I am at my wits end with my sons school

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by myboy34, May 7, 2011.

  1. myboy34

    myboy34 New Member

    Hi, I am new to this site. Happy I found it because it feels like when I am going through these issues with my son that I am the only one going through it....a very lonely feeling. Son't know where to start, but I guess I will start by saying that my son, who is now 9 1/2 and a 3rd grader, was diagnosed with ADHD when he was in the first grade. He began taking Concerta and was seeing a therapist to work with some of the issues he is having. He does not socialize well with other kids and therefore has no friends. I feel really bad for him because he is a sweet,intelligent child. He has a real hard time focusing in class and brings home a ton of homework to do because he was unable to finish in class. He has been on Focalin XR 40 mg. for about 2 months after we realized that Concerta was no longer working for him. His teacher has been less than sympathetic and just doesn't understand why he can't finish his work. I have had numerous conversations with her and find she is unable to compromise and just tells me that by this time of year she expects her students to be well organized and responsible. That may be true for your typical 3rd grader, which my son is not. I have met with his eacher, the school counselor and the principal and formulated a plan to make things work better for him and his teacher is not following the rules we had put forth. So now I have decided that it is time to write a 504 Plan because obviously they are not listening to anything I am saying. My son is also having severe sleeping problems, he has many fears (storms, ghosts, bugs, the dark) basically is afraid of everything and usually only gets about 6 hours a sleep at night. His pediatrician will only allow him to take Benadryl instead of Tenex, which I think from what I read and his therapist told me, is what he needs to calm his mind so he can stop the anxiety and get some sleep. I am sure sleep deprivation is not helping him at school. It seems like the Focalin is not working at all anymore. I am going to see if I can go around the pediatrician and work directly with his therapist and psychiatrist to prescribe Tenex for him. I tis so sad to see my son so full of anxiety, unable to function in school, makes me want to cry all of the time. My husband even has to sleep with him at night or we would never get any sleep. I am also the mother of almost 4 year old triplets and my husband and I are just stressed to the max. I know I have said alot here, just feel all alone in this as I am sure my son does:(We really need to find the correct ADHA medications, because I feel the two we have tried are not working for him. We are on medicaid and it seems like it does not cover the good medications for ADHD. We do not have the finances to afford ADHD medications that arent covered by medicaid,,Does anyone know if there is a way we can get these medications paid for my son if we find a drug to try that is not covered by medicaid? Anyway, glad to be here and hoping I might learn something from parents that perhaps have been going through this for a long time and may have some ideas to share:) Thanks for listening:)
  2. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Hi - First, welcome... sorry you had to find us, but glad that you did. You'll find others here who understand - whatever the complexities happen to be.

    Others will know more about the details of US school systems and how to work around those - you might also want to check out the Special Education forum...

    From experience:
    1) ADHD with wrong medications = trouble. But the 'right' medications aren't always the expensive ones - sometimes its subtle adjustments to dosage and/or timing (with or without food, for example)...

    2) ADHD often is accompanied by other issues... sounds like, in your case, there's at least some anxiety issues. Its probably time to move beyond basic pediatrician support, and get a more thorough diagnosis (diagnosis) - US threads suggest a neuropsychologist. This would also pick up things you might not be aware of...

    3) anxiety issues affect sleep, sleep issues affect anxiety, and both affect ADHD performance... so, you're in a loaded situation!

    4) Grade 3 is a critical year. What is he like for fine motor skills? handwriting problems, for example? How is his reading? This is the year they transition from learning basic skills (reading, writing), and moving to using these skills to accomplish other things. If they don't come up to speed with their peers, it affects their confidence at school - another complication. Reading and/or writing problems could be learnign disabilities (not uncommon with ADHD). Writing problems could also be a motor-skills issue (there are other developmental diagnosis which are related to gross or fine motor skills issues).

    If you already have access to a psychiatrist, this person could do some of the testing and/or connect you with a neuropsychologist... Sounds like you need to get to the bottom of it!

    As for tired/overwhelmed/overloaded/burned out... most of us here are either at the same place, or been there done that! Hopefully, others will be along soon with more ideas...

