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Homeschool vs Public School for ADHD/ODD


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My youngest was recently diagnosed with mixed type ADHD. She is also incredibly defiant with me. Only with me. To a lesser extent with other family members and occasionally she refuses to cooperate with her therapist.

 

She's in school right now. Her teacher can't believe that dd8 has any problems at all. She doesn't see any hyperactivity, dd is perfectly cooperative and obedient at school. There are mornings when dd screams at me that she won't go to school she hates school, etc. I have literally dragged her through the doors, and as soon as a leave she dries her tears and goes to class without any trouble. Evenings are also full of screaming and defiance toward me. Apparently I'm the source of all her problems. Whatever. My feelings aren't hurt by her tantrums, but it's exhausting to fight and it's upsetting for the older kids.

 

I'm wondering what has been others' experience in homeschool vs public school for a child like this. I'd love to get rid of the morning wrestling matches. She wants to be homeschooled. I'm not totally convinced that she will cooperate any better with me just because she didn't have to go to school, but on days I've let her stay home she is usually a little more cooperative. DH thinks I'm crazy. Let her spend all day with the one person she can't bring herself to obey? I have the sense that if I can just reduce the number of conflicts, we can somehow break the cycle of rage. I'm totally willing to try homeschooling for the rest of the year, just to see if it helps her calm down overall. DH feels like it will just teach her that I'll give in if she gets angry enough.

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How recent are your evals. I think your intentions and gut are right wanting to get this on track but you might need more info. Genetics to see if there's an explanation for the behavior, making sure there's not spectrum, getting Social Thinking intervention, etc. We got an RDI eval and that was interesting. Their take is nonverbal deficits glitch pairing and developing a mentoring relationship which comes out as them not obeying. So then the question is do you need more time or smarter time kwim?

 

I wouldn't bring her home without a plan for those things. My ds has needed ALL of them.

Edited by PeterPan
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:grouphug:

 

Frankly, with the situation as you describe, I would be extremely hesitant to bring her home under those circumstances, at least not right away.  Instead, have you and she tried therapy to break the cycle with professional help?  And what sorts of evaluations has she had?  Could there be more than just ADHD?  Just because a child has ADHD does not mean they will act as you describe.  It sounds like perhaps there is more going on that she is struggling to cope with.

 

I also agree with PeterPan,  I would be very proactive in seeking answers and getting professional help to determine the underlying cause of the defiance/anger towards you and I would do it now.  As she hits puberty this could get infinitely worse. 

 

:grouphug:

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She is currently in therapy, and she started seeing a psychiatrist and taking Strattera (ADHD and anxiety) a couple months ago. The medication has been slowly ramping up to the therapeutic dose and I'm not seeing a difference in behavior yet. So, I don't know what constitutes an eval. The psych had me fill out an unbelievably long form detailing all sorts of behavior. She said the screening came back that she was showing signs of ADHD, ODD, and anxiety, with some OCD. I don't know where to start with the other things PeterPan mentioned or who else I should be seeking help from.

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:grouphug: 

 

Do you feel that the medical professionals you are sending her to have a good handle on things?  Are they responsive?  Proactive in seeking answers?

 

As for where else to go, perhaps a neuropsychologist for additional evaluations but at this point I don't guarantee that will net you much.

 

Also, FWIW, sometimes it takes a while to find the right therapist and therapies.  Have they tried Cognitive Behavior Therapy?  Group sessions that include you to maybe help improve the dynamic between the two of you?  Has she always struggled with these things or was there a point in her childhood when this was not her normal reaction?  Has your pediatrician looked into PANS/PANDAS as a possible origin for some of her difficulties?  (see link)

http://www.pandasnetwork.org/understanding-pandaspans/what-is-pans/

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I'm trying to make the same decision right now for my 5 year old (just turned 5 in January) who has ADHD and ODD. Right now he's in the developmental preschool for speech and OT, and it's time to register for K next year. He's apparently very well behaved at preschool, no rages or throwing furniture. His teacher says he frequently moves his chair away from the circle or other people and doesn't participate but isn't raging. She also gets him at the time of day when his ADHD meds are in full effect. He doesn't like going to preschool, but seems to be fine when he's there.

