thoughts on switching to a school for ADHD/Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)/ODD kids

Discussion in 'Special Ed 101' started by cboz, Jan 9, 2011.

  1. cboz

    cboz Guest

    Our difficult child has been in mainstream public school all along (he's in 2nd grade now). He has always been challenging, but with our current medication bonk, he's now very unpredictable and volatile. I'm wondering if he's getting worse because the kids at his school are now aware of his explosive behavior, and I imagine there's some degree of "egging on". Here in Ohio we have a "chain" of charter schools called Summit Academy that caters to kids with issues. Part of me thinks it would be a good fit for our son, but I also love the school he goes to (they really work with us when difficult child is raging) and would like to see him work to adapt once again to a regular classroom environment. I am a teacher, as is husband, and we feel good about the things going on in his current school. However, I am fearful that he is really going to hurt another child if we can't get things under control soon. I would imagine that at the charter school, this type of behavior is almost expected, whereas he is a real anomaly at his current school.

    Any thoughts? Thank you!
  2. slsh

    slsh member since 1999

    I think, if you are considering a more restrictive placement, you should go and look at the program. In my experience, including progressively more restrictive placements within our district starting a semester into 2nd grade, 2 co-op therapeutic sped placements (how they do self-contained in my neck of the woods), 1 mainly BD placement after he failed first co-op placement, and 3 Residential Treatment Center (RTC) schools, academics were secondary in *all* placements. In a way, it kinda makes sense - you cannot educate a kid who is rolling around on the floor, throwing books and furniture, making animal noises, etc. But for us, there was no "magic" fix for the academics. While the more restrictive placements were certainly better (for the most part) in terms of managing his behaviors, his school days were essentially all about managing his (or other kids') behaviors, with very little time for lessons. He never recovered academically (or, to be honest, socially).

    I absolutely do understand the need to go to a self-contained setting for safety issues. I think you want to make sure that academics will be addressed - by definition, an entire classroom of difficult children is going to mean extremely limited time for learning. You want to look at staffing and make sure there is enough support for the teacher. in my humble opinion, I think you also need to have a very clear plan for how to transition him back into mainstream classes, and an idea of a timeline. The other thing I would *really* focus on is the social aspect - get him engaged as much as possible in rec. activities within his home school and/or the community.

    This is *just* our experience and my opinion. I know there are some folks who have had better success with- alternative placements, and hopefully they'll chime in soon..
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2011
  3. TeDo

    TeDo Guest

    Has your son had a neuropsychologist evaluation done? If not, I would get one scheduled soon. Who prescibed the medications he's on? Has there been a change of medications lately? Some medications actually make aggressive behaviors worse. Does your son have an IEP at school? If not, I would begin that process if you really like the school he is at. I am kind of in the same boat only it's my son's school that is pushing hard for a more restrictive placement even though he is not aggressive verbally or physically. The most he does is yell his disagreement and slams the door on his way out of a room when he's angry.

    Those are the only suggestions I have. If you really like his current school and they are willing to work WITH you, I would do what you have to so that he can stay there and still get him the help he needs. Sounds like you just need more diagnostic help to figure out WHY he's acting the way he does so you can help him appropriately.
  4. bree1679

    bree1679 New Member

    I am so glad you wrote that! I am currently going through this with my daughter at her school. There is an IEP involved but we do not have it in place. She has one on file but we have not used it yet because she has been preforming well with her peers up until now. Thinking what I need to do. Because of budget cuts the school does not have a nurse or any Special Education class. Wondering if I should transfer her to school that has those things or keep her at the same school and see what they will do once the IEP is in place if nothing then some changes will have to be made. I feel like they are kind of picking on her. It's not all her fault that she can't sit still in class. She is on medications for adhd and odd. I'm wondering if her medications need adjusting though she has recently been getting in trouble at school and has started lying a lot. Would love to talk to you more seems like you have experience in this field.
  5. TeDo

    TeDo Guest

    Bree, feel free to PM me. Otherwise start a thread of your own with your specific situation and lots of details about your daughter, diagnoses, medications, behaviors, etc. I do have experience, having been there done that and also having worked for my school district, but so do soooo many others here. Some of what I have learned is from them because they have been through it and dealt with it, even coming out on top at times. You are at the right place but I am not the only one that can help. I say to start your own thread because I don't want you and your situation to get lost in here.

  6. diane561

    diane561 New Member

    I'm very new to these boards, but your post really hit home. My son has made it to fourth grade without drawing too much attention to himself, but this year he's really struggling with all the work, and has had a few meltdowns, and some inappropiate behaviour, and now that he's on their radar, I really feel like the other kids are egging him on, and he's doing things he normally wouldn't for the attention, to try to fit in. One group of kids dared him to bite a girl-she offered her arm, he bit her, and got suspended for three days. I was mortified. He's never bitten anyone (except me!), and I never imagined I would be dealing with school suspension with my ten year old. Our closest charter school is thirty miles away, and has a two to three year waiting list. He's realizing he's different from other kids, and he's started saying "I wish I wasn't bipolar-I wish I was normal. This school (North Florida) is very intolerant, and not real versed in childhood disorders-I think our I.E.P. was the first one they've ever had. I desperately wish he could be in a school where his behaviour isn't SO unusual-where teachers are a little more patient and understanding-but mostly where he can see that he is not the only child in the universe with a disorder. Is your child happy in school? Does he have an I.E.P.?
  7. HowMuchLonger

