HELP, I have Parents from HELL!!

Discussion in 'General Education' started by love2help, Jul 7, 2010.

  1. love2help

    love2help Rookie

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    Jul 7, 2010

    What is the best way to work with parents who deny the existence of a disabilty and/or the need for medication?

    I have student who was taking Ritalin and for whom it was working for. The mother passed away and the father refuses to put his son on meds and says he needs to learn to cope. The student is really disruptive, innattentive and falling behind.
     
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  3. jd019

    jd019 Companion

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    Sounds like this family is going through some hard times. Just be clear that your number one priority is doing what's best for the child, that an document, document, document!
     
  4. shouldbeasleep

    shouldbeasleep Enthusiast

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    You can't ask that the child be put on medication. What if there wasn't anything available for ADHD? How would you reach that child? And yes, please do document. Keep the tone very professional when you meet, but show the dad all of the disruptions to his learning.

    I hope my tone is not condescending. I have had some children in the same situation, and by now I've figured out that there is nothing I can do. We're not even allowed to mention medication unless we plan on being told by the parent's attorney that the school system has to provide it since we felt it was needed.

    It is frustrating to both you and the child. I wonder if (after things have calmed down) you could invite the Dad in the classroom. Otherwise, there just isn't a lot you can do besides the normal staying near, refocusing with proximity, taking away distractions, chunking assignments....
     
  5. pwhatley

    pwhatley Maven

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    Could you conference with your school counselor about possible strategies? Also, perhaps the counselor could meet with the student/parent as well.
     
  6. wrice

    wrice Habitué

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    I don't believe you can do nothing. I don't believe school districts can be compelled to provide medication, especially when this kid is already diagnosed and prescribed. I think you should state your case carefully and thoughtfully, and advocate for this kid. I think this would be my planned conversation:

    * Be courteous, sympathetic, understanding. Recognize and praise positive attributes in the boy, give an anecdote that shows you know the boy well and enjoy him in class, and praise father for successful things he has done with his son

    * Reinforce that everyone is on the same team and truly wants for the success of the son, but recent downturns have you concerned.

    * I've used the story of my glasses- I was born with myopia and have imperfect vision. To see well I need glasses. I'm not embarrassed by it, not terribly inconvenienced by it, with my glasses I can see perfectly, but without my glasses I cannot focus clearly or function normally. ADD or ADHD is a very similar biological condition, an imbalance in brain chemistry, that prohibits the student from focusing clearly or functioning normally. There should be no feelings of a stigma attached to this diagnosis, no feelings of ineptitude or inferiority. It is just a fact. I need help seeing, this boy needs help focusing. Dad would buy him glasses wouldn't he? Or fix a broken bone? This is no different. Merely "learning to cope" with poor eyesight would really rob me of my potential.

    * Disorganization, forgetfulness, and poor time management are ADD symptoms that students can learn to cope with, and you as the teacher can help him with strategies. Not being able to sit still, focus, separate incoming stimuli, or align consecutive thoughts are much harder to learn to cope with. Tell dad that his son is experiencing everything in the world as though there is a radio and a TV on inside his head, competing for his attention.

    * Present work samples and anecdotes that demonstrate his inability to focus or his disruptive behavior. Be factual, without blame or interrogation. Try to get from the kid beforehand any feelings he has about his ability to focus and do work. Sometimes kids know they can't focus and wish all by themselves that they could work better.

    * Ask about any trepidations the father has regarding medication- has father seen ticks, lack of appetite, changes in personality? State that you are quite willing to work with doctors to monitor side effects and make sure the prescription is appropriate. See if there are any other concerns for medication- cost, hassle of seeing the pediatrician or hassle of giving the pill to him every morning- and see if you can give help or encouragement.

    * Return back to those happy, positive opening anecdotes and present your wishes that this student be more able to work through difficulties and have more success. The best news is, we can fix all of this! Meds have worked in the past and are likely to benefit him again! And in the end, the decision is dad's and dad's alone, which you should respect.

    Dad may not be from hell. He may be going through hell. He may not want to lose his son whom he sees as a vibrant and energetic kid that is boring and complacent on meds. He may be overwhelmed with the duties of single-parenthood and might be wanting to cut out unneeded expenses or hassles. He may feel that medication shows his son is inferior or imperfect, that he just needs to 'buck up' and deal with it. There may be any number of roadblocks. See if you can bridge that gap.

    Good luck!
     
  7. CanukTeach

    CanukTeach Companion

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    I believe it depends on your district. In my district we can't tell a parent to put their child on meds, but we can bring up this issue without fear of litigation. This may not be the case in all places.

    I would conference with the dad. I would develop a plan for the student without meds but I would also bring up the question of meds. I would say "I'm not a doctor, but....." and discuss the changes that have been observed since going off meds.
     
