difficult child sent home from school--I'm feeling blue...

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by --Eleanor--, May 10, 2007.

  1. --Eleanor--

    --Eleanor-- New Member

    My son, who is partly mainstreamed and partly in resource room, just got sent home from school at noon. After a terrible first half of the year, we finally got him into a school that has a really excellent team working with him, and I had assumed that his behavior would improve drastically with a good staff. But it is now worse than ever before. Last week he pushed a girl down, several times he has hit teachers. Yesterday he pulled an electrical socket out of a wall. And today he had 6 tantrums and they had to take the other kids out of the classroom. I just don't understand. When he is with me and my husband, he is really pretty good (at least compared to how he is at school). But in the school setting, he just loses it. I'm fairly sure the school's answer is going to be to suggest (yet again) that he be placed in a self-contained classroom with the kids with mental retardation, even though his intelligence is actually high average and he is academically way above what is being taught in there. Am I going to have to end up homeschooling? (He does great at home with a tutor.) Are there any drugs that might help? He's already on ritalin, lowest dose.

    Any suggestions would be welcomed!
  2. lordhelpme

    lordhelpme New Member

    sure you aren't talking about my son?

    i am in the process of mediation to address where and how my difficult child will be taught. right now for the safety of the other students he is with-a one on one in the resource room and does recess, lunch and specials with-his 'class'.

    your school is like mine in that they do not have a Special Education class for behavioral or emotional impairments. there isn't one on our area for this age(young elem). seems to be a problem all over.

    my suggestion is that you get an advocate as the one i spoke to today was really good and knowledgeable and they can help you in what sound likes is going to be an new iep.
  3. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator

    Eleanor, I know very little about High-Functioning Autism (HFA) because my kids suffer from mood disorders. However, I attended a lecture a while back given by a leading researcher who studies medicating kids with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). He said he has found a lot of success with combinations of Ritalin for attention issues and Risperdal for aggression/behavioral issues. I throw this info out in the event you want to pursue this avenue with a child psychiatrist who has experience with medicating Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) kids.

    Do you happen to know what your son's triggers are in the school setting?
  4. LittleDudesMom

    LittleDudesMom Well-Known Member Staff Member


    while my son is not violent towards others, he is often disruptive. He also is partially resource and partially mainstream.

    My fear is the same as yours. Because of his noncompliance to do work when in a mood and his high level of frustration, I do fear he will be placed in a ed room eventually. He's a smart kid and that placement would be highly negative to his development and education.

    Like your son, mine also does great one on one with a tutor (me). I just feel so strongly about the social issue of school that I won't try homeschooling.

    I think you might want to give your psychiatrist a call and discuss medications, etc. When was the last time your son had any type of testing through either school or a private doctor? Has his behavior escalated recently?

    Hope you find some answers.

  5. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Eleanor-I'm sorry he is struggling right now at school. I know how frustrating it is when they are sent home. I agree it would be a good idea to contact an advocate if they suggest putting him in a room where you don't feel his academic needs will be met.
  6. --Eleanor--

    --Eleanor-- New Member

    Thanks, everyone. He has had a full evaluation last fall from a multidisciplinary team at state's best research hospital, and they recommended that he should be in a mainstream setting with behavioral supports or in a self-contained behavioral classroom.

    His serious behavior problems didn't start until last fall when he entered 1st grade. I blame it, at least in part, on what happened with the school last fall. He had the case manager from hell at our local elementary who set out to prove that he shouldn't be mainstreamed and they basically didn't give him any supports and didn't follow his IEP at all, but rather just followed him around documenting his difficulties. Fortunately, we figured out fairly quickly what was going on and shocked the sh*t out of them by filing a due process before they could succeed in their little game. They settled the case quickly, and he is now in a much better school with staff that I don't believe are trying to sabotage him. So anyway, they are obviously going to be really careful about trying to move him...