 

I'm concerned about him handling the change from a 2.5 hour preschool to a full-day K next year. I'm concerned about him refusing to go and me being unable to physically carry him to school or wrestle him into the car, he's strong and big for his age. Right now he has bus service to preschool, but there's no bus service for our neighborhood to the elementary school. He's shutting down when he doesn't want to participate there, and I'm worried about him slipping through the cracks if he's just quietly not participating. I noticed he's forming his letters from the bottom up and mentioned it to his teacher (they also use Handwriting Without Tears, so I know how it's being taught) and neither she or the OT had noticed. He has an IEP for speech and OT, but that's all he qualifies for.

 

On the other hand, he can be extremely explosive and defiant at home. Currently, having him in the developmental preschool is what is allowing me to get work done with his older four siblings. Things are better now than they were, but he's always very volatile. I'm not sure his teacher believes how he acts at home because he's always so quiet/subdued when he's at school. 

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My youngest was recently diagnosed with mixed type ADHD. She is also incredibly defiant with me. Only with me. To a lesser extent with other family members and occasionally she refuses to cooperate with her therapist.

 

She's in school right now. Her teacher can't believe that dd8 has any problems at all. She doesn't see any hyperactivity, dd is perfectly cooperative and obedient at school. There are mornings when dd screams at me that she won't go to school she hates school, etc. I have literally dragged her through the doors, and as soon as a leave she dries her tears and goes to class without any trouble. Evenings are also full of screaming and defiance toward me. Apparently I'm the source of all her problems. Whatever. My feelings aren't hurt by her tantrums, but it's exhausting to fight and it's upsetting for the older kids.

 

I'm wondering what has been others' experience in homeschool vs public school for a child like this. I'd love to get rid of the morning wrestling matches. She wants to be homeschooled. I'm not totally convinced that she will cooperate any better with me just because she didn't have to go to school, but on days I've let her stay home she is usually a little more cooperative. DH thinks I'm crazy. Let her spend all day with the one person she can't bring herself to obey? I have the sense that if I can just reduce the number of conflicts, we can somehow break the cycle of rage. I'm totally willing to try homeschooling for the rest of the year, just to see if it helps her calm down overall. DH feels like it will just teach her that I'll give in if she gets angry enough.

 

Have you looked into Oppositional Defiance Disorder? It's co-morbid with ADD quite a bit.  I'd bring it up with her therapist.

 

The Explosive Child by Dr. Greene might be a beginning start on some reading.

 

If she's compliant at school, I'd leave her there.  Parenting a kid with ODD is hard enough, adding teaching as another role into that mix just complicates life further.

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On a side note, I would be trying to find ways to reduce conflicts between the two of you by removing you as "the bad guy" as much as possible while you seek answers.

 

All those conflicts are reinforcing her reactions and you both may have inadvertantly settled into destructive patterns while trying to navigate these difficult waters. It happens, often through no one's fault. There is just quite often no way to know ahead of time what is happening or how to effectively address it and in the meantime you both have to survive and function. Patterns of interaction can form that in the long run may be reinforcing the dysfunctional behavior. It can also be very challenging to change that, especially since you aren't even entirely sure what is causing her issues or how to address them. This puts the parent and the child in a really tough, exhausting, painful situation. Huge hugs.

 

I agree with you, you need to reduce the conflicts but I think right now that means reducing the situations where you are the one having to get her to do things she doesn't want to do.

 

Morning seem especially challenging with trying to get her to school, even though she does well once she gets there. Is there anyone else that could take her to school? DH, carpool with neighbor, other relative?

 

I'm just thinking that maybe others should step in wherever they can while you seek answers and work to forge a healthier dynamic.

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Thanks everyone for the input. I'm feeling overwhelmed today, so I won't take the time to respond individually, but two things: 1) She's big for her age (about the same size as my 12yo), I think she's moving into puberty early, and that may be a part of why her behavior has deteriorated. She's always been a tough kid to parent, but the last 4-5 months have been much worse. 2)It would be ideal if DH could get her ready for school. She's not as comfortable acting out around him. But he needs to go into work at 6am through May. So he won't be able to help this school year. She rides the bus if she gets ready on time, but getting out the door by 7:30 is tough when she's tired and I'm having to drag this child through her morning routine.

