I had a great time in Minneapolis at the U of M. Thank you, everyone, who was involved in putting this together.
Check out C.H.A.T http://globalhealthcenter.umn.edu/
Thank you Jeff Rupp and Life 96.5.
Funny story…As kids, Jeff and I, along with our families, vacationed in northern MN at a resort called Health Resort. Jeff reminded me that it had been 26 years since those memorable vacations. I never thought that 26 years later I would be standing here in the studio of 96.5 interviewing for a book. Andersons, Johnsons, Reilands, Sorensens, and Rupps. 16 kids growing up together, have become forever friends.
As I read this article, I found myself getting so angry. There are so many families looking for help for their child, my family included. We are not looking for an institution or a place to hide our kids. We need help. We, moms and dads who love our kiddos, want the best for them. We desperately wanted a school, a setting that would not only help our daughter with her emotional struggles but would also help her continue in school and continue on with post-high school plans.
I know there are many many provisions made for multiple disabilities in regular education. We have come along way and that is great. We not done yet. Kids that suffer from severe mental illness do not qualify for SPED. They do not qualify for any programs in the public school system that could help them navigate through the day. They are literally left to fend for themselves when they, in fact, have a mental/emotional disability. This disability is not recognized by the school district.
These kids qualify for “emotional support” which means…You as the student get to go to a special school with all the other “naughty kids”. You don’t get to talk to anyone, no friendship will be made. You cant talk to anyone but the teacher and if you disobey these rules, you get in trouble. You sit in the corner or a room by yourself for the rest of the day. Also, there is an option of getting restrained as my daughter was for having an anxiety attack. School is sitting at a desk with a computer and a 6-8 hr day of online learning. You may get a bathroom break but you will be supervised and only go when you are granted permission.
When a child is diabetic, and they are not paying attention in class or feel ill, they get their blood sugars tested. So they go to the office to have this done. If the blood sugar is low, this will make the child feel tired and confused etc. So they eat and visit with the nurse until they feel better and go back to class, with a note for an excused absence. The nurse follows up for a few hrs to make sure all is well. Another child is hiding in the bathroom with debilitating anxiety. She feels hot, sweaty, nauseated and can’t breathe. The counselor finds her an escorts her to the office. She sits in the main room waiting for the principal to see her, as peers walk by and see her crying. She walks into the principal’s office, is not offered a glass of water or a snack. She sits down and tries to explain her actions, she tried explaining herself to the teacher but just went to the bathroom to try and gain composer. She is given an after-school detention for being out of class, and her parents are called. She will get a zero on the daily assignment because it was unexcused.
There is no counseling, other than the teachers on staff who may choose to talk to you. Food is withheld, solitary confinement and punitive punishment is an everyday occurrence. These kids don’t get to be kids. They do not get the interaction or the instruction on how to handle their disability. They are told to suck it up and move on. Have a good attitude. Act more like the good kids. They don’t have the environment to grow and mature into well adjusted young adults. And then we wonder why they are not doing well.
When the diabetic child walks into the principal’s office, you don’t tell him to think positive, act like kids with normal blood sugars and then expect their blood sugar to magically return to normal. Mental health is no different, there is a biological component.
Think about it.