Just call me Jiji

…me, just pretending to be me ….now, where did I put that cape??

Archive for the tag “Special Needs”

Nine Years Old and Already Breaking Hearts

A couple of days ago Leon came home from school and I could tell he wasn’t himself. Well not his, get off the bus and get the homework done right away, to get it out-of-the-way, so he can watch TV and play, self.

His ODD was in full force and rearing its ugly head. Everything was an argument or a fight, he asked for things he knew I would disagree to and then would have a huge fit when he would hear the word no. He lashed out, got fresh, and as a result he had to suffer the consequences of his actions. The consequences in this case being no video games for the rest of the day, including his newest addition to his collection; Skylanders.  He had just gotten it for his birthday the week before and was becoming obsessive about it. I felt he needed a break from it. Which he did. But the storm that came after that, resulted in a huge temper tantrum. There was yelling and crying, and screaming and runny noses, and soberly “i hate you’s”, and “i hate myself”, and “i just want to be left alone”, and screaming into pillows, and pinching and scratching at himself, and me grabbing a hold of him in my arms to cradle him and love him and keep him from physically hurting himself.

Phew! I see more and more of myself in this child every day! Memories and things long forgotten and tucked away in the far back of my mind. And now as I watch him go through so many of the things I went through in my own childhood (things that had made me feel “wrong”); and now to see him go through it, and not know how to deal with the intense emotions that come with it,  just kills me. I only hope that I can parlay my understanding and feelings to him based on what I have already gone through and cushion the blow even just a little. Let him know, he is NOT alone, there are others who understand, who get it, who have the same difficulties and differences.

This poor child carries the strain of always having to restrain and keep in check his natural ADHD impulses to do his own thing, his own way, while he is in school all day and for just long enough after school to get his homework done. The meds that he is on helps him to do that, and for all intense purposes work great, but some days are a bit more challenging than others. Sometimes the smallest monkey wrench puts a crimp in his day and throws him completely off course. It could be anything, maybe his schedule was unexpectedly interrupted, maybe he isn’t feeling well or maybe someone said or did something that he just can’t get off of his mind. What ever it is, it can cause the storm described above…

and below….

Leon: MOM! I am having a REALLY bad day! All I want is to come home and relax by playing my new game and you won’t even let me, And I am just really really stressed (pleading now, with tears running down his cheeks) PLEEEASE let me play with my Skylanders I just need to forget today happened!! Pleease!!! I DON’T WANT to go to fencing, I just want to RELAX!!! and I can’t do that if I can’t play my game!!

ME: (cradling my poor sobbing little boy whose trying desperately to sway me into changing my mind about taking away his video game privileges as a result of consequential behavior) I know you are upset, Leon. I am sorry that this hurts your feelings, but you know the rules if you get nasty with mommy you lose certain privileges and telling me you feel too sick to go fencing but just fine to play video games is not going to cut it.

Leon: I’m sooorrrrrry! I won’t do it again. Pllllllleeeeeeaaaassssseeee can I play my game. I had a bad day and besides I got some bad news at school and I am stressed about it! I just neeeeeeeeeed to playayayayay my GAME!

ME: What bad news? Do you want to tell me about it.

Leon: I just don’t want to talk about it OKAY!!! (screaming) Just let me PLAY!!!!!!

ME: eh, there is that tone again. (remaining as calm as any parent who just wants to strangle their beautiful child can)  Lets just try to stay calm and talk things out and we can see were we go from there.

Leon: If you knew this bad news you’d know why I am so stressed!

ME: So tell me about it

Leon: I don’t want to

ME: Okay you don’t have to tell me. But I am a little worried, can you tell me if it’s bad news about you?

Leon: no

ME: is a teacher involved?

Leon: no

Me: a friend?

Leon: yeah…

Me: did someone get hurt or sick?

Leon: no it’s not like that, it’s, it’s it’s just to horrible to say, I’ll write it down.

Me: (a little concerned now…. takes the folded up paper from his hand – reads his scribble and…..) (SMILE) Leon, is this what is upsetting you so much?

Leon: yes!

The note says: ” _________ has a crush on me! (It’s shocking!)”

ME: (inner voice) AWWWWW how freaking cute!!!!!!!!! (outer voice) This is flattering news, it should make you feel good about yourself. _____ is a very nice girl and she obviously has good taste. Don’t look at this as a bad thing, think of it as a good thing. I thought you liked ______.

Leon: I do! but I don’t want a crush, I want a friend!!!!

ME: All you have to do is just tell her that.

We talked a bit more about how he came to this knowledge….

Leon: Her friend came and told me, and then _____ said she was too embarrassed to tell me herself.

ME: what did you say?

Leon: nothing, I just fainted!

Ah the complexities of a fourth grader.

Today he came home in all smiles, we talked a bit before my bronchitis sent me back to sleep and he had a very nice evening playing with his dad.

I had asked him if he had spoken to ______. 

Leon: yeah, I told her that I didn’t feel the same way about her, and I asked her if we could still be friends. and she said yes.

Alls well that ends well!

I just hope ______  is okay! I mean who can blame her? My kid has always been a looker…… 

and he is an AMAZING KID to boot.

Making Accomidations

In my previous post A GOOD START I made mention of a letter I had written requesting certain accommodations to be considered for my son’s 504 plan as well as an introduction letter to the teacher on his first day of school. I received an email shortly after asking me about the details of what I had included in both.

A year ago I could have written that email myself making the same request. When it came to attending our first CSE (Committee for Special Education) meeting a few years back, I had no idea what to expect. I did my homework and looked up various articles explaining the process, and while they were plenty helpful, the one thing I did not find was how to or even what to ask for. All I really wanted was an example to follow. I was at a loss.

Last year, the parent trainer assigned to us by the school suggested I check out FAPE’s Accommodations and Modifications Publication for ideas on what I would want included in Leon’s IAP (Individual Accommodations Plan). It was really great advice. I read through it and pulled from it what I needed and wrote a letter specifying my wishes. I used Leon’s name often and personalized my requests  and then at the end of the letter I included a photos of Leon. I did not want my son to be just another name in a file. I wanted them to know his smile and see the twinkle in his eyes.

