Hard time letting go when difficult child 1 is close to failing...

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by gcvmom, Oct 20, 2008.

  1. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    There are just two weeks of the quarter left, and difficult child 1 is getting a D- in two classes because he is either not getting his work done in class, or has been working on the wrong stuff all quarter. One of these classes involves classwork only -- no homework. The other class is a science class with labs and other things that count towards the grade besides tests (he gets A's on his tests and homework).

    It's all I can do to keep from screaming at him sometimes. I ask for updates: Did you talk to your teacher? Are you staying late to catch up on work? And the response I get is "I forgot" or "We ran out of time" or some other seemingly lame excuse! I remind him when I drop him off at school what to do, and he still forgets, or whatever. He has stayed late a few times, but he hasn't turned the completed packets in, or says he has but the teacher says he hasn't. What the heck is going on?

    I talked to the psychiatrist about this and he thought maybe difficult child 1 was having panic-type anxiety because difficult child 1 described it as his mind sort of going blank. So he said to try giving him propranolol in the mornings for a few weeks (we just started last week) to see if that helps. He's already taking Lexapro for anxiety.

    I'm just at a loss over what else to do. I just emailed the science teacher asking for advice. I am really feeling torn about letting him fail! I don't really see what he's going to learn from this. He says he already feels like cr@p knowing that he's going to lose a bunch of things (phone, for starters) if he gets anything less than a C on this next report card. But there has to be a consequence, doesn't there? So what do I do when the consequence just ratchets up his anxiety? Or is it just a cop-out? I know it's only 8th grade, but that doesn't lessen my frustration at his underacheivement. I KNOW he can do better! What do I DO???!!!
  2. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator

    Does he have an IEP?
  3. Nancy423

    Nancy423 do I have to be the mom?

    Can he put messages in his phone, reminders? How about an alarm? There has got to be a way he can put his phone to good use - I mean, they're not just for phone convo's any more are they?? LOL

    My difficult child has issues with memory too. She's only 6th grade, but she's also having many problems with homework not being turned in and her grades are suffering. She gets detention every 6th offence - and has already served det twice. We'll see if that helps. I certainly am all for consequences.
  4. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    No IEP, just a 504 plan, and it addresses things more in regard to having him sit up front so he can pay better attention. Clearly, something's not working.

    He's not allowed to have the phone on during school hours. He has a planner and he's on a contract to have it signed by each core teacher to ensure he gets the homework assignments written down.

    But he's taking an inordinate amount of time (for whatever reason) to finish things in class for his Computer Applications class, and in his physical science class he was working on the wrong stuff in class and consequently running out of time to finish things. Of course, it's hard for me to know this since I'm not there and all he tells me is he ran out of time.

    And I wonder sometimes if he's eating enough during the day because of the ADHD medications. That would certainly affect his thinking and focus. But how do I support and/or monitor THAT? How do you guarantee a 14yo eats during the day, short of meeting him for lunch?

  5. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    This is a toughie. It's so hard to let them just fail. M tested well and it really hurt with those classes where class or lab work was a major part of the grade. Yours is a Freshman, right? If I had it to do again, I would enlist the help of the guidance counselor to have a talk with him about the consequences of failing two required courses in the first term of his freshman year. Usually, they can either take a summer class to make up the course, or retake the classes in the fall next year with next year's Freshmen. That means taking a somewhat difficult class when he could be filling that time with a more enjoyable elective class. But I would let that be his decision. He'll learn more from the natural consequences of this mistake than he will from outside reactions to his mistake.

    I know this is hard, because I was never able to do it myself! Of course, I have hindsight now, and you know how much clearer that is than foresight. I'd be having a cow right about now, when we were going through this. But I think it's at least a basket "b" type thing. He screws up, he has consequences, and you help him recover from it.

    As far as reminders go, there are watches out there (I know of one by Nike) that you are able to program from multiple alarms. I have an adult friend with ADHD whose community college gave her these watches (yes, more than once) to help her be able to take her medications so she could study.
  6. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    He's in 8th, Witz. Not sure how the watch is going to help him know what to do when he's clearly not figuring it out now. I think I'll schedule a conference with these two teachers... hope he catches up the best he can.... and hope we can improve things for next quarter. Better now than in highschool, right?
  7. Rabbit

    Rabbit Member

    hi Can u get a meeting to change the 504 plan to an iep meeting
    The student support team can brainstorm at the meeting
    ways to help him Then those ideas can be put in the IEP
    and the teachers will have to do them Hugs Rabbit
  8. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    The lady I knew with the watch and the ADHD ignored it and didn't get much use out of it either. ;) It would just be a tool to remind him that 'now it's time to do this or that'. I think I was misunderstanding what others had written earlier about alarms and timers and such.

    Being in 8th grade makes it harder, because you know they're not likely to hold him back, and he needs the knowledge and discipline in order to move on successfully to the more structured high school environment. Good luck with the teachers!
  9. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator

    Anxiety can make kids work slower than their peers. It has nothing to do with ability. We are having the same problem with our younger daughter M and are in the process of trying to obtain an IEP for her.

