My son is 9 and starting 4th grade next week. He has already mentioned that he doesn't want to go, he knows the kids will make fun of him, and he thinks it will be worse this year since it's fourth grade. My husband and I were talking about it and I think a lot of it is (well besides kids are mean...) that they can't necessarily tell that there's anything "wrong" with him. He's just slow, to them. He only uses a chair for long distances and not at school yet, although I forsee that on some of the longer field trips this year.
Last year there was some rough housing and pushing, so we just had the teacher talk to the class about having to be careful with him because his bones aren't as strong as other kids'. He was out at PT at the time, but he knew she was going to do that. Then of course, some kid teased him about it later. He says he doesn't want us to come talk to the class, and till now we've honored that, but I just really think it would be better coming from us. Have any of you done this, even if your son didn't want you to?
The way I did it was to get a copy of the brain pop video PPMD made and gave it to the adaptive PE teacher and they had a whole 4th or maybe it was 5th grade meeting in the library and showed all the kids the short video and then they asked questions. The teachers presented it, not me. I was present and so was my son even though he didn't really want to be there but it ended up being a great thing to do. The kids had so many amazing questions. I have to say though that we haven't run into much with kids being mean but my kids have been with the same kids since kindergarten and when they were little like in Kindergarten and 1st grade, I would go into the classroom with fireman's boots that are really heavy and would have the kids try them on and walk around in them and I would explain that that is what if feels like to be my son, running and walking a lot makes their legs tired like wearing very heavy boots..After 1st grade I didn't talk to the class but felt like when my oldest starting using a scooter, we needed to re-visit it..
Here is the link to the brainpop video http://www.brainpop.com/health/diseasesinjuriesandconditions/duchen...
I am so sorry that you and your son have to go through this at all. It is so very hurtful to have to see your son experience these issues in a place where he should be safe and happy.
My Nicolas is now entering 3rd grade (today is first day!!) and is 9 years old, and I know that there are bullys and have seen this first hand. One thing I do and have made sure to do is to #1 involve the teachers and have them discuss disabilities in class without singling out your son - there are many reference books, and books to read to the class, #2 involve the principal and school counselor. I've had the counselor speak to the classroom, and she would have special lunches (about twice a month), with Nicolas and he could invite a couple kids - she would incorporate a problem child in to the lunch once in a while as well so that they could sit and talk to each other in a small group, and get to know each other better. They would discuss regular daily stuff or what they like, while the goal is for the kids to see that they're not so different from each other. #3 - I GOT MDA INVOLVED! I have them come out yearly to speak with the classroom and they hand out booklets, and have ideas to show and explain to the class about DMD. There's a discussion about relating to when a child broke a bone or was sick, or a grandmother or father who is elderly and needs help up the stairs, etc. It helps the kids relate to a disability when they can see it in their family as well.
These have helped, but of course not cured the situation. There are still a couple kids in his class (and they are in his class this year - I was really hoping and praying that they weren't), that Nicolas just plain out does not and will not get along with no matter what methods we use to explain to the kids. But intervention is definite key - and I think it would be a good idea for you to intervene with the school and get them to start discussions and get MDA to do a hop a thon or just meet with the class.
Also, you mentioned field trips and how your son may need to use his chair. I have Nicolas' chair in school with him daily (it's a stroller chair), and his class is very familiar with it and seeing it parked in the hallway. They also know and are told not to touch it because it's an extended part of Nicolas. They respect the chair and don't make fun of him for it. When MDA rep came out to talk to the class, they also spoke about his chair (again referencing any older adults or other people in family who ever had to use one or uses one now), and that helped a bunch.
It is hard on us parents no matter what when it comes to our kids being bullied or uncomfortable at school. Good luck and I hope things get better for you and your son.
Hello Tracy! Sorry I am late to this discussion and new to this site but i am curious how are things with your son now? My son is 12 years old now and in 6th grade. he too had similar problems at school when he was younger. I got MDA, teachers, the principle, and myself involved to ensure a safer school environment. this year he was transferred to the middle where it houses all the older students (6-12) and I was so afraid he would encounter the same problems, bullies. However, because of my constant envolement we have not dealt with any problems like that. But dont get me wrong we went through a lot prior to with kids being bullies to my son. Kids are mean everway and I dont think most victims of bullies will tell a teacher or adult so that was why I felt it was important to always be involved in my son's school as much as possible so they knew me and understood his situation. I guess you could say i was and still am an advocate for my son.