1st grade son having behavior problems

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Tranquil Ape, Nov 2, 2012.

  1. Tranquil Ape

    Tranquil Ape New Member

    So, my son 'K' is in his third month of 1st grade, early in his kindergarten year his teacher had expressed concerns about his impulsiveness and inability to remain still and stay focused (which still sounds a little absurd to me, they're 5 years old) anyway... about halfway through kindergarten K was diagnosed with ADHD and after a very long bout of inner turmoil mom and dad decided to medicate.) There was a small window where there was some improvement but now in 1st grade, after having a few talks with his teacher it seems that he's having problems behaving. On more than one occasion she has used the phrase "doesn't get anything done in class" yet, everyday i sit and complete homework with him. He doesn't seem to have any problems with the work.

    I apologize if this post seems like random babbling, my head is just filled with all questions, feelings etc.

    Anyway, after a school site council meeting last week, the principle mentioned to me that they wanted to schedule a SST (student success team / student study team) for K and us. Not even sure what i'm looking for here but if anyone has any anecdotes or information that may benefit, i would love to hear it. I don't want to walk into the meeting empty handed so to speak. I found this thread here but can't find any info from my school's or district's website.

    thanks for any help

  2. buddy

    buddy New Member

    Hi and welcome! What country do you live in? There are different laws in different countries so not trying to be nosy, just dont want to waste your time or steer you wrong....
  3. Tranquil Ape

    Tranquil Ape New Member

    Sorry, didn't even think about that... I'm in the US, sunny, but cold today, California.
  4. soapbox

    soapbox Member

    I'm in Canada, so slightly different "rules" as far as schools, evaluations, etc. but...

    I was struck by one simple little picture in your post.
    At school - nothing gets done.
    At home - no problem.

    What is different about home and school?
    Just an educated guess:
    1) background noise
    2) auditory distraction (things that some of us would consider background, but that are "interesting" sounds - like a siren going by)
    3) visual distraction

    In other words... he seems to do better begin taught one-on-one in a quiet environment.

    There can be multiple reasons why the school environment is difficult for your son.
    And he's young enough that not everything can be tested for, but...
    I'd be suspecting that one component of his challenges is Auditory Processing Disorders (APD). Not the classical "verbal language processing" disorder type of Auditory Processing Disorders (APD), but some of the lesser known forms, like "auditory figure ground" (being able to focus in on the "important sounds" while toning down the background noise) and "auditory discrimination" (distinguishing between similar sounds).

    If there is any chance he has this, he needs interventions and accommodations (no medications on this one).
    Interesting to note that sometimes that APDs present similar symptoms to ADHD - but the two conditions can also co-exist.
  5. TeDo

    TeDo Guest

    When I worked in our elementary school, any "problem" kids that didn't have an IEP or 504 and the parents either 1)didn't request evaluations for Special Education services or 2) denied any problems and refused to let the school assess, were referred to our study team. What it meant is that the most significant behavior was tracked for at least 3 weeks and then various informal interventions were tried. If there are problems in school, if I were you, I would request in writing that they do a full evaluation for special education services. If you want to know how to go about that, let us know and we'll walk you through it.

    Welcome to our little corner of the world.
  6. Tranquil Ape

    Tranquil Ape New Member

    What would the advantage be to the school for handling a situation that way? (just trying to understand so i have a better grasp) I think i have a general idea what the IEP and 504 are for, im going to have to do some research before i start talking about them though... I'll google it but as far as a full evaluation for Special Education services, what does that entail and why does it scare me? :)
  7. Tranquil Ape

    Tranquil Ape New Member

    sorry to repost so quickly... but I wanted to ask... would a functional behavior assessment be part of that evaluation?
  8. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Maybe he works better one-on-one than independently (at home is there one-on-one?) Many kids with particular disorders (not limited to ADHD) can perform much better with a helper beside him. Is your home quieter? Less stimulation? Does your son react to noise or distraction or other commotion? Are you sure there is NOTHING wrong at home? Was he an easy infant and child up until now? Did he reach his milestones on time? Can he relate well to his same age peers? What kind of professional diagnosed him with ADHD?

