Hidalgo Co. Mother Wants Education for ADHD Students to Improve
MERCEDES - A Mercedes mother claimed the school district her son attends is causing more stress in her son’s education.
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can impair a person’s concentration, memory, motivation and much more. The condition can contribute to learning challenges in life and academics.
Ten-year-old Kristian De Anda said it can be tough growing up with ADHD.
“Sometimes when I get really mad, sometimes I don’t harm anybody but I just walk out of class, because I don’t want to do anything to anybody. I don’t want to hurt anybody when I do it,” the Mercedes ISD student said.
When an episode happens in class, the school sends students with ADHD to a sensory or calming room. De Anda demonstrated to CHANNEL 5 NEWS the size of the room.
Mercedes ISD superintendent Daniel Trevino Jr. also provided us with a picture.
“At particular campus we can have three to four rooms. They can measure anywhere from 15 by 20. They can measure anywhere from 12 to 15,” he said. “In there is a desk very proximity to bathrooms. The doors are left open while the student works on their work.”
Melissa Velis, De Anda’s mother, said it can also be tough to raise a child with ADHD.
“I just couldn’t make them understand so that everything that he did just brought a whole lot of punishments; constantly being told that he was bad, that he was bad and he doesn’t act like that at home,” she said.
The single mother said she didn’t see the room before she agreed to allow the district to place him in room.
“She was pointing to the band hall. No, she took me straight to the storage room in the band hall, and I asked, ‘Are you kidding, right? Is that a punishment or how is that supposed to calm him?’” she said.
Trevino said the sensory rooms are legal.
“In order for the student to excel or to be successful academically, we have to isolate them in a sensory room. They are supervised. They will do their work there. Each student, of course, it will take a different time,” he said.
Velis explained the incident is not the first misunderstanding between the school district and her.
“They came to my house with my son and took him out of school, brought him to my home back in 2014. This is when everything started,” she said.
Velis filed a grievance against the school district and won. She said the district produced inaccurate documents that stated she allowed her son to be withdrawn from school.
“This is where they’re asking parent signature. This is where my signature should have been if I was the one requesting my son to be withdrawn,” she said.
The mother said the district called Child Protective Services and the case was ruled out in her favor. She now hopes a doctor’s note will allow her son to be excused from using the calming/sensory room.
“What I want to see done is justice… For them to maybe get some type of training as when they should call CPS on family. How to treat a child or other alternatives,” she said.
Trevino said they work with all forms of notices from a physician.
“We’ll cooperate, as I mentioned, with any medical doctor, any psychiatrist on a recommendation,” he said.
Velis said, as a parent, she knows when something is wrong with her child. She wants the school district to hear her complaint for the benefit of her son and other children like him.
The superintendent said the district serves more than 500 students in special education. He said five percent of those students have ADHD.
A form of help that parents and their children can receive is one-on-one counseling, according to Hope Family Health Center. They offer free counseling for people without insurance.
Counseling director Nancy Saenz explained they provide exercises for both parents and their children.
“We do a lot of self-soothing techniques, meditation, mindfulness, relaxation and we’ve seen that it works with the kids. The children, even the adolescents, they’ll teach their own peers. ‘Hey, you dot angry? Let me teach you what they taught me,’” she said.
Saenz explained services are available, but there’s a long waiting list to get in to see a private practitioner. She said one of her clients was treated after a two-month waiting period.
The Hope Center said they serve about 1,500 counseling visits annually.