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Maybe another ADHD medicine would work better for her?  Have you told the prescriber that her condition has been deteriorating?

 

I'd not homeschool until she can show you that she can be cooperative with you--not 100% of the time, that would be unrealistic--but most of the time.

 

 

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This seems like more than what your psych says is going on, and I agree that getting someone familiar with autism in girls (particularly subtle cases) would be really good. Even if they back up the first psych, they might have more tools to give you.

 

Also agreeing about maybe adjusting meds or trying a different kind--a lot of people think that stimulants increase anxiety, but that is not always the case. They decrease anxiety in my crew with ADHD because the anxiety is coming from a lack of being able to plan and execute a plan, etc.

 

Lastly, I would not school in this case until you know more and things are more stable. Even then, I would look at the big picture again.

 

I do think that it's super kind of you to consider it if she wants to be, but I think you are just going to be frustrated under the current circumstances and may need a break even if you get answers.

 

Hang in there!
 

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I have firsthand experience of kids who are physically, mentally, or emotionally hard to get to school in the morning.

 

My autism kid — it was a transition issue. Transitions are hard. Transition strategies are helpful, it’s a big area with autism.

 

My other kid — it was more of an anxiety issue. You can look up school avoidance or school refusal.

 

He ended up missing school because I thought he was sick. We ended up working with the school counselor.

 

Working with the school counselor was extremely, extremely helpful.

 

Anything you can do to get things ready the night before will be helpful.

 

Anything you can do to maintain a calm and steady presence in the morning is helpful.

 

Can you seek any professional advice about the best way to engage/interact with her in the morning? Would short and sweet be better? Would reviewing the schedule be helpful? Would some kind of routine be helpful?

 

I have been able to talk this kind of thing over with the school counselor for my maybe-anxiety son, and therapists/teacher for my son with autism.

 

Some context for me with these situations.

 

For my son with autism — he needs to be at school.

 

For my maybe-anxiety son — I was having trouble getting him to do anything or go anywhere, he was getting very isolated and withdrawn, and school was actually the only place I could get him to go for a while. He does do more now! But it has not been easy.

 

The advice I got from the school counselor ——— if I were going to homeschool, do it immediately. If I weren’t going to homeschool, take him to school unless he had a fever, and he can see her or the nurse and talk things through when he is at school. That was personal advice for our situation though when I had already let him miss a lot of days because I didn’t know he wasn’t sick. Also on the sickness thing, it’s not that he was faking, but he had anxiety stomach aches, and the best thing for that was for him to address the anxiety. Being in limbo with not being at school but worrying about going back to school was the worst, and then going back to school was harder after he had missed.

 

The school counselor was seriously very helpful with this whole thing. If there’s not a good school counselor then a private counselor I think could be worthwhile. It can be very, very hard to change these dynamics, but they are upsetting to you and not a good way for your daughter to handle things!

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For older kids, school refusal can be a really negative spiral for kids who have anxiety and do not want to go into social situations.

 

If your daughter sounds like this — I think seek advice about how to handle anxiety before you bring her home. (Edit — because if she has the same issues with activities then you’re not making things any easier as she gets too large to take her places the way you can with a little kid.).

 

If she does great with other activities and social occasions I wouldn’t worry about it.

 

On the possible autism side, she could be in distress at school but look fine. If she does have autism, it would be really good for her to have some kind of check-ins to help her manage her stress if she is getting stressed. There are things like asking kids to circle a number 1-10 for how they feel (their stress level) and teaching them to seek help from a teacher if their stress is rising. This was an autism support in my old school district for some kids who had anxiety but trouble communicating it and managing it on their own. It’s not something my kids have needed, but it is something that some kids do very well with.

Edited by Lecka
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This is advice I got, too. I would kind-of waver in the mornings about if he had to go, while he would cry and say his stomach hurt.

 

So this is why I got advice — either he’s committed to going or not. If he’s committed to going, then me wavering is taken off the table. My wavering was not doing anything to help him.

 

That was in 2nd grade for him.