    I would have a private evaluation by a neuropsychologist (my favorite type of evaluator because they don't leave out anything) and then, if he thinks it's a good idea, go to school asking for a 504 or IEP. in my opinion the schools never test very well or too intensively as they really don't want to give out any support services and could short your child on things that he needs. Get another opinion first so you have something to come to them with. Does the idea of Son getting extra supports bother you? Thought I read t hat in between the lines :) From my own experience, which could be wrong, men seem to have a harder time thinking their child may be different than woman do. Many times men think, "If he'd just apply himself..." even if the child is trying and just can't. Not saying this is you, but just wondering if perhaps it is (no meanness intended). I think men get more worried that their child may have a disorder than women, although there are some women that are very very bothered at the thought. In the end, it's in my opinion best to know. Early intervention is best. There is no reason to be afraid of a neuropysh evaluation. Your child will be the same child, no matter what you find out, that he was before you found out how to help him.
  9. buddy

    buddy New Member

    Hi again.....
    I have worked on many Special Education. teams and am a mom to a student with special needs so this is from that perspective. Some schools are excellent at trying to identify kids who need extra support. My son once has a 35 page very complete school evaluation!

    Every state and every school district varies but in the USA there are laws that give you rights to have your child receive support (and if an IEP its funded but a 504 plan is not ). Many districts start with some kind of child study meetimg where a teacher or parent makes a referral to the team and says can we see if theres a problem here? It sounds like your situation may be at that point. People working directly with students typically do not know or care about the district funding and do want to help (yes, there are still good guys and lousy folks though) ....
    They sometimes just consult with the teacher and offer in class ideas to help and document if the strategies work before going the full evaluation route. If they think an evaluation is needed they will write a proposal and meet with you to discuss what they are going to investigate. It usually looks at ability, current development if they are young or academic achievement. You typically have forms and tests to fill out about history, developmental milestones, behaviors etc.
    To qualify for special education, the student has to meet criteria in an educational category ( like Learning Disability (LD), Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), emotional/behavioral, etc.) You do not have to agree to special education. There are different levels of service and the goal (theoretically ) is to provide support in the most typical setting as possible (called least restrictive environment LRE). It can mean indirect services where someone works to set up a system to help a child transition from one activity to another. Typical teachers need support often to come up with individialized ideas.

    If a child has behavior issues they are often labeled as bad, rude, difficult, whatever, when in fact they may just need help learning in a little different way or need the environment modified or need accommodations like frequent breaks, special chairs, whatever....
    If they are offering help, in my opinion I'd accept. Many have to fight for years to get people to help a struggling student. You have specific legal rights and one is privacy. Nothing can be revealed outside of people who are on a need to know basis. Even the records are separate from general school records these days. You will get a chance to express your concerns and share what works at home.

    I agree you may want to pursue a neuropsychology evaluation yourself to get an outside objective view. They often have both the parents and schools fill out forms to compare settings.
    Hope this helps a little. It is not.a ticket to " the.short bus " which by the way my son loves..... but my nephew is on an IEP and for.him.it.means small class.modifications and one hour of support in a class for.kids who need help with organizing assignments and doing homework. He has.no.cognitive delays, just adhd and middle.school started him getting behind. Other than that he is with his school mates as he always has been.

    Sorry abt. My typing and.punctuation....I'm on my phone ...
  10. buddy

    buddy New Member

    Oh...a functional behavior assessment (fba) is part of an evaluation OR done at any time for a student on an IEP when there are behavioral concerns. It is.meant.to lead.to.a positive behavioral intervention plan as part of the iep.
  11. TeDo

    TeDo Guest

    In our school, the "plan" was only to reduce behaviors NOT help with skills that may be behind the behaviors. The benefit to the school, if it's similar to ours, is that they don't have to provide any support to the student. They just develop basically a behavior chart and/or sticker chart to earn rewards for not displaying the behavior. For most of our kids, those don't work for very long if at all. The idea of an IEP probably scares you because, in my generation at least, they were only given to the "retarded kids". I really don't want to offend anyone because I hate those words myself but that was the mentality back then. Special Education kids were the "special" kids. The rules and laws have changed so much that low IQ isn't the only way to qualify any more. A full IEP provides extra supports for students to help with skills that are lacking and is legally binding (though some schools still don't get it). It can also provide for other supports that might help with the behavior and provides some safeguards if the school is one of those that likes to suspend "trouble-makers".

