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TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
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Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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I am hoping that you can help me. I have a six-year-old

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I am hoping that you can help me. I have a six-year-old daughter in a private school. Up until this year (1st grade) my daughter has had no problems, although we did notice signs of inattentiveness. My pediatrician recommended a psychiatrist who prescribed Ritalin. In our first parent/teacher conference with her first grade teacher we were told that my daughter might have a learning disability and strongly urged an evaluation from the school district. So we immediately made arrangements to have her evaluated. The evaluation stated that my daughter was average to above average in some areas and below average in other areas like speech, which we already knew about. They stated that absent the ADHD diagnosis she would not qualify for special education services. In the meantime, prior to the evaluation I gave the nurse a prescription and a letter from the doctor on the recommended Ritalin dosages.We continued to receive negative comments about my daughters progress in school from her teacher. With every report, we would continue to hear that my daughter is not making any progress, she can't count 20, she doesn't know first second third or fourth are. It was just a litany of incredulous statements. When the evaluation was available I gave a copy to her teacher and told her that absent the ADHD they really didn't find anything wrong. Since then she has gone on a crusade about how my daughter has a problem with the integration of new information and short-term retension. In the classroom my daughter sits far away from the other group. She has also been sent back to kindergarten for review. Since then my daughter has cried every time she gets an answer wrong etc, etc.
That's the initial story, but I have a different view of my daughter and know better than anyone. She is six years old and she plays violin quite successfully, she's in a Suzuki music program and in the second book which is quite an accomplishment. She also takes ballet and is doing very well with that. She also has a multitude of books that she picks up and reads without prompting.When I work with her on her homework assignments I am very surprised that she knows the material very well.
Presently, I went to the last parent/teacher conference and the teacher's opinion has not changed. In fact, she went a little further and I found out a few things. I asked her how was possible for my daughter not to know first, second, third or fourth when she is constantly being asked to play the violin and her fingers represent different notes first finger on A, second finger on D etc, etc. I tried to point out that with the evaluation and my personal observations that she really can't be as bad as she depicts. She then admitted that she cannot teach my daughter and I my daughter learns differently from the rest her brilliant class. I also found out that they were not administering the Ritalin as per the doctors recommendations. They said they were concerned about the dosage( my daughter takes 10 mg at 6 AM and they were supposed to administer another 10 mg at 11 AM). The nurse and the teacher both stated that when they began the drugs that there was no change in her behavior or attentiveness so they stopped administering the drug.
The principal called yesterday and stated that this was the first time that he has heard that my daughter was evaluated or that she was diagnosed with ADHD. He further elaborated that she never had a problem in the four years she has been with them. Oddly, he stated that he wanted to see my daughter's medical records that lead to the MDs diagnosis of the ADHD. I asked why would you want to see that when you have an evaluation that states absent the ADHD she does not qualify for special education. I also elaborated on the teacher and nurses behavior. Maybe had she been on the Ritalin she would have shown a better improvement. I said, it's not making any sense to me are you trying to tell me that she has a deeper learning disability or or you saying that she doesn't need the Ritalin. He stated that it was the ADHD that surprised him, because she's always been very very good student. Your teacher is convinced that she has deeper problems
Anyway I've ranted long enough, my CSC meeting with the school is nearing and I want to excuse the teacher from the meeting. In fact, I don't want to go to the meeting or have any more to do with the entire situation. I just want to meet with my MD and have my daughter happy about being average. I also would like a change in teachers for the next two months. I think that a new atmosphere would help her self-esteem, which has really hit an all-time low. Thanks to my $1000 and month private school.
I would really really appreciate some help and maybe a little advice. I'm sorry that this was such a long message but I need to talk to someone

Hi, I'd like to help you with your question.

I certainly understand you being upset about this situation. It sounds like from what you told me that your daughter has been targeted by this teacher, who for some reason has an issue with your daughter's learning ability. There also seems to be a lot of miscommunication going on in the school about your daughter's abilities.

First, do you agree with your daughter's diagnosis of ADHD? Children can often be inattentive. That alone is never a sign of ADHD. There are numerous other symptoms that the child needs to have before ADHD is considered. The problem here is that the ADHD diagnosis has been overused in recent years and therefore Ritalin has been used in cases where it is not needed. If you agree that your daughter may have ADHD and you feel she is improving on the medication, then the diagnosis is most likely the correct one. If not, you may want to seek a second opinion.

Two, from the list of your daughter's skills and abilities, it seems to me that given her agel, she could be a gifted child. Playing a violin is not easy and it often takes someone who has mastered complex thinking processes. Also, if your daughter loves to read and is communicating with you and others in appropriate ways, there is no reason to believe there is anything wrong with her. What the teacher might be seeing is a child who is very high on the intelligence scale and she may not recognize what she is seeing. You may want to consider having your daughter's IQ tested. The current and most up to date test is called the WISC-III. You can talk with any psychologist for more information on how to get the test done. But if you do, you may have proof that your daughter is at least of normal intelligence, if not higher. It would also help her self esteem to know this information.

Three, it is illegal for the school to withhold your daughter's medication. They are not allowed to make decisions only a physician is qualified to make. You can talk with your attorney if you feel you want to pursue this situation legally.

Four, you may want to consider having your daughter seen by a therapist. She has been singled out by her teacher and other adults in this school and basically bullied. They have called her intelligence into question (something any adult should never do to a child, regardless of that child's abilities) and she has been led to believe she is different than other children. This is very damaging to her self esteem and possibly might affect her future academic performance. Ask her doctor for a referral to a qualified therapist who can help her.

Five, you may want to consider changing schools. It sounds like there are numerous problems at this school and the fact that a teacher and school nurse act like this without any recourse on your part is unprofessional and downright dangerous. I know you mentioned changing teachers, which may help. However, this may not change the situation enough to help your daughter.

If you do decide to have the meeting at the school, excluding the teacher is a good idea. Just be sure you do not feel she would take it out on your daughter. She sounds like she has issues and retaliation does not seem out of the possibilities for her.

Please let me know if I can help you with any other questions you may have.

I hope this has helped you,

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