School troubles like never before

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by weatheringthestorm, Feb 16, 2008.

  1. weatheringthestorm

    weatheringthestorm New Member

    And here I'd been thinking he was doing so much better.... Turns out he'd been given 3 detentions in about a week. He of course lied about them and I didn't find out until I got the notice in the mail. He's a sophmore and these are his first detentions. But that's just the beginning. He's not doing his work again, not paying attention in school, etc. Even that isn't the big problem.

    Yesterday he had a major meltdown and ended up screaming and swearing at the dean. His high school has two campus'. He's at South Campus. He gets on his bus there and it first goes to North Campus to pick up kids before taking them all home. Most of his friends ride his bus. Apparently there was some commotion with them during the trip from South to North. He says they were wrestling over a paper and just goofing off. The bus driver decided they were really becoming a problem and radioed ahead to have security meet the bus. He says they all got up to get off the bus when they were told to, though they did protest because only two were wrestling around and they were kicking many more off the bus. The school said he at first refused to get off the bus. Security got them all off the bus. At some point he may have punched the bus or a bus window (no damage). He says the dean and bus driver were accusing them of doing much more than they had been doing and all the kids were getting upset about it. At some point he got so mad that he lost it and began screaming at her and swearing at her, throwing around the F word and the B word. They called the police.

    The police just took his name and birthdate and the kids were all allowed to walk home.

    The school got ahold of my husband and told him about this. They want us to go in Tues morning to meet and discuss his suspension and consequences. He told her to call me about the time for the meeting. She said she would. Of course she didn't and now we have no idea when it is we're supposed to meet with them. We're both going to have to go into work a little late to deal with this and I'm pretty annoyed to not know when we're meeting on something so serious. I guess we'll just show up at 7 and hope someone is there.

    difficult child has never been in this kind of trouble in school before. He has these kinds of metdowns with us, but has never had one at school before. In his two years of high school he's had one fight and these 3 detentions before this. Of course, everything has been from this year. He didn't get into any kind of trouble last year.

    I really can't believe he did this. This sort of thing is taken very seriously by his school. I figure he's going to get at least a two week suspension, maybe more. I dread the meeting. What does one say when their kid has done this? I know it could be a lot worse and that many have kids who have done worse. Bt, this feels really big.

    Between the academic complaints and the behavior I'm now wondering if his medications are working. They had seemed to be working so well. He said he completely lost control of himself and he doesn't remember everything that he said or was said to him.

    It's just more stress....... Suspension means missed instruction and assignments, possibley being dropped out of driver's ed which means we'll have to pay for it again! Ahhh!
  2. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator

    I'm really sorry you're going through this with your difficult child.

    What medications/doses is he taking? Have there been increases lately?

    FWIW, my son's difficulties were always at home until this year (he's a freshman in high school). When the troubles spilled over into school around Thanksgiving, school officials and we agreed that he needed more intensive treatment before being allowed back at school. We placed him in a day treatment program at a local psychiatric hospital for 6 weeks to straighten out his medications. He's doing a whole lot better these days.

    Can you talk to your psychiatrist before the meeting Tuesday to see what he/she might recommend as a way to demonstrate to the school that you are taking this behavior very seriously? It really sounds to me as if your difficult child needs more professional help than he's currently getting.

    I hope you are able to figure out a solution soon. Hugs.
  3. happymomof2

    happymomof2 New Member

    My son was also having trouble before Thanksgiving. He wasn't on medications but I talked the guidance counselor into helping me keep him at home from then until T-giving break was over because I had started him on a natural medication called Attend.

    Well he then got himself arrested - so I continued to keep him home through Christmas break. Anyway he is back at school now and is doing so much better. I don't think it's just the Attend he is taking (but I know it is helping) I think part of it is he has met some new friends and has a bigger desire now to get out of Special Education. Oh yea, and he really didn't like being home schooled during the time he was out.

    I know it's hard - I would use this time, if he is suspended to see about getting his medications changed/adjusted.

    Hang in there.
  4. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I'm sorry he is struggling. I'd be ticked that they didn't call you with a meeting time.
  5. KitKat

    KitKat Looking for Answers

    You might want to really sit down with him and tell him that you're having a meeting with the school and that you'd really like to have his (truthful) side before the meeting happens on Monday (whether or not it happens is immaterial at the moment). If he knows his parents are listening, whether his actions were good or bad, he might open up.

    I go through this with my stepson's school all the time, and I've let them know that I am aware that he can do nothing without them making a federal case out of it. The school is very, very hard on him (not for no reason, but they do make mountains out of molehills because of historical data). Is it possible that this is the case with your son?

    This is an aside from any concerns regarding medications, etc. I just wondered, because my stepson is persecuted on many occasions when another "normal" kid who exhibited the same behaviour would not have been treated the same...
    Stay strong...
  6. happymomof2

    happymomof2 New Member

    I thought I was the only one who noticed this! They do that to my son as well. Why do our kids get slammed more for the same behavior as "normal" kids?
  7. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    We actually taught our difficult child boys - "You have to be even more careful than other kids, to be not seen doing the wrong thing. Other kids can misbehave and it's put down to kids being kids. You guys misbehave and they immediately assume it's because you are weird, or dangerous. And you are NOT dangerous. So don't give anybody anything to be even the slightest bit critical of you, if you want me to be able to protect you from the really nasty kids around who will try to get you into trouble. The world is an unfair place. It's not right, but get used to it."

