Munchausen by Proxy perpetrators may specifically seek out medical settings to meet their needs for sympathy and attention, but the web of deception is typically not limited to the hospital or doctor’s office. This abuse also frequently manifests in educational environments where a perpetrator may falsely claim that her child has special needs or developmental delays. In addition to wasting school funding and resources on unnecessary testing, Individualized Education Plans, and other unneeded accommodations, this behavior can isolate the child and contribute to false conceptions of being delayed or impaired.
MBP perpetrators are often highly skilled manipulators who are adept at galvanizing others to their cause and can become extremely hostile to those who question them, making it very challenging to push back on a parent requesting unnecessary testing or accommodations.
Because of the consistency and amount of time educators spend with children, they are well-placed to detect abuse and to help a child in need of support.
We highly recommend reading the APSAC Advisor and this review from Drs. Ellen M. Frye and Marc D. Feldman.
Important Points for Educators
- Parent may falsify or exaggerate “educational symptoms” such as ADHD, autism, and Asperger’s, as well as a range of behavioral issues and learning disabilities such as speech disorders and hearing problems.
- Parent may report highly unusual problems that are not consistent with the school’s observations of the child.
- If a parent is not relieved when testing reveals that their child does not require special education and instead requests further testing, this could be an indicator of abuse.
- Parents who are falsifying or inducing health conditions in their child may extend this deception to the educational setting by requesting unnecessary individualized nursing care, physical or occupational therapy, counseling, or special education.
- The parent may report symptoms in their child that do not show up in tests conducted by the school. Parents can be bold, insistent, and adversarial when this happens.
- Children of MBP perpetrators may be hindered in developing personal responsibility by their parent’s desire to keep them dependent.
- If an educator suspects that a parent is fabricating; exaggerating; or inducing physical, psychological, or educational disabilities; they are mandated to report to the appropriate child protection authority. It is child abuse.
- Special education administrators and school principals should decide what accommodations should be provided to a student regardless of bullying by parents.
- These decisions may need to be reinforced by litigating before a hearing officer.
- Teachers, educational diagnosticians, school counselors, and other professionals who work with children should be educated about Munchausen by Proxy and aware that perpetrators may falsify learning and psychological disabilities as well as physical ones.
- Dealing with perpetrating parents can be extremely taxing, and educators should seek legal and emotional support as needed.