 

For my other son, change can be hard, transitions can be hard, and there are a lot of possible transition supports and they do help. He has developed his ability to transition a lot and does much better now. For him — it was worst in K and getting better the second semester of K.

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This is also just me, but it turned out I was doing some things with my parenting that didn’t fit my son. I was trying to be more nice when he could do better with matter-of-fact at times. I am still nice, but I got good advice to make some changes to make things easier for my son.

 

But I think see what someone says, what works with one kid backfires with another!

 

You could get totally different advice, I mean.

Edited by Lecka
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I would absolutely not start HS'ing her. I have a very oppositional 7 yo and I only wish I could send him to school. No way on earth would I choose to bring him home if he was in school and acting like this with me at home.

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Ok, I'm gonna agree and disagree at the same time. I agree you're going to have a hard time homeschooling her IF you don't bring in some helps beyond normal parenting. I disagree that you can't homeschool her. I agree that the structure of school, the decreased transitions, the consistency, etc. would be good. I would question whether she's in the right school or has enough supports. 

 

It's not that you CAN'T make it work at home, but you don't realize yet what you would need.

 

I think your p-doc is probably crap for this. I see no reason to assume it's ODD when you haven't ruled out ASD. They're so kissing cousins and you're so screaming spectrum at the moment. 

 

Neuropsychs are crap for ruling out ASD. Go to someone who can do the ADOS and a bunch of other paper tools. The neuropsych will only have paper tools. Without the ADOS, you're limited to what people mark on the paper questionaires, what they notice, whether they're oblivious, whether they see her enough, blah blah. Jump over that hurdle and get the ADOS. 

 

I'm on caffeine and blunt tonight. Google Social Thinking for the rest. Read their doc on communication profiles. They have one for ODD. But like I said, why go to that when you have't ruled out ASD? Makes no sense to me.

Edited by PeterPan
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Why not do a trial in the summer? By then the meds should be working and during that time you can continue to seek evals and support and see how it goes. You won't lose anything by trying and you can still put her back in the fall if it's not working out. 

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Hypatia — if he has an IEP, he may qualify for transportation even if you live nearby. I think you will just have to see what they say. It’s worth asking about now so if they say “probably not†you have time to see if that can change to “yes†before next Fall.

 

If he has an IEP also he may be able to have more breaks and things that might make a longer day work for him.

 

You can see what they say, it can go either way.

 

Home can be good, too. Just sharing it may be possible.

 

Anyway — transportation can be a related service if it is needed, so drop-off might not be needed.

 

You also might want to see how early he would need to get on the bus, it might not be worth it.

Edited by Lecka
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It's interesting because I have a friend who's son had this exact situation. It sounds like school in working. How are her reading skills and math skills? Does she cooperate and do the work? If so then praise jesus and keep it going. Work on the home environment and see I'd the school can fill that part of her day.

 

 

My strongest recomendations is put her in a very high athletic sport where she needs to run a lot. The best year we had was when the school sponsored girls on the run. If she is raging you could tell her she either can get on the treadmill for 10 minutes or have a time out. You could also get a bike trainer ans hook her bike onto it ans have her peddle for 10 minutes. She needs to burn out that anger and anxiety.

 

 

 

Some kids just do better in the school environment. My oldest two loved homeschool. We took field trips when we wanted and had great fun. I miss those days. Then my youngest daughter came along and I can't teach her anything. She is wicked smart but will only learn from other adults. Instead she is in an advanced school and the teachers adore her and she is happy. I am happy.

 

I dont know much about medication my friends son is on intuniv. I will ask her if it is helping.

 

You also could watch some of Daniel Amen he thinks this is a totally different type of adhd and might have some ideas for supplements and treatment.

 

Sent from my SM-N910V using Tapatalk

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I can't tell you what will work best for your family, but I can tell you about my own family's experiences. DS -- also enrolled in school, also with ADHD and ODD but with other issues as well -- can be terrible, horrible in the mornings. Horrible.

 

I homeschooled my kids until he was in fifth grade, by which point I was completely spent and burned out (not just from dealing with DS, but that did play a big role). I realized I needed a team of people to help me. School has been good for him (and my other children) and has been a respite for me, which is no small thing.

