Sudden massive school anxiety....

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by timer lady, Sep 30, 2008.

  1. timer lady

    timer lady Queen of Hearts

    kt is doing very well academically....yesterday she was invited to take 4 mainstream classes (out of 9) daily. That is huge.

    kt's new high school is immense; there are over 1600 students in this school. She's gone from a very small, very contained environment over the last 5 years to a school of this magnitude. While she is still in Special Education (a contained setting) she's beginning to crumble.

    After the suspension - she's missed school 3 days. It's not like in 2nd or 3rd grade where I could carry this child out to the car & drive her in. kt is terrified of this setting. She witnessed the onset of a gang fight in the lunchroom - not something I needed to hear yet alone kt to witness. The police wanted to talk to her; the Special Education team insisted I be there. By the time I got to school kt was not in a position to be questioned.

    Since that incident kt has been refusing to attend school; that along with the violence in the Special Education department. They've combined the behavioral disordered kids with the emotionally disordered kids. kt has spent the last 3 years in a day treatment setting - a very gentle & respectful environment. kt has grown & matured in that setting - learned a great deal.

    We've been in crisis mode since Thursday. In home therapist insisted that we don't push kt into an environment that she is terrified to step into - there is no reason to push her. Mental health CM & CADI manager both agreed to look into a new, less fearful placement for kt. One of the options is the high school home school program. I'm looking into some open schools here in town that are quite a bit smaller. Nobody seems to know if they accept special needs/education kids. We're pushing the h.s. to follow the IEP & put a one on one aide with kt.

    kt is loving the academic side of school - she is terrified of her peers; the threats & violence. I don't live in a bad area of town - our school district however busses kids to whatever school a parent chooses. There has been a lot of gang activity at the schools around here of late.

    Thanks for listening. Please keep a good thought that we can find another program/placement quickly. I've always put kt's emotional health before her education - that will continue.
  2. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Oh Linda,
    I'm so sorry kt is having such anxiety-poor kiddo. I am praying a placement is found soon and in the meantime they need to follow the iep plan and get her that one on one.
  3. LittleDudesMom

    LittleDudesMom Well-Known Member Staff Member


    if an aide is in her iep, they should have been in place the first day of school. What's the issue with that?

    In regards to the gang activity - it doesn't matter who they bus where or where you live, high school fights are going to happen. Given that kt was in a very sheltered enviornment in the past, this is a whole new can of worms.

    Since she is with the behavioral challenged kids but is doing really well academically, can a 1:1 be given and her attend all mainstream classes? Would that have any affect on her ability to stay where she is?

    Linda, there is a big choice here. In my view the decision is whether to "force" the public high school issue by putting some really good supports in place so that kt gets a feel and understands the requirements of "regular society" or to place her in a more controlled and structured enviornment like where she has been in the past. There is more than just today at stake here - planning for tomorrow is important as well.

    It is a really tough choice. I am in absolute total agreeance that our kids mental/emotional health is much more important than grades and such. It is not worth our kids going backwards when they have made progress.

    But what makes it so tough is that our kids are difficult children. We never really know how they are going to react or how they are going to deal with a particular situation. That's the nature of a difficult child. They can suprise us as quick as they are predictible!

    Kt made such a positive start to this high school thing, it has gone down hill really, really fast. What do her long time t and psychiatrist think about her continuance in this public high school? Do you really feel that supports, such as a full time aide, would not be able to help kt deal with the issues at this school?

    If your gut tells you it's not going to work, then finding an alternative school will have to the decision. In the meantime, can she be placed in a homebound program so that she does not loose place with her peers? It sounds as if she is not going to school now right?

    Linda, I'm sorry that this crumbled so fast. I was off the board for a while so I'm not familiar with the suspension issue.

    I hope the answer to this situation comes really quicky for kt. She has made such tremendous progress of late.

  4. dreamer

    dreamer New Member

    Oh no. I am so sorry this is happening. I fought so hard for tisvery same thing here very publicly trying to make things not be like this for our difficult child childdren, - but this is nearly exactly what happened with my Buffy, too. Plus- here, well Buffys self contained classes pre HS she was one of only 8 kids - and she was the only girl. Our HS had 2,000 kids. Prior to all of this Buffy was in gifted student program doing above grade level work, but once mixed in with the harder kids, and tthen thrown into such a huge school- it bblew up. I worked so hard, me with 2 other kids, sick husband and on my scooter, I went and sspoke at school board meetings, - brought in NAMI people, I spoke at county level, testified even at state capital trying to ed ucate about how all this was simply NOT working for the ill children. My difficult child led a controleld supervised and sheltered life at home due to her illness and diagnosis and the risk her diagnosis put her at .and HS undid everything all her docs etc and us worked on for all her life up till HS. To add to the problem, she became a target (of her ed bd class peers) , as did our family for numerous acts of very expensive vandalism....which twice caused us to lose insurance coverage due to too many claims, and massively increased rates to regain coverage (and still continues even now some 5 years later). ANd a child that eventually could not leave the house AT ALL.
    I keep hoping things will get better for our kids. I tried SO hard to be part of that change. I advocated, lobbied, testified, took things public, fought like heck, trying to make it better for all the difficult children. This makes me so very sad to hear. I am so sad for kt and for you. and for all our difficult children.
    I am going to hope for kt things iwll be handled better and things will work out.
  5. nvts

