I Lay the Smackdown.

We have a problem child at work. I hate saying that, I hate labeling him as a problem, because he shouldn’t be.

But he is.

He is quite developmentally delayed, and he is simply not up to the work at hand. English is his second language, and he’s not even up to linguistic speed in Korean. I can tell because the other kids can’t interpret what he says for me.

The thing is, he wants to be good. He wants to do the work and be like the other kids. He tries to make flash cards, but they read ‘flimbar’ (family) or musteahbuul (mushroom). But he’s not up to it. And then he gets frustrated.

When he gets frustrated, he gets violent, writes on walls, and shrieks incoherently. None of this is useful for the other kids working in the room.

He also cannot bear not to have a teacher’s attention. If I even turn to another student, he shrieks for me. Other teachers report the same.

I spoke to the boss about him today. I learned: The kid has full one-on-one support at school. He reads above his expected level (he can if he repeats a book ten times or so). And – here’s the kicker – his mom doesn’t think there’s a problem!

If we could schedule one-on-one time for this little guy, things would go easier. He will always be special, but we could quash some of the acting out. But the mom doesn’t want that. She’s got him scheduled for two hours of class every day. He can’t handle that. I think she thinks if he spends enough time reviewing, he is somehow going to be at a normal developmental level.

Well, I feel angry at her, and sorry for the kid, but this is the kind of thing that can sink a business like the place I work.

I looked the boss in the eye and told him we don’t have the training for this. People go to school especially to help kids like him, and I did not take those courses.

He made some excuses about the mother and her wants.

I nodded wisely. “You know other kids can’t work, can’t even get help when he is in the class, right?”

He nodded.

“Yeah. Do we really want to get a reputation as the school where no student can have a quiet or safe place to work? Where students can’t get any help in class?”

He had no reply, but I hope to Hell that he’s thinking about what I said.

4 Comments to “I Lay the Smackdown.”

  1. By Beth, August 19, 2010 @ 11:23 pm

    This is someone with special needs. In dealing with the parents of these kids, the hardest part is getting past the denial. No parent wants to admit that their child isn’t the beautiful, perfect angel they held at birth. Getting to the point of admitting it means the child can finally get the help needed but precious time is wasted until that happens. I’ve seen it more times than I want to remember.

  2. By Liz, August 20, 2010 @ 12:02 am

    I want the kid to have the help. By all accounts, the kid has the help in regular school. How can the mother not see he needs the help in other learning environments? We’re only 3:1 students to teachers so she thinks I should know what to do?

    Honestly, I am so frustrated. I tried to keep that to a minimum with the boss (and with the kid, obv.) but the mom’s not listening. And the kid picks up on it. It worries him and causes him to act out.

    The boss has said,”The mom just wants every day through the summer”.

    Radical Me wants to corner the boss and explain that we will all be jobless through his decision to have this child in our school. Educational Me wants to identify the mother (we don’t have much contact, usually) and tell her that she is stunting her child’s educational potential by giving him a large block of every day where he experiences more frustration and failure and censure (because other kids as well as teachers do not like when all the students’ needs can’t be met) than anyone should have to shoulder.

    Gah. The mom is never going to admit that extra classes will not help her kid. I don’t know what the kid needs; I didn’t study it. But what he does not need is more frustration and failure. None of us do.

  3. By Arwen, August 20, 2010 @ 1:22 pm

    So frustrating. I hope for everyone’s sake your boss is able to work a solution – even if he hires a private tutor for a special needs kid.

  4. By Liz, August 21, 2010 @ 2:21 pm

    Sadly, Arwen, I think he is going to ignore the elephant in the room and settle for sending more scolding emails to the bewildered teachers. The guy is a natural leader like I am a natural inorganic chemist.

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