7 yr old son having issues at school.

Alana - posted on 05/16/2016 ( 6 moms have responded )

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So this school year has been a bit of a struggle for my son. His kindergarten year started out a little rocky by once he got comfortable it was a pretty smooth year. This year has been a completely different story. He had a hard time adjusting to a new teacher which was a little expected since that's how his kindergarten year started out, but once he got comfortable his behavior started to escalate instead. He became non-compliant in class and started having aggressive outbursts. To start his teacher and school staff created a behavior plan for him to try and help and that seemed to work for a little while. His outburst started becoming more severe and by winter break we had started seeking therapy in order to assist with a better understanding. After winter break he began getting suspended and his days were abbreviated. He leaves school early Monday through Thursday and goes to group therapy provided by the same mental services that his therapist is at. That seems to be sort of hit and miss, but his episodes at school did seem to calm down for awhile though I was still getting calls from the school once or twice a week. About a month or so ago his behavior has gotten worse to the point of his classroom having to be evacuated due to the severity of his outbursts and he began getting suspended again. After another meeting with his school they decided that the individual, group, and family therapy wasn't enough and that if I didn't put him on medication they would be forced to abbreviate his days even further. After speaking with his doctor he was placed on medication and had a very smooth week and a half at school, until mid week the second week when he had gotten upset about a kid taking his spot as the line leader and he removed himself from the situation only to be responded to in a way that is not what was in his plan. He was suspended for two and a half days due to the outburst he'd had. He went back last Friday which was also his field day so I was able to attend and observe his behavior. He did not have any issues with transitions the way his teacher has explained and he only had one problem the entire time because of another kid antagonizing him. Now this Monday morning he was at school for 45 minutes when I received a call letting me know he was "not having a good morning" and that his emergency therapy that has been put in the place would be picking him up shortly. I am really at a loss and am starting to feel like his school just doesn't want to help him. All at the suggestion of his school he went from being somewhat normal but a little high strung to have a therapist, group therapy, emergency therapy, and medication and the problem at school just seems to be getting worse. He does not act that way at home and I find it hard to give him proper consequences for his actions when he does everything that is asked of him at home. We've exhausted all options and I truly don't know what to do from here. I'm really needing some help/

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Sarah - posted on 05/16/2016

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Wow! You have been thru it all. If this were a student I was counseling this is what I'd say: Take a breather from school and all structured activity, with the doctor's ok do a med wash out (2-3 weeks) with no meds, keep a journal of sleep schedule, eating schedule and foods eaten, enroll in a structured activity the summer like two weeks of day camp, ask the staff at camp to keep note on behavior and get a summary of behavior at the end. Request a full evaluation thru the Dept. of Special Ed. (sounds like maybe you had this) even if you did, get another. Have each evaluation done (if at all possible) at the same time of the day, like 1-2 hours after rising, or right after lunch. Once you have all of the information of what he can do without meds, and the evaluation thru the school; you will have a clearer picture of his needs. I have to say IMO as a nurse risperdal was not a great option (now I don't know your kid, and I am not a doctor) but that med is used to quiet him down. That makes sense that is only worked for a few weeks, til he got used to it. Finally, try to see a neuro-psychiatrist. That is a doctor who will be at the cutting edge of child mental health and the best way to manage it pharmacologically. (using my fancy words). This could be a true undiagnosed issue, it could be a stress issues, it could be a food allergy. There are so many maybes? with your son. Request an IEP, or a new IEP if he has one. As his mom you know him best and you can tailor that IEP and refuse to sign it until you are sure it is right for you child.
I am running a bit long but I'd like to know what you have taught him to do or say when he fells himself building. Has anyone done that sort of training with him? I agree a repeat of the grade is not going to help, I just thought he may be young for his grade.
Let me know if you have had a full battery eval thru school and does he have a formal IEP?

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Sarah - posted on 05/16/2016

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I should clarify, during a med wash out, there should be no scheduled activity. After themed wash, then camp etc

Alana - posted on 05/16/2016

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He hasn't been placed on the medication for ADHD at this time, his pediatrician wanted further evaluation so we are doing that, however, the DMDD is what is causing the problems right now because of the severity of the outbursts and how they are escalating. I don't believe ADHD has any real factor is his behavior at this time and neither does his pediatrician so our plan was to treat the DMDD and see if that also effects the ADHD as it is not all that prominent and since most of his ADHD is sensory seeking he has found was to have a handle on that while at school. I'm mostly worried that his aggressive behavior is becoming more violent and really just want to be able to help him manage when he's not around me so we can make it through the rest of the school year with no more incidents. It's been frustrating the amount of time and effort we've put in to trying to help him and always coming up short. I'm actually starting to lose my patience with the school myself, but I don't know how to help him without demonstrating that "mom can show angry too."