 

DS does not act in the same way at school as he does at home. It is like he is two different people, and I have been known to say (to DH) that it is like living with Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. He does often exhibit a negative attitude at school (this has been noted on numerous occasions by his teachers) but is not defiant or horrible there. And his negative attitude is only coming out this year, after several years at the same school, because he has an extremely small class and feels comfortable being more of himself there this year than in years past when he has been in a larger group.

 

In years past, his teachers did not see his negativity, except for when I would pick him up at the end of the day (private school, where parents enter the school to get the children at the end of the day). His teachers did note that they could see he was different and hostile with me. But if they had not seen us together at the pick up time, they never would have observed this about him.

 

My personal feeling is that we become better at the things that we practice most. And school gives DS an extended period of time daily where he is practicing his best behavior. I see that as beneficial for him, overall, though it can be rough on my husband and me before and after school hours. It's good for DS to have people in his life who find him more enjoyable  and agreeable to be around. It's good for him to have successful behavior and interactions.

 

So we work on his behavior and our interactions at home. And we consider it better overall for him to be enrolled in school.

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OP, if you want to discuss ideas people may have for trying to improve mornings at your home, ask. I have discussed our issues with friends from the LC board and with a therapist in real life, and we've managed to improve mornings a little bit at our house. I also have ideas that others have suggested that we have not implemented as of yet, that I can try as time goes on.

 

Our therapist encouraged us to really think about the variables that we as parents can affect and control and work on changing those things in ways that make a positive difference, even if the difference is small. For example, DS would fight over what to eat for breakfast, so we discussed whether he could choose it the night before. Or whether we could make a breakfast meal plan that he would know it advance. And so on. We would discuss and try options to figure out what would work better.

 

We also talked about WHO interacts with DS in the mornings and how and if we could change that, by changing up the routines and finding what works best. Did he do better with one parent over the other? Did he do better if he ate breakfast alone while the other kids were not yet in the kitchen? The therapist tried to help us see that there were options we had not yet considered and also talked to us about HOW we interacted and what we could do differently as parents.

 

Really, in the end, we decided that this psych was not the perfect fit for our family's needs, but while we worked with him, he helped us think through things we had not considered before, and that was very helpful. I find that the advice on the LC board can be like that, as well, offering ideas that we hadn't considered.

 

One of the things that has helped the MOST is that we changed the time we gave the ADHD meds in the morning. This has been a pretty easy thing, overall, though it took us a long time to consider doing it.

 

We used to give them at breakfast, so that DS could eat first, because his meds suppress his appetite. He will often not each lunch, so we really prioritized eating, for good reasons.

 

But after encouragement to try switching the med administration, we now give it to him right when he wakes up, while he is still in his room. By the time he comes downstairs, the meds have started to take effect, and it makes a HUGE HUGE HUGE difference. He is often still spunky and argumentative to some extent, but it is much less, and he is not mean. The meanness was really the worst part, before. And he can still eat breakfast, though maybe not as much.

 

Since your child is taking meds, you might see if you can adjust when you give them. You can also talk to the doctor about whether a different med could be more effective. And you can also ask the doctor if it is possible to have an extra, shorter acting dose to give after school, so that the meds can be in effect for some of the time at home, if they wear off by the end of the school day.

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Why not do a trial in the summer? By then the meds should be working and during that time you can continue to seek evals and support and see how it goes. You won't lose anything by trying and you can still put her back in the fall if it's not working out. 

 

In the summer, all the older kids will be home. I already know what that looks like...

She's very social, and there are a lot of little girls her age in the neighborhood, so summertime they are outside playing as much as possible.

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This is advice I got, too. I would kind-of waver in the mornings about if he had to go, while he would cry and say his stomach hurt.

 

So this is why I got advice — either he’s committed to going or not. If he’s committed to going, then me wavering is taken off the table. My wavering was not doing anything to help him.

 

That was in 2nd grade for him.

 

For my other son, change can be hard, transitions can be hard, and there are a lot of possible transition supports and they do help. He has developed his ability to transition a lot and does much better now. For him — it was worst in K and getting better the second semester of K.

