This is one of those posts that I’ve tried numerous times to write and yet the words never quite come out right. I did share my thoughts/feelings on Facebook back in February when everything took place (my private page) and I decided to include that post here.
I withdrew Abby from her school Friday, shortly after we took this picture. I’ve rarely seen her smile lately so I’m happy to see her smile return (and a sparkle in her eyes again). She was so relieved to know she wouldn’t have to return to that school. I not only withdrew her due to medical conditions but also because the school became an unhealthy environment for her. She was dealing with bullying, an upsetting classroom environment, individuals constantly tearing her down & breaking her spirit. My sweet girl went from absolutely loving school to having severe anxiety, panic attacks and nightmares about school
Those who know her have picked up on a change in her. She’s regressed, she’s lost skills she worked hard to gain, she’s lost confidence, she’s more hesitant and unsure, she shuts down more, she no longer trusts as easily, she isn’t sure who are real friends anymore…
We’ll get things back. Abby’s realizing that she still has people who care and people who see her potential and won’t give up on her. She has people who encourage her and refuse to let her give up. She’s discovering who her real friends are and who to remove from her life. Abby is learning not to listen to bullies and not allow them to tear her down. She’s also discovering there’s more people who care about her than she realized
I’m thankful for the ones who have remained a positive constant in her life, those who haven’t given up on her, who know how to help her learn & grow instead of tearing her down, who aren’t judgmental, those who know sometimes she just needs a hug to keep going, and especially those who continue to see her potential. I’m thankful she has places to attend that don’t tolerate bullying and are happy, positive environments for learning.
For those who want to say “oh kids are just being kids, she needs thicker skin, etc”. #1 there s a big difference between kids being kids and bullying, #2 Stop making excuses for bullies, #3 it’s not just kids. adults are bullies too.
Abby has been taught not to tolerate bullying, not to listen to bullies, to walk away, etc. This bullying was every day by kids and adults and there is only so much a 9 year old can tolerate. Her bright, bubbly personality was diminishing and nights became a nightmare for us all while dealing with this. I wanted my baby girl back.
Homeschooling is only temporary, Abby is excited to return to school in the Fall. We are just homeschooling the remainder of the current school year.
Just thinking about everything we went through… it almost doesn’t seem real. My daughter was struggling severely, she was regressing to the point we were seeing things we hadn’t dealt with since first grade, her anxiety and stress were terrible, her PANS/PANDAS was getting out of control, she was dealing with bullying from both peers and staff, it was just a horrendous year for her and it had been going on since the Fall, just steadily getting worse. By the time school resumed in January after Christmas break, Abby had reached her breaking point. I spoke with the principal back in September and voiced my concerns, pointed out Abby’s regression, her struggles in the classroom, the bullying and a few red flags I was picking up on. Unfortunately, it all fell upon deaf ears and everything was ignored.
I’m not a parent that blames the school or teacher, I never have been. I accept when things fall on my child and I make her take responsibility. However, this time… this time it was 100% the school and staff and sadly, we had no one willing to help us. Abby has always loved school, she use to cry when she had to stay home sick because she didn’t want to miss school. Now she was crying and completely melting down over the mere thought of having to go to that school. And yes, it was just that school. She was more than happy to attend a different school, she just begged to never go back to that one. Her anxiety was so severe it was making her sick, she would start having panic attacks on Friday night over school Monday morning. Nights were spent crying and having nightmares. Our life became a nightmare. I was watching my happy little girl with an enormous personality fade away into this anxiety ridden, depressed child who was absolutely miserable and was lashing out at us. It had been forever since she truly smiled, the only times she was happy was when school was on break or she was at cheer and could get her mind completely off school. (I will say this, thank goodness for cheer and her amazing coaches).
For those that don’t know, Abby is special needs (severe ADHD, severe anxiety, sensory processing, auditory processing, PANS/PANDAS, ASD, specific learning disabilities) and yes, she has an IEP. I have always loved her school, the staff, her teachers, her team! I’ve been blessed for the past several years to have an amazing team at her school and she was well taken care of. This year, it all changed. People left, went to new schools or retired, we had new staff, a new team, people that didn’t understand her and weren’t willing to get to know her, people that didn’t believe her diagnosis and tried to blame everything on us. I have never been more frustrated! Or more insulted! I was blamed so much this year and as a mom, that tore me apart. I have always done everything possible to make sure my daughter was taken care of and all her needs met so she could thrive. I’m her voice and I stand up for her so she has everything possible to learn and grow and excel. To be blamed… to be told it was mainly just my fault… it was a slap in the face. And for her “team”, the ones who are there to help her the most, to not help her and to let her regress was too much. Her accommodations and needs were no longer being met, she wasn’t receiving the help she desperately needed, her IEP was being ignored, they treated her as if her disabilities, her delays, her needs didn’t exist. For administrators, for the Special Education teachers, for all those who are at that school to help children like my daughter, to act as if my daughter’s diagnosis was fake, that there was nothing wrong with her, that she didn’t need help, to take away her help and accommodations, was the worst experience. The classroom truly became a living nightmare. It was major sensory overload, she couldn’t keep up, she couldn’t hear the teacher, she didn’t understand… and her help was gone. Plus she was denied her breaks when she was overwhelmed (these breaks are written into her IEP, her new “team” decided that the breaks were unnecessary and allowed her time to “play”. She had never taken advantage of her breaks in previous years nor “played” while attempting to reset and calm down), was denied her inhaler and accused of “faking it”, she even got sick at school and was not allowed to visit the nurse/call me because the teacher accused her of just making herself sick so she could go home. Top it all off with bullying, demeaning, condescending and cruel actions/behavior from teachers and classmates.
I made so many phone calls, I did so much research that my head was spinning. Stumbling around the special needs world alone and lost isn’t any fun but I did what I could. I didn’t know who to talk to, what to do, I just knew I had to help my daughter. And in the end, I knew that school was the last place my child needed to be. I struggled with a decision because I was terrified I would make the wrong decision and make things worse but in the end, I had to remove her from that unhealthy environment. Homeschooling was the only (and best) option available for us.
My feelings about that school were further confirmed with the way we were treated once I completed the paperwork for homeschooling. We were treated as if we were scum, complete strangers who were on property causing a problem when all I did was go by the school to pick up my daughter’s belongings and her medications from the nurse AND to sign the paperwork to officially withdraw her from school (which by the way, she wasn’t officially withdrawn from school until I signed that paper yet by the time I got to the school, she was completely withdrawn and removed from the school). People would barely speak to us and assist us. My daughter was not allowed to tell anyone bye, not a single teacher or any staff and there’s so many teachers and staff members there that she loves. I was not allowed to see the nurse for almost an hour, just to get my daughter’s medications. And my daughter was not allowed to go to the classroom to make sure she had no belongings left. The assistant principal went. To this day, I have no idea if anything was left behind. I also have yet to receive her artwork, class picture, etc. And no, all of that would have taken place before schools closed. They were as rude as possible to us which was shocking as we have always been treated like family until now. This school and it’s staff showed their true colors. They let my daughter down, they failed her.
Luckily, my daughter will never have to step foot in that school again.
As for my daughter, it’s like night and day. Removing her from that school, the environment and all that came with it was such a relief for her. She’s back to her bright, bubbly self! Her confidence is back, she’s excelling now and her personality is bigger than ever and she’s overcome her shyness! I’ve seen her just blossom since we started homeschooling which lets me know it was the right decision.
So… our homeschooling journey has begun and while I’m still terrified of completely messing everything up, I know we’ve got this and it was the best choice for my daughter. Wish us luck!