Things are starting to fall apart here....(kind of long)

i am SO sorry in advance--i feel like i write a novel when i post here...brevity is not my strong suit!

but as usual, not sure exactly what i'm seeing with difficult child 2, but its not good.

we increased focalin before xmas. we started the slow wean of abilify after xmas--only a 5mg decrease.


school just called. they want a meeting on friday. apparently, mine had a rough week before xmas. teachers report her behavior/odd-ish behavior starting that week. i'm just finding that out today...but i wasnt overly alarmed by that fact....lots of kids have overload the week before a holiday, and they were pretty off the typical schedule with parties and assemblies.

i was actually too embarrassed to post this (why, I don't know, i know you've heard it all)...but our home xmas was a Disaster. she apparently thought it was a *plan* to wake up and sneak around and open all her gifts *before* the rest of us got up. her explanaton was that she couldnt wait, and thought she'd get in trouble for waking us up. it resulted it screaming/punishing/etc and the natural consequence of not getting her "big gift"-a laptop. it was a miserable day--i would have chalked it up to excitement/impulse control, except for the sneakiness--and the fact she's 12, not 3...but obviously there was a self serving component within her control.

so vacation kind of wasnt that great here. she was pretty off routine, we ate horribly, and we did much of nothing...but the focalin increase seemed to give her amazing concentration...she finished a bunch of craft projects (could have been just out of boredom thanks to total computer punishment). i chalked her mild irritability up to all that and not managing her rebound as well as i could. she was slightly louder and hyped up over the break day i did give her a 5mg booster dose since she was on my last nerve, but again, i kind of figured it was the combo of break/impulsivity/lack of routine.


so she goes back to school yesterday.

and is assigned the literal mother of all projects....this complex "research" thesis paper...and had to pick from goofy topics she (nor i) know nothing about. various deadlines, index cards, outlines, bibliographies, the works (and this odd scavenger hunt tossed in for who knows why--presumably to teach library skills, of which no one in her class has set foot in, ever).

this is spED. its the highest level, meant for kids who are pretty acadamically on target, but need small group placement for various reasons.

she has an IEP. she has documented dysgraphia and output issues. is her IEP being followed/working for her--probably not so much. modification is not this teachers strong suit--her belief is that in her class, you need to *DO THE WORK* :headdesk:. until now, i was thrilled with the level of homework--a very reasonable 10 math problems/day, one or two typical type projects, a current event she hasnt really had to "buckle down" and do work.

(i probably dont need to type this part, and i KNEW it was coming, lol)

meltdown in class today.

in my opinion, *COMPLETELY* anxiety related--not a doubt in my mind she is overwhelmed with the mere thought of the assignment, let alone doing it.

she wanted to change her topic to something she knows well, but not on the list. either she obsessed over it all day and realized better the devil you know, *or* the teacher said something like "you should have some interest in your topic"....blam!

so they want to meet with me to figure out how t o "manage her" better. the guidance counselor SPECIFICALLY mentioned "homeschool"--i'm giving the benefit of the doubt that it was a slip of the tongue, because umm. not remotely on the table. i've been looking for private options for her and cant seem to find anything close enough that would come close to being choices are limited to the extremely low functioning or the serious juvenile offenders. i think, for her, middle school is a particularly difficult route, and am slowly realizing she needs more targeted help, i just dont know exactly where to get it.

we had a therapist appointment this afternoon (which got canceled this very second, normally i'd be thrilled, but i kind of wanted to talk about it!) and a psychiatrist appointment tomorrow, and then school meeting fri...i need some smart brains to give me a hand here....

so if you read this far, THANKS, lol!

i guess my questions are:

1. holiday related or medication related...i see a huge ramp up in anxiety...but i dont really, truly know what mania looks like in i'm not sure if the focalin is causing mania-like behavior or not (its pretty much a miracle for focusing for her--she does appear to have true, stand alone adhd that has never "fallen away" with tx). or do i consider getting her lamictal raised, if the anxiety is breaking through again? she had been managing decently (comparatively) until now.

2. is this a typical middle school assignment and how would you modify it?? it came home complete with rubric...honestly, its type of paper i did to graduate my senior year, not 7th grade.

3. now what?

:white flag:


Shooting from the Hip

Yeah... Jett's Christmas project was more high school - LATE high school - than 7th grade. Clearly meant to obtain parent involvement.

I don't have any words of wisdom, but... I'm here!

...And the meltdown? Yeah. Normal.


Shooting from the Hip
Yeah... I do.

It's almost as if the teachers don't think the kids' parents have enough to do (OK, perhaps a few don't, but c'mon, I work longer hours than the kid is in school)...


I dont have any suggestions on the other "stuff", but I do with the school work.

I would write a request directly on the instruction sheet asking for this project to be modified in accordance with difficult child's IEP with revised instruction being sent home by xx/xx/xx. Keep a copy and return the sheet to the teacher.

