More right than I thought

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by klmno, May 22, 2008.

  1. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Maybe Janet hit the nail on the head. difficult child won't get out of bed this morning and refuses to take his medications at all. I tried talking to him about consequences and not needing a truancy charge and only having 3 more weeks of school left and going before the court in 3 weeks and that I would not lie for him, yadda yadda... He just tells me to leave him alone. He desparately needs to get to school. And take his medications.

  2. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Gosh, wish I did. That's when I call in the Big Guns and get my guy friends to come over and get difficult child out of bed.
    Best of luck. You must be tearing your hair out.
  3. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Ok, he just took the medications. Now, to get him to school.

    I'd like to pull his hair out right now. He's acting like he's trying to pull me into a "well, if you hadn't done this, I would" manipulation game.
  4. Andy

    Andy Active Member

    Tell him it is not your fault, it is Adrianne's. Apparantly I am the root of all evil in the world. He can ask my kids.

    My kids do that to me - it's also called changing the subject. My difficult child has become a master at manipulation. He is constantly pulling, "If you do this than I will do what you want." I am almost done with a book called "The Manipulative Child" which has opened my eyes to alot (I think I knew, have just been in denial) and has given me some suggestions to use to stop this behavior.

    Let me know what works for you, my 11 year old will be there in not too long - so far not a problem getting out of bed though some mornings are a little prolonged - I am not looking forward to teen years which I believe is normal for all teenagers to want to sleep in than add a difficult child issue on top and why can we just not have the school day be from 1:00 - 8:00pm?
  5. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Check this out- I went to him and told him I just rec'd an email from his cm at school saying that difficult child had done great yesterday and he was proud of him. difficult child is now dressed in the car waiting for me to take him to school. Ok- so positive reinforcement worked. But really, can we do that all the time?

    by the way- I am making him wait a few mins. - I cannot be here ready to jump at his every decision.
  6. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Way To Go, KLMNO!!!!!

    Your day is looking up!

    (You know, after difficult child has been particularly bad, I have this weird thing, where I get my car washed and then go for a walk, and it really gives me a lift. Go figure.)
  7. Andy

    Andy Active Member

    YEAH!!! I do think postive reinforcement goes a lot further than negative reinforcement. My kids feel that all they hear is the bad things from me - nothing they do is ever good enough. No wonder they just stop trying sometimes. So, I do think it is our jobs to also tell them that we notice when they do good. That we are happy for them when they have accomplished something or given it their best.

    Waiting a few minutes is smart. One cold winter day easy child demanded that I be out of daycare in 15 minutes or she would walk to school. I made sure it was 20 minutes (watched from the window) and acted very surprised she was still in the vehicle. "I didn't have my snow pants." So, the next day, as I take difficult child into daycare, I hand her the snowpants and say, "Here are your snowpants in case you can't wait until I come out."
  8. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    What did I say? LOL.
  9. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    K...I just went back and found the post.

    I am going to try and explain some stuff and maybe it will help and maybe it wont...who knows. I am going to try to explain it from both the perspective of someone with bipolar and the parent of a person with bipolar ok?

    I may get things jumbled at times so it may not make a whole lot of sense because Im not real stable myself right now but Im going to do my level best.

    Dont expect the legal system to much care about a diagnosis like bipolar. Bipolar without psychosis...and by psychosis I mean where he is hallucinating to the point of staring into corners talking to the walls crazy...isnt going to impress them much. He is going to be considered legally sane by the legal definition. It doesnt much matter to them the whys of what he did. That only matters to us. The diagnosis does give them a bit of leeway in sentencing him which they actually like because the juvenile corrections departments are so full so if they can keep his points down and give him probation and get him to comply with treatment its a plus in their book. They dont have to understand the ins and outs of that treatment. They basically put everything down to a conduct disorder which in actuality the treatment can help.

    A bipolar person has to learn that even though they have this disorder it isnt a free pass to behave badly. They may be cycling but they cant commit a crime and hand the cops a card saying...lookie...Im bipolar...get out of jail free! It doesnt work that way. I wish it did!!!! Right now Im so irritable I would love to just go gun it on the highway and take out some of my aggression but Im sure I would get pulled over for speeding and my "get out of jail free card" is only good in monopoly. See...I have learned that son hasnt.

