My son was diagnosed with some pretty overwhelming mental health disorders.
First was highly functioning Aspergers. My husband and I held off telling Tommy about this diagnosis until it was a firm Dx, and not just preliminary. In the mean time, there was just 3 weeks of school left, I struggled with deciding on whether or not I should tell the school and teachers. In the end I decided they would appreciate knowing why Tommy had some of these little quirks.
But wow, did that back fire! His teachers got together one planning session and decided Tommy was doing all his quirks and acting out on purpose because of his diagnosis. He was sent to the principal's office. The principal scolded him, told him Aspie's was no reason to do the things he was doing. Tommy was horrified and shocked. The principal couldn't understand why, so he called me. It was at that point I told him the reason Tommy was so shocked was because his father and I had not told him of his preliminary Dx, that we were waiting until it was a firm Dx. I didn't want to stress Tommy out with a preliminary Dx. I wanted to wait until we had a firm one in hand, before telling Tommy anything. I was livid, my heart was broken for Tommy. I sarcastically thanked the principal for breaking the ice for us. I then drove directly to the school and pulled Tommy out for the day so I could explain things, and tend to his hurt heart.
Boy, was Tommy mad at me for "letting the principle tell him his Dx."
Sadly, even with just weeks left of school it didn't get any better. The teachers were mean to him. 8th grade came along, we were both nervous. I again wondered if I should tell the school anything. I thought though, I should at least tell the nurse. She was very kind and told me every one at this school was very different and he would have a wonderful experience here. Reluctantly I went ahead with telling the principal and emailing every single one of his teachers what Asperger's is and how it manifested in Tommy. I also told them how they could handle things that would come up with him. I told all of them if they needed me, I was a stay at home mom and I could be at the school in just minutes, even if it meant showing up in my p.j.'s!
A few teachers emailed back saying Tommy isn't handicapped and things would be great. But, for the most part, things went downhill fast. The vice principal of this school wanted me to sign to a behavioral agreement. This sheet basically outlined how I was to discipline him while he was at home and agree to how they wanted to discipline him at school. I did not sign that paper. It was ridiculous. They would not start the process for an IEP or 504.
There was also a meeting with some of his teachers, me and Tommy. At which point one teacher felt it necessary to badger him about carrying his viola, all day long, instead of leaving it in the music room. He loved his viola, he also used it to hide behind during passing period; he is small for his age. At which point ALL the teachers in the room, at the same time, started to peck at him about this viola. If these people were kids, they would have all gotten in trouble for being bullies. But, because they could hide behind the title "teacher" it was some how acceptable and also completely disgusting. Poor Tommy melted into his chair, only moments before I had told him this was going to be a safe talk for him. I was pregnant at the time, and for the first ever I couldn't speak. I had failed my son at that moment. It was horrible, for both of us. We left, I hugged him.
But, later that day I went back, after I had gathered my thoughts, all of them, and I told that vice principal every single thought I had. One of which was how horrible it was that all those teachers pecked at him, and not one stopped to see him melting in his seat, or how they couldn't see how completely wrong they were, these people who were *suppose to be educated to work with kids*! All they managed to do was bully him during that meeting.
Things from there did not get any better. Tommy was jumped in the school hall after school, as all the kids were being let out of their class. He did not punch first, or at all for that matter. As the attacker was punching Tommy in both eyes, Tommy reached down into his binder and grabbed a ruler type thing and blindly swung it. He hit the other boy. And for this, they labeled Tommy "the aggressor" and suspended him for 45 days. I was not allowed to see the video, as I had no subpoena. I wasn't told the punishment the other kid got. The school told me that if I wanted to argue the punishment I could, but I only had 24 hours. AND, if I did so, they could either a. reverse it, b. keep it as is, c. make it 90 days, or d. make it 180 days!!!! I decided to withdraw him from school and home-school for the remainder of his 8th grade year. Before I pulled Tommy out of school I made it my mission to tell these principles and teachers what was on my mind... I didn't think it was right, Tommy being labeled the aggressor for striking back because he was punched FIRST. I told them how I thought he was being bullied by that certain teacher just because he liked to carry his viola. Now Tommy is in the 9th grade, we found out through the grapevine, the other child didn't receive any type of punishment, at all.
On the second day of the 9th grade Tommy was called into the vice principle's office, where he was informed, he hadn't really served out his punishment (the 45 day suspension). And, with that Tommy asked to have me called. So, we had a conference call. I was FLOORED that the option to make him serve these 45 days was still even on the table, 7 months later. Because I tell you, those 7 months, were very hard on Tommy. First and for most, I'm not the easiest home-schooling teacher. I picked a lot of classes for him. Secondly, and most importantly, his doctor put him on two different medications over this time that really were very, very bad for him. I was furious that the school had the gall to think Tommy had just been messing around for 7 months, when really he was working through some hard stuff. I took him off the meds. I got sick of seeing my son drift further and further. We are still trying to "deal" with the 9th grade center, and would you believe, the 45 days is still a possibility should he not behave properly.
Believe it or not, this is a short version of his story. I've come here, to gofundme to raise money for a service dog for Tommy. This dog will go every place with Tommy, even school. The dog's purpose will be to help calm him, help give him self-confidence, be a friend when no one else is willing to (really, no one is willing....). No one should ever have to be this alone. He should have a reason to feel safe and happy in school. He should have a friend. And I am begging you, the hearts of strangers, please, Help my son to know that there are people in the world who are kind and care. I know its not that much, $5,000. However, he was just in the hospital with hefty bills nearing $40,000. We are hopeful that a service dog will curb future hospital events. Thank you ever so much for reading about our Tommy.
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