What to do???

khandiOctober 12, 2009

Long story short...

My daughter has severe anxiety and has just started therapy once a week. There was a 6-month waiting list at the Children's Center, but she got in within a week. She's 17 and in the 12th grade. She moved to stay with my brother and his wife 3 weeks ago because of the stress at home. DH was always criticizing her and stuff. We had a big blow out one day and we all talked a lot. She said he made her feel like whatever she did, it was never good enough. He always wanted things done his way. He preaches a lot. He doesn't see it that way. He sees it as teaching her ways of doing things. Anyways... the outcome of his actions caused her to feel inadequate, low self-esteem, stress, etc. She was also bullied in elementary school.

My question is... she gets lots of "homework" in therapy, has missed a lot of school days in past 2-3 weeks because she was not mentally strong enough and has had a few panic attacks that really set her back. She's just starting to get on track a little bit. Tonight she called to say she didn't want to go to school tomorrow because she's really tired physically and mentally, and wants to take the day tomorrow to catch up on her school work and read all her therapy literature. She has hard time sleeping. She's been to family doc to check out her physicall health and all.

Her concern tonight was that she was stressed out and concerned that my brother would ask her to leave if she didn't go to school cuz her dad told her that my brother was only in agreement that she stay there if she goes to school. I explained to her that my brother wasn't in agreement with home schooling cuz he didn't want her to isolate herself downstairs all day and night and get depressed. That all he is asking is that she make an effort to help herself concerning therapy and school. (daughter wanted to do home schooling for a few months)

Teacher/parent day is coming up in a few days. I want to explain to her teachers that she's in weekly therapy and has a lot of homework to do and that her therapy homework has to be number 1 right now so if they could extend deadlines or whatever as far as her school work is concerned. Her teachers only know that she is dealing with health and home issues. My husband thinks that I should stay out of it and let her tell her teachers. He said that it would be "controlling". The way I see it is that a lot lof kids will say a lot of things to get away with deadlines and stuff, this way, if they hear from the parent, they'll believe it. And also, the principal is always telling parent to get involved in their children's school issues and let teachers know what is going on if there are problems so they know how to better help your kids.

I also figure that it's no big deal if I talk to her teachers about it, and it would help her have less stress as far as school is concerned. One less thing on her plate to deal with right now.

So... should I stay out of it or is it okay for me to tell her teachers or should she be the one to do it?

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This is what she wants me to do at parent/teacher night. (I asked her if it was okay with her if I told her teachers about her being in therapy, out of respect for her.)

What to discuss on parent teacher night:

- Therapy (extending deadlines - #1 priority)
- Absences (anxiety related)
- If it would be possible to give her a list of classwork/homework for the entire week

What to mention:

My tardiness and punctuality regarding both my school work and attendance will get better as I progress through therapy.

The aforementioned, would facilitate acheiving wellness again at a faster pace because it would elliminate certain stress factors which only trigger my anxiety. Also, it would be beneficial for my grades because I am not having difficulty with class work (Writer's Craft has been the exception which I spoke to her about and is now cleared up), but I am merely having difficulty being at school.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2009 at 10:41PM
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Awful lot of pop-psych babble in there -- an awful lot. Don't know what to make of it. Must admit to not trusting the story. Therefore refraining from further comment.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2009 at 11:11PM
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What exactly are you trying to say? pop-psych babble?? Not trusting the story???

    Bookmark   October 12, 2009 at 11:29PM
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She had to go to the Crisis Intervention at the hospital. They said she was ready to "break" and referred her to the Children's Center. Although there is a waiting list of 6 months, my daughter got in within a week. That's how bad she is mentally right now. She stresses out really fast and has anxiety attacks over the smallest things. It got to the point where she couldn't even function.

She's trying her best to actually go to school so I thought if my talking to her teachers about this instead of her would be a good idea.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2009 at 11:36PM
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Definitely talk to the teachers. Help her in any way that you think is best. She is in her final year of school, and needs help. Trust your instincts, you are her mother !

"My husband thinks that I should stay out of it and let her tell her teachers."

Is your DH your daughter's father ?

"She said he made her feel like whatever she did, it was never good enough."

