In November met with Caleb's teachers and created a 504 plan for him. Middle school is tough for everyone, but when your brain is working against you (more than the average middles school brain) it is really tough! Basically having a 504 means that his teachers are aware of his special needs and they are encouraged to make specific accomidations to better meet his needs and to help him be more successful in school. The following are the "notes" I took to the meeting and shared with his teachers to help give them a picture of what is happening as well as the accomidations I requested.
I'm posting this information because it may be helpful sometime in the future or for someone else who is experiencing similar struggles. These are the "notes" I took to the meeting and shared with his teachers and administrators to help give them a picture of what is happening as well as the accomidations I requested. Some of the accommodations are already making a big difference for Caleb.
My Goals in creating a 504 plan for Caleb –
• Prepare for future by building confidence and capitalizing on his strengths
• Avoid overwhelm so he will continue to put forth effort
• Make middle school a positive experience so he will thrive in High school and LIFE
It has taken many years for me to come to terms with the fact that his mental illness is real. It won’t simply go away through better parenting, more severe consequences, or greater rewards. I thought I could compensate for what he is lacking at school by doing more at home, but he is completely rebelling against my encouragement. He is not having a “normal” 7th grade experience. I have feared labeling him or making accommodations because life doesn’t make accommodations, but he has to be successful in his education for him to learn to be successful in life.
Caleb’s ADHD Symptoms: Compared to students in his age group he shows Lack of Self Control and Emotional Control. He struggles with initiating responsibilities, working memory, planning and organizing, and self-monitoring. A lack of dopamine also manifests in obsession with time and the next activity, never being satisfied in the moment.
Caleb’s Anxiety Symptoms: Headaches, stomachaches, nausea, vomiting, difficulty sleeping, reluctance to go to school, and asking the same questions over and over.
Caleb’s Depression Symptoms: He is desperate to escape his life. We limit screen time, which would be his first choice for escape. Other manifestations include suicide talk and running away.
1. Preferential Seating: Near teacher, as far as possible from distractions, sit next to a well-behaved roll model. He needs encouragement and reminders to stay on task. He may also need follow-up after directions are given to make sure he understands what he is to be doing. He doesn’t seem to process instructions as well as others. He needs to know that he is noticed.
2. Incomplete Assignments: Break long assignments into smaller segments, each with a deadline. Full credit for reduced work when he shows he gets a concept. He will get 0/30 when he has 30 questions on a math test but he will get 5/5 when there are fewer questions and no social pressure to hurry. Consider doing every other math problem, but if he misses it he has to do the other problem to get the concept? Maybe he could set a timer for 5-10 minute intervals and he could get up and show the teacher his work.
3. Increased time to turn in assignments. It is like he doesn’t even get that assignments were due until they are posted on his missing assignment list on power school. Present assignments and due dates verbally and visually.
4. Preferential Power-up teacher: Teacher that will follow-up with most important tasks. Maybe math or language arts teacher.
5. Hand Picked Teachers and Schedule: He performs best in an environment where there is structure and teachers who are attentive to needs. We may want to look at his schedule and have his higher academic classes mid-day. His brain doesn’t get going first thing, and may shut off by the end of the school day.
6. Testing Conditions: His main problem is racing through wanting. He is also highly distracted, not even knowing what he read. Should he leave the room for tests? What would help?
7. Safe Person: Send him to Mr. Winkler when he seems to be struggling or creating problems in the classroom.
8. Cool Down Pass: He gets pressure built up from anxiety. He may feel sick. What to do when he needs or wants to leave the classroom?
9. For Impulsivity: Discuss behavior in private rather than calling him out in front of the class.
10. Restless Behaviors: I know he taps his pencil and never holds his legs still. Consider creating opportunities for him to stand or move. Using the timer as recommended in point 2 and allowing him to stand up every 5-10 minutes when he checks in with the teacher may help.
11. Lunchtime Learning: I love the idea of this natural consequence for most students. Caleb is not motivated by it, and I think there is probably a better option for him. Maybe he could get out of lunchtime learning by showing Mrs. Crosbie that he has completed one missing assignment during power up? He NEEDS lunch time to be out of a desk and to develop his social skills. I think it is adversely impacting him.