Friday, December 17, 2010

High School Brought Out the Crazy

Wow, it's been almost eight months since my last post! As I read the last couple of entries it seems like those few months were a lifetime ago! It's amazing how quickly and drastically things change.

I didn't intentionally quit writing. I blew up another computer, then one day lead to another, then things just kept happening and I never could quite get back to it. My "Rocks" are probably going to be happy to see that I am writing again... remember?.... it's therapeutic, so now, maybe, I will leave them alone! My family has had a rough few months, so my Rocks have been busy.

As I looked back, so many of my posts have been about Alex's success at school. Middle School was very good to us. We miss Mrs. Teacher terribly. But, as it does each year, school ended, and this fall Alex and Twin Sis started high school. Uuuggggg.....For those of you with kids, high school is a big transition. For those of you that have a child with special needs, the word transition doesn't even come close!

Alex started off his school year so overwrought with anxiety that our lives were miserable. His days were even worse. New teachers, paras, a new school.. all of our favorite things!! Alex was so terrified that he wouldn't be able to control his anxiety that he became withdrawn.

Alex was rocking constantly, 24/7, not just at the times that should be high stress times for him, but all the time. He was rocking so violently that he broke the springs in the sofa. He wouldn't even eat dinner with us, he would wait until we were all done and then go to the table and eat by himself. Alex never wanted to leave the house. It broke Dad's and mine hearts. Even Twin Sis didn't know how to help him, and she ALWAYS KNOWS.

Alex wore himself out every day at school trying so hard to keep himself together. He got to the point where he would come home from school and want to go to bed. He was trying to keep himself in control at school, he was just killing himself while doing so. You see, when Alex loses control, he lashes out and pokes the face of whoever it is that's in "his space." Alex made it through the first five days of school!! Yeah!! But then it happened, just like always, EXCEPT....

We have a new principal, and well, let's just say it was UGLY!!! On the sixth day of school Principal Man informed Dad and I that Alex was suspended for ten days, Out of School! Alex had lashed out at his para. Principal Man chose to believe that Alex assaulted a staff member. Ummm... Nothing about Alex is aggressive! This behavior, by the way, is documented in Alex's IEP no less than 600 times! This is anxiety, this is Fragile X, this is ALEX!

Don't get me wrong, this is not acceptable behavior. This is part of his disability, though. This is a big part of why Alex is in special education classes. This is part of the school's job.

I had a few questions for Principal Man. Shocker, huh??? "Do you have any knowledge of Alex's special needs?" "Have you met Alex?" "Did you talk to his para or teacher about him in general and this incident?" "Do you know his diagnosis?" "Have you seen Alex's IEP?"...blah, blah, blah... He had some answers too. "No." "No." "No." "No." "No." ...blah, blah, blah...

Ok, now, let's just say Principal Man and I went on to have a discussion that would make a group of sailor's ears burn! And when he didn't listen, I went to everyone else in the school district, Alex was back in school the next day. Principal Man was NOT very happy. I was! But what a way to start a school year! Boy, was I screwed!

I am not sure who else in this world has seen that ever-so-attractive side of me, I know my husband hadn't. I am not sure what color his face was that day in Principal Man's office, but it just wasn't right. He seems to have recovered, though. Surprisingly, I do hope that side of me stays well buried! It scared the crap out of me! Don't get me wrong, I am advocate numero uno, but WOW!

The good news about our little fiasco is that with the help of all the school personnel and all our doctors and all our therapists, OUR Alex is back! He still struggles some, but is getting better and better at controlling his anxiety. Anxiety is NOT controlling him! It took us ALL a few months of working together, trial and error, and lots of patience, but hopefully we have found a solution.

The even bigger story here, though, is that despite two people's complete and utter craziness and bullheadedness, Principal Man and I have been able to come together and help Alex, and hopefully other students, too.

I had never been so blindsided as I was when Principal Man wanted to suspend Alex for a behavior that is directly related to his disability. He wasn't going to budge on the suspension, he didn't know Alex, he didn't know Fragile X Syndrome and he didn't seem to know much about the special education classes and students at all. Obviously, I wasn't budging, either!

I admit I was upset at hearing that Alex was going to be suspended.... Alright, REALLY UPSET! But I really, really did start our conversation relatively calm and mostly professional. I am not sure what happened that made me go crazy on Principal Man, maybe when I realized that he just didn't consider the student or special circumstances surrounding this student. I remember Principal Man telling me that I would "just have to respect his decision", I was so out of my mind that I told him that "I couldn't do that because it was an uneducated stupid one!"

Yeah.. yeah.. genius, I know! Feel free to use it!

I think in those few minutes, we both let out our "crazy" persons. The thing about it is, that in doing so, I don't think that Principal Man will ever make a decision like that without thinking first, of that completely crazy - and I am really using that term loosely - lady that stormed into his office. From that moment on, Principal Man has taken the needs and best interest of Alex and put them first every time something has come up. He has also done that with the other special education students and I will bet he is taking a bit more time with each student that comes to him.

Principal Man has also gone to great lengths to learn about the unique characteristics and needs of his students. Maybe that crazy lady made a point!

Who knew that two such vicious adversaries in the heat of battle could become such good partners and advocates for Alex? And again, who knew that such a disastrous moment could motivate a person to take such a special interest in other people, especially in special needs children.

Ironically, I have become very comfortable with Principal Man looking out for the best interests of both Alex and Twin Sis. Thank you Principal Man!!

Oh... and as far as that really crazy lady goes, she doesn't apologize, but promises to try really hard to stay hidden! Even I learned a few things that awful day!


Sara E said...

oh.. I so love you and I love how everything is turning out .... I knew you must've had some bumps, but you never really said anything about them last tine we talked

Tammy (Fxmomto3) said...

Glad you are back ! You and I sound a lot alike ! Crazy Lady is hidden 99% of the time here too, but boy when she comes out, she comes out in full force ! I love this blog entry ! I'm glad to hear things are working out for you and Alex ! Keep up the good work !

Kristiem10 said...

Wow, it sounds like a really traumatic time. I am sorry you had to go all crazy lady to get it done, but you did what you had to do. Good for you and your kids.

lenkard said...

Wow, so awful that you had to go through that and that there are principals who pull that kind of crap. I'm so glad you let "Crazy Lady" out and got a response from the system and hopefully helped educate and change the principal. It's good to hear he is working with you - so often they don't respond well when they are challenged.