Saturday, January 26, 2008


Hubby pulled into the driveway after picking me up from school yesterday afternoon, I opened the car door and two frisky doggies jumped out and started to run to the front door. Gussie, however, was distracted by a bark and a shape from across the street just as he reached our one front step. He immediately tore across the front yard, intent on finding the source of the bark. I hollered. Hubby hollered. Fritzy took off after Gus. Two little gray beasts streaked across the ice-covered front lawn with two adults screeching, "NO! Stop! NO! NO! NO!"

Right at the curb, Gussie pulled up. Some instinct reminded him that crossing the street was the one thing that got him paddled. Yes, when the dog does something highly dangerous -- like going into the street -- he gets a physical, not painful, reminder that this activity will NOT be tolerated. So Gus slid to a stop with Fritzy doing his Key Stone Kopp initiation and barreling into him. Then, tails wagging, they tore back to the front step, to be sure to be there when the magic door to the inside food and water opened.

Yesterday, at work, was a tough, long day. Must of my students are mentally retarded and along with that some also have emotional and / or behavior problems. Just a couple carry the ADHD label and all but one is on medication for it. There's always one.

The Kid is beautiful. He's tall and handsome and can be absolutely charming. He's 16. His mother refuses to put him on any medication, no matter how much we beg and plead. Last year she claimed that even when he was on medication the school didn't help him, so she simply wasn't going to dose him up, even if everyone at school thought it was necessary. He was a freshman who managed to get a long term semester suspension after only four weeks in school. I honestly didn't know him that well at the time because: a. he' only been in our high school four weeks and b. I came on board three weeks into the start of the school.

When the Kid came back second semester, I made it my business to know him. The teachers in my community went crazy trying to work him. Every day somebody sent him out of class -- at first, to the community coordinator. This usually got Mother involved and that made things more difficult. So I made sure he got sent to me.

And I discovered he was actually a charming Kid. Funny, warm, loving, bright -- and so typically ADHD that everything, anything, could distract him. He was trying. He was always sorry when he had gotten angry or disrupted a class -- and given a moment to regroup he would apologize abjectly. We became friends. He trusted me and, in turn, I really liked working with him.

Slowly, we converted his other teachers into his advocates. Last year he managed to pass just enough classes, with summer school work, to be classified as a sophomore this year -- barely. We're doing better this year, partly because I know I need to work with him intensively.

Yesterday the Kid had major tests in three of his four classes - our classes are 90 minutes long and last one semester, so we only have four blocks a day. Imagine getting a true ADHD kid through 270 minutes of testing. That was my day yesterday.

As I watched Gussie flying across our yard, after being distracted / attracted by a small blur and sound from the far backyard of a neighbor, I realized: Ah, ADHA! The doggies have it, too.

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