    nvts Active Member

    Hi! For all it's worth, I like the idea of a 1:1 taking her to mainstream classes - kt's a smart little cookie and is doing well.

    You also might want to engage a teacher in her favorite subject that she could eat lunch with. The thought being that she would be able to take her lunch to that teacher's office/classroom and help out, whether it be photocopying worksheets that the teacher will need, or some busy work. It would allow her to have a safehaven during the less structured times of the day. Maybe even working in the office, or helping out the nurse.

    There are all types of alternatives that could be presented. I'm really cheering in her corner!

  6. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Wow, I'm sorry she is going through this. I agree with trying to get the school to make better accommodations through the IEP first. They need to see her as needing help- not being a behavioral problem. I didn't read all this thread real carefully, but can therapist help the school see that kt needs extra support right now? Maybe if she had that at school for a while, a lot of this would turn around for her. I'm thinking she needs a big confidence builder more than anything. Is there a good way that would help her make friends that she can eat lunch with and hang around with at school?
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2008
  7. Jena

    Jena New Member


    I just wanted to pop in and say I am so sorry to hear that. Fact that she is loving the academic side of it,yet the surroundings is what it is. high schools in alot of areas I'm finding to be rough. Even where my daughter attends here, good neighborhood also, yet now she's got a pack of friends she travels with and feels safe.

    I'm sorry it's so hard when you see them hurt, i really wish you luck in finding the right program for her. it's not easy.

  8. meowbunny

    meowbunny New Member

    Personally, I'd do my best to find her a different setting. A 1:1 aide for the mainstream classes is just going to set her up for teasing and harassment, especially in a large school with gangs. This will not help her for the future, in my opinion. It will just cause more anxiety and issues. Four years of harassment and torment could easily put her over the edge.
  9. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    I am so sorry. This just stinks. I know you will find the right situation for her as quickly as it can be found. I HATE HATE HATE that this happened to kt.

    Tell her we are thinking of her if that will help.

    Many hugs to all of you.
  10. house of cards

    house of cards New Member

    Poor kt, I agree strongly with what you said about emotional health being over education, not taking away any importance of education, but you need a basic level of emotional health to be able to access it anyway. I hope you can find a small supportive enviorment which will allow her to feel safe again. I'd be concerned with gang activity in the high school anyway and I would do homeschool only as a last resort because she seems to really benefit from the social part. Good luck with whatever you decide and I hope it can transition smoothly.
  11. dreamer

    dreamer New Member

    a 1-1 can be a help-- or - it can backfire. Our dtr was supposed to have a 1-1 via her iep- but our district, a very affluent distric- horsed around for months saying they could not find one. Then they found one, but the 1-1 could only come part time, so when 1-1 was not there, school decided difficult child could not be at school. 1-1 wound up not understanding difficult child or IEP and 1-1 herself often violated IEP and often contributed to difficult children anxieties etc. We wound up haveing iep meetings twice a week for a long time, several hours long, and trying to teach the 1-1 her role. The 1-1 would vaccilate between thinking she was there to be difficult children personal policeman, hardball warden, best friend, therapist, spy, she even began to go into the bathroom with difficult child. She started telling difficult child how to do schoolwork to the point of what answer to put or criticizing difficult child for the answers she put.....and yes, in HS setting? The 1-1 brought further and worse negative interactions from peers.
    In the beginnning the 1-1 stayed more in background, but teachers seemed to forget what the role of 1-1 was and would use difficult children 1-1 as a gofer in class and then things would occur in class when 1-1 was not present. The 1-1 did not always help difficult child dureing bullying issues etc....and eventually said well, she did not know what to do becuz she herself was intimidated by the bullies. The others in the ed bd class verbalized it that difficult child needed a babysitter with her at all times, and attacked her further useing that as justification. The mainstream teachers refused to accept a 1-1 present in their classes, so difficult child wound up loseing any of the mainstream classes she had been in.
    And yes, we worked hard with noncompliance of IEP, worked with sped ed director, brought in people from NAMI and a doctor advocate from Univ of IL.....
    We ultimately wound up in due process.....

    THis is a sad sad thing, so wrong, so unfair to our kids.

    ANd even after difficult child never went to school anymore at all, per due process hearing officer......the bullying and vandalism continues still to come home.