When Leon started his first day of 3rd grade i put a copy of my request in an envelope with a letter of introduction to his new teacher.

I remember reading an article somewhere about how to make the first day of school a bit easier on your child; and one suggestion was to write a letter to the teacher introducing yourself and your child, along with some interesting info about your child; their likes, dislikes, hobbies, etc…

I took this advice back when Leon started kindergarten and have been doing it ever since. Not only do I think it helps the teacher to understand Leon, but Leon is a bit more at ease when the teacher acknowledges not just him but something that is of interest to him. He warms up a lot more quickly and is more engaged. I love this idea for any student, but for Leon who has special needs because of his ADHD/ODD and emerging sensory issues, I love it even more. And to make things even more personal I have always added a picture, either one he drew or a photograph of him.

Below is a copy of what I sent Leon to school with on his first day of 3rd grade. It’s very lengthy, and chock full of info. Perhaps too much so but it’s what has worked for me. As far as I am concerned I really believe that when it comes to my son and his issues; the more a teacher knows, the better things will go.

September 7, 2010 

Dear Mrs. L,

 I would like to introduce myself, my name is Jill  and I am Leon’s mother. Leon’s father, Ron, and I look forward to meeting you and working closely with you this school year in an effort to make Leon’s experience in 3rd grade a good one. I wanted to give you a little insight about Leon that you may find useful. It is my hope that this will be helpful to you.

 Leon is a terrific yet challenging child. His mind just works differently than the rest of us. He thinks differently, he sees things differently, he hears things differently, and he does things differently.

 Leon was diagnosed with ADHD-combined in May 2008 and also more recently with ODD (July 2009), I suspect he is also SPD-proprioceptive. Currently we are working together with his pediatric neurologist to stay up to date with the best medication plan for him. At this time he is taking Concerta 54mg in the mornings and Clonodine 0.1mg in the evenings. Side effects you may want to be aware of include dry mouth, headaches, stomach aches, dizziness, drowsiness, anxiety, irritability and blurred vision. Please let me know if you notice any of these side effects.

Leon has a wonderful personality and is so full of life that it bursts out of every pore in his body; he is loving, caring, and sensitive to others. Leon is highly energetic, and is always looking for an adventure, he’s very inquisitive and resourceful. He is curious about everything around him; he’s got an amazing imagination and can be very inventive. He is also full of ideas and loves telling stories. He loves to create and invent ‘stuff’; he is an artist and an inventor. He has a thirst for knowledge and is way too smart for his own good. Leon loves to read and wants to know everything about everything, He’s fun-loving and very expressive. He’ll keep you on your toes and keep you laughing. Leon is also a master negotiator. He will try to talk circles around you. He yearns to please and to be accepted and will go that extra mile (sometimes too far) to get someone’s attention,  He always seems to notice things that others take for granted, he has a great capacity to remember the oddest things (as long as it is ‘not boring’, to him). Leon is an extremely bright child with a mind of his own and he is not afraid to use it. He is the most well-behaved when he is engaged and interested in what he is doing, when his needs are being met with immediacy, and when he is being recognized and praised not only for a job well done but also for his effort.

 I have attached some helpful hints about Leon, as well as; the request that I had submitted to Mrs. N back in June 2010, for specified accommodations and/or modifications to be considered and included in his 504.

 Please contact me at your earliest convenience to arrange a time that we can meet, to discuss a plan for Leon this year.

 Thank You,





Some helpful hints about Leon :


Leon does much better in a structured environment. In less structured environments (i.e. gym, lunch, and recess) he tends to lose some control and can give in more easily to his impulses if not frequently redirected. 

Immediate feedback, reward, and praise go a long, long way with Leon, re-enforcing good behavior and his self-esteem. He is very self-critical, which often results in bad behavior or is reflected in his work.

A clear understanding of the consequences for undesired behavior will help Leon stay on task, as will frequent reminders of possible rewards for attaining certain goals.

Leon needs very specific, detailed instructions and rules given to him frequently and step-by-step throughout his task. It helps to have him repeat the instructions back to you, so that you know he heard and understood them.

Checking in with him often and encouraging him while he works will help him stay on task.  He will need reminders to not rush through his work, just as much as he will need reminders to keep working, as he gets distracted and bored very easily,

Leon does yearn to please, so allowing him to participate often and giving him something active to do (i.e. handing out papers or supplies, running an errand to the office, line leader, etc.) can help channel his hyperactivity while improving his self-esteem.

Leon gets very easily frustrated with himself and certain situations, because he has yet to fully master control over his impulses and doesn’t always know why he does the things he does.  It will often be expressed in the form of anger, whining, or tears. Occasionally he lashes out physically at objects around him.

Leon gets very easily overwhelmed when he perceives things to be “too much” (i.e. too many problems on one page, too much homework, too large a mess to clean up, etc.)

Extra time and patience may be required to listen to what Leon has to say.  He is very expressive but it can take a bit longer for him to get his sentence and his thoughts out.  

Reminding him and preparing him in detail for what comes next will give him time to adjust his behavior as needed.  He will need a few reminders of what the desired behavior is.

Leon has quite a bit of difficulty keeping his hands to himself. He does not recognize personal space or social cues. This can create friction with his peers if not re-directed and watched carefully.

Keeping his hands busy with something constructive and keeping a watchful eye on him is key. He often takes things he should not have and uses them inappropriately. (i.e. Scissors to cut his clothing). Keeping such objects out of his reach is important to keeping him out of trouble.

Leon gets extremely hyper-focused. This is quite often a good thing but it is just about equally as much a problem when he hyper-focuses on something negative. He will grab on to something and get stuck in it. Getting him to let go of something he is truly hyper-focused on can take some doing.

Leon is a Terrific Kid with tons of potential to go very far in life! He is deeply loved and has a huge support system behind him all the way.



