Same middle school/program next year?

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by terryboberry, May 30, 2008.

  1. terryboberry

    terryboberry New Member

    If you have a middle school difficult child, what makes it the right school for you? If you are looking for a new program, why?

    It's the last 4 days of school for my 13 y.o. difficult child. He's too agitated to go his last days and will be at home. This is his second middle school. He hasn't been suspended or done anything "wrong." He just is anxious about social interactions and academic expectations. Despite his medications and the IEP accommodations this charter school is too unstructured. I guess it's time to look at yet another school for 8th grade.

    Any ideas about what to look for, or ask for, to help an ADHD, ODD student be successful? What's worked, or hasn't worked for you?

  2. Sara PA

    Sara PA New Member

    The recommended dose of Vyvanse is 30 mg, though the maximum is 70 mg. Your son is taking a relatively high dose of a stimulant, a class of drugs which is well known for causing or worsening anxiety. Whenever there is high anxiety and a stimulant in place, you have to weigh the risks vs benefits of taking the drugs. Generally speaking, adding additional drugs to counter the psychiatric adverse reaction works for a very short time, if at all.

    You may be looking the wrong way at the structure thing. Perhaps he'd do better with a more relaxed, less structure environment. Some people, including difficult child, find structure very stressful which increases anxiety.
  3. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator

    In addition to Vyvanse exacerbating anxiety, Tenex can cause agitation. The medications may be making him worse. It may not be the school environment that is the problem at all.

    Are you sure his diagnosis is right? What kind of doctor diagnosed him? Has he ever had a neuropsychological evaluation?
  4. terryboberry

    terryboberry New Member

    Thank you for asking questions about his evaluations and his medications. I'm giving a long response as more of way to let go of some of my frustration with the many different medications/diagnosis we have had. I'm very exhausted and a little scared.

    He has had many evaluations over the last3 years. He had extensive testing and evaluation with a team of PsyDs Psys and SW at a children's hospital in a major city. Result - ADHD, anxiety not otherwise specified, depression not otherwise specified, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) tendencies - rigid type, with very, very significant discrepency between very superior verbal skills and very low working memory and processing ability. . Dec- Jan 08 difficult child was in a hospital outpatient psy program for 6 weeks. That program confirmed the ADHD diagnosis and switched from concerta to adderall XR. They also removed him from the Clonidine. Continued with Abilify and Prozac.

    Two months later he we admitted him into an inpatient, highly recognized midwest hospital and they took him off all the medications and started all over. After two weeks of observation, and redoing all the pychoeducational tests, his newest diagnosis is severe ADHD (combined), ODD, mild depression and disorder of written expression/NonVerbal Learning Disorder (NVLD). They did not see any mania or bi-polar. They removed the Anxiety diagnosis. They were the first to give the OD diagnosis - which we do agree with because he is so irritable, rigid and illogical if he doesn't get his way. The child PsyD changed his ADHD medications to Vyvanse and put him on Tenex. They removed him from Abilify and Prozac.

    So as far as school goes, I agree that difficult child needs a relaxed environment, but he needs to know what's going to happen throughout the day. He is not flexible and is intense. He isn't a laid back kid that can go with the flow. You are right in that we need the teachers to be less reactive to difficult child's behavior and frustration. I don't want a school who lashes out at difficult child if he doesn't get his homework done the way they want or forgot something in his locker (this has happened many times at the traditional middle school he was at). If my difficult child gets stuck, or locked-up, with frustration, I want the teachers to willing to be open to compromise. The tricky part is, everything goes well for difficult child as long as he gets his way!

    The charter school he is now at is filled with creative, independent, artsy folks (who I like and would work well with) who thrive in open, self-directed environments and the process of learning, or the academic requirements, are not clearly defined. They have everything I want when it comes to accepting my difficult child and working with him to make the environment user friendly. But, each day, each hour, each class period is kind of wildly relaxed. difficult child wakes up not really knowing what the school day will be like and because of his strong fight or flight disposition, he becomes anxious. My difficult child doesn't like gray areas. He's very rigid in his thinking.

    So I guess I want flexible teachers within a school that follows a routine and has expectations for behavior in the classroom. Not available in my community :(
  5. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It


    I think you just have to look at what was right and wrong with the placement, then form your questions from that.

