Schools and teachers


Anonymous
on Jun 09, 2016 @ 11:34 pm

I've been feeling like teachers/principals are being very quick to "diagnose" kids with different things such as adhd, autism - different spectrums, add etc.
Does anyone else feel this as well?

 


3 Replies


prettyrainbow
. on Jun 10, 2016 @ 12:51 am

As a teacher myself, I can say that most of the colleagues I work with are very qualified to notice when something is just not right and it's our duty to make sure the child gets immediate help. We definitely don't pick disabled students out for the fun of it but rather because they definitely need assistance. That doesn't mean teachers and principals are supposed to diagnose the child and say that they definitely have a disorder. That's the psychologist's/psychiatrist's job. However, we do have the obligation to inform the parents about the behaviours we observe and to provide solutions. Since I am also a special needs specialist, my job is sort of in between these two ends. I work alongside teachers to assist students with disabilities and there are times when I do have to submit a report suggesting that a child may be disabled and then work alongside the psychologist to properly diagnose the child.

In the past when you and I were elementary/high school students, many disabilities were still not well understood. A lot of them went undiagnosed and a lot of these students were labelled as class clowns or were just put into the special education class with the assumption that they were learning disabled, when in reality, they may have had other disorders. A lot has changed since then. New research has given us the capability to recognize disabilities better and because of this, we are now making sure to test students at a much younger age, which is also the reason why you may notice more students being diagnosed.

Although the amount has increased, I've never once met a student that was wrongly diagnosed. Unfortunately, there are a variety of reasons why this is happening. Some students with ADHD can drastically improve behaviours through a simple change in diet and there has been a correlation between an increase in sugary, processed foods and an increase in ADD/ADHD. With the increase in divorces, we're seeing more and more at risk cases that also need to be diagnosed and assisted. Then there are disorders like autism or other sensory processing disorders where we're really not 100% sure what the real cause is, but we do know it's on the rise. Is it environmental factors like the ever increasing pollution? Is it hereditary and some form of transitional evolution that our bodies are going through? We just don't know yet.

I do feel that once diagnosed, some teachers don't always implement the strategies that are written in the child's IEP, but this is mostly due to the fact that teachers are swamped with work and there's a lack of help being offered to assist them. If you're not in the profession, you can't even begin to imagine how difficult this could be. It breaks our hearts to not be able to reach every student at once. We're always striving to change this and it would be of immense help if parents and citizens also do their part. You can write to your provincial government and let your voices be heard, that way more funding will be provided in this area and students can get the help they need and deserve.

Thank you for bringing such an important issue to the forum. I hope I was able to clarify this topic for you. Have a good night!

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Anonymous
Thank you on Jun 10, 2016 @ 01:19 am

Thank you prettyrainbow for your reply. I absolutely understand everything you had mentioned. I guess my concern is as follows.
My child has a few qwerks, as his teacher likes to call them. Well there are 2. One is, he doesn't like being in wet clothing (needs to change right away) and the second is, of another student bumps into my child, they feel it was purposely done and that the other student was trying to cause pain.
I personally don't see these as major issues. Not enough to say my child could be autistic. Everything else with my child is fine just those 2 things seem to be issues. Speaking with my child, turns out there are many kids in their classroom that have been diagnosed with autism. The principal for example has 4 children of his own and personally told me that he felt something was wrong with his kids and wouldn't stop with the soctors until they were all diagnosed and by the sounds of it 3/4 have autism or apectrums of autism and one suffers anxiety. I bet the one has anxiety cause the father was on their case too much about them not being normal.,,,just saying.
I understand there wasn't as much education on these topics back in the 80, 90 or even early 2000 but it just seems so out there that so many children now have these disabilities?!? These children are our future!! I even saw on the news the other week how hard it is for these children with autism to get employment after school is over because they've been labeled.some children yes obviously do need extra attention but some you really can't see what the issue is. And I would say it's more of me not seeing what the issue is. When I went to school I had 3 different schools before high school and only one child in my mind had issues with behaviour...but that was yes due to him having diabetes and he would act out when his blood sugars were not right.
I honestly don't recall any other students having any issues at all. So honestly I'm not really a believer that all these "apectrums" of autism exist. I really believe a lot of hear apectrums are made up and drilled into the child's head.
I'm sorry I know this can be a touchy subject and I'm probably going to get heckled cause I fully don't believe in this but I just don't.
Who is to day one persons behaviour is normal over the next child who acts a little different.