Revised September 7, 2010

To Whom it may Concern;

 On behalf of our son, Leon, DOB 00/00/00, we are requesting the following accommodations and/or modifications be considered and included into his Section 504 plan for the school year 2010-2011.


  • Specify and list exactly what Leon will need to learn and do to pass. (this includes – completing his assignments and taking pride in the work) Review frequently.
  • Allow Leon to work on problems or assignments that are slightly more challenging when he is bored.

 Leon needs to be reminded of where he stands and what is expected of him regularly. He has difficulty with things he finds boring or too easy, conversely he has a fear of failure and therefore is resistant to things that he deems, too hard or overwhelming.


  • Provide Leon with, or allow him to bring in reading material that is at or slightly above his reading level to read in between assignments if time allows.
  • If available provide a second set of textbooks for Leon to keep at home.

 Leon is a veracious reader and has an incredible thirst for knowledge. Allowing him to read in between assignments may keep him from disrupting the rest of the class. Leon also often forgets to bring home the appropriate materials to complete assignments.

 Classroom Environment:

  • Give repeated reminders to Leon to keep his work space clear of distractions and unrelated items.
  • Seat him away from windows or doorways, and other distractions
  • Keep extra supplies of classroom materials available, in a separate location (pencils, erasers, paper,etc)
  • Allow for fidgets, to feed his need for movement yet helps to keep him focused (spinner ring, bendaroos, Velcro strip on the underside of his desk)
  • Take away items that are used inappropriately or that become a distraction.

 Leon can be easily distracted when a lot is going on around him. He also has a need to touch and hold things that are within reach. Allowing him, with limitations, to have something to manipulate with his hands gives him a bit more control over himself. Leon should be observed carefully when using scissors, He has a tendency to use them inappropriately (i.e. cutting his clothes, books, folders, etc.)


  • Give clear and precise instructions to Leon in small steps. Remind him not only of what he must do, but also what he must not do. (“Leon do not begin until I have finished giving my directions” or “take out only one pencil”)
  • Have him repeat the directions for a task back to the teacher, aide, or for the whole class.
  • Give reminders to stay on task and check his work.

 Leon has a tendency to shut off (and often walk away) in the middle of what is being said to him. He needs reminders to listen all the way through. Repeating the directions back insures Leon has not put his own spin on what he is supposed to do.


  • Let Leon know that certain tasks require a certain amount of time and should not be rushed through.
  • Remind him to slow down and take his time, to avoid careless mistakes
  • Let him know a few minutes before a transition from one activity to another is about to take place, give several reminders.

 Leon often rushes through everything. He needs repeated reminders to slow down and take his time. Leon also has the tendency to get hyper-focused; in which case transitioning from one task to another becomes a challenge.


  • Provide a print copy of assignments or directions written on the board especially for home assignments.
  • Allow use of computer for longer written assignments such as short essays or book reports.
  • Provide visible acknowledgement based on Leon’s progress and effort for handwriting (to be reinforced at home with reward).
  • Allow Leon to rewrite illegible answers, or answer orally for a better grade.
  • Remind Leon to write with pride and care, and not to rush

 Leon rushes through his work, his thoughts come and go quicker then his hands can move. He has the ability to write very clearly, when he takes his time. Leon is motivated by praise and reward.


  • Allow Leon to rewrite illegible answers, or answer orally for a better grade.


  • Provide Leon with reminders to take his time and to recheck his work before handing it in.

 Leon often makes careless mistakes when rushing or overly confident.


  • Pair Leon with a student who is a good behavior model for class projects.
  • Use nonverbal cues to remind Leon of rule violations
  • Minimize the use of consequences; provide positive reinforcement as well as negative consequences.
  • Increase the frequency and immediacy of reinforcements
  • Develop a reward system that can be carried over in the home as well as at school.
  • Develop a system or code word to let Leon know when his behavior is not appropriate. Allow him to correct himself.
  • Develop interventions for behaviors that are annoying but not deliberate (i.e. the use of fidgets)
  • Be aware of behavior changes that relate to medication or the length of the school day; modify expectations if appropriate.
  • Create a checklist for Leon so he may self regulate and be in control of himself.
  • Remind Leon to speak in a respectful and friendly tone. Praise him for expressing himself appropriately.
  • Remind Leon that he must not chew on inedible items (pencils, staples, clothing, etc)
  • Remind Leon to speak slowly and clearly, and with a friendly tone.

Leon has a strong need to be independent and do things his own way. He responds very well to praise and positive reinforcement that is immediate and frequent. Leon’s emotions run very deep, when they get the best of him he has a very difficult time expressing himself in a tone and or manner that is respectful and appropriate.

 Parent/Teacher Communication:

  • Make use of a daily or weekly communication journal to keep the lines of communication open with parents.
  • Inform Leon’s parents of any allowances or consequences that have changed.
  • Inform parents of any changes in behavior that may be associated with Leon’s medication so adjustments can be made.

 The communication journal allows us to stay informed about Leon’s progress and monitor if his medication is working or needs to change as he gets older. It also gives us a clearer prospective on what behaviors he needs to work on, in school and/or at home.

 Thank you for your time,                   

Blogging it out!! (Part 2) – The day the school lost my son!

..and then came Tuesday

…..continued from Blogging it out!! (Part 1)

Tue 5/12– Leon got up and left for school with no complaints or complications, he promised it would be a good day today. After getting him on the bus I packed up the baby and went to the mall, it was Ron’s birthday the next day and I had to pick up a present for him and along with a few other things. I didn’t plan to be out that long but I was, once I realized the time I scrambled to get home. It was after baby Keira’sfeedingtimeand she was still quite content but I did not want to risk a melt down in the store, so we headed home. It was 12:59 by my clock in the car when we pulled into the driveway. I brought the baby and the bags in, put the baby in the highchair and the frozen waffles in the freezer, and then went to put the bags in my room. As I am walking out of my room I hear a knock on the screen door ( the door was still wide open with the keys in it). I look up and I can’t believe my eyes. I instinctively look at the clock thinking ‘what the….? Is it really 3:30?’  No, it was 1:o2pm. I look at my little man at the door, freaking out just a bit,

“what are you doing here?”  I ask

He says “I’m home!”