Or (what I have done) is re-write the instructions and send a copy with a letter explaining how I will modified the project so it will comply with (my) difficult child's IEP. Period. Almost daring them to challenge me!

I would also send a copy to the SpEd case worker at the school. You should not have to modify your difficult child's school work so it complies with her IEP... that's the teacher's job!! But it seems we have to do the teacher's job too!


Well-Known Member
I have a couple questions and comments.

First of all, anxiety was, and is now to a degree, 85% responsible for my difficult child's frustration which, if left unchecked or handled incorrectly, led to meltdowns, rages, and shutdowns. Anxiety is tough because it can present itself as noncompliance or defiance to the untrained or unknowing eye.

Most difficult children on this board experience anxiety and stress during the holidays, especially Christmas (my difficult child is so dared happy to get a break from school that he's never experienced holiday issues). It's tough to pinpoint, since the recent medication change, what is medication related and what is difficult child related with your daughter. I'm pretty confident though that the opening of gifts without the family is something she knew was inappropriate and I believe you were right to give consequences for that issue.

In regards to the assignment -- have they been walked through the outline, index card, and bibliography lessons in class? I can tell you that my difficult child would have definately needed parental involvement on that one! He's a high school sophomore and would still need some direction at home on that assignment!!!!!! My easy child, on the other hand, went to a very highly competitive and rigorous middle school and this was the type of work she was called to do on a regular basis. My son attends public school. No way could he have handled the academics without anxiety ruling the day!

I believe I would speak to the Special Education teacher on this one. What kind of modifications and/or accommodations does she have in her IEP for something like this? Obviously there are going to be times our difficult children are going to have to do school work that is uninteresting, but with anxiety an issue in this case, I would make the case for a change in subject matter.



New Member
HUGS, my son didn't quite do that but my step mom on Christmas eve, wants the presents all passed out, then wants the kids to go one by one opening one gift at a time (in the number they are ordered on the tags). she wants pics. I get that but we have had this struggle for the last few years that she has done this. Before there was not the problem. Now they already had to wait till we ate dinner and everyone was done and we cleaned up.

so he got his pile and then when told he can't rip in, started swearing at ME, then everyone then he just ripped them all apart. I just didn't say anything. she made some comment about now I guess he doesn't get his picture taken etc. Of course after he was all, sorry mom, that was too hard etc. but i was frustrated with him, he knew better....that is never the question, the thing is even when he knows better his impulse control issues and anxiety just take over.

so I have to think to myself, is it really worth making this be a big issue. After all, there is no doubt we have tons of issues. This is just nto even a b basket thing for me.


I agree with a couple of the other posts. My kids just had to write a type of research paper. They had to do a bibliography, which is very easy to do. They were supposed to do index cards while they read the sources but they took notes in a notebook instead. Before they wrote the paper, they read through JUST their notes and started writing. difficult child 1 actually got an A on it. He had 2 weeks to complete it. His IEP specifies that "alternate topics for Language Arts writing assignments can be decided upon" since the skill is the research and writing parts of it, not the actual content. His IEP also stipulated that he be given extra time to complete assignments. BUT, if that isn't spelled out in the IEP, I don't know that the accommodations would have been made.

As for meeting after a long break for something that happened before break.... UH NO!!!! Our sd tried that and I simply said it was THEIR fault for not dealing with it before break and punishing difficult child 1 after so long was not going to teach him anything.

I can totally understand your difficult child's ANXIETY over such a huge project. difficult child 1 has the same issue. He looks at the WHOLE thing and stresses. In your case, I would do as Justour2boys said
I would write a request directly on the instruction sheet asking for this project to be modified in accordance with difficult child's IEP with revised instruction being sent home by xx/xx/xx. Keep a copy and return the sheet to the teacher.
but I would cc a copy to the SpEd Director AND the principal as well. Make sure those that count know what is going on.

What kinds of accommodations are in difficult child's IEP when it comes to written assignments and assignments overall? Otherwise, YOU might have to break it down into smaller tasks and have her do them 1 at a time like I did with difficult child 1. If it takes longer, oh well, they had better not dock her grade for it being late. If they do, fight like h****.


Holy ****! I'm sorry, but I think the assignment is INSANE. When I was in school, I was a very good student, went to a somewhat accelerated private school, and was in Honors English - even I didn't have an assignment like that until 10TH GRADE. Everyone else who wasn't in Honors English didn't do a research paper like that until 11th grade!

If my difficult child (8th grade) came home with an assignment like that, I would FLIP. There is NO WAY she could do it unless someone pretty much did it FOR her. No way whatsoever.