  8. Southern JC

    Southern JC Companion

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    I agree with pwhatley. I'm fortunate enough to have a great counselor that will listen and help stategize with situations like these. I also agree with not making the use of medication your prime answer to this problem. Do talk with your counselor, take any and all documentation, conference with the student and parent. Good luck.
     
  9. skittleroo

    skittleroo Connoisseur

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    oooh, I'd find out. I know in Texas we are NOT allowed to discuss meds. I've worked in 2 districts and both are exactly the same. We can tell the problems we see, but can't even mention the kid needs to go to the doctor or needs meds or even that they did better on meds.
     
  10. bros

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    The medication thing is covered under Section 504 or IDEIA, I forget which. It basically says that school personnel cannot outright state something like "put your kid on meds or they get no IEP"
     
  11. kimrandy1

    kimrandy1 Enthusiast

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    Here, in MD, my understanding is that you cannot approach medication because you are not a doctor. You cannot diagnose or talk about dosages or needs. You CAN, and should, talk about behavior in class, compare on-med and off-med achiecvement and disruption, the child's self-esteem, etc.
     
  12. funshine2381

    funshine2381 Companion

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    Yes, you do have some parents from hell. I teach in Texas and was never told that I could not tell a parent to put their child on meds (not that I would), it's just something that I don't think I'm qualified to suggest; HOWEVER, I do have a son on medication and I communicate regularly with his teachers on how he is doing on it, especially when there has been a change. His teachers are more than happy to share info on his progress or any issues concerning his meds. I've heard several teachers complain about certain students not taking their meds and ask why their parents do this when the child is so much better on the meds. Well, I'm not sure the exact answer, but I know that one might be the hurdles that one must jump through to actually get the meds for their child. Most ADHD medications are CONTROLLED SUBSTANCES and they only give a 30 day supply. There are NO refills. In Texas, the prescription can't be called in, there has to be a signature on a special prescription pad for controlled substances. Some doctor's offices will mail in the prescription, but often times they will make you come in for a visit before they will write you a prescription. I've been dealing with meds for my son for 9 years and let me tell you that it is a HASSLE. I lived 45miles away from the city and had to drive to the doctor to get the prescription because they couldn't mail it. Some parents (like me) will jump through the hoops necessary to get the services and meds their child needs. It sounds like this family is going through a lot and maybe the father does not have the know how or resources to actually get the medicine....I'm sure he has a lot on his mind. Maybe the mother was the one who handled the child's meds. I know that fathers are the one that are often in denial that their child has a disability. I'm not sure what the solution to this is, but please think about other possibilities. It's not like you can just go down to Wal-Mart and pull a box of Ritalin or Adderall off the shelf.
     
  13. skittleroo

    skittleroo Connoisseur

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  14. skittleroo

    skittleroo Connoisseur

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    Bros do you happen to know what part of IDEA mentions not suggesting meds??? I know you are very knowledgeable in this area.
     
  15. funshine2381

    funshine2381 Companion

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    Maybe it's different where I teach, but in my son's ARDS and in some of my student's ARDS, we discuss the child's medication use and try to all be on the same page with the child's progress on the meds...especially if it's new. We never come right out and say "Put your kid on meds!" As a teacher, yes, I would stay away from that....but have the counselor or diagnostician address the situation or not. Also, my son's teachers have filled out paper work for my son's specialist and given feedback on his meds. My point is that it's not unheard of for a teacher to be involved with the medication process. But no, the school can't FORCE anyone to be put on meds.
     
  16. boomer mitra

    boomer mitra Rookie

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    well I guess the father needs some time to establish his mind after the death of wife.
     
  17. CanukTeach

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    Bros there is a difference between discussing how a child has changed since going off meds and saying they won't get an IEP if they are not on meds. I was advocating the former not the later. And Canada doesn't have national legislation on this matter. I always call home when one of my students says they didn't have their meds that day - usually their parents don't realize they didn't have them and want them to have them. This is clearly more touchy b/c it is a situation where it is a choice to be off meds but I still see nothing wrong with discussing behaviour concerns and, in that context, discussing the change since meds were stopped as long as it is within your district's normal policies.
     
  18. skittleroo

    skittleroo Connoisseur

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    Yes, that is definitely where OP needs to start - asking admin. I would defintely need to be a cautious conversation here - but maybe not everywhere.
     
  19. Chalk

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    Could a teacher invoke Parentis Locus as defense for discussing the students medication with the parent or guardian if they parent had complaints?
     
  20. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Are you talking about a lawsuit?

    Probably not a good idea as an opening salvo.

    As I understand it--legal experts, feel free to correct me-- loco parentis is acting in place of the parents when they're not available, not when you disagree with their parenting.
     