“But how?, How did you get here, what are you doing here” I say as I search around for some answers up our walkway looking for some sign of how he got there.

“I walked.” he answered

“YOU WALKED!, what do you mean you walked? You walked from where?” I say my voice starting to shake.

“From school” he said

“What do you mean you walked home from school, how did you get out of school, didn’t anybody see you, did you sneak away, where were you when you walked away? I ask, getting more upset.

“no I didn’t sneak, I just walked home that’s all” He responds

I tell him to go to your room and as I am walking him there the tears start to come out, I grab him and tell him I love him, and that what he did was very very dangerous, something very bad could have happened to him, he could have gotten hurt, or lost, a car could have run him over, or someone could have grabbed him and taken him away forever.  He actually said “no mom, if someone grabs me I know how to protect myself, I know karate and how to wrestle”. … “no, no you can’t you’re just 6 years old!!!”

I tell him to stay in his room, while I try to figure out what I am supposed to do next. I grab the phone and start pacing, I should call someone, shouldn’t I call someone?? Who do I call first?  Ron?  The police?  My sister? The school? …THE SCHOOL!! Do they even KNOW he is gone????

I call the school and the secretary answers, “______ School, Mrs P speaking” I say “Hi Mrs P, This is Mrs. O”, “Oh hi, Mrs. O…” “yeah umm, Leon just knocked on my door here at home!, he just walked home from school!” She says “Oh my goodness, hold on”  …yeah, I guess they didn’t know.. I am getting more and more angry and upset as I pace waiting what felt like forever before someone gets back on the phone. The principle gets on and says, “Mrs. O, hi this is Mrs D, What happened?” “I have no idea what happened, all I know is that Leon just knocked on my door” I respond. She asked, “do you know how he managed to get out of school”, I tell her that “he said he was outside for rec” , “which route did he take?” she asked. I said “I have no idea, I am just so flabbergasted that this could happen, I haven’t even had a chance to speak to him.” She said,”do you know he’s been trying to go home on a different bus?” , “yeah I got a call yesterday about it” I answer getting more annoyed! “we need to find out how this happened, can you bring him back to the school?” “yes, well it may take me a bit I have to feed the baby and pull myself together, I am a bit flustered right now”, her answer is “of course, I understand, I have a meeting at 1:30 and one right after that, so if you could come before 1:30 or after 2:30 that would be good”  [Seriously!? A meeting? More important than a kid leaving school property without you knowing???] -I thought it but I didn’t say it, I was too busy holding back tears to be angry. I would have to say that everything that I did from this point on was fear driven. I looked out the window to see if my girlfriend’s car was in her driveway. She wasn’t home so I called my sister, I asked her to come get Keira, as I freaked out on the phone. I was so angry, and just, at a loss, what the hell… She had to call me back, in the mean time my girlfriend down the block had pulled into her driveway. I called her and I just started crying, all the thoughts of what could have happened kept flashing through my mind, I managed to squeak out “can you come over”. She hung up and ran right over. I told her what happened and asked her to stay with Kiera. She was just as upset as I was, her daughter is also in 1st grade with Leon and they play together often. On the ride to the school I tried to get some answers from Leon so I could make sense of it all. I found out that he left at the end of recess after everyone went inside, that his reasoning for leaving was because he did not want to go back and do work in class, and that the route he took home was one that he had only taken once in his life over a year ago. I also asked  him what he would have done if I wasn’t home. His answer was “oh, I’d just go back to school”. I the parking lot I run into a friend, M who sees that I am not exactly myself and asks what’s wrong. I am so upset that I end up spilling it all. She tells me to get myself together and just be strong. When I get to the office I am told that the principle will be with me in just a moment. I hear the gym teacher being paged to the office. He comes in and sits down with us. I find out that he was out there with him at rec (he also told me who else was there). M comes into the office and lets the staff know she wants to cancel her 1:30 meeting with the principle, when they asked if she was sure she said absolutely this is more important. A few minutes later we go into the principle’s office, together with the gym teacher and the social worker. We start off with trying to figure out the how. Mrs D (principle) asks if I know what route he took. I let her know he walked the length of the field and out the back gate. She looks at Leon and asks if he realizes how serious this all is. I said, isn’t that gate supposed to be locked? and she said “yes, and I will be talking to the custodian about that”. She asked Leon if he just wasn’t having fun at rec or if someone or something was bothering him. I told her that he told me that he had a good time playing with two friends and the gym teacher confirmed that. She asked “at what point was it that you left, Leon?”, He said “at the end”, She turned to the gym teacher and asked where he was at the end of rec. He said “I was on the blacktop near the grass when I blew the whistle to line up and then I collected the equipment to bring inside”. I then turned to Leon and asked if he had heard the whistle, his answer was “yes”, I said “and then what”, “And then everyone lined up and went inside” he answered, I said “and then what happened”, “and then I went home” he answered. We asked if any of the teachers were there to see him and he said “no they were already inside”. At this time Mrs. D turned to the gym teacher and said “we need to make sure that there is an adult at the end of the line from now on”  {umm, from now on??????}.

After discussing the how, when, where, and why of it with Leon. We discussed the dangers and why it was so bad to leave the school without permission, without an adult. He seemed to know that it was wrong, and he could recite the dangers of it but how do I know that he really gets it??? How do I get through to him that his actions could have had catastrophic results. How do I know that he won’t do this again??