Dove - posted on 05/16/2016

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ADHD is not only present at school. If he is not exhibiting these negative behaviors at home it is highly likely that he was misdiagnosed (and from my understanding a proper diagnosis takes at least a year and needs to be evaluated by several psychologists).

I'd probably be seeking a fuller evaluation by a second opinion...

Alana - posted on 05/16/2016

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He sees a therapist and has a case worker as well as participates in gateway services provided by our local mental health services for children. With the help of his teacher, school guidance counselor, principal, myself, his therapist, and his case worker we've been able to observe and provide insight in to every aspect of his life to come up with a diagnosis. At this time his current diagnosis is "Disrupting Mood Dysregulation Disorder" and Combined Adhd. His pediatrician used the information that we collected and prescribed him resperidone at .5 mg twice daily. He's one of the oldest children in his class and he does very well academically, he's even a little ahead in math though he won't admit that himself. I don't feel that having him repeat the 1st grade would help since he already knows all the material and excels at it, I feel that would only further exacerbate his outbursts as he'd then become bored with the in class work. They have a behavior plan in place at his school that was created with help from myself and his therapist to accommodate him and try to avoid outburst from his common triggers. His emergency therapy occurs when he is having an aggressive outburst at school and becomes a danger to others around him, at which time gateway is called and he gets picked up early for more intense group therapy with other peers his age. He has a para in his class so he gets one on one time. He also has a "calm down" spot he can choose to go to when he gets upset and he keeps an mp3 player there to listen to music. The medication he is on showed great improvement but only for a week and a half, after which his outbursts have gotten worse and his stress level seems more elevated, at least that is what I'm getting from his school. I never see the behavior at home, he's a completely different kid at home so a lot of what the school and his therapist has told me I have a hard time associating with my child. I am kind of feeling like at this point he's already got his school intimidated to the point they are afraid of him and start his emergency process before it's even called for. We only have two weeks left of school this year and at this point everything that has been implemented was at the suggestion of the school and since they have nothing left to suggest I feel like they are just giving up. I do plan on switching schools next year to one that is better able to assist him and his needs but for the time being I have no idea where to turn when I get a call every day from the school that he is having to leave and not complete his class work or participate with the other kids in his class. I'm trying my hardest just for us to survive until the school year is over but I really have no idea what else to do for him. His therapist's only advice was to call his doctor and up his meds and make an appointment for another session. He's had a lot of changes this year and I haven't seen much improvement from it. We're so lucky he's still doing so well academically and I'm not even sure how it's possible when he's missed so much school from being suspended or sent to therapy services early.

Sarah - posted on 05/16/2016

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My first question is what sort of evaluation process was implemented to either determine his needs, formulate a diagnosis or advise meds. Is he young for the grade? Do you feel like another year of first grade may help? It seems like a bandaid fix, but I have seen stressed, anxious kids who act out transform with a the repeated year. We had a child in kindergarten who licked, a lot, and everywhere even people. He also did not follow directions and would melt down easily. His mom pulled him for the half year left after we tried so many different techniques to get him to stop with the licking. He came back a bit more mature and could handle the stress; no more licking! Is your child the only child with SN in a mainstream class? What medication is he on and do you think he needs it and do you think it helps. Do you think his teacher is too overloaded to notice his declining cues, and therefore cannot intervene in time.
What helps him the most? Quiet and dark? or yelling and sprinting? Can you describe his "emergency therapy"?
I am a school nurse and I am blessed to be able to float from school to school so I get to see all of the typical kids as well as the SN kids. I use SN to encompass BD, LD and PD kids. We have so many different treatment plans and we have begun to clump the kids who respond to certain techniques together. The bus drivers sure are not happy, but my parents are getting happier. Most important the kids are getting what they need.
So tell me about his evaluation process, what the diagnosis (if any) has been applied and most important; what do YOU think he needs to make his day better? This could be a side by side aide to an entirely different setting. I will give you my thoughts of where to direct your attention. Tenacious parents are my greatest assets.
Also, I am sorry you are going thru this and your son in not having a pleasant time in school. This should be a happy time for both of you!

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