My Letter to my Sons’ School Re: the Frequent Bullying that is ongoing at my Childs’ School….Both from Teachers and the students….

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 To the Principal:

 

 Christian has had a really rough school year this year.  There has been such severe bullying from his classmates that we are concerned about his psychological and physical safety.  We had to file an official bullying report through the district, as one particular child would not stop physically assaulting and humiliating our child.  While the physical bullying has ceased, the emotional and verbal attacks continue, as the kids will call him “Retard,” and will make fun of his disabilities.  Christian is diagnosed with high-functioning autism and AD/HD and is currently being treated with extensive ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis), Mental Health Counseling (specifically because of the bullying) Occupational Therapy, and Social Skills groups.
We first alerted his teachers of his disabilities via email on October 4, 2013.  In that email I asked his teachers if they could accommodate him in class by allowing him to type his assignments (he has difficulty with fine motor skills), allowing him to take a “photo” of any assignments written on the board (so he would not have to write those assignments down) and if he could digitally record any lectures so that he could take notes on those lectures at a later time.  The majority of his teachers were open to these accommodations and willing to help him in any way they could.  The only teacher who had a problem with this was Mrs. G-, who refused to allow Christian to tape-record any portions of her class.   At that point (early in October) Christian told us that “Mrs. G- yells and is always angry in our class.  That’s probably why she doesn’t want anyone recording her.”
As months have gone by, Christian’s grades began to drop, particularly in Science.  This is VERY odd, because Christian is very logic-based.  Science and Math have ALWAYS been his favorite, and strongest, subjects.  Around December, Christian started giving us a hard time, every time he had to go to school on the days when he had science.  When we finally got an answer from him as to why he didn’t want to go to school, he informed us that “Mrs. G- hates me.  She is always irritated with me and she says mean things to me.  She is always yelling at me and embarrasses me in front of the class.”  
After Christmas break, Christian did not want to return to school at all.  “The kids are mean to me, and Mrs. G- is mean, too.”  When we tried to ask for specific details, he would lock up, as many children with Autism do.  We never had any real specifics, except for the fact that Christian would say, “She is always angry at me and yelling at me and the class.  She thinks I am annoying.”
On March 11, 2014, we had a parent-teacher conference with all of his teachers.  In that meeting, we shared his diagnostic information as well as strengths and weaknesses with his teachers, and Mrs. G- was present.  At that meeting, in front of all the other teachers, we informed Mrs. G- that Christian felt that she “hated him” and that Christian was telling us that she was mean to him.  We told her that Christian is afraid of her and does not want to make her angry, but that he states that no matter what she does she is always angry at him.  He feels like he cannot do anything right and she is always annoyed with him.  We wanted her to know how Christian was feeling, so that maybe she could be mindful of the way that she talks to/around him.  Her response was one of (somewhat obviously feigned) shock and surprise.  She stated she had no idea why Christian would feel that way, and that she thought that she and Christian “friends.”
Over the past few weeks, Christian has not felt like the situation in Mrs. G- classroom has improved.  If anything, the situation has worsened, and Christian is afraid to go to her class.  He wakes up in the morning and it’s a big challenge to get him to school simply because he is stressed because “not only are the kids mean to me, but Mrs. G- is mean to me as well.”
Then yesterday, April 14, just a little over a month since our meeting with Mrs. G- and the other teachers, Christian came home from school very upset.  Apparently, due to their standardized testing schedule, the school schedule had changed, and he had Science class at a time with which he was unfamiliar.  Because of the weird schedule, he had forgotten his science book.  At which point Mrs. G- said “I ought to smack that boy [referring to Christian] across the face.”  Christian was so distraught over this that he wrote it down on his report card, because he wanted to make sure we knew what happened.  His classmate, NIcky, who sits beside him in class, overheard her statement.
Our son is very literal, and very logical.  He feels as though Mrs. G- hates him.  He does not want to go to school at all during FCAT week because he knows he will have to see her every day because she is his homeroom teacher.  He is afraid of retribution from Mrs. G- for reporting this, and we are concerned about this as well.
Christian has suffered significant psychological trauma this school year, such that he has nightmares and the child who (last year) loved to go to school now dreads every single day.  He is showing significant clinically measurable signs of depression and anxiety, which lay well outside the “average” bracket of stress associated with transitioning to middle school.  As a result, his autism symptoms are extremely exasperated, which, in turn makes him appear to the average or neurotypical student as “weird,” or “retarded.”  Then, as the students around him do not understand what is happening, they tease him, or ignore him, or ice him out of groups, which increases his depression and social anxiety, creating a cycle that has continued to worsen and worsen throughout the school year.
It is imperative that Christian be protected from bullying — both from his peers and most especially from his teachers.  Christian lacks the social awareness and understanding that many neuro-typical children have.  He has a deeply emotional heart, and he takes everything literally, and feels the hurt deeply.  When a child calls him “Retard,” or pushes him to the ground in front of a moving bus, or the children “ice” him out, ignoring him because he is different, or a teacher states she wants to smack him: whenever this occurs, this damages him deeply, and his only way of coping with that pain is to hide himself in his Autism.  EVERY DAY THIS SCHOOL YEAR I HAVE WATCHED A LITTLE MORE OF MY CHILD DISAPPEAR.  The stress associated with this school year has been so devastating that Christian is currently receiving 2 hours of counseling every week SPECIFICALLY to help him deal with the psychological and emotional trauma he has had to endure over the past 8 months.  Even with that counseling (which he has been receiving weekly since October) we are still VERY concerned about the levels of his depression and anxiety.  Going forward we also feel that implementation of an IEP for Christian would help ensure Christian’s safety – both from the students and from the teachers.
As parents of a disabled child, we are extraordinarily frustrated and we are afraid. Despite the fact that we try to be very involved, we still feel that our child is both unsafe and unprotected while he is at school, to the point where we have considered pulling him out of school and homeschooling him, just to keep him safe.  However, we want Christian to have to socialization that comes with attending school, so we are trying to hang in there, but we are extremely concerned about his physiological and psychological safety.  We are also worried about retribution from Mrs. G- in the meantime.
Thank you for your time and for your help.  I hope this can be resolved quickly.
Sincerely,
Christian’s Parents