    I would let the school see the full impact of his anxiety on his ability to access his education and not intervene so you can obtain an IEP. It is only 8th grade -- the grades don't count for anything -- and it would be beneficial to have an IEP in place before he starts high school.
  10. katya02

    katya02 Solace

    I would suggest an in-person meeting with the teachers of both problem classes to ask them exactly what they're seeing with your son. Is he trying, but getting distracted? Does he appear anxious and not get his work done despite taking time with it? Is he just not doing the work, instead talking to friends etc.? Have the teachers gotten any of the packets your son says he's handed in?

    My difficult child had many problems like this once he was out of emotional support ed. and into regular classes. He swore he'd done the work in class, swore he'd handed in assignments, and that the teacher had lost them. He would get so worked up telling me, I'd be all upset! I'd go in to see the teacher ... and every time, I would find out all sorts of things difficult child hadn't told me. It was very humiliating. I went to bat for him so many times - every time he was so convincing! - and every time I was embarrassed once I learned everything.

    That is not to say that's what's happening with your difficult child, only to say that it's very important to talk directly to the teacher and be willing to believe what the teacher tells you. (It was hard for me, the first time or two ... then it wasn't a surprise anymore.) Once you learn what's going on during class you can figure out where to go from there, and see if the teacher has any suggestions. Whether you decide to revise the 504, go to an IEP, or whether your son does need to experience the natural outcome of his actions, you'll have a clearer picture.
  11. KTMom91

    KTMom91 Well-Known Member

    Miss KT failed second semester Biology her freshman year, and could either make it up in summer school or take it again second semester of her sophomore year, which required zero period PE to make the class time available. She took zero period, and hated it.

    Is there an opportunity for him to make up the class in summer school? If there are more interesting things planned, having to be in school for six weeks or so might get the point across.
  12. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    Rabbit, up until now, he has not qualified for an IEP. This may just bring him one step closer to qualifying, though.

    Witz, I have to look at the exact wording, but if you fail a certain number of classes, you are not promoted to highschool. They will either retain you or have you take summer school to catch up/make up the work. I shared that little bomb with him tonight, and ever the optimist, he shrugs it off and says he doesn't think summer school would be too bad -- until I explain that he would miss the family vacation. ;)

    Smallworld, I agree about the anxiety affecting his processing speed and performance. And I also think letting him trip and fall now would likely get more attention from the school than my just trying to TELL them he needs more help. Because until now, they clearly don't get it.

    Katya, I think I'll be scheduling a meeting for this week or next. I know it's too late to rescue him, but at least we can maybe sort things out so next quarter is not a repeat of this mess. I know what you mean about the difficult child-version and the teacher's version. Often they are very different, especially if it's filtered through difficult child's perception of the world.

    KTM, I don't think failing one or two classes will hold him back, but the threshold isn't much higher I think. I let him know that tonight. I'm just so tired of micromanaging everyone's life around here. It just shouldn't be this hard.

    Oh, and P.S. -- I almost scheduled a neuropsychologist evaluation for him last summer, and now I'm wishing I had. I think I'll go ahead and call the office tomorrow just to get it going so I have some kind of ammo to throw at the school.
  13. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    the only thing that worked with-our difficult child was to hold him back, and that was two yrs ago. 8th gr would be a bigger deal, but I have to agree, it's better than HS.

    When our difficult child saw that he was outnumbered by the pricipal, his teacher, his science teacher, his aftercare teacher, and his dad and I, he knew we were serious. He was very sad, but it wasn't debililtating.
    We had him do extra work at Sylvan, which really helped (mostly memorization of stuff he was supposed to have known, but they go at your own level, which makes a huge diff).
    The next fall, he did so well, it was a huge ego boost for him. There were certain things he just hadn't been ready for.
    If your son has that much anxiety, it would be worth a tutor, or holding him back until he "gets it." The emotions are getting in the way of the data.
    (And perhaps like my son's guitar teacher, some of it could be a personality clash, too.)
    I thought Lexapro was for depression. It works for his anxiety?
  14. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator

    SSRI antidepressants like Lexapro treat both anxiety and depression. In fact, some studies find them more effective for anxiety than for depression.
  15. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    I am just so conflicted right now. I am so PI$$ED at him -- he found his missing lab that he SWORE and ARGUED and INSISTED that he had turned it in and lo and behold it was in his NOTEBOOK. And then as I'm going through his notebook, I found ANOTHER late assignment that he SWORE he had turned in. And then I found an acknowledgement form for an essay (rough draft due TOMORROW for which he has only ONE paragraph written) that he was supposed to have me sign who knows when...

    And husband is sitting here trying to calm him down now after yelling at him, which of course was the wrong thing to do. Cuz now he's crying. But sounds like husband is slowly reaching him... maybe. I am just feeling so DONE.