    Therapy only helps if the person in therapy wants it to help. I took Cory to therapy for years and it didnt do one bit of good. I went to therapy when I was younger and it did no good...of course I have no clue what I was diagnosed with because we cant find the records. I went to therapy as an adult and they didnt help me at all. It was only in the last two years that I found a therapist that I clicked with that I have made any progress at all. I went to her kicking and mind was made up that I would go for a few weeks just to say I had given it one last try...but I was amazed that she won me Now I am a fan of therapy...but only if a person wants to be there and its the right therapist. Personally I think a therapist might do you more good than it does your son at this point by giving you ideas and tools to help him because at his age, I dont think he can access and process anything right now.

    You say that you dont think behavior modification works for bipolar people...I dont agree. We have to learn to modify our behavior to societies standards because society isnt going to change for us. A team approach were everyone in your sons life is on the same page about what is appropriate behavior and what consequences/rewards will be in place can be invaluable. This is almost like reteaching toddler behavior. Touch the stove, its hot, you get burned. Touch the tv, get told no, do it, get time out. dont touch it, get rewarded. He may need a shadow in school to help him out...he may also need one in the community. Most of this can be provided through either medicaid or the MST program in VA.

    The shadow can be there to redirect him when his hypomania starts getting the best of him and he wants to make poor choices. They can literally ask this a good choice or a bad choice. They can help him keep himself organized from one class to the next. They can be your eyes in the school so that if another student is egging difficult child on, they can redirect difficult child to another more appropriate activity away from that other student. This teaches your son better coping skills for life. In life we all have people that will annoy us to no end just to get a rise out of us and we have to learn to walk away no matter how badly we want to deck them.

    Am I helping at all?
  10. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Great post, Janet! It helped *me*. Makes sense.
    Thank you.
  11. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Thanks, All! We just got home. I like your idea Terry!

    Adrianne- I love that story!

    Janet- I'll try to repsond with comments and questions and hope it doesn't come across as defensive.

    Last year I was trying to get my son into a psychiatric hospital for an evaluation (not acute- a 2 to 4 week stay)- this was after he set a brush fire. He had not been diagnosis'd as BiPolar (BP) at that time. Anyway, the court assigned a gal to help with that. She could not help with that and at the 11th hour, my insurance co. said they wouldn't pay for the evaluation so difficult child could not go- county would not pay. Gal apparently thought I was not telling the truth (she doesn't know that much about this sort of thing) and apparently got ticked at me for not getting difficult child into this psychiatric hospital- which as it turns out, would not have accepted him anyway because he had legal charges against him. So, gal first told me to turn custody over to ss, which I refused to do. Then gal filed a chins(child in need of services) and had ss look into placing difficult child outside of home. So, due to all this, they definitely care about difficult child getting treatment- the problem is that they are clueless about what form of treatment he should get. When difficult child's diagnosis changed to BiPolar (BP), psychiatrist recommended the county give me some help. GAL had MST ordered. (gal said "well I am sure this is what psychiatrist meant- no- it wasn't what psychiatrist meant- it was what gal assumed and did not clarify with anyone) MST guy shows up and after rolling eyes about any discussion of BiPolar (BP) and not wanting either of us to see a therapist for BiPolar (BP) issues and wanting to do nothing but a behavior contract, I asked him if he treats BiPolar (BP) and he said "No". I don't expect them to know the treatment for BiPolar (BP), I just expect them to either learn or quit telling me what to do when they don't know what should be done.

    He still will get a punishment for setting the brush fire and other charges- he and all the rest of us are aware of that. This is what he goes to court for in 3 weeks. To me, I do think they should let that one go- there is too much evidence that it probably all resulted from being BiPolar (BP), on prozac for depression (mis-diagnosis'd), and just had prozac dosage doubled. I think the other charges should stand. psychiatrist wrote a letter to the judge explaining this. That's just my personal opinion, but it won't happen that way I am sure.