    It is wrong to have a school group that assortment of kids together in one group. It is like putting guppies in with pirhanas. When I tried to find an alternative setting for difficult child, nearly every school I went to said BUffy was not a fit for their schools becuz they saw she was not aggressive or violent and most of the other placements were for far more violent or aggressive kids. ANd her standardized testing scores were so high, they kept useing that as a reason, too, saying they could not do her justice academics wise, either.

    Maybe you could find a small private school.
  12. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    Aw, man! And it was going so good!

    I'm anxious to hear why there's not a 1-on-1.

    There's been some great suggestions made, I have no more to add, just hoping you come up with a solution soon.
  13. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Homeschooling CAN have a large social aspect if the PCAs and inhome people will help. All you need is to find a homeschool group with an active teen section. Many HS groups have proms, LOTS of teen activities, and kids that are actively recruited by schools like stanford.. Just FYI. When we lived in a larger city and homeschooled we were never home. We were always at coop classes or activities or field trips.
  14. timer lady

    timer lady Queen of Hearts

    Thank you all ~ I still am not sure of the answers right now. In home therapist & mental health CM are researching other possible programs for kt.

    Sharon (ldm), I know that you're right. We need to push kt to function as much as possible in the "real world". She is still very fragile according to psychiatrist treating the PTSD & attachment issues; I agree with that. You can see it. Yet, I want her to have a good life ~ I don't want to have to keep researching adult group homes for kt.

    We know that wm will need that level of structure; kt is six of one, half dozen of another.

    It's helping that PCA & Integrated Listening Systems (ILS) workers are picking kt up after school. She's earned her cell phone back so if she "misses" the bus & walks home she will call me & tell me the route she is taking home. I'd feel better if she had a walking buddy. In home therapist is concerned at the level of anxiety kt is exhibiting, the missing the bus, & other behaviors at school.

    As always, we'll find some kind of solution - this one took me by surprise (I don't know why). And as always, I appreciate the ear.

    You're all the best.
  15. LittleDudesMom

    LittleDudesMom Well-Known Member Staff Member


    I'm telling you, no matter how long we have been living with our difficult children and dealing with their issues, we can still be hit from left field!!!

    I know that you, together with the great team assembled for kt, will find a solution. She has made such progress the last three years. She will get a handle and deal in her fashion.

    They suprise us in good ways too!

  16. tinamarie1

    tinamarie1 Member

    Its my opinion that the "social" aspect of being in a public or any school setting is way over rated and misunderstood. For years I used the reason of him not getting social interraction in school for not homeschooling him. The social interraction he was getting was being bullied, pushed around, segregated in his class because he was the kid with special needs, then he would get targeted as the "bad" kid who the teacher had no patience to deal with. If someones lunch money came up missing, all the kids would point to difficult child and say he did it, all because he was the "bad" kid in class. And because more than one child said he did it, it just HAD to be the gospel truth. This is socialization???? oh sure he had one or two friends who would at some point turn on him or get picked on because they were his friend. Or the parents would tell their kids to stay away from difficult child because he was trouble.
    I would rather keep him inside my house every day with no "social" interraction than subject him to this garbage every day. His self esteem was shot.
    We began homeschooling this year, and even though we have rough days, I think of what setting he had at school and I will NEVER regret taking him out of there.
    Kids are so cruel and with a little "encouragement" from the teacher by labeling him and segregating him, they really had it in for him. My only regret is not pulling him out of school sooner and doing this 5 years ago.
    Also, this year was my easy child's first year of high school. She had alot of anxiety problems from the get go. Shoot, I had anxiety problems about letting her go there. When I dropped her off in the morning, there were kids in front of the school smoking and making out and driving wrecklessly through the parking lot. In the one month before I pulled her out to homeschool, she witnessed a stabbing, her only friend who is 14 got pregnant and her teacher is under investigation from last year for having a sex with- a student. again...this is socialization? i don't think so. AND this is one of the most desirable schools in the district!!!!
    I have found a homeschool group where I can be more in control of the people she meets and what she sees and does. She still hangs out with some of her friends from junior high, they come over a few times a month. I would much rather have this than the school setting.
  17. KTMom91

    KTMom91 Well-Known Member

    So sorry things aren't going well for kt. Many hugs to you both.
  18. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    It's difficult with kids, when we have to constantly watch them and adapt to how tey are presenting form day to day.

    I also agree about the over-emphasis that has been put on the "benefits" of mainstream for social interaction - not in our experience. As in our case - mainstream only gave difficult child 3 negative social experiences and taught him very little that was positive; what it DID teach could have been more easily, more painlessly and more safely taught in a home-school environment. because home-schooling does not need to equal isolation. In fact, when the work gets dome more effectively, there is time to go out and do the shopping, see doctors, go on an excursion. Every outing brings positive social interaction because it is strangers or adults, not kids who know what buttons Occupational Therapist (OT) push and who spend their time doing just that.