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4 responses to “My Letter to my Sons’ School Re: the Frequent Bullying that is ongoing at my Childs’ School….Both from Teachers and the students….

  1. Oh my, I can relate to so much of what you have written here. I am going to go searching a bit on your blog site, but was there a response from the school? I don’t know what state you are in, but doesn’t the fact that you have an actual diagnosis for Christian allow for him to have an IEP? We are in California and as soon as we got the diagnosis for my daughter, we went from a 504 plan to an IEP. I wish you luck. Middle school years are hard enough on neurotypical kids, let alone those of ours that have Aspergers/Autism.

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    • Hi! We have an “MRT (Multi-disciplinary meeting)” May 19. I went ahead and hired an advocate, because the school made it very clear that they were not going to put him on an IEP. They feel that since his grades are C or better, he does not meet their standards for an IEP, despite what he has been diagnosed with. They stated that they “didn’t see” the signs and symptoms that are very apparent, yet they always placate me and tell me that he reminds them of a combination of the RainMan and the child on the TV show “Touched.” (Seriously??? Yes. They seriously did…)

      Florida is notorious for being a bad state for having an ASD child in, and if that child is verbal and higher functioning it is almost impossible in this county to get the school board to do anything for your child. Ironically, the accommodations I am requesting are things that would not cost the school a penny, yet everything is a battle.

      Hiring an advocate was the best decision I’ve ever made. Suddenly they are now following a bunch of rules that I didn’t know even existed! They went from refusing to evaluate him, to evaluating him, as well as they are currently writing up a “Child Bullying Safety Plan,” to implement to help protect him from being visciously bullied. It has been SUCH a challenge this school year: so much so that I am **this close** to just keeping him home and home schooling him.

      May 19 is a big day on our calendar. It’s also the LAST MRT meeting they are doing this school year. So, if we go to that meeting and they say “We evaluated him and determined he does not meet our criteria to receive any services” then we can appeal it, but the next meeting won’t be until SEPTEMBER. I’ve been fighting with these people for ten MONTHS.

      It turns out that his testing scores are off-the-charts academically (which is true for a lot of Aspies). However, once they put him on an IEP, his super high annual FCAT scores (which rate the school based on academics, and in this state, determine the amount of funding that will go to the school) no longer COUNTS. So the real issue is they don’t want to lose his “All 5′ FCAT scores (5 is the highest rating you can get on the FCAT). Not very many students are able to get “all 5’s” so the school needs as many as they can get. I think that, combined with overall budget issues, and the fact this is a huge bureaucracy, is the issue at hand.

      I will need a lot of peoples’ positive thoughts and positive vibes on May 19: if they say what I’m afraid they are going to say (“sorry he doesn’t qualify”) I might just throw a table Hulk-style (sarcasm denoted here). Sigh!

      You stated you could relate. Are you experiencing a similar challenge? It sounds like California automatically recognizes a privately done evaluation… I wish Florida would do that!

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  2. Oh wow. I can’t believe all that you are dealing with.
    My daughter is an aspie too, so I relate to you in so many ways with your son. She has been on a 504 plan since 1st grade because she also has ADHD. When we got the actual ‘Asperger’ diagnosis from the developmental pediatrician, I immediately let the school know and the asked for her to be formally tested. She was then put on an IEP (in 4th grade). The school, for the most part, has been great for us and her services.
    As far as bullying, she thinks everyone is her friend and doesn’t ‘get’ that she is ‘iced’ out (LOVE that expression-had never seen it termed that way). So, as far as behavior problems or issues along those lines, we haven’t had to deal with them…..yet. She is a very happy go lucky kid and isn’t phased by others not wanting her to play or do things with her. Like I said, that could change as she gets older, I don’t know. (She is in 7th grade now).
    I wish you the best. We are a military (retired) family as well and I know some great resources too, if you are interested. I will definitely keep up with your struggles and I pray that May 19th will mark the start of a new and happier beginning for you all. I have thought of homeschooling my kids too, but for reasons other than you mentioned. This common core crap is killing us. Haha

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    • We just started common core over here and it is HORRIBLE! What on EARTH are they THINKING? I think everyone hates the common core standards!

      I am so glad that your kiddo feels like everyone is her friend. Christian used to be like that, but this schoolyear has been horrible on him. It’s like he is actually traumatized — he has nightmares and everything. Just getting him to school is almost impossible because he is afraid of what will happen that day. Where he used to think that everyone generally liked him, now he is suspicious of everyone and doubts everything that people say (he will say things like people don’t mean what they say, their actions are different than their words, ect). This has been such a hard year for him :(. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone!

      I am always looking for good resources (for myself and other people too!). Any resources you share I would love to pass along. 🙂 Thank you for your service! 🙂 I am a veteran and my hubby is active duty navy. 🙂

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