    We have 3 choices in our town for middle school. The public school which neither of my older kids did well at. Wiz actually ended up in psychiatric hospital BECAUSE of the actions of the ED teacher!! Jess was diagnosis'd with epilepsy the first year in middle school. She also had some other problems show up. They told us less than 9 weeks into the year that she could not get accomodations because she hadn't had them in elementary (total bs, I know) and that she would have to repeat 6th grade because she had so many doctor appts out of town (there are NO specialists in this town so it is a a day's drive to see ANY specialist).

    There is a Christian private school. They are very good academically. BUT we are a different religion and it is a big deal to the kids who attend. It is also a big deal to my husband. So she will not attend that school. It is also extremely expensive.

    The other option is homeschooling. We have found books/resources in all kinds of places. If she is not physically up tosomething, we do something else. If she is clearly having lots of seizures, we watch a movie - she CAN'T learn when she is blanking out of things over and over. It gives us the opportunity to tailor things to what SHE needs. It has worked for us, but isn't for everyone.

    She will go to the Jr High here. It is a very different place, much better for the kids who go there. Just because we homeschool for a couple of years doesn't mean it is the right answer for every year.

  6. Sara PA

    Sara PA New Member

    You got it backwards -- anxiety and fear produce the fight-or-flight response (or for females, tend-and-befriend). Stimulants cause or worsen anxiety.
  7. daralex

    daralex Clinging onto my sanity

    As frustrated as I am with schools in general this one seems to be working (kind of) My difficult child is 13 and in 8th grade. we just moved a few months ago and I guess for me it was the fact that they decided to test difficult child without me even asking. We have been through MANY schools including homeschooling - I can only suggest finding a school that is pro-active and is willing to help (I know it's a very tall order) - but after all this tie we seem to have finally found one (and I still have to fight with them from time to time!). I don't know that there is an easy answer, but try to find one with an abundance of programs/support mechanisms that will do what you need them to do. I wish you all the luck - I know how difficult it can be. stay strong!!!!!!!
  8. terryboberry

    terryboberry New Member

    Thanks everyone. I feel better just having someone listen to my concerns. I know we are doing the best we can at this time. I appreciate this been there done that community!
  9. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It


    I forgot to say Welcome when I posted!! I am glad to have you join us!!

    Has your son ever attended any social skills groups or had one on one social skills therapy with a therapist?? We had one social skills group that was amazing, and one that was terrible. The good one helped our son learn how to interact with others. It was over 3 hours of driving round trip at the end of very long work days, but was SOOOO worth it. The bad one had ALL the boys in the group behaving worse as they left (including telling parents to shut up, running like wild animals through professional offices, etc..), so they vary like any other therapy.

    Just wanted to let you know this is out there, though groups are usually aimed at younger children. There are also books called Social Stories, I believe Amazon carries them. You can link Amazon through the site quite easily. This helps support the site, while costing you nothing.


  10. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    I think it's worth looking into another school, but you also have to weigh that against the anxiety that changing schools brings with it in and of itself. I think I would also want to look at medications adjustment and whatever therapies can prepare him emotionally for next year. Mind you, I'm not at all in favor of discontinuing medications during summer break, but it sounds like it wouldn't hurt to review what he is on and how much he is on with his doctor.

    Will next year be his last middle school year? That will be another change at the end of next year. I think that repeated changes can be very difficult for our difficult children.
  11. change

    change New Member


    We're going on school #3 for the 3rd year of middle school ourselves (8th grade). We tried private school (our faith) but they were too unstrucutured and not equipped to deal with our daughter's problems. Also, in such a small school, with her odd behavior, she had no friends at all. For 7th grade, she was on a transfer in an elite public school. The only reason she got to go was because she had transcripts from a private school that was nice and didn't really document her problems, etc. During 7th grade, this school was awesome, however, she was traumatized in November by our CONDUCT DISORDER son (her biological brother) and went downhill from there. By the end of the school year, she was acting out horribly and got herself kicked out as some teachers were just tired of dealing with her. Now we have no choice but to go to our home school and we are waiting on an ARD in June where the school she left has to fight for her (and us) to get her into a behavioral support class (we're lucky her home school offers it) for 8th grade. She also recently got an OHI label. We have lots of fancy therapeutics schools in my city but we can't afford them.

    I hope this helps. Good Luck to best advice is if you live in or near a large public school district, call the District Offices yourself and tell them you're looking for an alternative solution for your special needs child. They should help you. If your child is zoned to them, they have to help you.