As you can imagine, I ended up in the principal’s office expressing my frustrations when he stopped me to ask, “Do you think he’s depressed, or do you have an actual diagnosis?” I was stumped by this questioning since we provided a psychiatrist’s note listing his mood disorder symptoms at the beginning of school. I quickly responded by exposing his current diagnosis of Bipolar NOS and shared details of the symptoms he faces day to day. The principal seemed shocked and even waved his hand towards me and said, “Wow, but you all look so... normal.” Not knowing how to respond I said, “Well, yeah...” (trying to imagine what he thought a family like mine would look like). I then proceeded to explain why triggers such as bullying are so detrimental to my son’s stability. From there he softened and said, “I honestly can’t imagine what you’re going through as a parent.” He then encouraged me to share these details about my son’s symptoms in a meeting so that the other teachers would be more understanding of his challenges in school.
So that’s exactly what I plan to do! I’ve decided to start the meeting by presenting a brochure called, Educating the Child with Bipolar Disorder that The Balanced Mind Foundation provides online. I will outline what bipolar disorder is and how it affects his day to day life and ability to learn. I hope to educate these educators about my child so that we can come together and work as a team.
When we established his 504 plan we avoided the label “Bipolar Disorder” to lessen any stigma he might face. But now we’re moving full steam ahead and are going to use his current diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder NOS. At this point we have to take this step with hopes of making things better. If not, we’ll move on to plan B, maybe a new school.
Tonight I’m frustrated, angry at the non-compliant teacher and overwhelmed with the amount of information a parent has to process, investigate and prepare in order to preserve our child’s rights for a fair and appropriate education.
Why must it be this hard?