Wednesday, December 14, 2011

IEP Meeting

Yesterday, the school scheduled our annual delight known as the IEP meeting.

The news from the front: the school is as concerned as we are about Danielle's mental health, and the kid has some wildly unrealistic career goals.

Apparently, Danielle is now starting to exhibit mental health issues at school that are different from those she exhibits at home, and her behaviors are significantly interfering with her ability to get her work done.  The school's opinion is that she is often using these things as techniques to create distractions, or as tools for procrastination. 

The school  is very concerned.

Even when Danielle isn't having mental health moments at school that interfere with her work, they are noticing that she will often socialize in an attempt to delay or defer her work.

But the list of the school's concern's doesn't stop at her procrastination.  They have noticed that she is almost completely unable to complete her assignments independently.  She gets frustrated easily, doesn't understand what she is supposed to do, and can't seem to do the work unless someone sits with her and explains every little concept.  This doesn't bode well, obviously, for her career goals, which I'll get to in a minute.

At this point, the school is trying to refer Danielle for even more mental health services.  They completely hear and understand our concerns about her behavior at home, and they are trying to do something beyond what our adoptions assistance package will cover.  Hopefully, this will come on line very soon, as we've had many days lately where we've been hanging on by a thread.  Danielle has been very volatile of late, going from extremely sweet to extremely nasty in just a few minutes.

Last night, for example, she called me bad names because I needed to give a friend a ride home.  My friend, who had stopped by for a visit after work, doesn't drive.  We'd decided to continue our socializing until after the last bus, which stops running around dinner time, so we agreed to give our friend a ride home.  When Danielle learned we were all getting in the car to drive my friend home, she was extremely angry about it.

Sorry kid, we aren't going to leave you alone unsupervised, and we'd prefer not to leave you alone with only one adult home if we can avoid it.

We were home by 9:30 PM, so it wasn't as if we'd kept everybody up to some ungodly hour.

Going back to the IEP meeting, one of the items discussed was career planning and transitional services.  It seems that Danielle has some hugely unrealistic goals set aside for herself.  Apparently, when she turns 18, she plans to move out of state and get a job as a waitress.  There, she will save money to go to medical school to become a surgeon, and when she's completed that goal she'll join the military.

Ummm, yeah.

Now I know for most people, it's entirely possible to achieve pretty much any goal.  Unfortunately, Danielle isn't most people.  Her academic delays leave her incredibly far behind her peers, and she's especially weak in the math and hard sciences needed for admission into such a program.  Even if Danielle were to be accepted, she doesn't have the tenacity or independent study skills to be able to make her way through.

As for the military, I doubt they would take her.  She's at least an inch smaller than the minimum height requirements for service members, it is looking quite likely she won't be able to pass our state's high school exit examination to get her diploma, and her mental health diagnoses would also be a barrier to service.

So the school's career counselor is working to try to help Danielle settle on more reasonable goals.  They plan to meet with a military recruiter, and to aid Danielle in researching what would be required to be admitted to medical school.  They are hoping once she's turned down by the recruiter and sees how much time, study, and money medical school will cost, that she'll settle on something more within her grasp.

The school is also quite concerned about the fact that Danielle will turn 18 long before she finishes high school.  Unless she can find a way to accelerate her progress, she will come of age during her Junior (third) year of high school.  She'll have a year remaining, and at this point it's pretty clear she most likely will not be living here.  Although she'd be welcome to stay if she could get her behavior under control, it doesn't seem that will happen.  Even if she were able to get herself under control, she's continually expressing a desire not to be here.

I hope the kid will graduate, but she's so far behind it appears that it may not be possible.  She's 16 years old, and still cannot read your average newspaper with fluency.

More and more I feel like I'm watching this kid slowly collide with an ugly destiny we'd hoped she would avoid.  She's like the proverbial horse we have lead to the water, but for whatever reason, whether it be stubbornness, a lack of ability, or a lack of desire, she simply will not drink.


  1. That phrase takes on a whole new meaning with our kids. I am convinced at this point that they are not able to be helped if they don't see a problem. No problem - no need to change. My dd had some pretty outlandish "goals". I wish I could have helped her achieve those goals, but she didn't actually want to do any of the work required to get there. She was and still is, under the impression that if you want to do something, it will just happen. It hasn't worked for her so far, but I guess hope springs eternal when you live in fantasy land!

    I am very glad the school is catching these things. It really validates your concerns.

  2. Having the school on your side may be a big plus. I hope so.

  3. I have one who wanted to go into the military, but his diagnoses and meds will keep him out... only the military recruiter won't actually admit it. He hated me for being the one to tell him.

    The school will NOT admit my kids are not college material though. My daughter wanted to be a brain surgeon (make lots of money), and she has more academic issues than yours, although she loves school... the school just wouldn't tell her. Of course she hated me for finally telling her. Neither of them can handle criticism (even implied).

    We can't get the school to acknowledge the kids have issues, and now we're running out of time. I envy your school validating you. I hope you have better luck getting services.



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