Advice for Kindergartener?

Discussion in 'Special Ed 101' started by 5Angels, Oct 12, 2009.

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  1. 5Angels

    5Angels New Member

    Hi All!
    I'm still new here and am so glad to have found a place where I get great advice without judgement or blame. Thank you for that!
    My son is 5 years old and just started Kindergarten. I need some advice as to how to proceed with some concerns.
    A little background about him -- He was born with a congenital heart defect and had his first surgery at 5 weeks old. We adopted him at a week old and sat by his bedside 24/7 through his surgery and recovery. Brought him home at 7 weeks old. Had his 2nd heart surgery at 2 years old and will continue with surgeries throughout his life. At 2 years old, he was diagnosed with Asperger's and we enrolled him in a wonderful Special Education preschool at the age of 3 that he attended for the next two years. He loved it there and the teachers were incredible. Over the time in the preschool, his spectrum disorder behaviors lessened drastically. When it was time to transition over to Kindergarten, we were advised not to tell the Elementary school about his diagnosis of Asperger's because they believed that "it is not an issue anymore". We were told to just have him in a regular classroom without an IEP in place and that he would do great.
    Well, they were wrong! We are only a month into the school year and difficult child is already acting out. He fights me on going to school every morning (LOVED going to preschool), has started showing extreme aggressive tendencies towards his siblings, threatens to run away and becomes enraged at the drop of a hat. When questioned about school, he says that he hates it and that the kids are rude to him. He won't go into any more detail than that. Tomorrow is Parent Teacher conference and I sure would appreciate some advice here. I know that it was a huge change going from a class of 8 kids to a class of 31, but I feel like this is the beginning of things to come and want to try to turn it around now. Should I put him in a Special Education class? His birth father is Schizophrenic, and I worry that the aggressiveness could be a warning sign, as he has always been super sweet and always kind to others until now.
    Thoughts? Advice? All would be appreciated!
  2. rlsnights

    rlsnights New Member

    Tons of possible issues going on here.

    If he had/has an Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) diagnosis then I assume he has some typical Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) characteristics like sensory issues and delayed motor development along with the communication issues?

    I would say that absolutely going from a Special Education class of 8 to a reg ed kinder class of 31 is simply overwhelming him on every front. I wonder if the teachers of the preschool class may be out of touch with the reality of a kinder class today. Between the sheer size of the class and the academic demands, it is easily overwhelming for a within normal limits kid.

    Then there's the sensory overload - smells, textures, noises, visuals. If his classroom is typical it is visually chaotic and noisy, white board markers in use (a major issue with my son), snacks that taste funny or have textures he's not used to, a lack of visual cues to help him figure out what to do when - all things likely to stress him a lot.

    Of course there's a much greater demand socially including a likely shift in the interaction with the teacher, if only because the teacher has 31 kids instead of 8. No one can be warm, kind, thoughtful and supportive of his differences all the time with 31 5 and 6 year olds to supervise. This is no doubt what he is used to and has come to expect. And the teacher doesn't stand a chance of helping with some of these issues because she/he doesn't even know about them.

    Given his genetic load, the multiple invasive medical procedures, what I assume may be medications to treat his heart condition, all on top of the Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) it seems HIGHLY unlikely to me that he is going to thrive in a traditional school setting without some support.

    My son is participating in an early intervention and prevention of psychosis research program where we live. He also has multiple medical issues including a serious, chronic autoimmune disorder. He is in the low risk arm of this research program due to some relatively mild issues with reality testing, mood disorder diagnosis and his genetic load (me BiPolar (BP) 1, GGM schizophrenic, other family MI). One of the precepts of this program is stress reduction and low expressed emotion across all settings. You may want to read up on prodromal symptoms of schizophrenia and recent research in early intervention and prevention because there's been a ton of research in this area in the last few years.

    Given all your kiddo is facing and will continue to face across his lifetime I think the preschool teacher's advice was misguided. He might do fine in a much smaller classroom for now with a well-educated teacher and a place to retreat to when it all gets overwhelming. Or he may need something more structured and geared toward meeting the needs of kids on the spectrum. It's hard to tell. He may just need a slower transition into such an intense environment.

    I would not push him into going given his behavior. It's his only way of really letting you know how distressed he is all the time at school. I think you may want to have a frank discussion with the teacher and ask for a Special Education assessment.

    Has he been re-evaluated by a neuropsychologist or developmental pediatrician to see if he still meets criteria for Aspergers? If not, I would suggest you set this up so you get the input of professionals used to diagnosing Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). Not to cast aspersions on the preschool teachers, but they may be seeing the product of an extremely supportive environment more than big changes in his cognitive processing that will hold up in a stressful environment.
  3. Sheila

    Sheila Moderator

    With appropriate diagnosis and interventions, many disorders can be "treated" and some symptoms will fade. However, there is not a cure.

    Teachers and the school district are part of my difficult child's multimodal treatment plan.

    Your difficult child got lucky with his preschool.

    Your child needs to be evaluated under IDEA regs to see if he's eligible for an IEP. Talking about it with the educational personnel too often doesn't produce action.

    Parents can self-refer their child for evaluation. is a sample letter if you need it. Very important to send the letter via Certified Mail -- it kicks in mandated timelines under which the school district must perform.

    Read and self-educate about IDEA, aka, "Special Education." There is additional info in the Sp Ed 101 Archives on this site. is a good website for parents.
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