Yesterday, I came across an article that really spoke to me. I immediately sent it to my daughter’s principal. Give it a read and then scroll down to read what I have to say about the emotional abuse of our children. In our case; two special needs children.
The emotional abuse of our children: Teachers, schools, and the sanctioned violence of modern institutions.
by Dr. Michael S.
I want to start this article by doing a little experiment. Imagine for a moment that you are in a group of twenty people. In that twenty people, there is a defined leader and that leader is responsible for motivating you, teaching you, and otherwise organizing the group activities. Things are going along OK but then at some point the group leader decides…[read more]
There are some really horrible stories out there. The things that they do to our children. The article is written from the perspective of a parent whose child does not have an IEP. A child who does not need supports and help throughout the day. This abuse is happening to children every day. The lunch practices I discussed yesterday apply this same sanctioned abuse practice to humiliate the child to force the parent to remember to pay.
a little history
In second grade, the school cleared out a closet and locked my son in it. They actually put it in the IEP. They actually made this part of his day. I didn’t know any better. I was new to the IEP system and had no understanding of the law. The “room” they had selected for him was a storage closet. There was no handle on the inside. I had to call the fire department, and they sent a fire marshal to tell the school that they absolutely could not put my son in a room without a way to exit of your own volition. You see, in the event of a fire, people panic. They may not have even remembered there was a kid in there. Scary isn’t it?
But as long as it took me to find someone who was willing to stop them much of the damage was already done. By middle school, it was a part of his IEP that he be permitted to go off by himself. Whenever he needed to desensitize. Whenever he needed a break. He was in charge of choosing when. He had a place to go in the library. But, he went there often. He spent most of his time there. He missed out on doing the school work. Then, they chastised him for not doing it. Made it part of his goals to complete work. They’d forgotten to teach him to actually do it.
history repeats itself
And the horror stories repeat over and over again. We’re told his academics are not important. He’s told he’s no better than the family dog by one principal. Both of my children suffer at the hands of adults that are supposedly there to help them, protect them, and dare I say nurture them a little. I’ve suffered abuse, too. I’ve even been in fear for my life at one of our IEP meetings.
We were given no other choice but to homeschool our daughter or to allow the abuse to continue. We homeschooled for a year and a half. We live in a different district now. We decided to let her go back to school. And the cycle is repeating itself again. Monday, she had a meltdown that resulted in her coming home. The meltdown happened in the gym while they were lined up to go back to class. She was sent home for a day and a half. When she arrived at school yesterday, her desk had been moved away from everybody.
And so she has another rough day. They take away her recesses. They spend a lot of time putting her little 10 year old self alone in a room full of grown ups. They all talk at her. No one listens to her. They get me on the phone. She expresses herself to me. That she’s being separated. I reiterate to them what she is saying. They all jump to the defense at once. It’s still near everyone else. It’s at the front of the classroom. When they went to technology, she was put back with everyone and that’s when her meltdown happened.
And there she is, in the principal’s office, sitting at the table with a group of authority figures, reprimanding, lecturing, and from what I can hear yelling at her. They claim they are wanting to work with me, to work with her, to find a solution. But, they’re not listening to her. She is telling them what is bothering her just as we told her she needs to do. She’s yelling it at them in the background. I’m saying it calmly back to her. “I understand that [this] has happened and now you are feeling [emotion].” It’s basic.
They dismiss it. “She’s been trying to talk about that all day,” they reply dismissively and then want to get back to discussing the behaviors. They’re not listening to me. They’re not listening to her. This child is expressing her emotions. She is flat out telling them what is making her anxiety so high. Does it matter that they cannot understand it? Does it matter that to them it is not something worth getting upset or anxious about? No. Because she gets anxious about it. She has an anxiety disorder.
But, she’s not the only one they dismiss. I’ve explained her anxiety to them. I’ve told them that she is terrified of school because of the abuse she has suffered at the hands of the grownups in charge. We described her injuries to them. I’ve told them what signs there will be that she is not handling things well. I’ve told them the things they are doing to escalate the situation. I’ve made suggestions, I’ve made observations. Sometimes, they even pretend they are listening. Then, they show by their actions that they are not.
They are education professionals. They know that you need to learn to grow. That’s why they’re teaching our youth. And I understand that children with special needs present a special challenge at times. Some of these challenges are welcomed and embraced. Many of these students have nothing but positive experiences. Sadly, still many more are sufferers like my own children. And many of those children suffering will act out. They are trying to communicate.
Children’s verbal skills do not match that of an adult. They are still learning how to verbalize like their grown up counterparts want them to do. Some disabilities make communication even harder to learn. The grown ups have to be listening. They have to pay attention. Have you ever been so frustrated during an argument with someone that you were literally at a loss for words? Have you ever explained yourself over and over again only to find that no matter what words you use, the person you are speaking to is still not understanding you? Frustrating, isn’t it?
These children are becoming so frustrated at being ignored that they don’t know what to do with it. It seems so simple to me. It seems so obvious. This understanding communication, children, and special needs is the reason why I don’t see these kinds of fits from my kids. It’s why the children they become at school is not the child I know. I work with them. I listen to them. I try my best to help them communicate.
They’re not listening to me either. I am the most important member of the IEP team. I am the one with a success rate with my child. I am the one who is hearing her express her feelings. She is telling them what is causing her anxiety. All they have to do is listen. They need to listen to her, listen to me. They need to read the articles and emails I send them. They need to apply the things I’ve learned.
When it comes to my daughter, I’m the expert. I’m the teacher. I’m the one who holds the answers. I don’t want to come up with a plan of what to do if these behaviors happen. I want a plan that will be effective in preventing these behaviors from happening. I want to lead this team to success. They are not the professionals here. I am. I was trained to provide this kind of care. I have two children who require this kind of care. Let me be an asset. That’s all I ask.
As I’ve been typing this, I’ve also been on the phone with my daughter’s school. Dealing with the cycle repeating itself again. My husband has gone to collect her. She cannot handle being there today. Her anxiety is so high she is just screaming and crying and melting down.
They won’t be able to tell me what they did to raise her anxieties. They will downplay how they handled things. After all, it’s human nature to paint yourself into the story. If you wish to play the hero, you must also paint somebody in the part of the villain. This means writing you as only making positive, supportive decisions while the villain did all the negative, destructive decision making.
It’s not really so black and white though. But I will keep fighting for my child’s safety and well-being. I will not sit idly by while the adults in yet another school attempt to use bullying tactics on my child. I will stand up and fight. I will continue to fight for my children and their safety and well being. I’m a mother, hear me roar!