I too can't stand being in wet clothing and if someone hurts me I too may feel it is on purpose if there is no obvious reasoning behind why said person elbowed me or pushed me as I walked up the stairs etc.., does this mean I am autistic as well??
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prettyrainbow
. on Jun 10, 2016 @ 12:56 pm

You're absolutely right about the wet clothing. I for one would feel very uncomfortable if I had to spend the day in such a condition. If they are presenting you with only these two behaviours, then I have to agree that it's not enough to warrant saying the child is autistic. You need much more than that to back up the concern as well as extensive, accurate tests run by the child psychologist/psychiatrist. When I observe students who may have a disability, I make sure I've done it over a good period of time and have a variety of behaviours that keep occurring to back up my concerns. I wouldn't feel right otherwise and it's not fair to worry parents if you weren't absolutely certain that something was wrong. It isn't right for the principal to have compared your child to his own. Every child is different and has specific needs of his/her own.

On the other side of the coin, it wouldn't be right for a parent to completely dismiss what the teacher/principal is saying either. Remember, your child spends most of his day in the classroom and they may actually be noticing red flags - behaviours that really stand out and are not considered normal. I don't know how many times I've had parents tell me, "My child is a completely different person at home than what you're describing he/she is in the classroom". This may or may not be true in your child's case. The environment students are surrounded by at school could be offering a different kind of stimulation that could be too much for some to handle. At times, more of the symptoms are noticeable while they are doing tasks in the classroom than when they are relaxing at home.

Although the two points the teacher mentioned are not enough to diagnose the child, they can definitely still be signs of autism, mainly because of sensory processing issues. Some children on the spectrum can't handle other people touching them, which sometimes results in fights with other students and even the slightest drop of water on their clothes could result in a panic attack. Therefore, I can see why they might think it points to ASD but you have to back it up with more substance than this.

Here are a few more signs to look out for. You can find an extensive list online if you'd like to really look into all the behaviours, but here are a few I'll mention:

Does your child avoid making eye contact? Does he respond when you speak to him? Is he able to describe his feelings to you? Does he sometimes transition from speaking very loudly to a barely audible whisper or vice versa? Is he clumsy? Does he line up or stack objects in precise order that if you were to disturb it in any way, it would result in a meltdown or at the very least, a noticeable annoyance? Does he cringe at loud noises or crowded space? Does he respond with a question instead of giving you an answer? Does he rock back and forth or flap his hands? Does he have difficulty making and keeping friends? What about his development as a baby? Did he reach all of his milestones normally? Is his handwriting very messy? Does he have trouble with being organized - is his desk always a disaster? Does he space out frequently? Does he take a lot of time to complete simple tasks? Does he repeat words or phrases others say, sort of like an echo? Is he fascinated and obsessed by a particular subject, for example, airplanes, whereby he knows everything that has to do with this subject? Etc... Etc...

These signs need to be occurring constantly and although not all of them will be present, a good bunch of them will be. Some will be more subtle than others, but it takes a lot of observation in different types of settings (ex: home, classroom, recess, gym class, shopping, playdates, etc...) to really notice a pattern.

It's obvious and understandable that no parent would want this for their child. Every parent hopes that their children grow healthy and strong. Unfortunately, it's sad to say that the spectrum really does exist and it's so wide of an umbrella that it takes on many faces. You can have a high functioning, verbal student with autistic tendencies, or a non-verbal child who spends his days screaming at the top of his lungs in order to communicate. There are also children with Asperger's who are extremely intelligent in certain areas of study, but demonstrate signs of autism as well. It varies from child to child. To say that it doesn't exist is not helping a situation that desperately needs answers. I do, however, sympathize with your frustration because it is true that it's becoming an increasing problem in our society.

What I would suggest you do is book an appointment with your pediatrician ASAP as well as with the school's psychologist, just to be on the safe side and to rule out any possibility that this may be autism. You want to do this as quickly as possible because the wait lists for testing and acquiring the needed help can take years. This is not a "wait and see" situation, unfortunately. The longer a parent waits to get help, the more severe the symptoms can actually become and it will be even more difficult to integrate the child into the work force later on.

The most important advice I give to parents who initially hear our concerns is this: Denial never helps the child. It is better to cross all the T's and dot all the I's before saying it doesn't exist. You'd be denying your child the chance at help if he really does have what they are saying. Specialists like myself can't always assist every child, especially if they do not have an IEP (Individual Education Plan) and they usually only get one once they have been tested and diagnosed. That means that if your child requires any modifications to their curriculum, the team of teachers and other professionals can make that happen. If he doesn't have anything, at least you'll be able to confirm it. Like I said, most who are in this profession are looking out for the best interest of the child and not to set him back. I can attest that I've seen how much of a difference the role of early intervention plays in dealing with disabilities. Some students can improve drastically because of this. I know it's a pain to have to go around from doctor to doctor but it's always better to be safe than sorry. You'll save yourself a lot of complications in the end.

I really wish you and your child the best and hope you'll find the answers you need very soon. All the best!

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