New Poster--I'm at a loss

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by lovejud, Feb 27, 2008.

  1. lovejud

    lovejud MovingOn

    Hi--I've been reading for about a month and have been needing to post for sometime, but finally here I am after midnight trying to find someone to relate. I know that ya'll can.

    My son,"A", is 6 y.o. and just got "indefinitely suspended" from his private school, kindergarten. He has been having what I considered minor issues (at least that is what was reported to me) since school started. Things tapered off in October and were stable meaning no incidents were reported to me. After Christmas break, things escalated--several notes home and two suspensions (one formal and one informal) later, I called the school to set up another conference (this would be the third this year) to hopefully take a proactive stance and brainstorm some ways to assist him through the last two and a half months of the school year. My husband and I got to the meeting (with A's teacher, the preschool principal, and the elementary principal) and instead of having a meeting of how to help A, we were blindsided with the news that they do not have the resources to handle him and his psychological problems and that he doesn't fit into their school. The best that we could work out through our shock was that as of Friday he would be indefinitely suspended pending new psychological diagnosis, medication, therapy, etc.--the works. And not to contact them again until all has been completed and then if they could work with him and his "issues" they might considered starting him in first grade. At this point we are not really considering this, as he has been branded by this school.

    At this point, I guess, I need to give a little background. "A" is currently in foster care. I have had him for a little over 4 years and we are in the process of adopting him. A little medical background--born 29 wks, without prenatal care, and with his biological mother admitting to speed and marijuana use (who knows what else) during pregnancy. Has no memory of bio mother, bio father came back into his life for about a year from age 4-5, then disappeared. Has been in counseling since Nov. 06, minimal testing done before starting this (I have a learned a lot from this forum since Jan.). I have since requested further testing from counseling group, and pediatrician; have contacted local public school district for resources, and am looking for closest neuropsychologist. "A" was slow to talk--but once speech therapy started at 2.5 he picked up well and now talks nonstop. Very active (everyone immediately jumps to ADHD), definitely all boy, difficulty handling all emotions (esp. frustration, anger, and sadness), moody, and recently very argumentative and openly defiant. But on the flip side--extremely loving, sincere in his apologies (once he has calmed down), very smart and a heavy thinker (you can almost see the gears moving in his head), and very protective and not once aggresive against his 15 month old sister. I should probably mention that he had strept throat over New Year's. Before Christmas break, he didn't seem as argumentative but was still whining alot and "throwing fits". Hasn't been aggressive at home in a couple of years--but school says has had two episodes of violence, hence the suspensions. I have yet to get a complete story from the adults involved. First episode resulted in him kicking the trashcan in the office and then pulling out a book that was in the trash and ripping it up. Second, was he tipped over 20 or so kindergarten size chairs in the classroom (the other kids were already on the playground; he had been held back because he was losing it and was being disciplined). How does stuff like that happen if the child is being supervised? But supposedly he has instilled fear in the other kids in the classroom due to this behavior. Since in our home, he has seen several major changes--Hubby and I got married, we had a new baby, and now expecting another. Psychologist thinks that everything stems from adjustment disorder and anxiety. He doesn't recommend medications though. And because of the pressure from school, I've asked him several times over the school year. I'm on the fence about medications. I'm a nurse and I definitely feel that there is a place for medications if necessary, but I also don't feel like the hit or miss strategy that many practictioners take with medications is appropriate. Based on the evaluations that the teacher and I just filled out for the pediatrician, I know that they will recommend medicating for ADHD. But I don't want to jump the gun--because I know if it truly is another issue (I'm leaning toward ODD or anxiety or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) or a combination of all) that those medications might not be appropriate. I have started eliminating red and yellow dyes from his diet, watching what he eats, and I read The Explosive Child and am working on Your Defiant Child.

    I sorta feel o.k. about this "indefinite suspension", even though I don't like the way they went about doing it. But if legal, it won't go down as expulsion from kindergarten on his record. He is still listed on role at school so I don't have to worry about finding him a new school and exposing him to all those issues of fitting in for 2.5 months. His teacher assured us that he had excelled in his learning so therefore they would not fail him for kindergarten. And I don't have to continue exposing him to an environment that was keeping him in a constant state of upheaval. I should note though that I thought that we were on the uphill of this current episode, since he had had a good last 5 days. But as you well know, you don't know when the next episode will occur. But is all this legal? Shouldn't they be required to at least attempt something formal to help? Or is it just discrimination of a foster child "who will always be a problem"? I don't know anything about all that. I'm just feeling in the dark.

