Frankie is a 7 year old boy with bright blonde hair and blue eyes. He has a wonderful smile, and a true child-like gleam in his eyes, although he does not look directly at me. Frankie is a young man full of energy, and it's a struggle for him to sit still for any stretch of significant time. He has been diagnosed with ADHD and Moderate Intellectual Disability. Frankie's mother sits in my office, explaining her struggle with school administrators who have been reluctant to agree with Frankie's parent's request for providing some extra support and accommodations. His new classroom this year is minus a teacher's aide, and there is very little one on one time that Frankie's mother desperately believes he needs.
Frankie's mother explains the numerous challenges she & her husband have faced with Frankie. They had Frankie later in life. Her pregnancy was unremarkable for the most part. Frankie was a typical baby, hitting all the developmental milestones at the usual stages. Somewhere shortly after his 3rd birthday, Frankie's behavior began changing dramatically. He seemed detached, and less affectionate. His communication skills seemed to regress. Frankie does communicate verbally, but very few besides his family and teacher can understand him well enough to know what he is saying. At home and in his school setting Frankie exhibits frequent behavioral outbursts, and becomes easily upset with certain things, especially unexpected changes or events. Sometimes his behavior appears without any known or apparent antecedents.
Frankie's mother is frazzled, her eyes conveying a worried mother's burden and exhaustion. She has two other children, and states she feels it is a constant struggle to give her other children the time and attention they need combined with Frankie's needs.
Frankie's parent's insurance will not pay for any additional testing, including testing for the Autism they suspect. The school officials are in disagreement with Frankie's physician's current diagnosis, and have stated he has behavioral issues stemming from poor home discipline. They argue he does not have a disability that can be proven to negatively and directly impact his learning. It is readily apparent that Frankie's parents are lower income, and extra money for additional help is nonexistent. Frankie's parents want him to have a shot at getting a decent education, and need some guidance in how to best support their son.
I gave some information about some outside resources to Frankie's mother that might be helpful to them. We also discussed the Medicaid waiver program. They had never heard of it prior to our conversation, but agree to complete the application for services. We also talk about some on-line resources, and we discuss some things they can try as his parents to help Frankie focus and channel his energy in constructive ways.
Frankie and his family's story seem to be increasingly more common. Families are not always aware of the resources and information that is available to them. Rather than pointing fingers and arguing about lack of funds, we need to find creative ways to help kids like Frankie be successful in school and at home.
Note: Frankie is a fictional character, based on a composite of real individuals I regularly encounter. Characters who appear in my "Fictional Friday" posts are based on people with real stories with particular details, names, and certain specific circumstances changed so as to protect privacy.