    The trouble is - I don't think, Linda, you would be well enough at the moment to home-school kt. Mind you, she is getting older and with you there she may be able to work more effectively at home, independently.

    As for the 1:1 aide - if you can get someone designated to your child, 1:1, that is marvellous. Over here a 1:1 aide is NOT the child's personal attendant, if the teacher wants to use the aide by sending them to do photocopying or run messages, they can. It is at the SCHOOL'S discretion how the aide is used. In practical terms, difficult child 3's aide did spend a lot of her time in difficult child 3's classroom but she was there to help the school. Even though we had applied for the funding, through the school, because of difficult child 3's needs.
    At first when difficult child 3 was little (and I didn't know how it worked) I would call the school early (or give them a day's warning) if difficult child 3 was not going to be there - that way they could 'bank' the aide hours, I figured, since the aide wasn't full-time. Why have the aide turn up when she's not going to be needed?
    Then difficult child 3 was ill and was looking like he would be absent for the rest of the week. I rang the school to let them know - I had fetched him home early, so I made a call and said on Wednesday, "He won't be in for the rest of the week - could I please have some work sent home for him to do?"
    I went down the next day to fetch the work for difficult child 3 and saw the aide in the school office, a third wheel on make-work, running the photocopier, filing, answering the phone - when they could have banked her hours. And yet, when I would ask for extra support for difficult child 3 to have supervision in the playground, they were always saying they had run out of aide hours!

    I asked around because I was annoyed by this and was told that this was accepted practice. As far as I could determine, no rules were being broken (other than common sense).

    So if you get anything more than that - be very glad. Make sure you have a good understanding of exactly what the aides are supposed to do and how the funding is supposed to be allocated before you make a fuss - you don't want to get embarrassed as I did.

  19. dreamer

    dreamer New Member

    here our 1-1 was SUPPOSED to be difficult children personal shadow attendant, to help difficult child reduce anxiety.instead the 1-1 did go off doing other things for various teachers, and did not show up half the time and then school would call to tell me to come get difficult child......and 1-1 actually wound up creating more anxiety by being arguementative and NOT following the IEP no matter how many IEP meetings we had 1-1 come to to learn and understand her role. Her idea of her role for difficult child and the understanding we had for requesting it were worlds and worlds apart.

    We have less isolation doing homeschooling than we had when difficult child and son were in school------becuz difficult child was constantly far too upset, and symptomatic while in school, and my son was always trying so hard with no luck to do schoolwork, there was no time left.....and yes, school time socialization here was also VERY negat6ive.......and frightening, LOTS of bullies, lots of teachers willing to side with bullies simply becuz it was easier etc.....all the lockdowns due to our school being across street from county courthouses and jail and county health dept.......and our HS isnext door to our psychiatric hospital.
    Our school has aactually now been in lockdown since last spring, when we had a string of bomb threats---- and now we began this year with so far 8 more - 6 in our school and 2 next school has decided to stay in lockdown, and lunch is now assigned seating for all K-12 and notalking may NOT use bathroom without an escort and must leave door open when useing restroom.......sure seems m,ore like a prison than a place to send children to learn. and since our school sent SO much home for parents to do with the kids anyway........we did math tests, spelling tests, weekly...we did the major annual projects and us parents had to sign letters from teachers to say yes we understand the assignment, yes we will help our child do them, yes we will help our child assemble them, yes we will grade them.and tell teacher the grade.and yes we understand the teacher is never even going to see the project? How weird.
    Homeschooling actually takes me many less hours a week, causes us less headaches and symptoms every day........and difficult child has been nearly non difficult child since starting homeschooling. and my son has caught up his 3 years behind his peers...and has even advanced now beyond them.....just by homeschooling.
  20. timer lady

    timer lady Queen of Hearts

    Again, thank you ~ all that you've mentioned Marg & dreamer are being taken into consideration.

    We are in the process of setting up a team meeting with school team & the mental health care team. It's always a challenge to get all of these people in one room but our mental health case manager has become a pro at setting up a meeting for our tweedles.

    If you spoke with kt today, she'd tell you she loves school & all her peers. Yet, Tuesday, was a day she just couldn't make it to school. I asked all the teachers to send home all the work she needs to make up on these days. Not as a consequence, but as a matter of fact way of life. You miss out on work ~ you have to make up; same for school. Whether home schooled or otherwise.

    I agree, Marg, I'm not up to homeschooling kt. Just not up to it. My body just needs more sleep every day.

    Thanks again for all the input. Slowly (you know how this goes) this is being worked out. I may ask for a 4 day school week with the 5th day being done at home. There are options out there.