    Sorry so long. Thanks for the vent. Anything that anyone can think of would be appreciated.
  2. pepperidge

    pepperidge New Member

    First of all welcome. I will reread your post again, there is a lot there. So please excuse me if I don't do it justice.

    From you description of your son, he reminds me a lot of my second--adopted, with a diagnosis among other things of fetal alcohol. Speech delay too. We had a full workup done when my son was sixteen months by a developmental pediatrician, who made the diagnosis based on facial features and what we knew of birthmother's history. We don't know what she did when she was pregnant, but she did have a history of alcohol and substance abuse.

    I only bring this up because I think it is an important diagnosis to have someone look at and rule in or out. We got caught up later in trying to treat what we thought were more psychiatric disorders, when they fit much better with Fetal Alcohol Effects (FAE). We thought perhaps he might be bipolar for a while, but really that didn't fit very well as a diagnosis. Fetal Alcohol Effects (FAE) children are notoriously difficult to medicate. And to change through therapy and counseling.

    It sounds like you have got some great resources at your disposal. You can learn a great deal from reading many of the posts on the board.

    More later,

  3. lovejud

    lovejud MovingOn

    Thanks pepperidge
    I was hoping for a reply before I tried to sleep again. I have thought of Fetal Alcohol Effects (FAE) and will mention at pediatrician's. And does anyone have any idea how I might break this to my son? As of today he "loves his school".
  4. timer lady

    timer lady Queen of Hearts

    Honey, at your son's age - this is a new adventure! What was going on at the last school didn't work - let try something new!

    Make it a positive for your difficult child; something for him to be excited about. Because a group of "professionals" cannot handle a child with emotional/mental/physcial disabilities doesn't mean it's the child's fault - the professionals need more training. Of course, at this point in time difficult child doesn't need to know that.

    Good luck in the transition. Get every & test & evaluation completed as you can. Do it early. Keep in mind one diagnosis today, could change tomorrow.

    by the way, my twin difficult children, are not ADHD - though you couldn't tell it my looking at them. Their trauma & anxiety is pushing the level of activity & movement they are forever displyaing.

    I'd be soooo skinny if my body moved like that.
  5. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    HI and welcome here!
    I did foster care and adopted. Frankly, since we don't know our children's biological background or exactly what garbage they were exposed to in utero, our kids are hard to diagnose. I agree that fetal alcohol could be part of this, however Fetal Alcohol Effects (FAE) kids don't "get" cause and effect. I thought my son had Fetal Alcohol Effects (FAE) too, but, now at fourteen, it's clear he dodged that bullet. He's on the high functioning autism spectrum, which was probably due to his birthmom's drug usage during pregnancy, but who knows? It did take us eleven years to get the right diagnosis. I think it's smart not to job at medications right away. Actually, since your child has a complicated birth history, I'd take this child to a neuropsychologist. They do intensive testing, which other professionals don't do, and spot problems others miss. That's where we had the most luck. ODD rarely stands alone--all of our kids have ODD symptoms, but they're caused by a bigger disorder. Once it's treated, it often gets better or even goes away (my son has no more behavioral issues now that we understand him). I wish you luck :)
  6. pepperidge

    pepperidge New Member

    ON the school thing, just say, we are moving on to find someplace that might be a better fit. At your son's age, I think the most important thing is to maintain the mindset that kids do well if they can (explosive child?) and that he was doing the best he was capable of doing. He just needs a better environment that understands his needs and capabilities better.

    In my experience (and probably most of the people on this board) pediatricians don't really have the training to deal with our kids issues. At best they can medicate for ADHD. We wasted a great deal of time (and made some bad medication decisions) by sticking with our pediatrician when when should have seen a child psychiatrist early on, especially for our oldest. On the other hand, we had a good pediatrician when my kids were very young who sent us to a developmental pediatrician.

    That said, many of us have also had mixed experiences with psychiatrists (psychiatrists) and even neuropsychologists. Unfortunately in this area, there is so much grey area--medication trials are unfortunately the norm, as are psychiatrist trials. It sometimes takes time to find one with an open mind and the level of psychopharmological experience needed.