    About your son's sudden worsening this year - it may not be medications, or anything coming from your son. What other changes are there this year? Is there a different teacher who is perhaps more rigid? A new bully? You need to consider ALL possibilities. It's too easy, even for us parents, to immediately blame OUR kid.

  8. weatheringthestorm

    weatheringthestorm New Member

    Thanks for all the advice. No one ever called us about meeting. I assume he's not supposed to go to school Tues, but no one has contacted us to say for sure. I doubt they want me to just send him to school like normal on Tues. I'm not real sure what to do come Tues morning. Do we just go to the school with him and wait for someone to see us? Do we wait and schedule a meeting on Wed? I'm sure scheduling a meeting will result in my husband and I having to take less time off of work.

    I intend to call his psychiatrist first thing Monday morning. I don't know what she'll have to add, but it can't hurt. If the school tries to go too far with this we might need her on our side. The school is aware of his problems but his IEP is only for ADD because the psychiatrist wants to avoid having bi-polar, etc on his school docs. She says she's had too many of her patients singled out and discrminated against because of a record of mental illness, especially following the Virginia Tech shootings. Until now he was only having academic problems and not behavior problems. So, only having ADD on the IEP was ok.

    I do feel like his sophmore assistant principal has it in for him. She dealt with him for his first high school fight and first time being in trouble. He readily admitted to his part in things, was respectful, took his suspension with-o any conflict, etc. However, he would not say he was sorry he hit the other boy or that he could have dealt with the situation another way. Then in an IEP meeting a couple of weeks later she asked if he still thought the fight had solved the problem. He very politely said he did, the boy hasn't made anymore rude remarks about his mother. (The other kid had been saying things about me - he doesn't know me - that were, shall we say, rude for a two days during math class. At the end of the second class he waited for the kid to leave the class room and started hitting him.) Since then it seems as though she's had him marked as a bad seed. BUT, she wasn't the one that dealth with this whole bus thing and wasn't the one who he cussed out.

    As far as medications go he's taking the following: Wellbutrin, 200mg 2 x's a day, Seraquel, 25 mg 2 x's a day, Aderall 25 mg, Allegra 180mg, a multi vitamin, and Flaxseed oil. He went up to the higher dose of Wellbutrin about a week or two before Christmas. It seemed to have made a world of difference. Until this last week it's been great. He studied hard for finals, got good grades, was pleasant to be around, etc.

    We did tell him that we were all going to meet and that he had better admit to everything because we didn't want any surprises. He admitted to so much I'm REALLY hoping it's everything! He said he lost his cool and was screaming and swearing at the assistant principal for that campus.
  9. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator

    The normal adult dosing for Wellbutrin is 300 mg a day (although maximum allowed is 450 mg). Wellbutrin is not approved for use by children. That means your difficult child is on a hefty dose of Wellbutrin for an adult, which could cause the loss of control you're describing. Furthermore, Wellbutrin typically takes 4 weeks or longer to kick in, which may be why you're just seeing your difficult child's reactions now.

    What makes your difficult child's psychiatrist think he has bipolar disorder? And why, if she thinks he has bipolar disorder, is she not prescribing medications that treat bipolar disorder? Bipolar disorder is generally treated with a combination of mood stabilizers and atypical antipsychotics. Your difficult child is taking medications that treat unipolar depression and ADHD. The low dose of the antipsychotic Seroquel is not enough to offset the bad effects of ADs and stimulants in a teen with BiPolar (BP). In your shoes, I would seriously question the medications your difficult child is taking.
  10. galadriel

    galadriel Guest

    We JUST went through something very very similar with our son who will be 16 next month. He's diagnosed with Anxiety Disorder and non-hyper ADD. He may very well be bi-polar but just like your situation, the psychiatrist didn't want that on his record. He's on 100 mg. Seroquel split into 2 doses am/PM. He's on Concerta. He's just going back to school after a two week suspension for saying "Sure thing" when his "best friend" suggested they leave HS campus and smoke a joint over lunch. Our school has a strict no drugs policy so it was an automatic "Come and get him, he's out for 5 days" NY Law requires a Superintendent's hearing within that time, they must notify you by certified mailing. Can you go on line and check your State's Education Law? My kid had the right to an attorney for his hearing but chose not to.

    My recommendation for dealing with the school system is to stay proactive, professional and calm, explain what services you have in place for your son, and ask what they can do for you while your boy is suspended. In NY, if the kid is under 16 they must provide a free tutor. I'm going to assume that state laws are similar, they cannot send them out without providing them their right to an education despite the punishment.

