Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Buddies

Today is one of those days I just despise diabetes with everything in me. It's the days where it clearly interferes with my daughter being like every other child.

I feel blessed that Alex is at an elementary school that happens to have a kind, compassionate, educated nurse on staff daily who has experience with type 1 diabetes. She knew more than I did as far as what Alex would need coming back to school after diagnosis. I also feel blessed that her school has 3 other type 1 diabetics, one being a girl diagnosed 1 month after Alex. Alex is the youngest of the bunch but I feel like she has 3 mentors along the way who really get what life is like when you are high or low.

We implemented an Individualized Health Plan (IHP) shortly after Alex returned to school last year that was attached to her existing IEP (for speech). In this IHP, it stipulated that Alex required a buddy with her at all times when leaving the classroom - restroom breaks, testing for snacks and lunch, testing for highs or lows, and end of day testing before boarding the bus home. It makes sense that someone must be with her - she doesn't always feel her lows. And, if she is really low (which has happened), she needs someone with her in case she passes out - someone who can go get help. What if she didn't have a buddy and she passed out using the restroom? Who knows how long it would be before she was found? So I'm for the buddy system in some form.

Alas, this buddy system has been a pain in the ass. Excuse my language but that is exactly how I feel about it. Last year, I wrote of my woes with the buddy system because it caused problems from the start. Parents don't like their kids missing class. Parents don't like their kids visiting the health room multiple times a day - and I totally get that! There are way too many germs to be had there! The bottom line is someone needs to accompany Alex. I suggested last year and again this year in meeting with the teacher before school started that I urged them to rotate buddies! Have a child take turns daily. Rotate through the entire class. Having one child be the buddy will not work. Having 2-3 children doesn't work. Rotate. If there are 30 kids in your classroom, then a child only is missing class once per month.

The problem is complex. Alex wants to have her friends be her buddies. Alex is also in 4th grade where the whole tween/teen angst begins. Hormones are kicking in. Cliques are forming. One day girls want to be friends. Then next day, they are enemies. Then the next day they have made up. Alex has low self esteem. Diabetes has not helped at all. Beginning puberty has not helped at all. Being anxious has never helped. The bottom line is Alex doesn't seem to be fitting in at school. She has few friends. She will come home and tell me she is friends with someone. 2 days later that friend has told her they've decided to unfriend her. She will be in tears. 2 days later they want to be friends again. No one calls her. No one invites her to play. She was invited to one sleepover which I wrote about earlier. Diabetes managed well at the sleepover. Alex and friends did not. She called me crying and texted me crying to pick her up multiple times because no one wanted to play with her. She slept in a corner most of the night. I don't blame other kids. I don't blame Alex. I blame the age. I blame her anxiety. I blame myself. I blame diabetes. I try to figure out ways to encourage her to make friends and to learn how to compromise (which tends to be part of the problem on Alex's part). And we are stuck in the same spot.

Back to buddies...Alex has "rotated" between basically 3 girls in class since school started. And they rotate based on who is being friendly to who that day. I get the impression though I may be wrong that Alex bills it as a privilege to be her buddy and leave class early especially at the end of the day when they hang out in the nurse's office for 10 minutes and play around before bus pickup.

So far, Alex has come home without homework almost every week or missing other items because the teacher packs everyone up at the end of the day and Alex is usually gone. Then I am left rushing to try to get packets done with less time at home than everyone else which a ticked off kid who hates homework as it is. Alex comes home without newsletter and notes from the teacher. I've emailed with the teacher about it multiple times who seems to be trying to work something out with her routine. But nonetheless, it's aggravating and I can also tell the teacher is aggravated and truly wants to try to resolve this. Diabetes is completely new to her and she HAS been VERY compassionate when we've met and emailed. But here are some frustrating examples of this whole buddy system debacle...

The other day she wouldn't let Alex and her buddy leave early for the nurse because of a science review. She yelled at the class (according to Alex) for not listening to the review and told Alex and the buddy they weren't going anywhere until they finished the review. The bell rang and Alex had to rush to the nurse to not miss her bus. Not cool.

Alex has been getting these notices for a few weeks now about a messy desk. She has lost recess 2 times. She has come home in tears crying and telling me her desk is clean and she is being blamed for a neighbor's desk who throws his trash on the floor and then kicks it under Alex's desk after she leaves for the nurse. After the second time she has stood on the wall, I emailed the teacher. I asked her to be more specific about the mess so I could work with Alex on what was messy and that she should observe the trash issue if it is in fact an issue. Alex has never had a reprimand from a teacher. Ever. Never been blamed for a messy desk. Ever. I'm giving Alex the benefit of the doubt here. The teacher again was super nice and said she would watch it and also noted that Alex started getting the notices after the class moved desks and Alex was moved next to this particular kid. I know mistakes happen. But man...Alex has been through ENOUGH. Don't blame her for stuff unless you know she has done wrong! Good grief! Give the kid a break! She already has problems with friends and then in recess she stands against a wall for someone else's mess?

Okay so this morning Alex tells me the teacher has announced that Alex's buddy will no longer be hanging out with her in the health room. The buddy will walk her to the door and leave. Now I am TOTALLY okay with this. It should have been done from the beginning. Alex is distraught. It's the one "ploy" she has in her mind to keep a friend her buddy. In her mind no one will want to be her buddy now. And no one in her mind therefore wants to be her friend.

I asked her why they won't let her test in class anyway. Problem solved except for lows and lunches. They won't do it because it's a "bio hazard" and some kids in the class are scared of needles and blood. Awwww. Poor things...

I am so aggravated. To make matters more frustrating, last week Alex came home and told me she was very low and shaky after recess and told the teacher who agreed she looked unwell and pale. Then she sent Alex and a buddy to the health room. Alex was 60. She said she felt the room spinning all the way to the health room. She did NOT tell the teacher though she felt faint (in the teacher's defense I guess). But why send a child with Alex if she is obviously acting low? I'm okay with buddies when no low is obvious. But a bad low...one that feels like a passing out low...how fair is that to another child to deal with? I told Alex she HAD to say she felt like she was going to pass out next time that happens. Make it clear. An adult should walk her when then happens and I've specified that before.

I don't know what the answers are. I am just sick of this. Sick of diabetes. Sick of buddies. Sick of tween drama. Sick of everything.

2 comments:

  1. Me too. I am tired, it's been a crap week for us.
    Okay,first, my older daughter Anastasia sounds just like Alex, with the anxiety and tween drama and hard time making friends issues, and she is also in 4th grade too. It makes me crazy!
    Second, I think you need to force the issue about Alex testing in class. Kortnie was dx'd in Kindergarten, she's now in 3rd grade, she has been testing in class since 1st grade, she does go to the Health Office for lunch still, but she always has her kit with her and she tests whenever she wants. If the school is worried about BioHazard, maybe you could get a sharps container for Alex to keep at her desk and put the test strips in. This I think is where a 504 plan might be better. We have just an IHP too, no 504 plan for us, but I'm getting one next year when we go to 4th grade, at a new school.
    A lot of the the D-Mom's have their 504's and IHP's on their blogs, go look through them and see what kind of changes you might want to make to yours, take bits and pieces of them and make a perfect one for Alex, you can read mine here, http://t1dandkortnie.blogspot.com/p/ihp-plan.html

    Good luck! Tell Alex that we say hi!

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  2. Thanks Amanda! Alex really misses everyone from camp. She talks about camp all the time. I am going to set up a new meeting at school. When we met last, she had just been diagnosed and I had no idea what she needed other than what was on the standard form from the ADA we received. I guess I'm getting a better idea now... BTW I love the name Anastasia!

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