Lawlis Peavey!  He said he believed that Brendan was severely ADHD and that was his only diagnosis.  He felt that with appropriate "pharmaceutical intervention" Brendan would be fine.  AAARRRRGGGGHHH!!!!  We were furious!

Robin Rettie called me back just in time and I called the school to let them know we would have a child advocate at our ARD meeting.  Robin wasn't available that day but told us exactly what to do and we had a friend that had done this type of thing before that could sit in on the meeting in her stead.  I guess they weren't too thrilled with this turn of events because about an hour before the meeting was to start, we got a call that went something like this:
SCHOOL: Mrs. Hays?  This is McMeans Junior High calling.  You have an ARD meeting scheduled this morning and I'm afraid we will need to cancel it and reschedule.  Our district diagnostician is out ill today.
ME:  Okay, my child advocate can be available on the 23rd to attend that meeting. (It was like the 9th)
SCHOOL: Oh!  That won't be acceptable at all!  We only have 30 days to get this meeting taken care of and Monday is the 30th day.
ME:  That, ma'am is not my problem.  I have a child advocate scheduled to attend a meeting TODAY.  She is not available until the 23rd.  Forgive me, but I am not the one attempting to reschedule the meeting, YOU are. (See, this is one of my "things"...A lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part!)
SCHOOL:  But we can't have a meeting without a diagnostician...
ME:  Again not my problem.  I am available to come at the time I agreed to.  I cannot come at the time you wish to reschedule. (Figure something out, Lady!)
SCHOOL:  (reluctantly) Well...I guess I can call the district office and see if they can send a substitute diagnostician out...
ME:  Okay, that will be fine.  Please let us know as soon as you have that arranged.
Please note:  I didn't raise my voice the entire time!  I was proud of me!  I stayed calm and cool - at least on the outside!

We finally arrived at the school and the meeting started.  It started very late but it happened!  OUR goal was to get the stupid thing postponed until Robin could attend.  When the meeting started out with Dr. Crawford giving his ADHD report, the perfect time was upon us!  In an ARD meeting when someone gives a report, the ARD committee must agree to the report before the meeting can continue.  When they asked Randy and I if we agreed, the room became a vacuum when we stated that we did NOT agree!  The lady running the meeting explained very patiently to us that "the meeting cannot go on if you don't agree".  Okay.  We are cool with that!  We can reconvene on the 23rd!

We did spend a bit more time in that room.  The Assistant Principal has been incredible and he wanted to see if we could figure out some strategies to help Brendan in the meantime...

To Be Continued...