 

Yes. Her stomach hurts all the time. I'm sure it really hurts. I'm also sure that 90% of the time it's psychosomatic. That's such simple, but good advice. I think she does better for dh because there's never any question in his mind about whether or not she's going. 

 

In talking to the therapist, we've noticed that transitions are always hard. If it's not exactly the way she planned or wants or what I said it would be, the rage monster comes out.

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For everyone that is suggesting I look into ASD, what about sociability or fixations? She's my only extravert, and she's happiest when she's got friends around (one more reason she's always been in school). I don't see asd, because she's so peer-oriented and because I don't see her talking non-stop about one topic of interest. But there are some other things that definitely fit--like being really rigid when things change.

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OP, if you want to discuss ideas people may have for trying to improve mornings at your home, ask. I have discussed our issues with friends from the LC board and with a therapist in real life, and we've managed to improve mornings a little bit at our house. I also have ideas that others have suggested that we have not implemented as of yet, that I can try as time goes on.

 

Our therapist encouraged us to really think about the variables that we as parents can affect and control and work on changing those things in ways that make a positive difference, even if the difference is small. For example, DS would fight over what to eat for breakfast, so we discussed whether he could choose it the night before. Or whether we could make a breakfast meal plan that he would know it advance. And so on. We would discuss and try options to figure out what would work better.

 

We also talked about WHO interacts with DS in the mornings and how and if we could change that, by changing up the routines and finding what works best. Did he do better with one parent over the other? Did he do better if he ate breakfast alone while the other kids were not yet in the kitchen? The therapist tried to help us see that there were options we had not yet considered and also talked to us about HOW we interacted and what we could do differently as parents.

 

Really, in the end, we decided that this psych was not the perfect fit for our family's needs, but while we worked with him, he helped us think through things we had not considered before, and that was very helpful. I find that the advice on the LC board can be like that, as well, offering ideas that we hadn't considered.

 

One of the things that has helped the MOST is that we changed the time we gave the ADHD meds in the morning. This has been a pretty easy thing, overall, though it took us a long time to consider doing it.

 

We used to give them at breakfast, so that DS could eat first, because his meds suppress his appetite. He will often not each lunch, so we really prioritized eating, for good reasons.

 

But after encouragement to try switching the med administration, we now give it to him right when he wakes up, while he is still in his room. By the time he comes downstairs, the meds have started to take effect, and it makes a HUGE HUGE HUGE difference. He is often still spunky and argumentative to some extent, but it is much less, and he is not mean. The meanness was really the worst part, before. And he can still eat breakfast, though maybe not as much.

 

Since your child is taking meds, you might see if you can adjust when you give them. You can also talk to the doctor about whether a different med could be more effective. And you can also ask the doctor if it is possible to have an extra, shorter acting dose to give after school, so that the meds can be in effect for some of the time at home, if they wear off by the end of the school day.

 

Discussing what to do in the mornings sounds like a great idea. We have today and tomorrow off school for snow, so now would be a perfect time to talk with her without any pressure. 

 

Also, the timing of her medication isn't an issue right now. It's a non-stimulant with continuous coverage. Right now she takes in at night, because that's when it's easiest for me to remember. I tried morning, but there's already too much to stay on top of with her, and it has to be taken with food, so if she's eating a bagel as she walks out the door, I forget to give her the medication.

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For everyone that is suggesting I look into ASD, what about sociability or fixations? She's my only extravert, and she's happiest when she's got friends around (one more reason she's always been in school). I don't see asd, because she's so peer-oriented and because I don't see her talking non-stop about one topic of interest. But there are some other things that definitely fit--like being really rigid when things change.

 

Well, first of all, it may not be ASD. But doing a complete evaluation, including asking if maybe it *is*, will get you a lot more information.

 

Second, lots of kids on (or near) the spectrum are very interested in having friends. My dd had friends in school and still has friends now. What we see is more the inflexibility, rigidity, low frustration tolerance, anxiety, etc. The idea that they have to be withdrawn is a myth. That's part of why therapists accustomed to the classic presentation don't recognize ASD often.

