Testing, Testing…is this thing on? : The Personal Side
Meet my friend Layla. Layla is not her real name, but she is a dear friend who gave me permission to share her story. Layla has a son who she always felt was “very energetic.” He did not attend preschool, but stayed home with her until he went to kindergarten. During his first year in kindergarten he got into some kind of trouble almost every day. Let’s call him Sam.
Sam got into trouble for things like wandering around the room, refusing to sit still, refusing to sit at his desk or on the carpet (he preferred to stand), talking too much, interrupting others and refusing to wait his turn. Layla got notes and emails home weekly. She met privately with the teacher who suggested Layla just needed to “discipline Sam more.” Layla then asked for a meeting with the principal and school psychologist. At this meeting she asked if Sam could be tested for ADHD and the staff told her they “felt” Sam’s issues were “purely behavioral.”
Layla was heartbroken, paid privately for Sam to be tested and discovered he has two mental health diagnoses–ADHD and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. The psychologist told Layla that Sam’s ADHD was one of the most severe cases she had ever seen.
Here is the really important part. During this process, Layla did some research and discovered that the school should have provided testing for her son at her request. Furthermore, they told her that if she did get private testing the school would only honor it for one school year. Layla found out this is untrue. Layla also uncovered that many parents like herself have advocates that attend school meetings with parents because they understand the laws about children’s rights to testing and accommodations within the school system and can advocate for parents and their children in meetings like the one Layla first attended.
The story gets messier from here in that Layla became so disheartened she pulled her son out of school for one year and homeschooled him. Then she moved to another district so he could attend a different school. This school provided testing and created a 504 plan for Sam that lets him do things like stand at his desk, take breaks and have one-on-one testing. Some students also benefit from having an IEP (individualized education plan) that offers extra support; however, Sam does not need this time of plan at this time. Today, Sam is entering middle school and has been receiving A/B grades every year since kindergarten.
I have learned so much from Layla, but the biggest thing I have learned and tell parents is advocate for you child!!! If you feel something is off, request a meeting with the school psychologist. At the same time, reach out to the principal and school counselor so that they are aware of your concern. Research the law regarding 504s and IEPS in your state. And, if you need support, hire an advocate to attend your meetings with you.
We at Life Enhancement Counseling Services are here to provide support both to you and your child. If your child or anyone in your family would benefit from counseling, please call us at 407-443-8862 today. Our seasoned Orlando therapists are standing by and look forward to joining with you so you can have your best life now.