    I agree with what you are saying re. therapist. We are currently seeing two. psychiatrist suggests cutting one out. One is difficult child's individual counselor that he has been seeing for 11 mos. (difficult child is compliant and goes and participates.) The other is a family counselor (or, for both of us to help with understanding BiPolar (BP), how to manage it, etc.) We have only been seeing him since Feb. of this year. Neither counselor has had the first conversation with either of us about strategies, maintaining BiPolar (BP), difficult child being able to recognize when he is symptommatic, or anything along those lines. That bothers me. I know it takes a while, but it makes me wonder if we are even ever going to get started.

    psychiatrist- well from I hear now, I guess all of them around here are so swamped that they don't want any phone calls ever between appts., you get the 15 mins appointment and that is it. No psychiatric hospital visit or follow-up. So, if they are all like this, there is no need to change. This is the only psychiatrist difficult child has ever been to (except the one on the MDE team) so I wonder sometimes if he is doing what is most effective because I have nothing to compare it to. And, it concerns me that difficult child had a depressioon diagnosis with rule-out of BiPolar (BP) when psychiatrist doubled prozac dosage due to difficult child becoming frequently symptommatic and psychiatrist didn't even mention to me to watch out for manic symptoms, just in case. Ok, maybe I should have taken the script warnings more seriously and known to do that. I was ignorant- I didn't-I depended too much on psychiatrist to tell me what I needed to be worried about and watch for. So, then I started calling whenever I got worried about a medication. psychiatrist obviously doesn't appreciate that!

    MST that does nothing but establish and monitor a behavior contract- It isn't that I don't think it could help people with BiPolar (BP)- it is that (from what I have read and heard and based on what the MDE psychiatrist said) I don't think that it can be used in place of other treatments for BiPolar (BP) and that BiPolar (BP) needs to be addressed to some extent first (ie- difficult child does need to learn symptoms, how to maintain them and we both need to learn strategies to help prevent escalation, what to do when there is escalation anyway, etc) This MST guy refused to have any of those discussions - he was all about contract and monitor contract only and give up the other. (The contract was for things like coming home on time, doing homework, etc.- not about taking medications, learning about BiPolar (BP), or anything BiPolar (BP) related). difficult child had been on mood stabilizers maybe 3 mos. at that point. Plus, the MST guy would say one thing to me then present a different picture to PO and GAL and judge. Truthfully, I couldn't stand the guy in my life and felt with everything in me that he was detrimental to me and difficult child. I don't question that behavior modification might be needed if BiPolar (BP) is being treated and difficult child refuses to be compliant or continues breaking law, etc. but I wouldn't drop BiPolar (BP) treatment thinking that a behavior contract will take care of all BiPolar (BP) related problems. And it would have to be accomplished some other way because I cannot deal with this MST guy. He already proved to me that he can't be trusted. When I proved all this to the judge, she didn't look too happy about the gal not checking into this before recommending it. I still asked if the county had anyone that could help with BiPolar (BP) issues (strategies, helping difficult child make decisions, helping me if he is manic, etc) and they said no.

    You lost me on the "shadow" part. No one has offered that (school district or community/county). No one has offered to help difficult child with hypomaina or decisions- except the therapist I spoke with on the phone last week. (If I can figure out a way to keep myself employed enough to still support difficult child and myself, I will change to this therapist.) The MST guy was close to shadowing me, maybe, but not difficult child. If difficult child is diagnosis'd with BiPolar (BP) and everyone is supposed to get on the same page- shouldn't that page be the BiPolar (BP) treatment page? That is what I asked the MST guy and the judge. The MST guy said no and tried to lead us to believe that difficult child could follow this contract and not need medications or any other treatment for mood cycling; I felt like that was setting difficult child up for failure and took it to a hearing before the judge; the judge ruled in my favor.