    What is so frustrating is that he doesn't exhibit these problem behaviors when he is with us. (Not that he doesn't have problem behaviors--he has plenty--but not the aggressive stuff they are seeing at school.) And the school hasn't been able to spot any definitive triggers. I'm wondering if it simply isn't overstimulation, and that maybe he needs a more self-contained environment. That totally goes against my nature to say this, because I am a strong advocate for LRE and I really want him to be with mainstream peers--he likes them!

    Anyway. Weekend coming up. That always makes me feel better!
  7. Sunlight

    Sunlight Active Member

    what about a private christian school with smaller classes or a Montessori school. that is what I would do if I have ant to do over.
  8. Crazy-Steph

    Crazy-Steph New Member

    A Montessori school is a really good idea. Our best friends have a son that got kicked out of several daycares for biting. They put him in a Montessori school and have not had any problems since. This was about 2 years ago. There son shows many signs of being a difficult child-we cringe when we know they are bringing him over. But he is now ahead of the game, at least academically speaking. He is supposed to start Kindergarten next year, but is far evough advanced to maybe go right into 1st grade.
  9. Wishing

    Wishing New Member

    When my son was acting out in any way I took him to a child and adolescent psychiatrist and he tried various medications.He takes resperidol for irritability and it really helps a lot.He also takes ritalin for attention.
  10. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Your son could be my son. difficult child 3 is hyperlexic and autistic. IQ difficult to measure, rough estimate 145. Splinter skills but currently doing well with the more difficult, 'waffly' subjects. Recent English assignment - he wrote pages of poetry, on demand! Best haiku I've seen in a long while. Well ahead of grade in maths, science & technology.

    We also considered getting him into a Special Education class for slower kids. I campaigned for it, as an alternative to mainstream which I knew was not working. They refused to let him go into the Special Education class because he was too bright - he needed an IQ score below 100. Preferably below 90. I suggested the Special Education class with accelerated/assisted learning combo. They said, too labour intensive. Personally, I don't agree - a Distance Ed program in this class would work well for him.

    We've since met another couple of students in this class (they attend difficult child 3's extracurricular drama class for local disabled kids). They're nice kids. But the academic standard - difficult child 3 would get very frustrated with them, as he does at drama. Because he's such a prolific reader and communicator (he's caught up, after severe language delay to begin with) he would get frustrated with a classmate who has only just learned to read and is enjoying very basic stuff - Miffy, Salli Malli, Bananas in Pajamas, Bob the Builder. difficult child 3 reads "Harry Potter".

    A teacher of this class is also a good friend of mine, she also knows difficult child 3 very well. She agrees that he needs to be out of mainstream, but her class wouldn't work either.

    I campaigned for a Special Education class specifically for local high-functioning autistic kids (and Aspies) who can't cope in full-time mainstream. The class is up and running I'm told, but with no place for difficult child 3, since others need it even more than we do. I have the option of home schooling him and it is the best thing we ever did. Absolutely! Far and away, why the H*** didn't they let me do this before!??! If you can do it, then do it. We actually use a version of mainstream education called Distance Education - it's for kids who can't physically attend mainstream due to distance (Australia is a big country and outback it gets isolated very quickly, and schools are too far to get to if you live way out of town); due to being physically ill (a kid with severe allergies or asthma problems); socially unable to cope (school phobia, agoraphobia, autism); and kids who are athletes or performers in training. We have the option of a modified academic program, which difficult child 3 had in some subjects last year; or full-on mainstream, which I nagged them to give him this year. We have strict rules which he follows (mostly) - "school work during school hours" being the big one. I believe in the Us you have access to internet-based education. It might be worth a look, at least.

