Friday, March 19, 2010

Working with the School

Today I had a meeting with the school principal to set up a 504 plan. This is basically a formal way of providing federal protection for my son while working with the school to create a plan of action to help my son thrive while at school.

I was pleasantly surprised to see how easy this all was. Our school was very compassionate and made a plan on how to reduce any stress caused by his illness. For those of you curious about what we did, here is a list of some of the things they committed to:

For his performance anxiety:
No school performance required. For classroom presentations, he may present with a small group or alone to just the teacher.

For his crowd anxiety:
Allow him to sit on the outside corners of his class when in large groups, giving him some free space.

For his social anxiety:
Sit our son next to quiet, more calm students to reduce stress caused by louder, more active students.

For his rages:
Allow him to get “new homework” if he destroys his pages when in a rage, he can get a fresh page to start over once calm.

For anxiety caused by challenges:
Allow him to take a break when he shows signs of being overwhelmed or anxious.

For his physical limitations caused by medication:
Allow unlimited bathroom breaks, water breaks, and permission to remove himself from extreme temperatures since this can be dangerous with his meds.

The goal of the school is to take steps to help our son to succeed academically. They hope that by following these accommodations, we can reduce his stress caused by his illness and create a better environment to grow as well as prevent disciplinary issues that may have otherwise developed.

Now I have to admit, when my son first saw a therapist, I had purposely hidden my son’s illness from his teachers and school. I was trying to protect my son from being labeled and teased by the other students. But as his illness developed, we have not been able to hide it from his teacher. In fact, it was his teacher that emailed us recommending that our son talk to a therapist because she was seeing signs of anxiety and social fears. It was then that I knew I had to open up and work with the school as a team to help my son. They have him in their care for about 6 hours, it was only fair to my son that they are working with me.

I can say today that I am glad that I have opened up. Now don’t get me wrong, this information is still confidential, only his teacher and principal are aware of his illness, but I am happy to have opened up and now feel much more support and hope for his academic success.

4 comments:

  1. This is great news! I hope it helps!

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  2. We have been trying to get a 504 for my son for 2 years and finally are in the process. They keep telling me that there is nothing wrong because he is "maintaining". I don't want my child to maintain. I want him to work up to his potential which is way higher than maintaining! Good for you for advocating for your son. The schools need to be involved with care. Even if a kid has never had a problem, there is always that first time.

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  3. I am thrilled to read that getting a 504 was easy for you. For us, it took an attorney...and I might be the least litigious person in the world. Because my son was (academically) performing above grade level, they said he didn't need them to change anything, even though he'd been in the office 25 times so far that year for outbursts.

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    1. It is so frustrating that the schools don't see the obvious needs! I hope the 504 plan is helping now.

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