    What is important is your own gut instinct that something is wrong. It may be ADHD, or it may be something in addition or something other. I would urge you at this point to get the most sophisticated level of diagnostic input that you can, preferably from a team of professionals.

    And I understand your reluctance with drugs--most of us have been equally reluctant as well. However, for some us medications have truly given our children a chance at childhood. But yes, the efforts to find the right medications have been frustrating and terrible.

    I think though that you are on the right track to question the simple diagnosis of ADHD and the medication trials--it is definitely worth looking into more given your child's background. That said, the simple ADHD medications can be trialed relatively easily and quickly. When they help - and here I speak from experience of one child who is helped enormously and one child for whom they didn't work at all for--both of whom diagnosis initially as ADHD--they can almost seem likely miracles.

    One thing that many of us have also found is that it also pays to take some time to assemble info, take notes etc. I have forgotten now some of my children's developmental histories etc. Make up notebooks with all the relevant info--it may save you some time later, because as you probably have already learned, whatever else, you are embarking on an endless cycle of filling out reports etc.

    good luck. hope we can help you along the journey.
  7. 'Chelle

    'Chelle Active Member

    Hi lovejud. Don't know about the school thing being legal, being a private school might make the rules different. I would suggest you also post on the Spec. Easy Child. forum and see what advice they might have for you there, in case they don't see your post here.

    I would suggest trying to get your difficult child in for a multi-disciplinary evaluation if you can. They mention on the FAQ forum what this is and where you might get one. Pediatricians aren't generally trained for mental health issues, and with your difficult child's background he could have many things to look at that could be causing his behaviors. And I agree about the medications, if you don't really have a diagnosis that you think fits, then you could just be shooting in a barrell to try get a medication that might work.

    Welcome to a wonderful site, and I hope we can give you the support and good advice or an ear to vent to when you need it. :welcomehome:
  8. lovejud

    lovejud MovingOn

    Thanks for all the replies--A had great day yesterday and today. I told him last night about today being his last day from school right now. Told him that we would be going to a lot of appts coming up and it would make it easier for everyone if he was doing his school at home like his friend, Cindy, who homeschools. He took it well. With the new baby coming in a few weeks, I stressed some that he would be home to spend time with all of us. I know that he would have had trouble with that first few weeks of my maternity leave going to school anyways, when everyone else was at home. So he went to school today and told the class that he needed to stay home and help me with the new baby. I think on some level he connects his behavior to the staying home, even though I've made sure that we didn't push this as being punishment, because last night he called me into his room and said that he would try to be on his best behavior today since I was going to let him stay home from school. It almost made me cry--for him to think of himself as such a bad kid and not feeling like he has the ability to change things. but on the other side of it--he seemed almost relieved to not have to face the pressures of school. I made a promise then and there to myself to use this time to work on his self-esteem that has taken a pounding these last two months.

    We have a appointment scheduled with the pediatrician for Mar. 7--since were at home anyways, I'm going to delay their probable recommendation for medications and push for a referral to a neuropysch in nearest large city. and the psychology group has made appointment for further testing on Mar. 14. They said they would include some neuro testing, but I don't think this guy is true neuropsychologist, I've got to investigate.
  9. olemissreb85

    olemissreb85 New Member

    Your situation is very similar to what I went through with my 6th grader. Private school informed me on a Friday afternoon at 3pm that I was to home study my difficult child until he got a psycho ed evaluation and the admin at the school talked to the dr. that performed the evaluation. This is legal for a private school - they do not have to abide by the same regulations regarding behaviour that a public school does. Originally, difficult child was not going to be allowed to rejoin his classmates until after Christmas break. I made sure that all the testing was done and results were to the school within 6 weeks of "informal suspension". By week 7, he was back in school.

    evaluation showed ADD, ODD and mildly elevated levels of anxiety and depression. Dr. thought the latter 2 might be situational. We did start difficult child on Concerta and he is doing wonderfully. I have decided to keep my son in the private school because his teachers have been wonderful in working with me through the home study period and as we adjust medication. They are genuinely concerned with his mental well being as they are with his education. His class size is small - 6 kids of which he is the only male - so this helps.

    Personally, if your son likes the school he is in, I would try to do what is necessary to keep him there. If there is a huge personality clash between you and the administration where trust is an issue, then that might be a different story and I would explain that to your son. I have a few trust issues with the Headmaster of my son's school, but the teachers more than make up for that.

    Hope this helps.