    But what about social interaction, I hear you cry? Trust me, the sort of social interaction they get in mainstream school is NOT natural, and often is NOT positive. difficult child 3 gets plenty of more valid social interaction. Think about it - a big group of kids, all about the same age and with ONE adult at the helm, sitting in a room all working on the same work at the same time - where does this occur in real life? But taking difficult child 3 shopping - he meets a wide age range of people, much more representative of life in general. He interacts with them by chatting to a total stranger, cooing over a baby in a pram, buying something from a shopkeeper (and learning to manage the interaction appropriately, as well as the money) and following a shopping list. He also learns to help me find the most economic tin of baked beans (maths skills, economic skills, business and marketing, as well as personal organisation).

    The schools basically did their best to keep difficult child 3 in mainstream. We were actively discouraged from trying anything else - in fact, we were not told of alternatives, I had to find out for myself. We were also brainwashed into believing that it was OK for the school to have the same behaviour requirements for difficult child 3 as well as the same punishments. It is not. Our kids need delicate and very different handling. Staff members who couldn't accept this were sometimes very nice people, but they did a lot of damage in their attempts to shape him into a 'normal' mould. He ended up being held back in maths and as a result lost a lot of his confidence in his prodigious ability (and lost a lot of that ability as well). He was never rewarded or congratulated for his talents - he was left and forgotten, most of the time. He had an aide who was brilliant, but the class members and the teacher treated him as the idiot baby brother who should be sitting quietly up the back of the room. Socially he could not join in with the other kids because he didn't have the social understanding to adapt the way kids his age generally do. A game has strict rules, in his mind. Kids will change the rules as they play, to accommodate changing conditions. The goal posts will move, and difficult child 3 couldn't accept this and labelled it cheating. Kids wouldn't want to play with him and would sometimes change the rules just to get him out - he resented this because he knew what they were up to. When he threw a tantrum, HE would be the one in trouble. When he tried to stay calm and tell a teacher, he was told to sort it out for himself, or choose to not lay with kids who changed the rules. You can't do this to an autistic kid, and not suffer the consequences in schools.

    We changed schools with difficult child 3, while he was still in mainstream. The new school had a great deal of playground support for him, but the gaps we found convinced us that mainstream could never work for him. Unless ALL the staff were thoroughly on the same page, mistakes happened and the meltdowns were becoming increasingly violent. It was easy to work out what went wrong after the event; much harder to put strategies in place to prevent. When we knew we couldn't prevent, we pulled him out.

    What we found at home - we know he had been exposed to the full curriculum, but despite being hyperlexic he had not learnt anything beyond his maths. What he had learnt of his maths was self-taught. When we examined everything - it was ALL self-taught, or leant at home on various computer games. Here was a boy of 11, with no concept of basic geography for example. No understanding of words like "narrative", "personification", "conflict", "resolution". He understood the mechanics of language - "noun", "verb", "adjective" but little else. What he knew, I had taught him. And this is after 6 years of public school education, where he had been bringing home stellar report cards (at least in terms of academic achievement). He could easily do a comprehension exercise because it's just word-finding skills, at that level. (look for the key word). He basically had wasted his entire years of schooling.

    So we had to give him crash courses in the basics. A lot of it he's having to learn on the fly, and when we find a big deficit we put the current worksheets on hold while we give him the lessons he's missed. It's crazy - he watches the educational stuff on TV and is enjoying the senior high school organic chemistry programs, he can discuss organic chemistry with an adult expert. But he is still learning basic geography.

    Much of what he is learning, he is doing entirely by himself. Although I'm supposed to help him he refuses to let me "because that's cheating". He has teachers in the city, available on the phone, he will telephone them for advice but won't take my word for it without their confirmation. I've got to not let that get to me - it's good to be cautious and to double-check things.

    To learn his geography we bought a copy of "Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?" Not exactly good curriculum but it was a BIG start. Before that, he couldn't find Australia or the US on a globe. We'd go for an afternoon drive and he would be asking if we were close to London yet. Going away on holidays was a nightmare - to get anywhere in Australia, you drive for a very long time. Our first holiday, we took two full days to drive to the Victorian Alps. The land was so different there, he thought we were in another country and would never get home.