    Before you go to your hearing/meeting (call them and find out when it is) make some notes, I felt better being prepared. I asked them to provide my kid's attendance records and grades since Sept, and then made it a point to show them how he brought his GPA up 22 points since going on his medications in Nov. Anything you can present to show that a) he's working on it and b) you're there for him. I try and see it from their side of things - they're trying to keep X-hundred teenagers of all description in line for 6 hours a day!

    We never got the chance to go over the event at all, they pretty much had him dead to rights as he confessed on the day it happened. Besides, it was a relief not to have to re-hash it, instead to look forward.

    My husband asked them what they recommended for parents that both worked with a kid suspended, at home unsupervised all day. They are planning an off-site detention classroom for next year. The superintendent then spoke up and volunteered to allow difficult child to come to the Elementary building three mornings a week (tutor was t/th) and help the custodians there. He did it! It gave him something positive to do instead of sit around on "vacation". Maybe your school system would entertain such an idea.

    I would definitely agree with other posters that a medication check is in order - we upped difficult child's Seroquel level during this time and it really helped him. Mine doesn't remember it when he "loses it" and when he's raging you can see it in his eyes, he is not altogether there! The Seroquel really helps with this.

    Hang in there, I certainly can empathize with your situation.
  11. weatheringthestorm

    weatheringthestorm New Member

    Well, I finally got a response from the HS Tues morning after I got to work. They wanted to meet that day, but I explained that we had to have some kind of notice as we both work. We met with them the next morning before work.

    They offered him a 5 day suspension if he'd agree to take 4, one hour anger management sessions that the school is willing to pay for. Otherwise he'd have to serve a 10 day suspension. After laying out the consequences he'd have with both options (we had to promise a REALLY long grounding if he refused the classes) he decided he'd take the classes and only be suspended for five days. The meeting with the assistant principal he cussed out and his sophmore asst. princ. went rather well. I had been concerned about it, thinking they might try to make too big a thing out of it. They didn't.

    When the dean said something about his not being able to handle conflict or perceived unfair treatment calmly he responded that he did it all the time. She then asked what was different about this time. He said he was just mad that day, nothing had really happened before, but he was just in a mad mood. That really described him. When the moods, etc are under control he can handle most things. Maybe not as well as the average kid, but ok. When the moods and stuff aren't under control he just can't regulate his emotions and he loses it quickly.

    Anyway, this suspension adds up to 10 days suspended this year so we have to have a manifestation meeting for his IEP. We're doing that Wed afternoon. The Special Education director was really on top of this. Within 3 hours of him having received his suspension she emailed me about meeting. There is no way they'll be able to show that his getting into trouble was not a manifestation of his disability.

    I'm hoping to add the bipolar to his IEP. Since it really seems to be affecting his behavior now I don't see much of a choice. While it could lead to the possibility of some kind of future discrimination it will also help protect him from himself.

    All of this depends on actually getting a hold of his psychiatrist. I have left multiple messages, emailed, and even faxed the emails to the office. I've been trying to get in touch with her since Monday!!! I'm really getting fed up. I'm thinking of switching doctors. I'm not totally convinced his medications are being managed properly and if I can't get in touch with her when there is a problem.....

    As far as the dose of WEllbutin that he's on.... he's adult sized. He's just shy of 6 feet and somewhere around 260 pounds. It took the higher dose to see an improvement in the depression side of things. He was on it for 8 weeks before this big issue. The reason we went with the AD and the Seraquel was because he's really sensitive to the side effects of medications and he's really against taking any kind of medication for anything. The only way we can get him to take the medications is to give him medications with few side effects. Therefore we decided to try these first since the other more standard bipolar medications have more severe and more common side effects. Not to mention the fact that he just isn't going to take anything that requires regular bloodwork. That will just help him to feel that the medications really are harmful. Even I want to try increasing the Seraquel before we try some of the others. We've tried several different AD's and Abilify in the past. He couldn't adjust to the side effects. I like him best on Abilify, but he won't take it again. I'm really hoping to adjust his medications SOON!

    Oh, he is allowed to do all the work he missed. He emailed his teachers to get all the work he could do at home. The rest of it he'll be able to make up by staying after. To keep him from enjoying his time off I made him show me the completed school work everyday, he had very long chore lists, and he spent several days at his grandma's mudding drywall and doing other odd jobs for them. So, he's at least been busy and not catching up on his MTV viewing.
  12. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator

    If he truly has bipolar disorder and presents on the depressive end, he might do better both with a higher dose of Seroquel (my own son takes 800 mg for severe anxiety and depression plus mania) and with Lamictal, a mood stabilizer that is weight-neutral, has very few side effects and does not require blood draws. I have two kids who have done very well on it.

    by the way, some kids do well on antidepressants and then have side effects later (between 3 weeks and 3 months). I still maintain that could have happened with your difficult child.

    Good luck with the school.
  13. weatheringthestorm

    weatheringthestorm New Member

    Thanks for the info. I find it very helpful as I'm still rather new with this. I will speak to the doctor about both medications. After I get the IEP situation straightened out I"m going to look for a new doctor. It just can't take a week or more to return my call.