I always knew that my daughter was different, even while I was pregnant. She never stopped moving, every ultrasound and midwife visit confirmed that I was pregnant with a very active little girl.
By the time my daughter was 8 years old she had been thru 10 different agencies that offer help for special needs children including psychologists and pediatricians.
I had an early childhood education diploma and was a trained Montessori teacher. I attended dozens of workshops and read countless child development books.
I spent 17 years working with children, mostly children with special needs. At that time she had 6 diagnosed special needs as follows: ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), anxiety disorder, ODD (oppositional defiance disorder), sensory integration dysfunction, learning disabilities and CD (conduct disorder) sounds like a whole lot to handle but for me its was just life.
When she was 2 and a half one of her workers suggested I put her in nursery school a few mornings a week to burn some energy and help her separate from me.
The opposite happened, she came home more wound up then she started out. She would be literally jumping from couch to table to couch.
After almost a year of nursery school I enrolled her in a Montessori school about 30 minutes from my home. I was hoping the calm atmosphere of a Montessori classroom would be just what she needed. She did enjoy the Montessori school and continued with Montessori education with me until she was 8 years old.
It was clear early on that she had some major challenges in the classroom. My daughter was severely dyslexic, couldn’t concentrate and had a very hard time retaining simple lessons and concepts to name a few challenges. Don’t talk to me about putting my child on meds, out of desperation and last resort I tried meds and it backfired, but that’s another story.
When we moved back to my hometown, I home schooled my daughter until march of her grade 4 year.
She was being pressured by family to go to public school and began refusing to do her home schooling. Soon getting her to do her work was a daily fight, I was also getting a lot of pressure from family and specialists to send her to school.
Pressure from people who were not her parent, who did not know her like I did but felt like they knew what I should do with my special needs child. Eventually I said to my daughter if you really want to go to public school then I support you. Off she went to school.
She started “in the system” in the spring of her grade 4 year.
My daughter went from a quiet home schooled environment where she received one on one attention plus attended calm home schooled programs (swim, art, gym class) to a school with 30 kids in a class and over 600 on the play ground.
Pretty soon after my daughter started school, the school realized that she had multiple challenges. They tested her and in grade 4 she was working at a grade 3 level. It had taken me all those years just to get her to a grade 3 level.
During the first week she began to complain about some children bothering her on a daily basis. Instead of reacting in a negative way and being a Montessori child she put into practice what I had taught her.
My daughter told the kids to stop, walked away (they followed) told the teacher and told the principal. Nothing was done. What I didn’t want to happen was happening and I wasn’t there to stop it. My daughter was being bullied.
I spoke to her teacher, nothing was done. I asked the teacher to not place her in the same class as the main child who was harassing her the following year. At the same time her behavior at home was deteriorating, her language was horrible and her self esteem was disappearing. My daughter was saying phrases and asking questions about subjects no child should know about.
She survived the first school year and had the summer off. My daughter had the choice of being home schooled or going back to school for grade 5. She wanted to go back to school for grade 5 because her family and friends said she should.
The first day of school I introduced myself to her new teacher and asked if he had time to go over her file. He scoffed and said no. I suggested he might want to as she has multiple special needs and he made a comment about having 35 children in his class. I knew that first day he wasn’t going to be much help.
To my disappointment my daughter was in the same class as the main little boy who had been harassing her the year before except this year it was much worse.
She told her teachers and the principal. I spoke to her teacher in person, via notes, I talked to the principal and vice principal for 3 months.
I did not find out how bad it truly was until after I pulled my daughter out of that school.
A lot of it was verbal sexual abuse my daughter suffered. This boy was saying words, threats and phrases to my daughter that most grown men would never dream of repeating.
It was also physical. I was told AFTER my daughter had already left that she was being beat up so bad on the playground that an older child had to regularly step in a pull this boy off my daughter on the playground.
The school she was attending is one of the top public schools in my area and they couldn’t keep my child safe.
I gave my daughter to the public system as a happy, energetic, friendly child who loved people and loved learning and in 6 short months they gave me back a child who was so depressed she was suicidal, she hated her life and vomited for weeks on end.
She had zero self esteem, refused to bathe, brush her hair or teeth and was withdrawn. This was not the little girl I once knew. I felt like a failure as a parent and I was raging mad at the school.
Over the Christmas break I switched her to a fantastic catholic school. I do not have enough positive things to say about the school.
The children and staff were caring, patient and adored my daughter. My only issue was that the school did not have enough resources to help her academically. By the end of grade 5 she was re-tested and had fallen to a grade 2 level.
Her IEP (individualized education plan) had 41 recommendations in 12 areas and that’s when I knew public education was not the place for my child. She stayed until Christmas break of her grade 6 year when SHE made the choice to be home schooled again.
My daughter has now regressed to a grade 1 level earning a 50% average, so we are back to square one with the academics but I am so relieved that she is back being home schooled where I can give her the one on one education she needs to grow up to be a successful adult.
She tells me everyday she is much happier being home schooled because she can focus easier and get her work done. Home schooling may not be for everyone but its what works with my children, my self and we love it.