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Dad Confronts Bullies

September 17, 2010 by

Here’s a man after my own heart.  He went on a school bus and confronted the kids bullying his daughter.  These were kids putting condoms on his daughter’s head!  Although he used profane and threatening language, I must admit that I admire him.

http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/39232388/ns/today-parenting/?gt1=43001

I worked so hard to control my anger towards Amy’s bullies.  I had to keep reminding myself that they were only 12 but I mostly wanted to just take a 2×4 to their heads.  We had just left Amy at the hospital after her suicide attempt.  I cried and cried and cried until I could cry no more.  The next morning I was so worried I couldn’t concentrate on anything but making them pay for what they did to her and the rest of my family.

I prayed to God for forgiveness but it wouldn’t come.  After a few hours, I finally went to the back yard and started weeding.  I’ve never done that with such fervor.  Each weed was expending more energy until I finally had nothing left.  No tears, no strength, and miraculously, no more anger.  God had finally granted me peace and forgiveness.

Although I don’t condone this father’s behavior, I can certainly understand it and, truthfully, I secretly admire him.

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And now it’s time to get the T-Shirt!  You’ve worked hard, endured things other parents never imagined and you’ve persevered through it all.  No one else close to us can imagine the strength we’ve needed to find as we help our kids back to health.  We have gone places that the angels fear to tread all for the love our our kids.  If we don’t deserve this T shirt, no parent does!

Proclaim your greatness with an official Out of the Rabbit Hole T-shirt.  Available for all of us very dedicated  Mighty Moms and Fearless Fathers at the following link http://www.zazzle.com/lydiakolman* Moms and Dads wear it loud and wear it proud!!

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After Amy’s first prolonged stay at the hospital, she was released to return to school part time.  I had no idea how to make this happen but I found that the school is required by law to provide reasonable accommodation.

I found with my daughter that the school system was ill equipped initially to do this for her. It honestly appeared to us that they had never dealt with this type of situation. They all said to us “but she’s so bright and taking honor classes, she doesn’t need any accommodation”. They seemed to believe that accommodation was only necessary for children with learning problems.   Although it’s hard to believe, I think we were the first parents of a child with emotional problems seeking accommodation.

You will need to be persistent in your attempts to get help from the schools. Talk with staff members at the school until you find someone who “gets it”. Try to find an ally at the school – we talked with teachers and guidance counselors but I was prepared to take it to the administrative level (principal, superintendent) if necessary.

I found that a firm but friendly approach with them worked best. I started each conversation with the assumption that they were an ally.  You never know how much influence the person you’re talking with has so it’s best not to alienate them in your early discussions.

I would start my conversations with “Amy is having a problem making it to class early in the morning and her doctor doesn’t feel that she should be in classes full time. Can you tell me what we can do to try to help accomodate her with this?” Key words to drop here were “doctor”, “accomodate”, and “help”.

We finally found a teacher who had studied psychology. He helped convince the other staff members that Amy’s needs were just as real as those with learning difficulties. He championed Amy’s cause so well that when we had the meeting, everyone was very helpful.

The end result of that meeting was that Amy went to school in the mornings from 9:30-12:30 and took a class online in the afternoon. She only needed this for one semester but it really made a difference in her recovery.

Over the years, the school has been willing to provide additional accommodations for her.  Things that, back in my day, never seemed acceptable.  Since Amy had no behavior problems, they were willing to let her leave class any time she felt overwhelmed.  This did not even require getting permission to leave class!  They would allow her to simply get up and leave to go to her resource teacher for a pep talk and a little break.  I’m proud to say that she has now come to a point where all she needs is to leave class to go into the hall for a few minutes to calm down.  She’s such a marvel!

Moral of the story is just ask for help and keep asking until you find the answers.  The schools can be very creative in providing help once you get them on your side.

Often times, the local mental health association or state department of education has resources to help you in this, as well.  Try contacting them with your problems to see what guidance they can provide.

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Spheres of Influence

November 11, 2009 by

I get so frustrated by Amy’s treatment sometimes. Why is it so hard to get a mental health professional to provide advice? After all, isn’t that why we take her there? During the early months of her treatment, we had so many questions and ideas but could not get advice.

After about a year, we discovered that we had to take control of the situation. We had to act as “case managers” for her treatment. I’m a manager by profession and I finally figured out that we had compartmentalized systems all affecting her. I called them the Spheres of Influence.
Amy’s Spheres were 1) her psychiatrist, 2) her therapist, 3) her school and 4) her family. All four had influence over her and her perception of reality. (If Amy weren’t depressed, there probably would have been another, 5) friends).

As Amy’s case managers, we had to make sure each Sphere was contributing to her improvement. Because I’m such a management geek, my husband and I had a brain storming session in front of an old blackboard at home to do this. We wrote each Sphere on the board and listed our thoughts on it.

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