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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Day 19 - My Wish

I always feel like parent teacher conferences are a double-edged sword.  On one hand, I really look forward to sitting down with parents and sharing the progress their child has made.  I love telling them stories about great moments in the classroom, showing them samples of their child's work, etc.  On the other hand, while to be able to share the good stuff, but there are also times when I have to share the not-so-good stuff.  I don't enjoy those moments.  I don't enjoy  telling a parent that their child may need to repeat kindergarten.  I don't enjoy telling parents that their child is really struggling with his/her attention span. 

I had a conversation with a parent this evening that just made me sad.  I have noticed that as the year has progressed, his attention span and ability to focus has dramatically decreased.  For example, I sat with this child one-on-one for 20 minutes to complete a task.  I had to redirect his attention back to his work 16 times in those 20 minutes.  Yes, I counted.  I made a tally mark every time I said, "D, back to work."  16 times in 20 minutes.  That is almost one reminder per minute.  Can you even begin to imagine how frustrating that must be to a child?  I was frustrated giving the reminders.  Imagine if you lost your train of thought that many times while trying to complete a task.  The work was easy for him, he had no trouble with the skill; it was completely about being able to focus!

I ask his parent if there was something that had changed in his life that could be contributing to this problem he was having.  His parent couldn't think of anything at all.  So, I decided then and there that I needed to be this child's advocate...even with his parents!  I bluntly asked about his medication.  This child started kindergarten taking medication for ADHD. 

"I remember at the beginning of the school year D was taking medication to help him focus.  Is he still taking that medication?" I asked.

"Oh, yeah he was but he isn't anymore and hasn't for a while," dad replied.

"I'm sure that is the change that we have seen.  D was able to concentrate at the beginning of the year and focus long enough to finish a task.  He has not been able to do that for some time now and it seems to be getting worse," I explained.

At this point, just as I was really feeling frustrated and irritated that a parent would be so lax about something so important for his child, he dropped the bomb.

"My wife has to fill out some new paperwork with the insurance company for them to pay for the medication.  We don't have a computer or internet so she has to go to the library to do the paperwork online because that is the only way they accept it.  She works so many hours now because I'm off work for disability that she has a hard time getting to the library to get it done.  We tried to pay for it ourselves but it's over $200 per bottle and we just can't find a way to pay that much.  I'll get on her to get it done this week though.  She's just going to have to figure it out if it's so important for him.  I just thought maybe it wasn't so important for him to have it anymore.  I didn't know it made it so hard for him."

Sigh.  Ok, there is part of me that has to disagree.  We have talked about this before, I have told him how much he has been struggling with a lack of focus a few times in the last couple of months.  However, I see why they are struggling to get it taken care of now.  And to top off the insurance issues and the cost issues, Dad is afraid of the medication making D act like a zombie.

I tried to ease his mind somewhat by telling him that other students I have had have worked with their doctors to make adjustments to the dosage to get just the right amount to allow the child to maintain focus and attention without turning into a zombie.  That isn't what any of us want for D.

No one taught me what to do in this situation.  No college class covered this one.  No professional development session covered this one.  I wish there was something more I could do to help, I just don't know what it could be.



  1. Oh my heart.
    I understand.
    And I wish I knew what to say to help you know what to do to help.
    All I know I can do is...
    I will go and pray for D and his family.

  2. Poor little D, sound like there is struggle in every aspect of his life. I know you will continue to be patient with him and help him in any way you can.

  3. There are so many families that are just hanging on by their fingernails trying to support their family the best they can. The depression of our economy has developed so many other challenges for us along with expecting more and more out of our students. I've had the lowest parent participation this year then in all the years I've taught. I empathize with my families but on the other hand I fear for their child's future in the upper grades knowing what will be asked. It's a double edged sword!