I feel for the girl, her father/stepfather is very unsupportive by sounds of things. Perhaps he should think about how he can change his behavior and bring more harmony in the household. There is a lot at stake here.

Good luck with it all.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2009 at 2:47AM
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The stress of trying to or even thinking about keeping up is probably a stress point. Maybe there are alternatives to attending her High School besides home school. Seems to me there are also schools on-line where you can set your own pace. Maybe not graduate with her class but that is not such a bad thing. I would talk with a school counselor or someone at the District office who maybe can give you information on alternative schools or classes. She may have to have a IEP (Individual Education Plan) set up for her (this is alphabet soup of The Educators) For example, in our school district there is a "alternative" school for some kids that have a hard time in a regular school setting. Our district also has access for students to do on-line classes. This is through the district, not private pay. Check into the "No Child Left Behind program". Your child is entitled, under law, to a free and appropriate education under the No Child Left Behind. The free and Approriate is also for children with disabilities act. She would/could fall under that heading with the Anxiety. Also, were she is being treated may know what to do/who to talk to. Have them refer you to a Social Worker to help get her education in order. And YES, it is appropriate for you to do this....First ask about setting up a IEP meeting with school educational personnel at her school.

My son received services for a while through an IEP because of a disability, with your childs problems it may qualify her to have an IEP. It can last beyond the expected date of graduation if appropriate.

Here is a link that might be useful: IEP

    Bookmark   October 13, 2009 at 9:08AM
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I think your DH needs parenting classes...you could get him to go under the guise of YOU need help and you want him to go with you

And yes you should talk to the teachers, if anything just to let them know you are available for their input and to confirm her story. Make sure they know you are trying to have her handle it with them but sometimes an adult needs to be there to answer questions and fill in blanks.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2009 at 9:22AM
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Okay, you need to speak to the teachers, but definitely NOT at the parent teacher night. Generally those things are set up for the teachers to give the groups parents an overview of what material they'll be covering during the year. The times are brief, and the teachers are cautioned not to discuss individual problems. Aside from that, you don't want to be discussing this in front of the other parents. If your system is different than ours, and you do have individual appts with the teachers, it's still the wrong way to handle this. The times are so limited.

Better yet, you need to make an appt. to sit down with your daughters teachers, counselor, the school nurse, and anyone else you think should know about this and discuss it with them. If your daughter wants to attend, that would be a good idea. You also want to have some documentation from her therapist that shows she truly is in therapy--and that gives the school a contact person if your daughter were to have a problem at school and they need to reach her healthcare professional. You really should have done all this as soon as she got involved in therapy--for her health's sake, the school DOES need to know about this, the sooner the better.

You're right--an underage child cannot handle this herself. Aside from the fact that kids do make up stuff and teachers often discount it if it only comes from the child, LEGALLY this kind of info has to come from the parents when the child is underage.

I'm not trying to be hard on you. I realize you've had a LOT on your plate, and this is no doubt one of those things that's slipped through the cracks when you were in a period of crisis in your family. But as a teacher, I know how schools work--you need to, as soon as possible, get the appropriate information to the school.

Otherwise, I'd be cautious about your daughter's excuses. I don't know her, or her medical situation, but it does sound as if she's trying to use the situation as an excuse to skip school. I think your brother may have a better handle on some of the problem--it's not good for your daughter to isolate herself, to avoid going to school. It's not appropriate now, for you to excuse her current behavior because of something (bullying in elementary school) that happened almost a decade ago. You all need to get together and work on helping her live in the 'now', not in the past, and she does need an education. Hopefully, each of you can pull out of your own prejudices, and pasts to figure out what the best solution is now for your daughter--be it going back to her high school, or homeschooling combined with activities that will get her out of the house an interacting with other teens, or maybe going an alternate route (switching schools, getting a GED, trying an alternative school, etc). Good luck to you all--your daughter is lucky to have so many people in her life who care, now all you have to do is work together--that's not so hard, right? You all want the best for her.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2009 at 9:45AM
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Absolutely talk to her teachers! They need to hear it from you, and if possible, with a written note from her doctors at the therapy center. Many HS seniors have bad cases of 'senioritis', and the teachers need to know this is not the case for her. Especially the part where she is willing to do all the work -- that it's the 'being at school' part that is hard for her.