We then moved on to the consequences. Leon needs to learn something from this, right!  Mrs D informed both Leon and I, that he was to be suspended from school for one day. She handed me a letter to make it official (apparently she had had it typed up before I got there). I read the letter over while she told Leon that he had to spend the day at home and that his school work would be sent home for him to do, she also told him that because he can’t really be trusted anymore, he would not be allowed to participate in outdoor rec for the rest of the year, and that because he seems to get into alot of trouble in the cafeteria that he would probably have to eat his lunch in the main office for the remainder of the year as well. I must have read the letter 3 or 4 times because I was distracted by what she was saying, and still so bewildered and flabbergasted over all that had happened all I kept thinking about was all the ways I could have lost my child forever. The suspension letter didn’t feel right, neither did the no rec and the lunch in the office thing but I was more concerned with focusing on Leon and what was he thinking and why did he do this rather than how the hell could this have happened. I let her know that the suspension didn’t sit right with me, I said “I understand that this may be the schools policy, but don’t you think that this just gives in to what he was looking for in the first place, I don’t know that this will help”, her response was that in school suspension wasn’t really possible because they didn’t have someone to sit with him all day. Ohhh???huh??? I then asked what Leon would be doing on days that there was outside rec. She said “they would find something for him to do, like library or computer lab, or join in one of the clubs.” {I wasn’t too thrilled with the idea, on the one hand Leon loves computer lab so that would be too bad BUT on the other hand Leon loves computers -it’s more of a reward for him- he would rather be on a computer by himself than outside playing with others, Leon needs to get out and be active and social}.  I mentioned to her that I wasn’t to sure about that and she said “well you can talk with his teacher and decide what activities you think would be appropriate for him”.

We left the school and headed back to the car so many emotions running through me. I cried some more on the way home. It’s just so overwhelming. I grounded Leon to his room for a week. My friend K who was watching Kiera for me stayed with me for a while so I could get myself together. I spoke with Ron a couple times. I left a message with Leon’s pediatrician asking him to call me back. When my sister showed up and I had to tell the tale again I started hyperventilating and crying. My sister was tempted to drag Leon out by his ear so he could see how this was affecting his mommy, but I wouldn’t let her. I don’t know if seeing me like that would help or hurt him. I just know that seeing what I did to my own mom made me feel worse about myself. Leon is 6, he should have such bad feelings about himself.  I was too upset to be driving, so my sister drove Leon and I to his therapy appointment (he goes every Tuesday). They discussed the dangers of the entire situation. Leon seemed to understand. But does that mean he has learned from it? Does something bad have to happen before he gets it?

When we got home Leon got dinner and was sent to bed. Ron and I spoke with his Pediatrician who suggested upping the dose on his mood stabilizer. Which after speaking to him for a while we agreed to. I also had to cancel babysitting for little V and tried to get my mom to take Kiera the next day but she couldn’t. I just didn’t want any distractions for Leon. That evening I just could not stop thinking about it all. I was just so incredibly agitated. Finally I decided to sit down at my computer and BLOG IT OUT. I just didn’t realize it would take several days to do it. Granted I didn’t have to include the 2-3 weeks of history that came before it, but since it has been eating at me all this time I felt it was important to get all of it out as well.