    Sigh. Okay, I'm definitely taking him in for the neuropsychologist evaluation -- something he said that struck me -- he said tests are easy because they are simple. The other work is overwhelming for him it sounds like, for whatever reason. Something else is going on here and we need to figure this out now.
  16. flutterbee

    flutterbee Guest

    I didn't read all the responses.

    FWIW, Wynter always does much, much better on tests than on classwork/homework. Her grades never, never reflected her ability. It's the anxiety for her. Big time.

    My first question would be, why is he working on the wrong thing in class and why is the Science teacher not noticing this?

    It sounds like the contract to check his agenda is not enough. Someone needs to help him organize his papers/assignments, too. If they were correctly signing off on his agenda they would notice that he hadn't turned in the assignments.

    I seriously doubt they wouldn't promote him to high school. They just change the terminology. Instead of being promoted (passing), he would be "placed". My son failed both 7th and 8th grades and they "placed" him to the next grade anyway. Even when I asked them not to in the 8th grade because I knew he wouldn't be academically ready for high school. They looked at me like I was some kind of horrible mother for wanting to hold my son back. "It would be detrimental to his self-esteem." Yeah, so would failing high school classes and not graduating with his class. He has struggled every year in high school and if he passes all of his courses this year PLUS gets a work credit, he'll get to graduate on time. It's been hell because he didn't have the foundation needed for the high school courses (since he failed).
  17. LittleDudesMom

    LittleDudesMom Well-Known Member Staff Member


    I don't have time to read all the replys so I'm sorry if I am repeating. Does difficult child 1 have an IEP? I only ask because there are many things that can be put into place that will "insure" difficult child does not fall through the cracks. Teacher making sure he has the homework assignments, more time, less writing, weekly phone calls or emails to you (so he doesn't get the chance to fall behind), heck difficult child's science teacher said that if any of the kids in her collab class were having trouble remembering to turn in their homework, the parent could scan it at home that night and email it to her! Teachers are getting much more creative in helping the kids succeed. Based on his dxs, he could quality for a 504, at the very least. I know many will say, "but that's not enforceable!", but it could really be a first, quick step to making sure his teacher stays in contact with you and accomodates difficult child 1 in the shortrun. When my difficult child was beginning testing for IEP qualification, I insisted a 504 in the interim since it was going to be like three months before everything was done.

    Additionally, I totally understand the quandry of punishment vs understanding. I personally believe it is a strong case for the mommy gut. I believe it's tough to fool us when we've been dealing with them from birth! If you truly feel that there is a strong contributing factor from his disabilities to this situation, I'm not sure you can fully punish. It's one thing for a kid to willfully not do homework, be disrespectful, never study, etc., and one who is have difficulty maintaining for reasons of anxiety, feeling overwhelmed and out of control, or a contributing Learning Disability (LD). The issue of doing the wrong thing and not knowing what to do is something I would address as soon as possible. Could it be anxiety or could it be some sort of processing issue?

    Just from your post, it does not appear that your son is willfulling sabatouging his science grade and it sounds like the teacher is not communicating with you. I would contact her, or the school, today and set up a meeting wtih that teacher asap.

    Hope you are able to find some workable solutions for difficult child.

  18. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    Heather, Sharon: Thanks for your replies.

    No IEP, but has a 504. Not sure what the teacher has discussed with him, but she says she's had several talks with him about his classwork in science. I've requested a meeting with her, so hopefully we can sort this out moving forward.

    Nothing like a big, hot bowl of aggravation to get your week started, huh?
  19. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    Just got a reply back from his science teacher. He's been seated at the front of the class, but she has also seen him just shuffling papers or working on stuff that's late instead of working on what's assigned for that day (and thus getting further behind). She did say he seemed to be doing better in class since progress reports came out, and I'm wondering if that's the propranolol we added that could be helping... So I'm going to schedule a meeting and see what we can do from here. And as soon as drop him at school this morning, I'm calling the neuropsychologist to get testing scheduled ASAP. That report will probably be my best shot at getting him an IEP for whatever is affecting him (most likely high anxiety).

    While I'm not happy about how husband yelled at difficult child 1 last night, I think it was good that he finally noticed what I've been dealing with and that he sees how burned out I am. For too long I have been a single parent in a two parent household and it's got to change or I'm going to run away! (Just kidding, but you all Know what I mean?).
  20. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I hear ya. I have basically watched my difficult child underperform her capabilities her entire school career. At least at the school she is at now - they see it, too.

    But, you can't pick up the pencil and put it in their hands. They have to want it, too. My difficult child never did - maybe she does this year. A bit too late, in my humble opinion. She is a senior.

    How many people do you know that did not go to college? Or perhaps pursued college as an adult? I expect that is what my difficult child will end up doing. She just is not a good student at this age. I bet she will be a fabulous student when she is 25.

    It really does not pay to stress yourself out about it. Once I figured out that I had tried everything to get her performing to her ability in school...I stopped worrying about it.