    I guess, what I am trying to say is that it makes sense to me that a person would be held accountable if they broke a law or rule whether BiPolar (BP) or anything else if they knew they had the condition and had been taught ways of dealing with the condition. If they know they have the condition, then they should be held accountable for doing their part to LEARN how to deal with (take responsibility- age appropriate) for getting help and treatment. But, if a kid had tourrette's syndrome and NO ONE knew it, much less got treatment for it, should the kid get punished the first time he yells obscenities to a judge in court? Would that be right? I'm probably on this soap box right now because it took me 2 years to quit "blaming" difficult child for acting the way he was acting and be able to see it as symptoms. That isn't to say all of them are symptoms- like this morning. This morning was manipulation and trying to take advantage and he did not get an excuse from me for school district.

    I really hope this hasn't come across as argumentative. I do appreciate everyone's input. This is just a list of my gripes, I guess. Maybe I can look back over it after a while and think more rationally about whether or not I am just expecting too much from the county and docs and everyone else. That very well could be the case.

    And- everything I have said here is open for discussion- if you want to point out where my thinking is going awry in all this, feel free! Really- I will listen and try hard to look at it objectively.
  12. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member


    It doesnt have to be one or the other as far as behavior mod or medication. You dont just treat bipolar with one or the takes both.

    I dont know how you can access in home services in may need to be on medicaid. They may also be called community based services for the mentally ill.

    It isnt odd to only see a psychiatrist for a few minutes every so many months. I only see mine for about 15 minutes ever 3 months. I can call the receptionist if there is a problem and they will relay information to him. Either he will change medications or have me come in earlier.

    I would call the local mental health agency and see if they have a program for the more difficult mentally ill teens. Normally they do. It may be called an At risk program or something like that. They normally have more help and programs available to stick a kid into than you can find in the private sector. Im not sure exactly how VA's mental health system is set up so I cant direct you to the exact departments. Oh this is probably going to drive me so crazy I will end up googling it until I figure it

    When Cory was a teen and in trouble...I never had to give up custody to get any services. Have you applied for disability for your son? That is something you may want to consider. I did have to fight long and hard to find the programs but eventually I made them let him into the programs he was eligible for.

    I will keep thinking on this and see what else I can think of...Im sure Im leaving something out but my brain just took a vacation.
  13. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

  14. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Thanks, Janet! I'm glad you took my venting ok, too! I will look around on those links. One thing I still want to pursue is day treatment/partial hospitization. If the risperdal doesn't help turn things around, I will need something. He hasn't been manic any this week though- that is a good sign.

    I guess as far as type of therapy, I am stuck on cognitive behavior therapy and learning symptoms early on and strategies (he needs to learn some and I need to learn some), spending a little time getting an emergency plan made, stuff like that. The MDE psychiatrist recommended this -partly because he has been fairly good as far as not getting into too much trouble this past year (let's just say there is a huge improvement) so psychiatrist said if this therapy strategy didn't clear up remaining conduct issues, then look at behvaior modification. Another thing I should mention, the mde team said that they think it it behavior modification for conduct disorder that triggers my difficult child. (We tried it 2 years ago and school district tried a mutilated form last year- it made difficult child much orse both times). I think it stems back to his initial issue re. his father. Anyway, it was so nice last week when I spoke to one therapist on the phone and he immediately started with "then we need strategies, " and all the things that you guys refer to and my research indicates. For whatever reason, neither therapist we see now has even mentioned a therapuetic plan at all.

    Right now, I can't sleep due to worry about not having strategies or a plan. And even difficult child is asking about BiPolar (BP) stuff that I'm not always sure how to answer. Shouldn't one of these tdocs be dealing with this? And, I guess if the more urgent problem seems to be his cycling, then shouldn't we take this approach instead of slapping a contract down that assumes he already knows those strategies? (I'm thinking The Explosive Child here!) And I'm talking behavior contract- not a system of rewards and punishments- we do have that and it works pretty good most of the time. When he is cycling bad it gets dropped for a little while.

    Anyway, if he continues to try to pull stuff like he did this morning (sheer noncompliance) and/or refusing to take medications, then I will re-think this approach. There is NO WAY this kid can live here or anywhere in the "free" world and not stay on track with treatment and compliance. (Other than an occassional typical teen testing limits with normal things.)
  15. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    I have no experience with BiPolar (BP), but if you're trying to apply logical consequences to his refusal to get out of bed and go to school, here are a couple of suggestions.