    Thanks for sharing.
  3. Jena

    Jena New Member

    hi and welcome.......... sorry you had to find us yet glad you did!! you are sooo not alone, trust me. others will follow tonight........

    triplets??? wow that's awesome you do have your hands full! It sounds so similar in a sense to my difficult child (gift from god) we refer to our kids here as. Was he tested or was it discussed the possibilty of an anxiety disorder also?? to have that many fears, and sleep issues sounds alot like anxiety also.

    Sleeping with them at least in my opinion is a bad habit to start. years ago we would assist my difficult child with sleep, we wouldn't "sleep" with her yet i'd rub her back, did some o.t. brushing etc. and it's been a hard habit to break....

    I think the idea of pursuing a 504 is a great idea, yet why not go for an iep?? the school will want to test him on emotional, pyschological, and educational levels..... yet an iep holds alot more weight than a 504. I have learned from experience. an iep is a legal document that they "have to" follow. You can write a letter to the special education dept. asking for a mtg. etc. to begin the process....

    As far as this teacher goes. .......that is hard. When a teacher expects what they expect with no understanding or level of empathy for a child. Why not ask the teacher to chunk the work out for him? it can be so overwhelming for kids like ours who are placed in a situation with a ton of work. they go into shutdown mode.

    As far as medications are concerned, i have on idea..... you can ask for generic which at times can help with prices. So, medicaid isnt' willing to cover any of the medications?? that's absurd and I wish I had an answer for you in regards to that. Hopefully someone else here will be able to help more.

    again welcome..... and again you are soo not alone. hang in there!!

    just an idea.... why not get a small book that you could use as a communication book between you and the teacher each day. also maybe you shoudl ask the teacher what ideas do you have as far as helping my child be able to reach his full potential??
  4. rlsnights

    rlsnights New Member

    OMG welcome to the board. Triplets??? Well congrats and boy I sure hope you guys have some help. Twins was intense - I can only imagine with triplets.

    Lose the pediatrician. Jeez. They should not (in my humble opinion) be prescribing mind altering substances to children as a general rule. You have a kid with severe anxiety. He needs therapeutic support and maybe medication support. The first is supplied by a therapist. The latter by a child psychiatrist. You need to skip the peds and go straight to the psychiatrist (psychiatrist). You can medicate his ADHD all you want but if he's extremely anxious I doubt it will make a significant difference in his ability to focus. That's because the real reason he can't focus now is ******anxiety ******* not ADHD. I'm not a doctor and could be totally wrong about that but it sure was true with my kid.

    I'm not sure if a neuropsychological evaluation is warranted with your kiddo. He has a lot going on in his life to overwhelm him what with younger triplet sibs.

    If he was already anxious and quirky, had any developmental delays in his milestones or language processing issues, sensory issues, perseverative behaviors (does the same thing over and over and over or makes the same demands over and over and over and over), cannot do transitions without exploding or losing it or any other odd behaviors then I think a neuropsychologist evaluation is in order.

    You could also talk this over with his therapist since you may not really remember what your son was like before you had the triplets. I know I hardly remember the first 2 years with my twins cause we were only getting 2 to 4 straight hours of sleep a night. If you kept a baby book or journal of his first couple years go back and read through that to see if you remarked on anything odd about his behavior then.

    A good neuropsychologist evaluation will give you a ton of information about your son's brain and the way it works and it will point to other areas that may need additional assessment like language processing. Since you're on medicaid it will probably be really hard to get a TAR for this unless he has some pretty serious issues but it never hurts to ask.

    I would ask your pharmacist about whether they have any suggestions for help with medication costs. Sometimes drug makers have special programs to help people pay for expensive medications. Once your psychiatrist has decided which type of medications are needed ask him if he can give you samples to start with or if he knows if there's a generic or if medicaid covers the medication he's prescribing. If he knows your situation he should be sympathetic and able to tailor his prescribing somewhat to generics and lower cost psychiatric medications.

    School -

    Your son should have an IEP not a 504. He needs modifications to his homework at the minimum. I suggest you write a letter to special education at the school district and request an assessment for special education. Your letter needs to tell they why you believe your son is a child with a disability who needs help in order to be able to benefit from his education (do not use phrases like "fulfill his potential"). Mention his diagnoses (Generalized Anxiety and related Insomnia? Depression? ADHD and anything else the therapist or psychiatrist can give him that might help you get him services/support) and describe your concerns.

