school problem we never had before ( sorry, longer than I thought)

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by sjexpress, Sep 26, 2012.

  1. sjexpress

    sjexpress Guest

    difficult child suffers with anxiety but has always been a good student. He made high honor roll all last year, the first year of middle school, and then was inducted into the junior honor society. We were very proud and let him know!! 7th grade began a few weeks ago and he has been unhappy from the start. This year it seems his classes are all over the school. Some downstairs at one end of the school while others are upstairs at the other end. His locker is upstairs near one of his classes. His sched. has him going up and down, back and forth, many times during the day with very little time to get to his locker and make it to class on time. He has been stressing about being late to class or missing the bus home since the first day.They are not allowed to carry book bags or backpacks in the halls until end of day going to the bus. I right away called the guidance counselor who helped organize difficult child on what books to carry when and when to go to his locker to make changes. I helped calm his fears by waiting in the parking lot after school so if he missed the bus, I'd be there. He never missed the bus so had more time than he thought to get back to his locker and onto the bus. I thought all was good until this past Sunday nite.
    At bedtime he began saying he can't go to school because he is too stressed out and his head was going to explode. He was crying and begging not to make him go. difficult child is a poor communticator and will not or can not tell you what the problem is all the time. He did say it was too much for him worrying about "everything" all day long and he doesn't like it. He actually fell asleep while there was a pause in the talk. Monday morning came and he refused to go to school. Just cried and screamed that the stress was killing him and he needed a day to do nothing but relax ( not sure what he did over the weekend as we just hung around!). difficult child agreed that he would stay home this one day and that was it. Went to bed that nite without issue and comments. BUT...Tues. morning came and difficult child still refused to go to school, saying he could feel the stress building and couldn't do it. He did however begin to tell me that he had been late to a few classes due to the distance and crowded hallways and that one of the teachers told him one more time, he would get detention! Now, difficult child hates to get into trouble especially if he feels it was not his fault. Ironcially, in school he is a big rule follower and in this case, he feels it is not possible to get to class on time and has even tried different routes, staircases, etc... so why should he get punished for being late if he is doing his best!
    difficult child and I talked and when asked if I could maybe get the teachers to not punish him if he was a few seconds late, would that help and could he go back to school? He said yes. I called his guidance counselor again and difficult child and I went right into to meet with him but the only way I could get difficult child to the meeting was to promise he did not have to stay at the school and could come home with me. I said today only but we would pick up all missed work. I just needed to get him to go in with me!!
    The guidance counselor was only somewhat helpful in my opinion. We discussed exactly which classes he was late for frequently and the counselor did say 7th grade sched. are tuff due to the set up of the school and he did have other students struggling with lateness. The counselor did say he would walk with difficult child for a few days class to class to see if they could fix the problem and talk to his teachers if they did arrive late so difficult child would not get in trouble. The only thing I did not like was that the counselor kept telling difficult child that it was no big deal if he did have to do detention after school because it was only an hour but that not coming to school is worse! Yeah, IS a huge deal for difficult child apparently and I wanted that threat off the table!! The counselor would not really say those words but assured us they would keep working on a solution so difficult child shouldn't be late.
    Anyway, that is how we left it and difficult child did seem OK with it. However, my stress level is still high because honestly, difficult child is one of these kids that will keep coming up with more issues of why not to go to school! Even though in the counselors office we asked difficult child if there was anything else at all we could do to ease his stress, he said no. difficult child has been starting to complain today that the cafeteria is too noisy and it gives him a headache! Today is no school due to a jewish holiday so tomorrow morning will be the test to see if he goes or not. I am betting on another problem leading to bigger problems for us. I just don't understand what is going wrong. His grades so far are great but he has 3 tests the end of this week and even though we picked up the work he has missed, it is not the same as being in school for the lectures and reviews. I have a feeling this will also be an issue of him returning to school no matter how much I have reassured him it is ok if these test results aren't the best, there are plenty more to come! We won't get angry with him.
    I am truly scared about this turn of events. I have read others on this board have school attendance problems and have considered myself fortunate in that regards. We have plenty of other problems with difficult child but this is a new area for us! The last few day my head and stomach are ready to explode with worry! I am already sick just waiting for Thurs morning. I really have a bad feeling!
  2. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    medications. Ever tried?
    Either... on the "focus" side (e.g. ADHD medications... which may make holding it all together easier)
    anti-anxiety medications, because once the anxiety is there, it affects everything else negatively.

