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How Mother's Can Reduce
Being Marginalized with ILL Children

Decreasing Accusations of Facticious Disorder or Munchausen's

Make friends with your child's teacher and guidance counselor. They can fight for you, if they know and respect you as part of the team to help your child.

The schools, teachers and guidance counselors, by law, must report to social services ANYTHING that looks like or smells like child abuse. As a classroom teacher I had occasion to report to the school guidance situations where a child seemed not to be safe. One such case occurred when a child was living with his grandmother, and the court had ruled the child's father was not allowed to be in the home. However, the grandmother allowed the father to sneak in at night and to sleep there. He routinely became intoxicated and became so violent that the child hid out in the woods all night falling asleep in class the next day. He would sit in my classroom after school afraid to go home. Sad to say, social services never addressed this, and after it was reported to them the school had no legal jurisdiction.

In cases where I wasn't sure what was wrong I tried to talk with the child and then another family member before reporting things that seemed abusive. One such case involved a boy who frequently began staring straight ahead and then would run out of the room sometimes beating his head against the wall. His mother explained to me that the father was schizophrenic, and she hoped her son was not developing problems. Together we all worked to try and stabilize this brilliant child and help her care for him.

Homebound teachers, required by law if the child qualifies based on a doctor's recommendation, cost the school district a lot of money. But, again, once a child qualifies a teacher must be supplied no matter what the budget constraints. Time frames for continuation of homebound instruction are reevaluated throughout the year. I worked for several months as a homebound tutor to a student who had severe, uncontrolled epilepsy. Some school personnel felt this girl pretended to have seizures for attention. I found that she would be unable to think or do her school work for about 24 hours after having a seizure at home. Things she had been able to do and recall the day before the seizure were no longer in her memory after a seizure. If the child has a homebound tutor the parent may be able to get that teacher to validate how the child is at home, i.e., very sick, sleepy, confused, seizures etc. When it came time to reevaluate her homebound status I spoke up for her recommending she continue to get homebound instruction until the doctors could get her seizures under control. Fortunately this did happen. I saw this young woman a few years later. She had obtained her high school diploma and was employed. I don't know if there is a regulation that the school may not ask what medications the child is on. But the school must know what prescriptions are brought to school and taken during the day. Schools may not even give children aspirin these days. If a child is on mood altering medications or medications which might cause nausea or confusion I would certainly want the school to be aware of this. Parents who talk with the teacher or guidance in a positive way will find the school is more supportive, as a general rule.

Parents, it is important to read your child's cumulative record, kept in the school office, every six months, certainly at the end of every school year. No subjective comments are ever allowed to be in there. For instance "child is aggressive" "child is lazy" "child is careless" "child is rude" etc. New teachers who do not realize what the law is may have written something such as this which you will want to have removed. You do not want a prior teacher's subjective opinion of your child to follow him or her to the next teacher.

I have seen groups of parents have great success addressing certain problems such as ADD by forming groups of parents who address the school board over a common problem they are having with the district. This seems to work very well, especially when the school itself suffers from ADD and a single parent cannot get their attention.

Paula Carnes
Parent, former teacher and homebound tutor in the public school system of South Carolina


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