    When you send the letter you need to make sure you have a way of proving that it was received. Someone can hand deliver it and have them date stamp it and give you a copy of the date stamped letter. You can send it express or certified or any delivery method that gets you a signature as proof of delivery. You can fax or e-mail it but I would back it up with a mailed copy that gets you proof of receipt.

    You should also give a copy to the principal and let them know you want your son assessed for Special Education.

    I would be concerned that he will soon begin school refusal (if he hasn't already) due to his anxiety and the homework b&ll. School refusal is a tough nut to crack once it starts so if you think or see that this is going to start happening/has already started I would mention that in your letter.

    In a nutshell the difference between a 504 plan and an IEP is accommodation vs. modification.

    A 504 plan levels the playing field by making accommodations that allow the student to do what everyone else is doing. If he can't focus in class perhaps he gets a written outline from the teacher to follow along as she lectures. He might be seated away from distractions like the door, pencil sharpener, trashcan, open windows. The teacher might touch his shoulder and have him repeat instructions to help make sure he got the info. The instruction and environment are basically unchanged. The curriculum is not modified.

    An IEP allows the student to learn the same basic things as everyone else but to some degree the curriculum is modified or changed to make it accessible to him. If his anxiety is making it very difficult for him to complete homework because he's afraid he's doing it wrong then his IEP might call for little or no homework. Or the amount he completes is accepted and graded based on the completed part without penalty for the incomplete sections. If his anxiety is causing sleep deprivation and the school environment is a source of anxiety (of course it is) then modifications to the length of his school day, the start time, or the environment are made. Perhaps placement in a smaller class or half day in the resource room with Special Education teacher would be needed. These kinds of modifications can only be done through an IEP.

    I know you are overwhelmed but you want to ask the school to do the Special Education assessment right away before the end of the school year gets here. It's unlikely they will complete a full assessment before the end of school or may just finish it at the end. You want to be well along in the process before 4th grade gets here. 4th grade is a time of big changes academically. The academic expectations take a big leap and kids who were barely making it before that - all of sudden it seems like they are tanking. And they are. You want to get ahead of that ball now.

    If you have more questions about the stuff with school you might want to post it in the Special Education 101 section.

    Hang in there. I hope you have a therapist of your own. But maybe just an extra hour of sleep a day would do you?


    Last edited: May 8, 2011
  5. Josie

    Josie Active Member

    I took my daughter for a neuropsychologist exam, thinking she had ADHD. The results showed that she was "easily distracted, hyper, and couldn't focus", but they thought it was anxiety and not ADHD.

    She eventually was diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) when her anxiety was more intense and obvious.

    She was afraid to sleep by herself, too. While I agree in principle that it isn't a good idea to start sleeping with them, I did end up sleeping with her. I intended to just lay down with her for a while, but I always fell asleep.

    We ended up taking her to an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) center and having her do CBT/ERP therapy. Basically, the idea was that she had to face her fear, do it anyway, and see that the anxiety would go away. At this time, she was afraid to be anywhere in the house by herself even.

    A few years before this, she was also afraid to sleep by herself. I would tuck her in, then tell her I would come check on her in a minute. Then, I really did go back in a minute. I would check on her over and over, eventually making the time a little longer. The idea was that she only had to hold on to her anxiety for a minute at a time. When she saw I really would come back, she was able to relax and go to sleep. The next night, I would wait a little longer between checks. I want to say it only took about a week or two of doing this, before she could stay in there and go to sleep on her own.

    It turns out that was pretty close to be CBT/ERP even though I didn't know it at the time.

    You could try using a similar approach on your own. You just have to make the time between checks short enough that his anxiety doesn't get overwhelming and he starts crying, screaming, or getting out of bed.

    I just read your post again and notice he is afraid of a lot of things. You might want to do some research on Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) to see if you think it fits. I had to figure it out myself and take my daughter to the right person even though we had been getting professional help. There is a yahoo group for parents of children with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) that you could read. Aureen Pinto Wagner's book "What to Do When Your Child Has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)" is also good and will describe the best way to help someone with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

    If it is anxiety and not ADHD, the ADHD medications could be making things worse. For Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), SSRI's are usually used. I agree that you need to find a psychiatrist and not rely on the pediatrician for these medications.