* T is for transient

rails-253134_640Blogging A-Z: T is for transient.  I have wondered what percentage of special needs kids live in transient circumstances.  In my experience, these families have fallen into three categories: women on the run from domestic abuse, families homeless and unable to find stable employment, and families on the run from IEP committees.

The latter transient group are really tough to handle.  First of all, they show up at school with just enough paperwork to get in the door.  No mention of learning or behavior issues.  In fact, I usually don’t even see the parents.  These kids are often quiet and unresponsive to questions about their previous school.  The more obstreperous kids make waves and initiate Phone or Note Wars with their invisible parents.  Overall, the kids are well below grade level and the classroom teacher is stunned at their performance.  One third grader could not write his name.

At this point, someone has alerted the person responsible for special ed paperwork and the hunt officially begins.  The paper trail can be amazingly convoluted and by the time there’s a hint that this student was referred for an evaluation, that transient family has moved on again.  I have felt sorry for kids who show up under those circumstances.  The kids are trained not to talk and have a slim chance of getting much-needed support.  I assume their parents are in denial or perhaps hiding something even worse.

The special needs kids whose moms are hiding in a shelter have double their share of difficulties.  They are usually more anxious, defiant, or generally difficult to manage, for obvious reasons.  Their mothers usually make a connection with the school counselor, nurse, or police resource officer immediately as a form of protection.

For families who are homeless and/or with a history of moving to find work, the student may stay for most of a year.  The child might even go through the evaluation process and qualify for an IEP.  But within a year or so, the transient family continues its meager, wandering existence.

Occasionally (rarely) these transient kids wander back into our schools, which is always a joy.  When I think about the effort needed to support a special needs kid in an “established” home, I cannot imagine how difficult it must be to parent when you are on the move.

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