  21. MissCeliaB

    MissCeliaB Aficionado

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    Also, parents must sign a specific document that the school has permission to act in loco parentis. My boarding school had this, so it meant that our parents had to sign us out if we left campus with them.
     
  22. Chalk

    Chalk Companion

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    Now that I consider it more you I think you are right, might not be a good idea.



    When Parentis locus was taught to me, the instructor explained that the it is the means by which the government says teachers can set and enforce rules, discipline students and make decisions with regards to the safety and successfulness of students while at the school. I have book in my teaching library that goes into better detail and Parentis Locus can also be adjusted by each state under the 10th amendment. IN TN. Parentis Locus is sited as one of the arguments for keeping paddling in our schools.

    (Incidentally
    I despise corporal punishment and I won't send a student to the office if I suspect he or she may get spanked by the principal )

    My spouse says teachers may inadvertently violate HIPPA laws if they do discuss medical issues without the parent first initiating. Even though we are not medical people we are government employees and she believes the law would apply if a good lawyer could explain it just enough.
     
  23. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

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    Most schools do not have this agreement with parents. Alice is completely correct.
     
  24. bros

    bros Phenom

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    Let me see if I can find the exact part.

    I'll go look and check, I forget which it is in.

    Quick search, was able to find:

    Medication administration: In addition to current requirements on medication administration, LEA personnel are prohibited from requiring a student to obtain a prescription for a substance covered under the Controlled Substances Act (20 U.S.C. 801 et seq.) as a condition of attending school, receiving an educational evaluation, or receiving special education and related services. 20 U.S.C. § 1412(a)(25)(A). However, nothing prevents LEA personnel from consulting or sharing classroom-based observations with parents regarding a student’s academic and functional performance or behavior in the classroom or school regarding the need for evaluation for special education and related services. 20 U.S.C. § 1412(a)(25)(B).

    http://www.wrightslaw.com/law/idea/section1412.pdf

    The last page of the document.
     
  25. bros

    bros Phenom

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    No, a teacher would not be able to invoke it in that situation. It could only be raised if the parent was 100% uncooperative with documentation to back up the claims of not cooperating. If the parent attends IEP meetings, responds to the district representative/case manager, they are cooperating.
     
  26. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    I think schools use it when there's an unforseen situation, and someone needs to make a decision.

    So, for example, when if one of my kids fell in the school yard and needed stitches, they would try to contact us and everyone on our contact list. If, somehow, they couldn't get a hold or anyone, they could act in loco parentis and bring her to the ER. Where, of course, they would refuse to treat her unless it were life threatening. But if it were, they would be acting in place of the parents.
     
  27. bros

    bros Phenom

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    Here we go...

    http://www.wrightslaw.com/blog/?p=58

    * In loco parentis
    The legal term “in loco parentis” (Latin for “in the place of a parent”) refers to the legal responsibility of a person or organization to take on parental responsibilities. This concept allows schools to act in the best interests of their students. When a child has a severe food allergy, in loco parentis requires school staff to accept responsibility for providing help and protection.
     
  28. MissCeliaB

    MissCeliaB Aficionado

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    Bros, that is a VERY simplistic explanation. Yes, of course the school has the responsibility to protect the child in a life-threatening situation. For example, when I was at boarding school, I fell and hit my head. The school nurse immediately took me to the ER. However, at the same boarding school, I had several friends who refused to take their meds for ADD or ADHD. The nurse could remind them to take them, but could not force them to do so. "Best interests of the students" can be taken to mean many things, and what schools and other organizations are allowed to do is very limited. As I said, my parents specifically signed a paper giving the school the authority to discipline and care for me in the way that they saw fit without prior permission from my parents. Not all public schools have this parent contract.
     
  29. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Right. Without an urgent crisis, I've never heard of it being invoked. It's pretty much a guarantee of a lawsuit.
     
  30. bros

    bros Phenom

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    All I did was copy the example from wrightslaw.
     
  31. MissCeliaB

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    I wasn't criticizing you in any way. I was just expanding on that definition. I feel like the explanation didn't explain all the nuances involved with it. Remember, there are two parts of it: if you take on the role of parent, it is possible that under law you could be required to expand your role in raising the child! (An extreme example that usually only happens in step-families, but still, a legal possibility.)

    I've honestly never heard of Wright's Law before (I guess I'm out of the loop) so to me it didn't hold any weight as being an expert source. I was going by what I knew from person experience, what I learned in educational law courses, and what I learned from law dictionaries online.
     
  32. skittleroo

    skittleroo Connoisseur

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    Yes wright's law in well known in special ed. I would want to know more because everything I have ALWAYS been told my employers is that we as teachers may only discuss our classroom observation....that we may in NO way ever discuss whether a child be evaluated, suggest the possbility of having ADHD (although I believe teachers are more qualified to diagnose that than doctors ;0).

