Guest Blogs

When the Punishment Is Too Harsh

Has someone ever disciplined your child in a way you believed to be inappropriate?

Has a care provider, teacher, or even a family member ever disciplined your child with ADHD in a way you believed to be inappropriate; because they didn’t see or believe that a specific behavior stemmed from a disorder?

Natalie had a wonderful teacher this past school year. Mrs. Junck was a dream come true — warm, energetic, highly skilled, and experienced. She not only tolerates kids with special needs, she enjoys them. And since she was Aaron’s first grade teacher, I knew her and trusted her from the start.

When Mrs. Junck wasn’t there, she had one regular sub, a retired teacher she knew well. Although Natalie preferred the consistency of Mrs. Junck being in the classroom, she got along fine when this substitute was there.

One day, Mrs. Junck was gone, and her usual sub wasn’t available. Natalie was anxious when I kissed her goodbye at her classroom door that morning, but I wasn’t worried. I was sure she’d be fine.

That night, however, she told me that the substitute teacher was “mean.” According to Natalie, the sub grabbed her head with both hands. “Look right here!” she demanded, when Natalie wasn’t focusing, and physically forced her to look where she wanted her to look.

I wasn’t happy to hear this, of course, but I wanted more information. Natalie is normally an accurate reporter, but I was willing to see if there was more to the story.

The next morning I asked Natalie’s special education teacher to check into this report. I don’t know exactly what she found out, but, as a result of my inquiry, the principal had a talk with the sub, and Mrs. Junck guaranteed that the individual wouldn’t sub in her classroom again that year. She apologized like crazy.

This incident was very small; benign, really. But how many times do our children experience this type of treatment? One incident may not hurt them, either physically or psychologically, but a series of them very well could.

Last Thursday, Natalie disclosed to me a much more unsettling incident with a care provider. Over the next few days, I’ll share this experience with you through a series of posts. My intent today is to start a discussion, to pose the question: Do our children suffer when adults misinterpret behaviors that stem from ADHD or other special needs?

Natalie certainly has. Don’t miss tomorrow’s post.