Update on J

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Malika, Mar 13, 2015.

  1. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    I suddenly remembered my board "friends" today and decided to come and have a look, read some posts, reconnect to the forum. I don't know why I stopped posting - one gets into habits, I suppose, and then gets out of them... It isn't because life is now a long, peaceful river and there is nothing to say :) J is now 8, and we are living in the UK where, after very much inner (and some outer) debate, I decided our future was strongest. I hadn't quite remembered the frightful weather, of course... Anyway, J has been in a village school here since January. It has not gone very well. Started off great and then after just 10 days, he was suspended for a day for hitting his one to one teacher and other children, being rude to staff, etc. How much was "him", how much testing and anxiety and how much the Strattera which is again taking, I could not say... anyway since then they put him on very reduced hours, just one hour a week, then two and now three hours. I am frustrated about this situation, to say the least. He has a one to one all the time, which helps him but he dislikes. There is a plan for him to go two days a week to an "intervention programme" at a local special school that is said to be outstanding. Meantime, since the suspension he has basically been good as gold at school, helpful, hard-working, etc. How much is the Strattera, how much his "choice", again I could not say. With me he is generally explosive and difficult but then immediately apologetic and sweet. Life is much more liveable than it has been at certain times in the past. I have to face the decision of whether to continue on in this village school in England or whether to choose a special school where he will get much more intensive help with his behaviour and literacy.

    Wonder what people's thoughts on special schools are.
  2. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Welcome back ;)

    To me, special schools depends on the approach taken by the school system. In school boards we've been associated with, it is either mixed, or a good thing.

    For example, there is a "special school" where kids who have any number of challenges that are affecting their academic performance (note this isn't behavioural) can go to for one to three years - to learn now to learn, how to work around their own challenges, and catch up with peers. They are expected to return to the mainstream. This approach seems to work fairly well.

    There are other schools where kids are NOT expected to return to the mainstream. This is fine if there are so many challenges that they can't keep up with peers anyway. Otherwise... I'd be careful.

    And sometimes, they leave it open-ended. No experience directly with those; word of mouth tends to be that it really depends on how well suited to your kids needs - poor fit usually means they don't progress back to mainstream.

    Others may have more direct experience.
  3. Confused

    Confused Active Member

    Malika!!!!!!!!!!! Glad to hear from you, been wondering where you have been. :hugs:Glad things improved some, but wished they improved a lot instead for you. My daughter was in a special school which she didnt last, so it didnt have time to help her. I think if she was there at an earlier age, it would have went better, high school is tricky period to start new schools as well as new "types" of programs esp depending on the childs willingness too! But I agree with Insane, I think they can be wonderful, but some, may not help much depending whats going on on how they are handling the kids, how the kids are responding as well. Sorry J is still having a rough time.
  4. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Hard to know. He is so young and has (if I am remembering correctly) moved around quite a bit which means schooling has been interrupted at times) which can also make things difficult if one is already struggling. However, if it seems like a much better program maybe it would be worth it.
  5. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Thank you. In all probability, J would be better served academically by this special school with its tiny classes, special help with dyslexia and literacy, constant help with managing anger, etc. What has to be weighed in the balance, I guess, is the fact that he would be entirely with kids who have behavioural difficulties and who are "different" which in my sense is more limited than being with ordinary kids. I believe this school, in common with many BESD schools here, operates a "revolving door" policy whereby they encourage and facilitate the return to mainstream where possible.
  6. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    I would never put my kid into a "behavioral" class where the teachers feel they have a method to change behavior and that is their focus. My son went into a class (not a separate school) that helped him with his learning and he really went far. At the same time he had history and science and things like art class with the other kids. That way he made friends from his Special Education class and some misfits from the regular classroom. Sonic became a real leader in his Special Education class and to this day he has good confidence and is happy with himself. I think it is tricky to get the right fit, but it can be done. But if it were me, I'd nix the behavioral classes and go for the ones who will help him reach his highest potential and feel he is accomplishing things in school.

    Welcome back!!!:abouttime:
  7. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    I would explore the options and see what fits him best. In my area, families seem to be either pro homeschool or pro public school with no real inbetweens. I was the misfit mom because I evaluated each child's needs each semester and did what that child needed, not what their sibs needed or I wanted. A special school can be great or awful, depending on how well it fits what your individual child needs. Same for a reg school. I had 2 kids who did horribly at our middle school and in my opinion it was because of the school and not the child. I had 1 who thrived at that school though the entire administration and school culture had changed by the time he went there.

    Go with what feels right for him. You have good instincts and you know your kid.

    I don't usually suggest this, but have you tried a gluten or gluten and dairy free diet for him? The sudden outburst and then good behavior for a time could be due to this and with-o trying the diet for about 2 months, you won't know if it will help. We tried it with no success, but I know some people who have seen amazing changes.
  8. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Thank you. It isn't really sudden outburst and then good for a time - it is more that as soon as he has acted impulsively or explosively he almost immediately climbs down and apologises and is really very sweet about it. This is actually a big change from how things used to be so I am not sure what it is down to. Medication kicking in??