    First, what you did worked. It won't always, but it's good you had it to use this time because positive motivation is the best of all.

    Next, if despite everything he chooses to lie around in bed and not get up, that is the day you choose to change the sheets on his bed and put them in the wash. Just carry on as if he is not at home, but instead went to school when he should have. he is not there. You cannot hear him, you will not engage. if he says, "What do you think you are doing?" you can politely comment, "Oh, are you still here? Well, I had decided some time ago that today was the day to wash your sheets and tidy your room."
    Then you carry on.

    It's really difficult to have a lazy lie-in when your bedding has all been removed.
    And surely his pyjamas need washing too? And if that still won't have him moving (or he's lying doggo, eyes shut, pretending to be asleep) then the flash of a camera will work miracles.

    The next step - all food for him during the day is to be given at school. You haven't made allowances for feeding him at home. Nor do you have money to spare for him to go buy junk food. Remember - he is not there, he is at school.

    And finally, to make sure he DOES go to school, or at least to ensure you've done everything legally possible to cover YOUR rear over this, call whoever it is you need to call to say, "I am not choosing to keep him home. He has chosen to defy me and stay home. Feel free to come & get him. Bring someone who can bodily lift him into the car, he's too heavy for me."

    We have rules on compliance - when our kids finished school but didn't get good enough marks to go into uni (hardly anyone did - not enough places) they had another avenue - get a job, or go to technical college (TAFE). A volunteer job was also permissible, so no kid could claim, "I can't get out and work, there aren't any jobs around at the moment." Lack of paying jobs means the kid can always volunteer to visit the elderly in a nursing home, or sweep paths for the neighbours, or teach Scripture at school.

    I've seen too many school-leavers struggle with self-esteem issues as day follows day and still no gainful employment or valid use of their time.

    With difficult child 3 at home, I will go to trouble to make him a delicious lunch, but only if he's working hard. If he's not - he gets something quick and easy, with no break time to eat it ("Just keep working, kid.") But generally he's cooperative.

    My kids learned to not lie in bed if we'd previously agreed that they would get up and get working. "Previously agreed" can also include "I made it clear before bedtime last night that X would happen first thing." The kids learned that I'm a dead shot with a mist spray bottle set on 'jet'. I do NOT aim for the face, I aim for the groin, INSIDE the pyjamas. Usually up the pyjama leg. Very effective. Unfortunately, you only ever get to do this once or twice before the kid learns to rise up like Lazarus at the sound of the cup-board door opening. But it doesn't matter - getting the kid out of bed has been achieved.

    Stripping the bed - that's for the really difficult recalcitrants.

    But as I said to begin with - if you have positive motivation that will do the trick, use it before you try any of this stuff.

  16. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Thanks, Marg! I chuckled all the way through that! And got good pointers, too!

    So, far positive motivative and Explosive Child techniques work most of the time. It is the times that they don't- or I get so wired up to try- that I don't know what to do. I feel more pressure to keep everything stable- this means whether I mean to or not- I am putting more stress on him. Of course, the times that he perceives me as stressing over his actions are the times that he sees opportunity to manipulate me, too. I had to remind myself of that this morning and force myself to "act" not "react".

    He's been struggling in science class this year (he scores above average in it but his teacher caught wind of a BiPolar (BP) diagnosis and has flipped out and treated him wierd over all kinds of things so he shut down in the class) Anyway, I noticed that his "inability" (I use that word sarcastically) to get up and go to school is happening the mornings that he has science first class. This isn't meant to be an excuse for him. I'm just trying to figure out what his issue is. He doesn't have a history of truancy- I hope he doesn't think he's going to ever have one.