Wed 5/13-the day of Leon’s at home suspension and Ron’s birthday. Leon had managed to completely wreck his room before bed the night before, so I was trying to get him focused on cleaning his room. The problem was that without his DS as leverage I had nothing to work with. Because his room was so cluttered it made it hard for him to focus on any one thing therefore he was in constant need of attention. He wasn’t the only one though, Kiera was very clingy too. I didn’t want them to mingle with each other because then Leon would have succeeded in getting exactly what he wanted which was a day home from school to play. I spent the morning playing with, entertaining and feeding Kiera, while fending off Leon’s calls for attention. I told him that I would come see him in his room once it was cleaned up. It worked for 10 seconds before he let himself get distracted. When Kiera went down for her nap I was able to focus on Leon. I tried a few attempts to get him to clean his mess and when they failed I stormed in with “the bucket”. The bucket meant I was taking away as much stuff as I could collect before he got to them to put them away. He wasn’t happy but he got the hint that mommy wasn’t kidding any more. I stayed on one side of the room while he managed to clean up the other side of the room. When we were done we discussed the ground rules of being grounded to his room. No leaving the room for any reason except going to the bathroom and only with permission first. no taking out a toy to play with, without first cleaning up what he was currently using and asking permission for that specific toy, useinghisartsupplies and reading his books require no permission but if I find a mess the items will be removed. No asking for food or drink – I would call him out to eat at the appropriate times. Then we sat to read together. Half way into the book I get a knock at the door. My neighbor, D,  stops by. She heard what happened and wanted to talk to me about it. I didn’t want to interrupt reading time with Leon but I wanted to here what D had to say. I told Leon that he would have to work on something else until I was able to come back. D tells me that she heard what happened from S (S is the PTA President), From S?, how did S find out? S found out from M (whom I ran into at the school the day before). S casually asked D how I was doing. D did not know anything about it so S told her what she knew. D then tried calling me a couple of times before she knocked on my door. Apparently D felt it neccessary to call the police on my behalf, they were shocked to hear that a 6 year old was able to leave school property unnoticed. They urged her to have me come in and file a complaint. I wasn’t quite ready to do that. D also told me that S wanted me to call her, but just then my friend K came by with Leon’s school work, which was very nice of her. The three of us discussed what had happened. More scenarios of doom came to light. Like, what if he turned left instead of right? He would have ended up on a major road with three lanes going in each direction, or what if he got hit by a car while crossing the street (something he knows he must always hold a hand to do)to get home, or what if he decided to wonder into the park and fell off the playground equipment and got seriously injured without anyone knowing, what if some pervert picked him up, what if he got home just 5 minutes earlier and I wasn’t here? Would he have found his way back? And then the how long would it have taken the school to realize he was gone?? Seriously, I am the one who called them to tell them they lost my child. They did not even know he was gone. The three of us put it together, Leon left at the end of rec which was at 12:55pm. From rec they go to lunch till 1:25pm, then Leon has gym. They did not notice he was missing at lunch, I have to wonder if someone would have noticed his absence in gym. He could have been missing a whole hour before they noticed. The more we discussed the whole situation the angrier I got, here they were punishing a 6 year old child for something they were responsible for. The fact that any child, let alone a child with a known disability could leave school grounds unnoticed is unacceptable. Rather than call the police I decided to contact LIAdvocacy to see what they would suggest. First and foremost they felt the matter should be addressed with the School Super Intendent and the head of CSE. Before calling them I decided to call S. S was so concerned for Leon and I, after I shared the whole story (again) with her she asked if it would be alright to give my number to a friend of hers on the Board of Education, she felt that she could help me. I got a call from M and a few other friends in between where I rehashed the story again, and again, and again, people were advising me to call the news and/or a lawyer,it was getting crazy. I just could not get off the phone. Poor Leon and Kiera both wanted my attention. D from the Board of Ed called me she wanted to hear the story, I told her about everything, the gate being open not just on Tuesday but it had also been left open the previous week, him walking the length of the field unnoticed, how he managed to get home, how I was the one who had to let them know he was missing 15 minutes after he left, about the issues I had with getting him help through CSE, and how I felt had they classified him or given him a 504 plan this might not have happened, how he was spoken to and what consequences they gave him, all of it. She just couldn’t believe it, she wanted to pursue this with both the Board of Ed and CSE with my permission, which I of course gave her. She also asked that I call them directly as well. I told her I would however I really needed to put some time in with the kids for a while first. I asked her opinion as to whether I should contact the police or not, she did not want to tell me what to do but suggested I consider that once I get the law involved then the school would probably get the lawyers involved, and then I might have some resistance. I don’t want that, the lawyers would get caught up in there agenda and mine for my son might get a bit lost in it all. After I hung up with her and ‘tried’ to attend to the kids. M called back because I had to cut her short previously, she wanted to know if I called the news yet. I told her I did not see the point. The thing about the news is they never get or show the whole story. I don’t need Leon’s name thrown out there for the whole community to see just for a 5 second blurb about how the school was neglecting keeping him safe. Granted another friend of mine pointed out that I had a responsibility to make other parents aware, and while I believe that they should be aware of it, I can’t take that on right now. My first and foremost responsibility is to my own child. I can only deal with one thing at a time and right now all my focus is on Leon. M was great she has a daughter with Aspergers and she has done her share of advocating for her own child, she offered herself to us as a parent advocate for CSE. I am very pleased about that, she knows her stuff and she knows Leon and I since we all started this school together with pre-kindergarten as Pre-K parent teachers together. after speaking to her I needed to buckle down and get him to do school work. We managed to do 2 days of work in less than 1 hour. He was being very co-operative. Once that was done I realized how late it was and had to put those calls into the Super Intendent and the head of CSE. I left messages with both offices. i knew that if I had to tell the story one more time I was going to explode!!! I had enough, every time I told it my stomach would sour and I’d get nauseous and all worked up about it not to mention the headache that started as soon as Leon knocked on the door the day before and it never really went away. Talk about STRESSED!!! The Super Intendentcalled back, she had just finished speaking to D from the Board of Ed. She started out by letting me know how appalled she was at the whole sitiuation and that Leon should not be held accountable, the adults in charge should be. She asked me to tell the tale again (AAARRRRGGGHH!) and I did. She felt that the suspension and the taking away his outdoor rec and suggesting he may have to eat his lunch in the main office was quite excessive and counter productive. And we all know I agree with that. She assured me that Leon was not responsible here the teachers in charge were and they would be held accountable and that proper procedure will be followed in keeping the children safe at school. With that I asked that the suspension be removed from Leon’s record. She did say that the principle makes the decision on suspensions but I do have the right to appeal it. She told me she was going to speak to the principle about the whole matter involving the gate being left open, Leon not having proper supervision and the matter of his consequences and that I should expect a phone call in the morning from both the principle (with an apology) and herself ( oh yay more phone calls!)Once that was over I told Ron I was D-U-N DONE, I was not taking anymore phone calls, i just wanted to veg out on the couch with his laptop and blog away the day. That start off well enough until my mom called, there was another hour and a half on the phone, but at least it was productive, we decided we would definetlygoforward with getting a private assessment for Leon and she would take the money from the college fund she started for him to pay for it. Okay now it was really time to quit, off to bed I went and laid awake think about it for the next several hours – I think I got about 3 hours of sleep, which was more than the night before.

Thur 5/15  –  Leon is ‘allowed’ back in school. After only 3 hours of sleep I get up and get Leon ready for school. Getting ready included little pep talks along the way about school safety, following directions, good behavior, etc, etc,etc.  My stomach was in knots, my headache was in full throb mode, and my skin was all lumpy and bumpy, and red with itcy hives, and my face was all tight and in pain from waking up with my teeth clenched tight …yep, I was ready for the day. I was nervous I guess, hoping there would be no “Oh No, Now What?”‘ calls. The calls that read “_____ School District” on the caller ID and I immediately think, “Oh No, Now What?”. For the most part I figured the worst has past and we could go on from here, I planned to sleep and blog all day ….