    As the others have said, every state and even every school is different. It wouldn't hurt to see what THEIR ideas are. You have the final say so if you don't like what they are proposing or you don't think it's going to help your son, tell them you want a full evaluation for Special Education services. If you do that, make sure you follow up with the request in writing. You'd be surprised how "forgetful" school staff can be.
  12. Tranquil Ape

    Tranquil Ape New Member

    I very much appreciate the information. I'm sure I'll be posting questions as they come up...
  13. Tranquil Ape

    Tranquil Ape New Member

    I was just going to ask about an independent evaluation, I may be putting the cart before the horse but was wondering what the cost of something like that is? I would hate to not have the choice simply because of monetary reasons. (and this is all just speculation at this point, I haven't even had the first meeting yet)

    "If he would just apply himself" i grew up hearing those words, and "If school was all tests, he'd be out by now" It doesn't bother me per say; my intellect tells me that he may need help here and there; It definitely touches a nerve though; the issue is mine, when i think he may have a rough time the same way that i did... i get a lil misty-eyed (don't tell the wife) Think i was ADHD back when they called hit a sugar high, I had a lot of problems in school and if it wasn't for really good test scores every year i don't think i would have made it. It wasn't until later and in college that I began to see the need to focus in the classroom environment. and being older I think i had the discipline to 'force focus' I dunno, this whole situation just sucks :)
  14. Tranquil Ape

    Tranquil Ape New Member

    So I thought I would add a little info here. We had the SST meeting last week all though it didn't really feel like much was put on the drawing board to try as far as 'interventions' went. I am trying to spend more time with him here at home wither playing or whatever he wants. Today he outright lied and told me he had a good day and as soon as it came out of his mouth, the teacher let me know he had a rough day and was sent to the office.

    We also happened to have his annual wellness appointment with his pediatrician the day after the set; I explained what was going and in the end I got a slightly higher dosage of what my son had been taking. I only got 7 tablets of this higher dosage and it appears that it really isn't making a difference in his behavior (granted he has only been in class twice since the sst... but if the medication isn't doing its thing then maybe he shouldn't be on it since its rough at mealtime when he is on it and never wants to eat; might be causing his bedtime issues as well.
  15. buddy

    buddy New Member

    I think it is important to remind the school that medications can put him in a place to be able to change behaviors but it does not necessarily change the behaviors in and of itself. If he has now developed patterns of negative behaviors then they may need to try positive skill building lessons, use problems as opportunities to teach.

    At his age, lying might be a little more than just wanting to defy you....My son does this too even at age fifteen, but he is developmentally similar to your son. He knows that there will be a not so great reaction to a "bad report" so he naturally would prefer I not know. My son actually does think he has good days sometimes when he had some rough moments too because his teacher will say good job turning it around (if he had a rough patch then did the right thing) and then he honestly means it when he says he did well. (mostly he is not trying to lie as much as he is anxious about always being in trouble....but weird thing is, I leave school consequences to school and home to home. ) He still just is a kid who has spent far more time being told what he did wrong than right. I think they learn to be defensive and hide things very early. Just sharing because it sure did shape my son's perception of himself as "the bad kid". Even with conscious effort to say things like he made a bad choice, had a bad moment, and reinforce the times he turns things around and praise how quickly he did the right thing.... I can't even imagine. I was a goodie goodie and the times I was in trouble stick out in my mind because they were such a big deal. I think for my son it is the opposite. I think the times he does well stick out in his mind because his typical method of operation is one of struggle all day every day. Can you imagine how many frowns and upset tones of voice these kids hear all day long? It is one of the things I really feel terrible about and try super hard to work on.

    What would be the benefit of his telling you the truth? (other than NOT getting into more trouble for lying)....

    Just food for thought..... you know him best and I truly respect that. I'm just sharing because it is one of the most heart breaking things I have had to work on through my son's life.
  16. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    medications shouldn't be the first line of intervention. Dxes should be.
    He's young - very young. Both of mine were around that age when we got first dxes and medications. For one of them, it was bang-on. For the other? It took years to get the dxes right.

    Some medications are "instant" response and others are not. For example, methylphenidate (ritalin, concerta, etc. and their related substances) doesn't have a ramp-up period... the dose you take now, will provide impact for the next X hours (depending on which formulation... some are longer acting). Then it is out of the system. Other medications, like Strattera, require a build-up in the system to be effective.

