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Old 05-25-2012, 12:08 PM   #1
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Undiagnosed Special Needs- Rights?

I'll try not to drag this out...

I am in a long term, committed relationship with a man who has three children from his previous relationship. I have known these kids for about three years now. The youngest has- what is to me very obvious- special needs of some sort. I'm not a psychologist, so I won't try to diagnose. I suspect he would fall somewhere on the autism spectrum.

Some of the things I see are inability to make or maintain eye contact, high intelligence but inability to do some tasks (example: button pants, put shoes on correct feet), persistent and nightly bedwetting, a moderately severe speach impediment, inability to retain certain skills (example: I can show him how to eat with a fork, but he can't do it by himself at the next meal), and a lot- a LOT- of dissociation. He's in his own little world an awful lot.

The child is six, is a pleasant little boy who is very smart, and who is in kindergarten and doing well. Or, his mom says he's doing well, but it's concerning to me that he's not in speach therapy (often I can't even understand what he is saying, so how can the teacher not pick up on that!?).

I am frustrated that this little boy is often in trouble with his mom and dad for "not listening". It IS frustrating that he doesn't behave in an age appropriate manner, sure! But as I try to tell my boyfriend, when he is inputting direction, his son is getting a skewed message. I want to get this little boy help, but I don't know what legal right we have to get him help.

I'm not even sure what I'm looking for here- advice? A place to vent? I don't know. I'm sure though that other mamas here can empathize with this little boy.

Thanks for listening.

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Old 05-25-2012, 01:15 PM   #2
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Re: Undiagnosed Special Needs- Rights?

Well bedwetting isn't really a sign of special needs, particularly in a 6 year old. My oldest who is ASD was night dry by 18months even though he didn't potty learn until he was 5. My youngest who may or may not have ODD/ADHD bedwets but it is pretty common in "normal" children even up to the teen years. Dh is a normal guy and he wet the bed until he hit his pre-teens (I am sure he would not love me sharing that) and it is genetic. Some kids are just not capable of holding it all night for whatever reason. The other behaviors and characteristics are more concerning. If these behaviors are so severe I am surprised no one (particularly the teacher) has mentioned them. Does your SO have any type of custody of his children? You do not have rights to the children but he should. He can ask that the school evaluate the child and begin a diagnosis process. He may need his ex to be on the same page though. There is always the option of petitioning the courts to get the child treatment but it is a pretty extreme option. Honestly to outsiders my oldest looks pretty normal. He was in school for the better part of a month before his teacher had a moment with him where it finally clicked for her that he was "different". Up till then the school couldn't figure out what all the fuss was about, they thought I was making it all up (we spent a lot of years getting him to that point). After that they were able to see the things he did in a different light, behaviors that just seemed defiant or difficult before were suddenly very obvious for what they were. It is possible that the same thing is going on with your SO's little guy and his teacher. It is just that most teachers tend to notice the "quirky" ones pretty quickly and mention it to the parents, as I say it took about a month with my guy.
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Old 05-25-2012, 05:33 PM   #3
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Re: Undiagnosed Special Needs- Rights?

I'm going to assume that your SO is the noncustodial parent.

I think what you could do (or specifically your SO) would depend on the custody agreement and state laws. In most states (you would need to research what your state allows) your SO would have full rights to contact the child's doctors and school to get copies of the records. Normally a parent has the right to take a child to a doctor's appointment during their parenting time. (Again you would have to check custody papers and state laws. ) Obviously your SO could contact the school and have a parent/teacher conference. It is the end of the school year so not much will/can be done at the school now. However, (again subject to custody papers & state laws) your SO might ask for the child to be tested at school to see if he qualifies for special educational services. (not eating with a fork or able to fully dress himself at age 6... red flag!)

Obviously from your post you feel the mother is not addressing the concerns. It is up to your SO to take action as it is legally his child. You are not legally even the stepmom and thus can only be supportive and encouraging. (Not trying at all to be mean but want you to understand.... Big difference between "Dad" taking a child to the doctors and a "girlfriend of the Dad" who has no legal right to make any choices for the child taking him to the doctors.... especially if something goes bad in the future and the parents have to go back to court.) You could find the custody papers ( or divorce agreement) and also look up the laws in your state in regards to custody so he will be better informed about what actions he can legally take to help his child.

Sorry this was not more helpful. It is really based on the individual circumstances of the custody agreement and the laws of your state what legal rights a parent has.
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