Before blogging though I decided to check my Facebook first … Wow, was there a lot of comments about my status update from the night before. My status mentioned the difficulties of the day and Leon’s suspension. There was firestorm of outrage and disbelief. A few people mentioned that I should be contacting a lawyer or the press. It was a bit much so I switched to blog mode, I just wanted to step away from it all for a bit. Instead what I got was dreaded phone call after dreaded phone call and a complete emotional breakdown. The first call came just an hour after Leon got on the bus. It was the principle calling to apologize??? I thinkit was an apology anyway, she has a way of deflecting. She started the convo with “Hi Mrs O, this is Mrs D, I just wanted to let you know I spoke with Leon this morning, regarding our expectations of him, I said we were happy to have you back and hopefully you can follow rules and directions from now on”. She went on to say “I just got off the phone with the Super Intendent, I understand you spoke with her?”. “Yes I did” I said. She then said, “I understand you were not happy with the way things were handled …” (I think that was my apology). I explained that, in the mists of everything that was going on on Tuesday, being so emotionally raw about it all, I just really could not think straight, my only focus at the  moment was Leon, and the fact that he was indeed okay, despiteallthehorrible things that could have happened. My immediate concern was for him and what he was thinking and feeling and how much does he understand about the dangers of it all, along with what made him do it. I am so used to the “now what did he do” with Leon that I forgot to be angry with the school’s neglect in keeping my child safe. I explained that I had spent the day before on phone call after phone call with concerned parents wanting me to ‘do something about it’ (call the police, a lawyer, the press, etc.) and that the more a talked and thought about it, the angrier I got, because as much as Leon was the one who made the decision to leave the school it was ultimately the school who was responsible for this happening, they did not provide proper supervision and should have locked the gates. I felt that the punishment was severe and counter productive to what he needed. I mean think about it, the suspension taught him that if he misbehaves and leaves school he gets to stay home from school. And to take away outdoor rec from a hyper active child with ADHD was hindering him more than helping him. She let me know that the suspension was lifted and that in fact it never actually went into his file. Something I find a little hard to believe considering that between the time I called her to let her know she lost my child and I arrived there, she had already had her secretary type up a formal FROM THE OFFICE OF THE PRINCIPLE letter saying ” I am suspending Leon for 1 day for engaging in behavior that could have resulted in harm to himself and for his disregard of school rules and procedures” and Cc’d it to the Super Intendent and CSE. But whatever. She also told me that he would be able to participate in outdoor rec and lunch in the cafeteria, and they would just have to watch him more carefully. To be fair she did explain that she was just as flabbergasted as I was on Tuesday and that her concern was for Leon and what would it take to get this child to understand the severity of his actions. I get that, I really do. As much as she does have a  tendency to deflect and talk down to people in general, I do know that she had Leon’s best interest at heart. I just felt she could have been a bit more professional when dealing with it. While I was on the phone with her, her secretary informed her that there was a call on hold from a parent who had heard that a child was able to leave school and no one was aware of it and wanted to speak with her about it. Oh boy! She assured me that it was not going to happen again, they are watching him very carefully, those responsible are being dealt with and all procedures are in place, ‘Everyone is doing what they are supposed to be doin”.

A few minutes later I got a call from my friend K, she let me know that Channel 2 and Channel 12 want to talk to me. WHAAATT? , oh no, no, no. I don’t want to talk to the press, do I? Wait! How did the press find out? K, was one of the commenter on my Facebook status and was very upset and understandable so, her son is the same age as Leon and attends the same school. She was the one who had called the press. She did not know the whole story yet so I told her all about  it, including why I did not want to get police, lawyers, or press involved. She had  called the press because she firmly believes that it is important that parents know what happen for the safety of their children. I agree wholeheartedly but I am not going to be the one to spearhead this one.

Some may wonder why, if I don’t want to talk to the press, am I blogging all about it here. I have a few reasons, 1-to keep it all documented in my own way, 2- so I don’t have to retell the tale so often, 3- because I do feel that parents should be made aware of what happened by way of the whole story and not just a 5 sec blurb on the 11 o’clock news,  4-I don’t trust the news, they never report the WHOLE story, there is always more to it than anyone ever sees, and  5 – I don’t want my son’s name plastered all over the news talking about his disability and issues. I’ve already taken the steps I need to to rectify the situation and Leon is on his way to getting what he needs. Once I explained all this to K, she totally gets it now. I am truly not upset that she called the press because as I said parents should be made aware, I think the school should make a formal statement to the parents in regards to what happened and address how they are handling it, just to alleviate peoples fears. Plus this would be a good opportunity for parents to have a talk with their kids about safety in and out of school and remind them of school rules.

After that call and a few random, ‘how are you doing” calls I decided to try and sleep my headache away, but that was not an option, by now it was 1pm and I got a call from Mr D, the gym teacher just to let me know that they just concluded rec and he was doing nicely and that they are keeping a close eye on him. I don’t think there was an apology in there either. Okay, great, fine, are we done now? I just want to go to bed!! I go to lay down and the phone rings… Whaaaaa! Now it is the Asst. Super Intendent calling on behalf of the Super Intendent to follow up and make sure the principle contacted me and informed me that the suspension was removed from the records and that he would be able to participate in all rec time whether it was inside or out. I told him I did speak with her. He then said “I also wanted to inform you that the press has been in contact with us. I want to assure you we kept all names confidencial to protect your family. We did however need to respond with a general statement”. Oh yay! I thanked him and let him know I had no interest in speaking with the press. Now can I go to bed??

Shortly after that call K called me back to say Channel 2 contacted her to say they were going to be in the area and wanted to know if I would be willing to talk to them. She answered for me saying I was not interested in talking to the press, I was just happy that my son was safe and am handling it internally. But she did want me to know they called back. I spoke with her for a while and then begged off to nap.

No chance, as soon as my head hit the pillow the phone rang again. It was the principle again. She said she was very surprised that I picked up the phone. When I asked why she said well Leon seems to be confused, he keeps insisting that he is supposed to get on bus #21 instead of his own. When she asked him what his mommy would say if she called, he told her all our phone lines were dead, cell phones and all, that’s why she was surprised to hear my voice. She asked if I could clarify things for Leon over the phone. When he got on asked him why he was lying about the bus. he responded with “I’m not lying I am Confuuuused!” Umpf!

Ugh my head hurt, my body ached, my breathing was labored, Dude I am stressed! Enough already! Seriously what the heck am I supposed to with this child? I called Ron with the “now what” call and to tell him that the press wanted to talk to us. As I was explaining everything my words came out faster and faster, Ron could hear the stress in my voice and told me to slow down, that’s when I lost it, I just started crying and crying. I got everything out eventually about his behavior and the press being involved now, I asked if we wanted the press involved, he wasn’t sure, maybe they would help in us getting what we needed. I didn’t have a good feeling about it so we decided to talk about it later. I asked him to try to get home earlier rather than later and he said he’d try. I tried to get off the phone quickly before he figured out I was crying again.