    Eleanor, your son does well at home. You and your husband clearly have something in place which works for your son. The school does not. Even the best school in the world, sometimes cannot help kids like ours. Drugs may help to calm him at school, but drugs are really not the answer, when he's already doing OK for you at home. Often the problem is anxiety in the school environment - you COULD drug him into oblivion, or give him a smaller dose so he can cope a little better, but it's a band-aid, it won't fix the underlying problem, which is that the mainstream environment is too stressful for him and THEY'RE not sufficiently accepting of him.

    The problems at school that you can't fix:
    the other kids - they produce noise, chaos, distraction. At best. At worse they tease, they bully (and get away with it) and generally torment to get the autistic kid into trouble. It takes an observant and dedicated teacher to put a stop to it.

    The teachers - they have their fixed ideas, they do NOT have to deal with these kids outside school hours, they have to maintain standards of behaviour for the whole school, they have to keep some semblance of order and discipline.

    The rapid change in topics being covered each day - at 9 am the class is given some worksheets in English. difficult child 3 fidgets, can't find his pencil, it needs sharpening, can't settle to his work because Sandra is sniffing and Steven is kicking his table leg. Even with an aide, by the time difficult child 3 gets down to work the rest of the class are done and it is now 9.30 am, time to change to another subject. But difficult child 3 wants to finish what he's working on - a fight ensues. By the time difficult child 3 has settled down to accept the new work, the rest of the class have finished and they're ready for the next subject. And so t he day progresses. But at home - it's 9 am, time to begin work. OK, he might fuss around for up to half an hour, choosing which subject to do, finding his pen and so on, But when he begins work he continues until it is done. It might take until lunchtime, but the work is done. And for him, it is a week's work in that subject. After lunch, he begins a new worksheet. By the end of the day, he's made good progress on a second subject (or maybe even finished it). No homework needed. School finishes and he goes out to play with friends.

    The size of the classroom - it also produces many distraction factors. the noise is the worst - our kids concentrate better when they can tune out the noise. We provided difficult child 3 with a CD player which he would listen to while he did his worksheets.
    The visual distraction factor - movement between the student and the teaching focus of the classroom is a huge problem. Sometimes it just isn't possible for this to be sufficiently minimised.
    The vibrations - a chair scraping, a bump on the wall, feet tramping on the floor - all distract. It's like you or me trying to write a letter while someone is drumming their fingers on our back.

    The teachers and kids in other classes - they really don't know how to cope with a difficult child, these people tend to be conservative, fearful and highly reactive. This can set off a difficult child in unfavourable ways. He will get substitute teachers, other teachers on playground duty, encountering changes of teachers for all sorts of reasons. Unless each one is trained and briefed, chances are the encounters will cause problems.

    And in all of this - a negative experience for a kid with High-Functioning Autism (HFA) can unsettle them for days or longer. It depends on the experience and the degree of impact. It's taken difficult child 3 years to unlearn about hitting kids. He learnt it by observation in mainstream school - t he teachers SAY "don't hit," but he sees that other boys DO hit and get away with it (because the teacher is not watching). So the public rules are different to the private rules. But when HE hits - the kids tell on him. Why? But when he doesn't hit - the other kids hit him, or cheek him, or are mean to him. he also learnt that he couldn't trust his own observations - a number of times he came home injured and told me that he'd been tripped, or hit with a stick. When I reported it, difficult child 3 was told that things really hadn't happened that way because the boy he'd named had denied it, so difficult child 3 must have been mistaken. difficult child 3 was learning that he would be punished, for doing exactly what the other boys were doing. This must be because difficult child 3 was bad, or in some other way deserving of punishment. He never understood why, not really. Therefore the punishment was never appropriate nor effective.

    We now have a happy, cooperative and eager-to-learn bright young man. he is polite to people we meet, helpful, courteous and kind. But put him in a group of young boys and it CAN turn nasty. I'v e watched - generally it's the other boys trying to get him to react. Slowly he's learning to cope, and as his peer group get older they are also getting more understanding, but he needs watching still, for his own safety. And in school, nobody can watch him closely enough.