    Given that you only had a one-week sample of the higher dosage, I'm guessing it's a medication that doesn't have to be built up - in which case, two days in class at the new dose should provide a measurable impact.
  17. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Hi Tranquil Ape (won't ask about the origin of the name :)) Look, I'm going to throw my 2 cents' worth in here and be controversial. Are you sure he really is ADHD and are you sure he really should be on this strong medication? I am not opposed where the child is clearly benefiting but in your case... I belong to an ADHD forum here in France and so many of the parents report improved performance and behaviour at school after the child starts taking Ritalin or Concerta (my own son concetrates sufficiently at school for no-one to be demanding that he be medicated at this stage - but he is a small village school with tiny numbers and I imagine this makes a difference). He is so young to be on the medications and if there is doubt.. One of the side effects of Ritalin can be increased aggressiveness, isn't that crazy?
    I just don't know about your son, of course, and we are all stabbing in the dark somewhat over the internet. I am NOT opposed point-blank to any children taking stimulants so that is not my point here. The point is that you need to get to the bottom of what is going on for your son and you may just be covering the problem up with the medications.
    Sorry if I have confused you further... none of this is easy....
  18. Tranquil Ape

    Tranquil Ape New Member

    I agree fully, as stated above... the medications look like they really aren't doing what they're supposed to; so I'm looking at discontinuing them if its safe to pull him off of them. At least until we get to the root of whats going on with him. Its so hard sometimes with him because i picture him having the same difficulties i did and i just wanna help him be a good student.

    Appreciate all the folks piping in, great community here.
  19. LittleDudesMom

    LittleDudesMom Well-Known Member Staff Member

    While I knew for years my son had adhd, I held off on medications until he was in first grade. medications can often be trial by error. There are a number of different types of stimulants that are metabolized in different ways. Some work better than others for any particular child. My son is now 17 and off his adhd medications, but he was on one for a year and a half, another for about four years, and the last one also for four years and did not start his medications this academic year as he is trying to "do it himself". So far, so good....

    Please also know that it is not always a more complicated diagnosis or additional medications that are required. It can also be just finding the right one. For us, it was a multi-fold approach that led us on the path to more success in school (like you, home was never an issue for academics - one on one he did fabulous! If I didn't feel in my heart that socialization was a big issue for him, I would have home schooled - but being part of the larger group and learning what "real" life was about was more important to his future success - in my opinion for my difficult child).

    It took medication, therapy, behavior mod at home, a really quality IEP (not just standard adhd stuff like "repeat directions", "more time on assignments", "preferential seating", etc.), a well-thought out FBA that resulted in a BIP that included a number of positive reinforcers and rewards for good choices, maturity (and it did get better as he began to get a little older and verbalize what was going on - the impulses were very much tied to what he could not put into words, mostly frustration and anxiety, when he was your son's age - he also acted before he thought and showed remorse afterwards because he knew what he had done was wrong - he just didn't engage his mind before putting his actions in gear), and a real strict homework and bedtime routine schedule (through middle school).

    It was a lot of work but I can tell you that it paid off. We had our dark moments where he was treated for depression, was raging at school, was given a crisis counselor. But with time and patience, hard work on his part, and working hand in hand with the school, my difficult child is now in 11th grade, making pretty decent grades, has advanced to Master Sargent in JROTC, leads the marksman club, is one of two IT guys for his JROTC unit, and pretty pleasant to be around. None of these things were thought to be in his future when he was in first grade.

    Oh, he will always be a difficult child - socially he's behind his peers, his social skills are immature, he still struggles with certain studies in school, has some anxiety and frustration issues, but he's come a long way. He would definitely be labeled a problem kid years ago. But there is often light at the end of the tunnel.

    My best advise for you, follow your gut. Have your son tested through the school and if you are unhappy with the results, then consider private evaluations. Many school systems do quality evaluations. He would qualify for an IEP if his adhd (a qualifying disability under IDEA) interferes with his ability to learn. Get some accommodations in place and have a FBA done in the meantime. We did an FBA/BIP and a 504 while the evaluation process was happening because that can take a number of months/weeks. A 504 is not as enforceable, but if you have a good school, it can bridge the gap until the IEP qualification process is complete. That whole process from testing to implementation can take up to 3 months.

    Good luck to you and your son.