    At 12... he's also dealing with puberty and hormones, whether you see it yet or not... and that is enough to drive an almost-easy child around the bend...
  3. Rumpole

    Rumpole New Member

    (Disclaimer : Resident difficult child)


    Sounds tough sjexpress. I remember that age very well, that's the year when I went from a student who was not just getting good grades, but top scoring student in my state (New South Wales in Australia, which has 7 million people, about as many people as New Jersey), to going off the rails, to ending up in year 10 leaving school and ending up on heroin. Granted, I have made good and I did well in university and I'm at law school now, but I wouldn't wish my 15 - 18 years on anyone.

    It's incredibly hard if his schedule makes it difficult to get to classes on time, but he'll be punished anyway. Not only is it unfair, it messes up the conditioning that parents try so hard to instil in their children (behave well, rewards... behave badly, punishment). It sounds like it's very rough on him at the moment. Medication might be the answer, or it might not.

    What is important, from a legal perspective (speaking with my law student hat on), the school has a "duty of care". Punishing him for something he has no control over will cause, in a reasonably foreseeable way, mental distress and injury. It is not fair, right or proper for them to say "It's only detention, it's only an hour". When a child is a good student particularly, as your son clearly is, being punished for something out of their control is damaging and inappropriate. It's worthwhile making clear to the school that you won't hesitate to do whatever's in your son's best interests, including involving a lawyer and filing suit, or getting the local media involved.

    He sounds like a very talented young guy, he deserves the best chance in life. All I can say is do whatever you have to to support him in staying at school every day; I know it might be much more of an effort and impost on trying to juggle all your responsibilities, but I can assure you it will pay dividends.

    Hope it all works out

    (Disclaimer : This is not legal advice, please seek advice from a licenced attorney in your state before proceeding in respect of threatening legal action or commencing legal action)
  4. TeDo

    TeDo Guest

    I understand your stress. That is where difficult child 1 was before he imploded and we ended up pulling him out of school. He just couldn't get through the stress and the unjustified punishment took it's toll on him emotionally.

    Has he ever had a thorough evaluation? I'm wondering because the extreme anxiety, rigid rule follower, dislike of noisy environments, "aggressively defiant", "emotionally immature", hates the word NO, etc. all describe my difficult child 1. I really think, in order to effectively help him, you need to have him evaluated. The school won't do much if there is "no reason" for his behavior. He could end up being labelled a troublemaker or worse and you really don't want to go there when there might be a very good reason for it. I feel sorry for the poor boy.

    The threat of detention is enough to throw any "good" kid for a loop and with his anxiety.....if telling people the truth doesn't get him out of that position, he's going to try everything he can think of to get out of it. He doesn't know what else to do. He can't handle getting into trouble for doing nothing wrong so he's going to try to find a way to avoid the possibility.

    {{{{HUGS}}}} to you both. It is very hard to deal with but I can tell you that without a diagnosis of a "problem", the school is unlikely to help much.
  5. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Count me in as somebody who would demand testing for an IEP. Without an IEP with a diagnosis, the school doesn't have to help at all. And they usually won't. An IEP is a legal document. Unfortunately, it takes a while to get to an IEP, but I'd do it. I also highly recommend calling the Dept. of Education in your state and to find out who your FREE advocate is...and contact him/her. The school personnel behave a lot better when you have an advocate in your corner. SDs are not known for their compassion so they have to KNOW that your son's behavior is more than willful disobedience. I would test him privately as well. I like neuropsychs. You ever been to one?