    I think what worries me about the special school is the way Jacob is with other special needs kids, either ADHD or autistic. He REALLY ramps up, becomes silly and immature, out of control and not at all the way he can be at times. From this point of view, I wonder whether it is better for him to have the constant role models of neuro-typical kids. On the other hand, he really is not getting the academic help he needs within the mainstream sector at the moment. So as for many people, it is a bit of a dilemma. The government here much prefers kids to be in mainstream where possible (cheaper) so they will encourage that.
  9. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Given his behavior around mainstream kids vs other kids, I would first try to not go to the special school. I would push for dyslexia help to be ramped up at the reg school. I would also look into special tutoring or help after school to address the dyslexia. A university would likely have programs where the univ students an grad students work with kids to help with the dyslexia, so you might try there for extra help.
  10. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    Hi Malika!

    I recently wrote something about our Special Education experiences with Ache (my new board name for my oldest.) He had socially and behaviourally tough time at school from the beginning. When truancy and running away from school started to become a problem both aides (didn't really work) and Special Education class was tried. The special class was within mainstream school (not closest to us, but still rather close) and kids did interact also with mainstream kids. Class size was small with Special Education teacher and aide and it was geared for ADHD and autistic children. However during the time all the other kids were autistic and much more affected than we expected. Ache is academically gifted and he really didn't get the challenge he needed even though it was normal curriculum in theory (in reality exams were easier etc.) Ache also copied lots of stereotypical autistic behaviours from others and basically changed to behave like much more special needs kid than before that semester. Seemed to forget many of his hard worked social skills and was not able to keep up socially with typical peers in sports etc. at all any more. Those were the reasons we withdrew him from the class and put him back to his old mainstream class. With him that was probably academically sound decision. It also most likely helped him become higher functioning person. However I'm not sure, if it made him happier person. That one semester at special class was only time he was happy to go to school ever. Maybe if he would had stayed there, lots of emotional damage would had been avoided. But again, I'm quite sure he would not have a life he has now, but very different life, if he would had stayed. Then again, while high functioning Ache certainly isn't happy or content person. I do second guess that choice now.

    Of course Ache and J, while they seem to have some similarities, are very different people with different strengths and challenges. But I would encourage you to think not only academics and behaviour but also his happiness. If he is not happy at school, if he feels like he is failing, if his peer relationships are not good, it is just not working out for him. Keeping up with typical peers can be such a struggle, that it takes everything he has. If he feels that he is worse than others, it is very difficult for his self esteem. Could it be a working compromise for J, that he would be at Special Education at school (and not always feel like slowest and one in trouble) and interact with typical peers in hobbies and stay in tune with them that way?
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2015
  11. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Hmm, you raise an interesting point, SuZir. I guess to some degree I am still battling my own prejudices and ideas about special school (ie I am rather ambivalent and would rather he were with "normal" kids because that would not be so limited; I know that doesn't sound particularly nice but I am just being very honest here). Yes, you are right, he probably would be or certainly may be happier in a special environment... when things were going wrong with this new school, he kept saying he wanted to be in a school for ADHD kids where they would understand him. Now things seem to have settled down, at least for the time being, and the school is every day telling me "he's been an angel, he's been fantastic, etc, etc" and J himself seems happy, says he is friends with his whole class and likes everybody. This wasn't true at the beginning where he was saying some kids were bullying him and he was hitting them to "defend himself". The school clearly don't understand much about ADHD and there is honestly next to no provision in terms of dyslexia. However, we are applying for a special "plan" they have here for special needs kids and if it is awarded, there is funding that goes along with it; parents can choose where part of that funding goes (eg specialist dyslexia help) and also can name the school that they want the child to go to with the named school being virtually obliged to accept the student. It looks pretty certain that J will be awarded this plan. He himself says (interestingly) that he wants to go to boarding school and actually I think there is a lot of advantages to that. Whether I could convince the local education authority to fund a boarding school place is another matter. I do see that J can learn in terms of social skills, and does learn... does he have more to learn by being in a mainstream school? Is that learning perhaps more important, in the end, than his "happiness"? It is a difficult question and I can well understand your questioning about the choices you made for your son, SuZir. Positive connections are vital for our children, who are so blamed and rejected and misunderstood (also by their parents). A mainstream school could provide such positive connections, I think, if it is the right one?
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2015
  12. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Well, right now I am dealing with a school - sound familiar, anyone - that doesn't seem to get special needs, despite all the nice words spoken by the staff... J has been put on a part-time schedule, slowly increasing hours each week - he has been at this school for eight weeks and is still only there for part of the day, this week leaving at 12.30 (even though last week the head said he would be staying until 1...). This means he has to go right after lunch and cannot play with the others in play time. Today he had to be dragged out of the school field where he was running around with a group of boys, seemingly having great fun. Of course he asks "Why do I have to go?", "Why can't I stay like all the others?" and I really don't know what to tell him. I don't agree with this part-time thing at all, which seems to have more to do with funding (for a one to one assistant) than anything else. Then later in the afternoon he had a huge, ugly meltdown like he hasn't had for ages, and I know it is all connected to the anger, frustration and rejection he feels. I got really cross at his rudeness, defiance and hostility in ways I regret and the whole thing collapses... What the school is doing feels cruel and punitive and they have NO idea of how it impacts on a special needs child... this must be so familiar to all here. Where is the place that understands and supports??