    Now that my head has cleared a little- someone please tell me if I am off base on this:

    1) If behavior (as in compliance, willingness, etc) is interfering with getting and keeping cycling under control, we should deal with behavior issues first

    2) If cycling is interfering with behavior (disruptions at school, motivation, raging at home) , then we should deal with getting cycling under control first

    3) If we are at a point where neither behavior nor cycling are big problems at the time, then we should work on identification of triggers and prevention strategies

    Of course there is some overlap no matter what. I'm so frutrated over it all- feeling pulled in so many different directions- maybe it isn't pull- maybe it is just worried about so many different things. I have gotten most help from this board and the books and research. I really haven't seen much help from tdocs. I think it is out there- it is just hard to find the right fit, I guess.

    Do I have this wrong? Am I stuck on something that I need to view differently? If so, where exactly am I going awry?
  17. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I dont know what county you are in so I went to the county I used to live in (Chesterfield) and also Richmond...and checked them out. Here is a program out of Chesterfield that looks good to me:

    Child & Adolescent Services Team (CAST)

    The Child and Adolescent Services Team (CAST) provides specialized services and supports to children and adolescents through age 17 with serious mental health needs. Many of the young people served by our program have experiences, or at risk for, out-of-home placement.
    We emphasize working with the family while maintaining the young person in the home. CAST establishes partnerships with families to develop strengths and competencies, and to assist in achieving goals.
    Our services are flexible in meeting individual needs, and often are provided in the home and community. Services include family and individual therapy, intensive in-home services, case management, crisis intervention, and coordination of other specialized family supports. CAST staff also work closely with the schools and other public agencies.
    If you answer yes to any of the following questions, please call for assistance.

    • Has your child had a serious emotional problem for more than a year?
    • Do you feel interventions to date have not worked?
    • Has your child experienced serious behavioral problems in school?
    • Have your child's problems required involvement with the court system or social services?
    • Does your child take psychiatric medications, or have they been prescribed?
    • Has a psychiatric hospitalization, residential stay, or other placement occurred?
    • Do you feel there is a risk that your child may need to be placed out of the home?
    Questions, Comments, or Requests for Further Information

    Chesterfield County Community Services Board

    Now if you really want all the bells and whistles...move to Richmond. They appear to have every service under the sun you could ask for.

    [FONT=Georgia, Times New Roman, Times, serif]Services provided include:[/FONT]
    • [FONT=Georgia, Times New Roman, Times, serif]24-Hour Emergency Services[/FONT]
    • [FONT=Georgia, Times New Roman, Times, serif]Assessment & Referral[/FONT]
    • [FONT=Georgia, Times New Roman, Times, serif]Community Case Management[/FONT]
    • [FONT=Georgia, Times New Roman, Times, serif]Assertive Community Treatment[/FONT]
    • [FONT=Georgia, Times New Roman, Times, serif]Intensive In-Home Services[/FONT]
    • [FONT=Georgia, Times New Roman, Times, serif]Youth Day Treatment Services[/FONT]
    • [FONT=Georgia, Times New Roman, Times, serif]Counseling & Support[/FONT]
    • [FONT=Georgia, Times New Roman, Times, serif]Individual & Family Therapy[/FONT]
    • [FONT=Georgia, Times New Roman, Times, serif]Psychosocial Rehabilitation[/FONT]
    • [FONT=Georgia, Times New Roman, Times, serif]Residential Services[/FONT]
    • [FONT=Georgia, Times New Roman, Times, serif]Older Adult Services[/FONT]
    • [FONT=Georgia, Times New Roman, Times, serif]Nursing, Medication & Pharmacy[/FONT]
    • [FONT=Georgia, Times New Roman, Times, serif]Outpatient Psychiatric Services[/FONT]
    • [FONT=Georgia, Times New Roman, Times, serif]Assisted Living Facilities (ALF) Specialized Program[/FONT]
    • [FONT=Georgia, Times New Roman, Times, serif]Homeless Services[/FONT]
    [FONT=Georgia, Times New Roman, Times, serif][/FONT]
  18. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Bless you, Janet!! You have given me more to look into to and this could lead me to the missing link. I am not in either of these jurisdictions and have been told that our jurisdiction does not offer these services (I'm not convinced it is true as I was told this by GAL, judge, mst, and po- all legal people) but I was told by a Special Education attny that these jurisdictions that you have referred to do offer much more services for kids with Learning Disability (LD) and ED. This is one reason I think we might have to move.