And don't wait until the regularly-scheduled conferences. Those are for 'regular' issues! Your situation is outside the bounds of 'regular problems' and deserves a bit more time and attention. Waiting until 'regular' conferences minimizes the problem.

I think I may understand where your husband is coming from to some extent. He wants her to 'man up' and handle her own problems -- and for many kids, that approach works well. But NOT for your daughter. She's emotionally fragile right now and needs a support system. BE that support system.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2009 at 9:50AM
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Thanks for your input. I'll try to answer all your questions.

- My husband is her biological father. He grew up with an abusive, alcoholic father who taught him nothing but how to drink. DH had to learn things on his own and the hard way. His intentions were only to show her different ways on how to do things but it backfired. Surprisingly, they are very close and he does EVERYTHING for her. He feels I should stay out of it cuz the counsellor at the Crisis Intervention place said we were probably controlling. She needs to make her own decisions to be more confident.

- She does have an IEP. She got it when she first started high school (French school). She transferred to an English high school in the 11th grade and is doing a lot better. She's an A student.

- School counsellor is the one who called me about a month ago cuz daughter had a panic attack at school (not her first). Counsellor recommended that she see a doctor. Counsellor is the one who mentioned to daughter about home schooling, although she agreed with me when I voiced my concerns about her doing that cuz she'd be too isolated and that it's better that she attends school whenever she can.

- About 2 years ago, we "forced" her into therapy cuz we could see she was getting depressed and needed help. Therapist there said we should "make" her go to school. It didn't work cuz we forced her into it and she didn't open up. A person has to WANT help. She WANTS it now, which is a good sign. She went to the Crisis place on her own.

- The school counsellor told me that we would keep in close contact about my daughter's situation. She told all my daughter's teachers that she was going through health and home issues. All the teachers are being very supportive towards her. Two weeks ago, I called the counsellor to give her an update (daughter went to Crisis and started therapy - tomorrow is her 2nd sessioon), I'm still WAITING for her to get back to me after leaving 2 messages!

- At parent/teacher night, parents meet with each individual teacher privately to discuss the progress of their child. This would be the only opportune time to meet cuz it's very hard to set up an appointment with them. Seems there's no time that's good for anybody cuz of time restraints. Some parent/teacher interview take 20 minutes.

- The "course outline throughout the semester" that you mentioned is done the first week of school through printout material that parents have to sign and return to the teacher.

- Hubby is really trying to change his ways. Daughter even mentioned she's noticing a change. It's got to the point where he's scared to say anything for fear of saying the wrong thing right now cuz she's so fragile.

- The bullying she experienced in elementary school wasn't a decade ago. It was in grades 6,7, and 8. When she was accessed for anxiety by a psychologist and his team in the summer before 9th grade, they said that it was a great cause to her anxiety because of the low self-esteem, etc. Daughter has a hard time to let it go cuz she has a lot of anger about it. The counsellor at the Crisis place told her that she's living in the past and in the future (cuz daughter has all these goals she's working towards) and is NOT living in the present and taking care of herself.

I've decided that I will mention to her teachers exactly about what is going on with her... reason for her absence, therapy, etc. Just to make them aware of it so they know. There's really no big discussion about it with them, just a mention. If they wish to discuss matters further, then maybe they could make the time for a meeting.

Anxiety and agorophobia is in the family too. A lot of people don't truly understand what anxiety/panic attacks are all about.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2009 at 11:31AM
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Khandi - You said your daughter has an IEP and that she's an A student? So the IEP is due to emotional issues?

Having that IEP gives you a LOT more options than most parents have. Hope you're using them to the fullest for your daughter's benefit.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2009 at 3:19PM
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Yes, the IEP is because of her anxiety.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2009 at 8:04PM
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Khandi - You have an IEP. (They don't hand those out like hall passes.) So call an IEP meeting! Get all of her teachers together and come up with a plan for handling your DD's anxiety. That's why you have it.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2009 at 10:44AM
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