    I am a mother of 2 boys with ADHD. I do medicate but I absolutely have a right NOT to medicate. While ADHD is a disability and protected as such. It is not a disability that unmedicated could be considered neglect. It's a choice. If the father chooses not to medicate - that is it.

    The schools have absolutely NO RIGHT to choose for my child to be medicated. Allowing such would definitely be a slippery slope for parental rights (and no wonder parent support for public school has dwindled). We should all be terrified if the government/school were allowed to give our kids a controlled substance against our wishes. Heaven forbid that ever happen.

    As a public school teacher myself I teach many kids with this problem like many of us. They do tend to be more difficult. I always try to approach a child like this as a challenge that will help me become a better teacher. And maybe just maybe I will give him/her some tools to help deal with their disability in school.
     
  33. Icare

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    Federal and state law prohibit schools from requiring that students obtain a
    prescription for medications which are on the federal list of controlled substances
    as a condition of receiving services, being assessed or attending school. [20 U.S.C.
    Sec. 1412(a)(25); 34 C.F.R. Sec. 300.174; Cal. Educ. Code Sec. 56040.5.]
     
  34. Cerek

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    Maybe I'm just naive', but I don't see how discussing the possibility of meds can be interpreted as the school "requiring" meds. Yet, many of the responses so far seem to be making that leap.

    Suggesting consideration of meds is not the same as saying "put your kids on meds or they don't get an IEP". It is saying "From observations made in the classroom of your child and other students, those diagnosed with ADHD are normally able to focus better with the help of medication."

    I think wrice had the best approach, by far, to this topic. Comparing ADHD to eyesight is a perfect example. I wear glasses as well and I cannot just "make" my eyesight get better through will power, concentration or discipline. I have to have glasses to focus my eyesight.

    I understand the father's attitude. Men often seem to feel their kids just need to "suck it up" and learn to cope. That's a common reaction to ADHD, but the parents need to understand the child can NOT just "cope" or "try harder" to improve their focus. There is a chemical imbalance that literally prevents them from doing that, just as my imbalance prevents my eyesight from being perfect.

    I also have two sons that are ADHD and I've seen the difference medication can make first hand. A lot of the stigma comes from several years ago when doctors would medicate kids so heavily they became robotic or zombie-like. That is NOT the case anymore. There are several medications available besides Ritalin and doctors work hard to prescribe just the right dosage based on age and weight.
     
  35. bros

    bros Phenom

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    Wrightslaw is essentially a special education law site, maintained by one of the big name lawyers, who tends to mostly defend parents
     
  36. skittleroo

    skittleroo Connoisseur

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    because, as it has ALWAYS been explained to me, we are not doctors and cannot give a parent an impression that we know the problem (even if we do). At least where I am at, we can discuss over activity, unfocus, impulsiveness, etc. We can even say this is affect him in school and you may want to talk to doctor about it. But we cannot say you should have him screened for ADHD.
     
  37. skittleroo

    skittleroo Connoisseur

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    It's not based on age and weight. The dosage is based on severity of symptoms. There are still serious concerns for these drugs. My son HAS to have such a high dose compared to his 40lb body that he often suffers headaches and upset stomach. He absolutely cannot learn without something to focus him, so I choose to medicate him and help the symptoms the best I can. However no one should be able to force a parent into that.
     
  38. Cerek

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    The child in question has already been diagnosed and treated for ADHD, so you are discussing a condition that is already documented. The issue is dad's unwillingness to continue the meds. I understand the school cannot require - or even request - the student stay on meds. At most, you can only comment on the changes you see in the child when they are taking meds vs when they are not.

    As for the meds themselves, the initial dosage is based on age and weight, as well as severity of symptoms. The dosage is then "adjusted" as needed if symptoms persist or if reaction to the meds is too strong.
     
  39. bros

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    You can refer the child to the CST for an evaluation, then the parents will agree or disagree to one, and a connors would probably be done along with additional testing
     
  40. skittleroo

    skittleroo Connoisseur

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    I fully understand that the child was once on meds. Still you can stop meds as a parent. I'm not saying it's smart thing to do and best for the child's education - only that there is nothing a school can do about it. You can tell the parent the change you see and how school work is negatively affected. But I would stay away from telling a parent that he should take the child back to the doctor - UNLESS the principal is sitting there listening. Just me. I'm not going to do anything that is risky and could potentially cause me to lose my job and my license. I know how serious at least the 2 district I've worked in are about this particular subject. I just stay away from it - discussing only what I notice in the classroom.

    I agree the initial dosage is based on height/weight. However, with both my sons that wasn't enough (and that is not uncommon). So the official dosage relies more on the severity of the symptoms.
     
  41. skittleroo

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    The screening I'm referring to is with a doctor. If I wanted an ADHD screener done I would have the counselor come in and then discuss with parent.
     

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