    Anyway, I will definitely look into these places/agencies.

    I hope you get some rest- I saw your thread on the watercooler- you have my support and many hugs and wishes for relaxation and peace and stress-reduction. Find a way to do something that makes yourself feel better. Again- thank you!!
  19. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Just a thought for your son in science class - I can sympathise with him. When I was in high school I chose to study science at the highest possible level. We had to specialise, I was torn between Biology and Physics. I chose Physics, thinking it would hook in to Astronomy, my all-time favourite thing for most of my childhood.

    But it didn't. To make matters worse, Physics was taught by a bloke who had recently married one of the other staff members, the whole school had watched their courtship (giggling behind cupboard doors; her grabbing him as he walked past the service room; all the embarrassing stupid stuff) and we were watching the relationship break down within months of the marriage. He now hated ALL females. I was the only female in the class, studying what was considered a male subject, and the guy that everyone in the school assumed was my boyfriend (we were close, but the relationship was very ambiguous) was in the same class and the teachers all assumed I had chosen Physics just to be with this guy (not true).

    So this teacher gave me a really hard time. Most of the time he totally ignored my existence in class. If I had a question, he would ignore my raised hand. If I blurted out the question (there were only six of us in this class) he would ignore me, so one of the other students would then ask the same question. he would answer them.
    The other five students (all male) were all very kind to me, very helpful. We would all study together, we spent a lot of time together. They totally ignored the fact I was female, I got dragged over to look under the hood of various cars they drove to school just like their other mates.

    But this teacher - I couldn't get through to him. And he wasn't covering the entire course, only three topics. The final exam (after two years) dealt with three topics, he was only teaching the bare minimum and I liked other topics, so I made a decision - I taught myself. I went into my textbook and read through it, cover to cover. I did that with all my other science textbooks to, I read them as if they were the latest novel, or the latest Harry Potter. I'd curl up under a snuggle run in front of the fire, with my Physics text. Instead of studying Tension in Strings and Simple Harmonic Motion, I studied Compton Effect and Subatomic Particle Theory. I also learned how to derive an equation from first principles, by looking at the units in the constants and working from there. I did study our set topics too, but I wanted more.

    Come the day of the exam - I managed to do the compulsory question (Rotational Mechanics) but I took one look at Tension in Strings and gave up. So I looked at the other questions, liked the look of them even though we hadn't officially studied it, and did those instead. I derived my equations from a combination of common sense, the data they had given us and the constants (with their units) printed on the front page.

    And I passed.

    And that so-and-so teacher had the hide to take the credit.

    Not that it mattered - I knew who was owed the credit (me) and that is what mattered. And I hope the teacher, inside, felt guilty.

    So, advice for your son - success in spite of this teacher is the best revenge. Science is a great subject to study on your own. It's interesting, it covers so many areas, there are a lot of people around who will help you understand any tricky bits. If this had to happen in any subject, it's good it has happened in science. All he needs is a list of the topics, and he can use each topic title as an individual research project. Read the textbook; look it all up on the 'Net; talk to the other students about what they understand; find a neighbour or relative interested in the same topics and discuss it with them; teach the topic to your parents or younger siblings. I used to teach my mother about Special Theory of Relativity and Nuclear Physics.

    So help him understand - success is the best revenge. Plus, it will ALL be his credit.

  20. Marg's Man

    Marg's Man Member

    Just another thought to add to Marg's idea.

    If he finds something that he likes look up who teaches at a University on the 'Net.

    Most scientists love to share their knowledge about 'their' subject and will happily correspond with anyone about it. Academics are difficult child's in their own way obsessing about their subject - who else could focus on topics like the "Mathematical Modelling of the Hydrogen Bond" (I kid you not - one of my Chemistry teachers spent nine hours of face to face lecturing on this very topic) or some equally rivetting topic for their entire lives. Teaching an interested but ignorant kid is meat and gravy to minds like these.

    Marg's Man