Geesh. I don't have advice other than what others have suggested, but I do agree that the assignment is way over the top.
thanks everyone--that helped immensely.

her iep is on the generic side, since we had a natural district change and the PLAN was to call a meeting a month in...of course that PLAN changed because there was "no real need" since she had "an amazingly good transition" and was "academically shining" so i let it go---hey, i was hoping the change was a great thing and life would be better. oh, and did i mention said meeting calling counselor called me in the beginning of december looking to discharge her aide (who is useless) since she was doing so well??

she does have modified assignments, extra time, reduced written work, yada yada--none of which have been done, or needed to be. like i said, this is the first real massive assignment of the year and i had no idea this was something they do at this level. the assignment is already broken down into chunks which is good (packet is around 20 pages long!)--the subject matter is what it is, and no, they havent learned the "parts" even yet--so she sees 25 notecards and bibligraphies, and outlines and typed paper and on and on and probably picked up on my WTF anxiety and well, there you go.

i love the idea to put in writing that the subject is irrelevent...actually, the topic she wanted to change to probably would have been a uni-level paper if she could find the resources to back it up, lol...and she'd be wayyyy more motivated.

apparently todays issue was more of a "shiny things syndrome" was her first time in the library and she felt the need to check it out instead of paying attention to todays lesson (sigh, already behind). she did say she "couldnt help herself" and knows she did the wrong thing....but in the course of getting in trouble over it.....



thats pretty gigantic for her. GINORMOUS in fact....she had to use her skills to do it, and while she was angry, didnt burst out crying in the library...she waited til she got there.

(sidenote: i asked if he helped her and she said not really. she said "i was trying to tell him stuff" (HUGE) and all he kept saying was "the world does not revolve around you"....:headdesk: )

so...i've taken a deep breath until friday's meeting. i've decided its all probably situational anxiety/overwhelmed stuff right now. i'll talk to the psychiatrist tomorrow, but my gut is saying we need to stay the course and wait until all this school stuff passes and then decide if its a medication issue--these whole two weeks are out of the ordinary, Know what I mean??

it always helps to come here. your perspectives help a ton. sometimes its hard to see clearly when i'm so close to the situation---i spend my own anxious hours turning over every stupid thing of the last two weeks--difficult child stuff/typical teen stuff/medication stuff/school stuff--i'm lucky my own head didnt explode, LOL.

so you guys are the best!


Well-Known Member
Oh, dear, why do all of us parents have to repeat school? Sigh.

I hear you.

Don't know what to say about Christmas, other than, thank d*G it's over with.

Many hugs. Wish I had some advice.:Grouphug:

that was *MY* reaction too... i was in honors english too and this is the equivalent of my graduation-requirement paper (i'm kind of sure it took a whole semester too). and i had an equally dreaded subject...camus and existentialism, ROFLMAO!

and not for nothing, my difficult child is smarter than me--but she's still in the 7th! grade!! :-D

times have sure changed!!


I seem to remember having to do an assignment like that - but not until I was a high school junior!! I think that assignment is WAY to advanced for 7th grade work. I can understand a report with a bibiliography and supporting information, but this sounds way out of the league of 7th graders. My difficult child is in 7uth grade honors english and I think that even he would flip out over an assignment like this.

IF the IEP states taht changes can be made to assignments then I think that this is something that needs to be addressed. And as far as the teacher thinking that it's her class and things need to be done her way, well if she's violating an IEP that's a problem that needs to be addresses with the admin.


Roll With It
I don't know how advanced the assignment is, mostly because my strange kiddoes do things like that for fun now and again. Jess did one at about age 10. yes, odd, but she also had HUGE meltdowns when she first learned that there was a summer break. She didn't WANT a break, she wanted school all summer. I have probably the only kid who begged for summer school for several years. So I admit to not having a clue. My 3rd gr niece does bibliographies, etc... - we are nuts, I know. The paper my niece turned in before the holidays was supposed to be a few paragraphs and a list of sources. Ended up two typed pages plus cover sheet and bibliography. None of us finds that odd, but we know the rest of the world does. Gfgbro and I were the ones reading the encyclopedia on Sat mornings while Dad watched Bugs Bunny. No joke. Was routine. Biggest war between gfgbro and myself as kids? He took the book of Shakespeare sonnets from me because I wasn't "old enough" to understand it. I hid his latin textbook for a semester - in his own room. He NEVER took a book away from me by force again - he was terrified what I would do next. (I was mostly easy child, but could go difficult child if pushed enough - and had a LOT more creativity and less rigid thinking than he did.

Still makes me laugh and my mother cringe.

Anyway, the issue here isn't the assignment. It is that your daughter is not ready to do this and the teacher doesn't seem to care. I drove teachers NUTS for years, esp in the library because it was like herding a cat to get me to do what I didn't want to do with-o a dang good reason. Libraries were MY space and the teacher was supposed to shut up and go away and leave me ALONE with my BOOKS. Yeah. Odd. I know.

In your case, make them break it down into smaller assignemnts. If they come together as a bigger assignment later, cool. If not, tough for the teacher. Your daughter needs education on her level, not on someone else's. An IEP is a legal document and isn't option for the teacher. If teacher won't modify, do it for her and elt her gripe.

In the long run the assignment won't mean much to you or your daughter. What WILL mean a lot is that she will know you will stick up for her and make her school give her what she needs (not wants, but understanding that comes much, much, much later).