Sunday, October 16, 2011

My Kind of Kids

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These are the kind of kids I think are great!

I am very lucky to only be assigned to one school as a school psychologist. In the school district where I work, the mental health needs of our students is astounding.

I work for a school district that is about 75% military population. Half of our schools are on the army post Fort Carson, and the other half of our schools are in the community suburb along the boundary of Fort Carson.

Because I am at one school, I am able to really get involved with the culture and people of that school. I am able to build relationships with the families I work with.

It is amazing how every year it seems that the number of students impacted by special needs, for example, autism, ADHD, multiple disabilities, and emotional disabilities, increases exponentially. Since I've worked in this district for almost 8 years, our number of special programs has doubled (e.g., Significant Support Needs classrooms, Affective Needs classrooms for children with emotional/behavioral disorders, Autism programs for both high-functioning and severe autism). Additionally, all of our preschool programs in the district are now Early Intervention programs, serving only children with special needs because the need is so great in our community. We have no room for "typical peers" in our preschool programs.

Our schools on post not only employ a school psychologist and counselor at every school, but now have offices for medical psychiatrists in each school as well.

We speculate as to why special needs is on the rise in our district. It could be that we are a magnet military post for special needs (if a family has a child with special needs, they are typically stationed at a post that is known for accommodating special needs with multiple special programs). It could be that the impact of multiple deployments on families is causing more stress on families than we could have ever imagined. It could be a natural increase that occurs everywhere as awareness of mental health and special needs increases.

All I know is that the mental health needs of our children cannot be ignored, and in particular, the mental health needs of our military families are almost at a crisis level, to state it mildly.

Sometimes, I feel really tired. I wonder if I am having an impact. I cannot "fix" these kids. I do not have a magic wand. I try my best. Sometimes, you wonder if your best is enough.

I get frustrated, very frustrated, with the stupid politics that plague the employees of even public schools (oh, you wouldn't believe the shit that goes on). Sometimes, often, I dream of moving my career onto something else, or finally bringing in the big bucks with my writing. Ha!

But, I do so love those kids that I work with. They are the best part of what I do every day. Without them, there's no way I could keep going and working my butt off. I would have long ago said, "No, thank you. I am done being put through a ringer every day for shit pay." I have not thrown in the towel on those kids. Those goofy, maddening, messy, loud, and silly kids. You gotta love them. Sometimes, love is enough.

It takes a special person, I tell ya.


TV's Take said...

I cannot imagine what you really go through in a day but thankfully you do it for their benefit. Bravo

Anonymous said...

I think what you describe is happening everywhere. My children are in a state charter school that uses K12. Our teacher, who has been with the program for ten years, says the number of students enrolling with special needs is growing fast. Parents see the charter school as an alternative to a brick and mortar school, but they fail to realize the amount of work involved using K12. Somewhere along the way our culture, our society, changed and perhaps what we are seeing in the schools is a consequence of that change--more special needs children. Your job sounds challenging. I'm glad you wrote this piece.

Amy Sullivan said...

So, first of all, I didn't realize you were a school psycologist, and second, I'm a special ed teacher.

Lots of issues in public schools? Yes. Makes me want to run at times? Yes. Great kids? Yepper.

Have a good week, friend.

Eva Gallant said...

Your district is lucky to have you. I don't know how you do it!

songbyrd on the mountain said...

I used to drive school bus.... and my very favorite quote was being told that by becoming a bus driver all my troubles were behind me..... ;)

Mom of 12 said...

Kids are the best!

Mom Taxi Julie said...

Do you think it maybe has to do with more problems all having labels now? When I was a kid if the kid acted up he was just a trouble maker. Now he has a label.

I wonder too if it's because so many houses the parents both work. I see it happen in my own home where we get so tired from working that we tend to just sit and veg out when we have down time. Which means that the kids are left to entertain themselves, usually via the TV or computer, which of course leaves big emotional gaps.

Jessica said...

It does take a special person to work with special needs kids, especially when you have the political bs along with it. I'm sure the families are completely grateful that you continue in your job and that you actually care.

Shell said...

I think it is amazing that you work with these kids! And how wonderful that your school is so accomodating. A lot are definitely not.

Natalie said...

Wow you are an amazing person for what you do! Glad you are there to be part of their lives.

Kara said...

I understand how taxing such work can be. They are lucky to have you.

MommaKiss said...

blogger just ate my muther truckin comment and i'm mad.

Deb said...

Your comment about a magic wand transported me back in time. I was somewhere between ten and twelve years old, sitting in my mom's attorney's office in her stead. (I was better able to wrap my mind around what was needed, and to do so quickly and at lesser cost.)

I asked my mom's attorney, "Why is my dad so horrible? Why can't I have a nice dad?"

In response, he extracted a glitter wand from his desk. He said, "Deborah, I could wave this wand all around." He started thrashing it up and down in sharp, pointed motions. "I could hit him violently about the head with it for hours, and he would still be horrible. So the question isn't, 'How do I make him change?' It's, 'How do I ignore him and make an awesome life for myself anyway?'"

I laughed at the time, but it made a difference that's perceptible to me even twenty years later. So you may not have a magic wand, but I'm pretty darn certain you're making a difference, whether it's immediately or daily apparent, or whether your students are ever able to come back and say as much.

I know others have not been able, but I'm fortunate to have had the chance to say as much. ♥

Grumpy Grateful Mom said...

I'll bet you do great work with those kids and make a huge impact, even if it doesn't always seem so. I think loving the children is the most important thing.

Anti-Supermom said...

You are simply an amazing person for doing what you do, for wanting to make a difference, and for caring.

That's all you can do.

jazzygal said...

Interesting post indeed. Special needs like Autism, ADHD etc do certainly seem to be on the increase elsewhere too. Better diagnostics or what I do not know. Within miltary families you could be right on the they get a choice though?

Either way they're lucky to have you. It's a vocation to do what you do I reckon.

xx Jazzy

Anonymous said...

I wish more people who are not involved with education on this level understood what we do and why we do it. Can I go beat my legislators upside the head with your blog? Maybe knock some sense into them?

dosweatthesmallstuff said...

From reading this post, I KNOW that you are making a difference. What you said, about love being enough sometimes, was really true. Sometimes love was the only thing that would make a difference. I wish for more districts to have people as caring as you working for their education system!