I managed to lay down for about 15 minutes before the phone rang again, AAAArrrrrrrgggggggghhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!! Now it was Mr. D again, he wanted to let me know how things went in gym. Apparently he told Leon to go to the back  of the gym and Leon  managed to make his way into the boy’s locker room (at the back of the gym) which is only used by third graders on up. He assured me that he had someone posted at the other exit to make sure Leon did not get away from him when he went in after him. He asked Leon what he was doing in the locker room and he answered “you told me to go into the locker room” Mr. D said “No I didn’t, your not a third grader yet why would I send you into the locker room? , “I don’t know but you told me to come in here”. Why is this child lying so much?? He also seemed to be testing the boundaries at rec, when he asked to go to to the bathroom twice. The first time because his pants were on backwards and the second to get the book he insisted he left in the bathroom. The school is being very careful not to let him out of their sights. When Mr. D reminded him that he did not bring a book, Leon was vehemently sure he did, so they went to check anyway. On the way they asked his classroom teacher about it and she said ” no, I have it, I had to take it away because you were hitting yourself in the head with it, remember?” Apparently Leon forgot about that.

The next call was from the head of the CSE, she wanted to hear about what had happened and to talk about Leon’s ADHD and what they can do to help. I told the tale AGAIN. I told her all about Leon’s experience in Kindergarten that led us to get him diagnosed, and the first month of 1st grade that led us to have him evaluated by CSE and go on medication, I told her how his grades were so good that he did not get services, but had he gotten them we might not be having this conversation now.  I let her know that we were planning to have a private assessment done and that I wanted to request he be evaluated for services again before the end of this school year. She let me know that she would like to meet with me next week and then we can set up an official CSE evaluation meeting. I had to talk to Ron of course before making the appointment so I told her I would call her back.

When the phone rang again I was ready to throw it out the window, it was Ron this time wanting to know if I needed him to come home. I just crumbled and cried into the phone, ” Yes, please come home, I can’t do this anymore, I just can’t do this all by myself”, He said he was leaving right away and would be home before Leon got off of the bus. Unfortunately he did not make it in time. I knew there might be difficulty so I made sure to get to the bus stop in time. Leon refused to get off the bus. I was fuming, I stormed on to the bus, called Leon out using his full name, middle name and all (you know you are in trouble when mom uses your middle name!) and I started counting LOUDLY!! Poor Leon, I must have looked like a lunatic! He got off the bus and was angry. I told him to go straight to his room. He defiantly refused saying, “I’ll go in the house but I am NOT going in my room!” , “Oh yes you will young man now march!”. once in the house he sat his butt down at the kitchen table and refused to move. I was so defeated and exhausted and outraged and just so done! All I wanted to do was lay down and cry. I said “fine just sit there and do not move from that spot till daddy gets home”. He hmmpffed, crossed his arms and stared me down as I went through his backpack. In his assignment book which was not filled in properly (he has taken to just writing the first initials of each word in a sentence) there was a note from his teacher letting me know that even after speaking to me on the phone from the principle’s office, Leon STILL insisted that he go home on a different bus saying we moved, we really really moved. When that did not work he handed her a note. It said “Leon is going home with Rohit” and insisted it was from me. Yes, my sweet little 6 year old baby boy forged a note from his mommy in his little 6 year old chicken scratch handwriting. OY! If this is him at 6 what am I going to get at 16?? I have to admit it did put a tiny tiny tiny smile on my face because as bad as it is, it is still so frickin cute. He’s a ballsy kid that’s for sure. Smile or no smile I was distraught! I tried to get him to start his homework after deciphering his ‘code’. But he refused. I really had no fight left in me. Ron showed up and I spilled out all the details of Leon’s behavior for the day and he could see I was about to lose it, so he sent Leon to his room and me to mine. Ron took 2 minutes to make sure Leon understood that he was not to leave his room and then came to see about me. I jut sat in Ron’s arms just crying and crying and crying until I was all cried out and then we giggled over the noteLeon wrote in my name. Ron then took over with Leon, sitting down to do homework with him, then making him dinner, and putting him to bed. Me, I finally got to rest my head and close my eyes. I slept a while and woke up again at 8pm. I had such a sore throat that I was sure that it was from being on the phone all day for 2 days. I could not sleep with everything on my mind that t didn’t actually fall asleep till 4am.

Fri 5/16 – Ron got up with Leon and got him ready for school so that I could sleep in. I got to spend about 5 minutes with him when he crawled into bed with me to cuddle before Ron put him on the bus. Ron was nice enough to work from home so I could rest without worrying about the phone ringing or picking Leon up. There was also too much of this stuff on Ron’s mind to really meet his customers face to face. There were a few calls but mostly from friends checking up on us. I slept through all of it. I ended up with such a bad cold, I had every symptom you could think of, stuffed up, sinus headache, runny nose, coughing, post nasal drip, vomiting, nausea, but the worst was the fatigue. i just could not function without getting completely exhausted. Ron picked Leon up from school and they walked home to avoid the whole bus issue all together. While I stayed in bed till dinner time, Ron spent the afternoon checking on Leon every 20 minutes. Apparently spent it trying to retreat into a hole somewhere in his room. He hid in his hamper, climbed to the top of the built in wall shelves and tried to lie across them,  climbed into his closet and tried to get onto the shelf above the clothes rod. Ron just could not leave him unattended. I am so glad he was home because I don’t know what I would do.  I joined them for dinner and then unfortunately I was up for the night. I was coughing so hard that I just could not get to sleep till about 5am.

Sat 5/17 – Feeling a bit better but staying in bed for the day. Napping and Blogging all day while Ron kept Leon out of my hair. I just really needed a break! We did decide to let Leon out of his room but no electronics or playdates allowed. He spent the day reading and drawing.

…..And here is where I end this post. I know it is very, very long and took along time to get out but I really needed to get it ALL out. This is a great outlet for me. I am sure there will be much more to come.

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