    So if you can't pull him out, try and find him somewhere appropriate to his needs AND his abilities. If t hey can give him extension in the Special Education class, at least consider it. But if you can pull him out entirely and give him a more customised education, you will have the best result, I feel.

    You only get one chance with your child's upbringing and education. The education system stuffed up bigtime, with difficult child 3, wasted so much time and did so much damage. We're still catching up but he's racing ahead in some areas.

    If you still believe the myth that autistic kids' social needs can only be met in mainstream (or if people keep nagging about this and you want to shut them up) then check out the website of James Williams. Google "James Williams" and "autism" in the same search window. He's a fascinating kid whose views on this give a fresh perspective.

    Good luck. Have faith in yourselves and your son.

  11. sameold sameold

    sameold sameold New Member

    Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) kids are so very different from others. We had our son in public school until 5th grade. It was a major mistake. He then went to a private special all purpose school. Some kids just can not be mainstreamed. Mine was one of them. He was aggressive to staff and very disruptive in class, he also had major anxiety issues and could not sleep at night. If I had to do it all over again, I never would have put him in public school at all. It really made his and our lives he**. Dealing with people who act like they understand but do not, they always felt he did things purposefully because of his high IQ. These kids have a hard fit. Good luck to you.
  12. --Eleanor--

    --Eleanor-- New Member

    This is great information--thanks, everyone! We are meeting with a psychologist and the school district autism coordinator today to talk about trying to coordinate behavioral supports between home and school. (Translation: They want us to use their system for the sake of consistency. Of course, their system is what is producing the worst behavior I've ever seen, while ours seems to be working pretty well. But we'll try it their way anyway--at least for a while.)

    Marguerite--thanks so much for all of the information. It really helps to hear from someone else who has experienced hyperlexia firsthand. Most of the school personnel had never even heard of it. We're thinking seriously about switching to homeschooling--there are no suitable private schools nearby.

    And sameold sameold--We constantly have to deal with people who assume that my son is just spoiled or bratty because he obviously is so smart. They act like his autism diagnosis is something we just made up to excuse bad behavior, because he is verbal and social (and doesn't act like Rainman).

    Crossed fingers, hoping for a better school week this week!

  13. --Eleanor--

    --Eleanor-- New Member

    Update: Well, the meeting with the psychologist went no better than expected. He began by saying that he didn't think my son's autism was the cause of his behavior problems at school, but that it was due to my husband's (he's the primary parent) poor parenting techniques, in that my husband tends to use humor and distraction to coax difficult child out of difficult moods. (My husband is actually alot like his own father was in that way, and he raised 3 sons just fine...) Anyway, we didn't let this guy set us off (although I think he was trying to) and went on to have him train us in his method for doing "time-outs." He said our method of doing them was "all wrong" in that we were having him do time-out in his room. So we re-created the schools's sytem in the dining room. Anyway, when difficult child got home from school, he thought it was great, and immediately set about doing the things he does at school to get time outs, so we would put him in time-out, which he seemed to really enjoy...

    He says he likes school, but I'm starting to think that what he likes is yanking the chains of all of the staff there who are trying so hard to deal with him!

    Well. The upshot is that if things don't get better at schoool SOON, he's out of there. I honestly don't know what is next. Unless we homeschool, I may have to fork over another bunch of money to a Special Education lawyer to make sure the school doesn't warehouse him somewhere...
  14. Sheila

    Sheila Moderator

    The school environment is too stimulating for many of our kids.

    You might also want to consider getting input from your own autism specialist. School's tend to want to do the same thing with all student's because it's more cost effective and doesn't deviate from "the way we do it." As a result the Individual Education Program gets to be use of one pre-designed technique for all -- whether its students in 100% mainstream, self-contained classroom students, etc.