    HowMuchLonger New Member

    I have no expert advice for you on this one, but have been considering this myself. I'm on the fence because I'm wondering if putting him into a situation with a bunch of other kids just like him will cause him to pick up even worse behaviours. My difficult child 3 is very intelligent and putting academics on a back burner is a concern...which I'm pretty sure putting him into a specialized school would do. He just finished an out of school placement where academics were put totally on hold and behaviours and social skills were the main topics. So he's now 6 weeks behind the rest of his class and we have to catch him up at home (which is already a big bone of contention getting him to do homework even though he's smart and "gets it"). difficult child 3 is a big follower and he already picked up some inappropriate ideas from the placement with 6 other kids with similar diagnosis's. For example there was an older girl (she's 11 almost 12, difficult child 3 is 9) who apparently already "plays the field". She was the only girl in the class and "dated" each and every boy in the class during the 6 weeks, including my son. 9 is FAR too young to be dating - although i'm sure it was all fairly innocent, he never really talked about dating before starting this program. And considering the age gap between the two kids, i'm sure little miss 11 year old knew far more than difficult child 3. Now that he's returned to his home school, we've already had a problem with the dating situation...enough that the teacher had to write a note home and phone me about it as it was interferring with in class learning. Luckily it was something as low-key as "dating", my concern is what if it had been something more intense like drugs, smoking, drinking etc

    I don't know the answer for you and your situtation, heck, or even mine for that matter, but I hope you can get some help and make a good decision for you and yours.
  8. rlsnights

    rlsnights New Member

    Your description of your son rang some alarm bells for me. Raging and explosive are not really typical of kids with ADHD in my experience. Agitated depression, maybe. ADHD no. ADHD is about impulse control - lack thereof. That can manifest as frustration and lead to explosions but the length and "quality" of the explosion seems different to me when I've seen it. It's not violence directed at others. It's more like intense frustration being expressed physically. I am close friends with a couple of families with hard-core ADHD kids and they can get frustrated and they can lose control but I don't think any of us would describe it as raging. Generally it stops very quickly and removing the source of frustration or removing the child from the frustrating situation has an obviously calming effect. Perhaps others with more personal experience with that will chime in and have something different to say.

    What I can say is that my son rages. He sometimes rages for 3 hours or more. Slamming things around, breaking things, threatening verbally and physically. He can go from fairly calm to exploding very quickly but we can usually see it coming at least for an hour ahead of time. Not always, but usually. When he gets agitated, irritable, impatient, clumsy, bullying, anxious - we pay attention. If he didn't sleep the night before we are walking on eggshells for at least one full day, cell phone in hand and we reduce our expectations of him enormously in hopes of preventing a rage. I've had him beating on the security door with a pipe trying to get at me when he was in a mixed mood rage. And he had them even when he was your son's age.

    Mistakes in diagnosis that result in rxing of inappropriate medications can lead to raging and other strange behaviors. If this behavior is really new since a medication change, I personally would call the psychiatrist and say we want him off this as soon as possible. As in, if he doesn't need to wean, we're not giving it to him again.

    If it's not new but seems to have strongly intensified, I would also call his psychiatrist and make sure he's aware of the change. Point blank ask if this could be caused by the medications in which case what's the game plan.

    If he's not being seen by a child psychiatrist, I would strongly urge you to find one to consult. An adult psychiatrist is OK but a child psychiatrist is really much better because they have the training to recognize developmental stages and problems. And adult psychiatrist generally does not have that training.

    If he's not being seen by a psychiatrist - well, you need an emergency consult. No GP or pediatrician should be even attempting to diagnose and manage medications for a kid like this. My 2 cents.

    Sorry - you didn't ask for this advice but it's important to have as good a handle as you can get on the causes of the behaviors so you can have some reasoned basis for treatment and interventions.

    I'm not sure about egging on happening intentionally. But kids are very sensitive to differences and they may be excluding him from things (last to be picked for four-square for example) that set him up for an explosion. And yes there may be one or two who are bugging him on purpose. Are you thinking this is happening in the classroom or during less well supervised times like lunch, before/after school and recess? Those are classic times for difficult child's with impulse control and trouble shifting activities to have major trouble.

    I assume that he has an IEP or at least a 504 plan. Has an FBA (functional behavioral analysis) been done? If not, this situation cries out for one ASAP. It may help you answer questions like that and turn up others you never dreamed to ask.

    Given that the school he is in has worked hard to accommodate him, I think that might be the place to start.

    *Unless* you truly believe he is a danger to other kids/adults or to himself.

    If you think that is true - even if you think it's "just" a temporary response to medication changes - then I think you need to discuss your concerns openly with the principal and work together with them to decide what to do about it. You do not want your son to carry the burden of having seriously hurt another child. For one thing, it may reduce the less restrictive placement options very quickly. If this is your neighborhood school I would be especially protective of his standing with the families there.

    As for the special school. I would go visit the school as soon as you can arrange it and see what it's like there. These kinds of school vary widely, from classroom size to teaching/therapeutic approach to grounds environment. One I visited here is in a park-like setting, it's classrooms are downright peaceful for the most part and there's a clear expectation that academic achievement is important. Another school is much more urban, there's a much more disruptive population of kids, the program is very behaviorally-oriented with dedicated staff for vocational training - etc.

    I would call for an IEP team meeting within the next week or two if possible. In the meantime, go check out the other school. Make sure the psychiatrist knows what's going on and, if possible, has seen your difficult child on an emergency basis.

    Keep us posted,