 

Special interests may not look quite like you're expecting, either. For many girls, it's a strong interest in animals, but it might be something different. Dd does not talk about her interest all the time. But, over time, she does have one area that has absorbed her consistently, while other things come and go. And I'm not even sure every kid on the spectrum has a special interest. It's all highly variable.

 

You might check out books by Tony Attwood. I think he has one on girls on the spectrum. See if anything sounds familiar.

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For autism kids can have high or low social motivation. It’s possible to be extroverted. It just will come across different ways. There would still be a social deficit in some way (I think).

 

For fixations, rigidity is in the same category as fixations.

 

My son who would have stomach aches has “spectrum traits†but he does not have autism. With his questionnaire he scored really high on anxiety. He also had an OT eval and he needed OT and he got some classroom supports related to that (handwriting). They thought it could be situational anxiety or general anxiety, at this point we think it was situational because he’s doing a lot better. He could develop general anxiety though.

 

It will depend on your school, but the school counselor was really on top of school refusal. My son was similar in not showing some things at school. The school counselor was really helpful, though, with suggestions for me and talking to his teacher about suggestions, and seeing him a few times.

 

Something we also did for a while was that every day we went into the nurse’s office and he had his temperature taken. The nurse was very nice. In retrospect that also got him out of the chaos of kids going into school.

 

I didn’t know it at the time but it was an autism accommodation at that school for kids to have a quiet place to wait in the morning and then go to class after 15 minutes when everything was settled down.

 

The system there (at a school of 600 kids) was K-3 in the cafeteria, 4-6 in the gym, until 8:30, then school starting at 8:35. Walkers and drop-offs were allowed to hang around the front of the school until 8:30 (not allowed in until then) and it was very loud and a lot of commotion.

 

For my younger son I could take him 15 min late or I could take him 30 min early. Complicated by dropping off my other kids and my older son by then having anxiety about being late!!!!!!! With 30 min early he could eat there and be settled into a quiet room before the chaos started. With taking him late I would drop off other kids in the drop-off lane and then park and hang around a few minutes and then walk him in. That was —— I don’t know, it would depend on the day. With early he liked the school junk food breakfast and motivated to get there (and not run late and have to eat home breakfast) and I did not have the time pressure, so those were both really helpful.

 

It can be hard for kids to verbalize but if she can tell you anything like this then it may be things you can work around.

Edited by Lecka
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It sounds like your dd generally is social and likes being with other kids...which makes it seem like she'd want to continue with school and be eager to get there.

 

But she doesn't and isn't.

 

I wonder what's up with that?

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For my older son there were some specific things his classroom teacher did that helped his school experience.

 

But for my younger son I have asked and asked this and basically it comes down to change is hard, and this is a huge transition in the day.

 

I checked so much on his school experience!

 

I think checking on the school experience is really important too, though.

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Just another thought, if you think there may be something at school the teacher isn’t aware it. Sometimes the counselor or someone will observe kids at lunch or recess or other times of day when she’s not with the classroom teacher.

 

This is important because some kids do well with structure and then have trouble with less structured times and often that’s when they aren’t with their classroom teacher.

 

The classroom teacher also may not go to lunch or recess and not be aware of any issues then.

 

It is a good question and there could be a problem!

 

If it seems like there really isn’t a problem at school, I think it can come down to transitions being hard.

 

It doesn’t seem like it should be that big of a deal, but I have been in the meeting and heard them say it is a hard transition and the biggest transition of the day. It means going between two different environments wnd two different sets of people. It is more change than it seems like for something that seems so every-day to me.

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Yes. Her stomach hurts all the time. I'm sure it really hurts. I'm also sure that 90% of the time it's psychosomatic. That's such simple, but good advice. I think she does better for dh because there's never any question in his mind about whether or not she's going. 

 

In talking to the therapist, we've noticed that transitions are always hard. If it's not exactly the way she planned or wants or what I said it would be, the rage monster comes out.

This improved on my ds with ABA. She sounds very stressed honestly. The number one thing you could do for her right now is lower her stress. Not lower her activities, but lower her stress. The stress has a really bad physical effect in autism (they're researching it and think it's a key component), so lowering stress is a key strategy.

 

For everyone that is suggesting I look into ASD, what about sociability or fixations? She's my only extravert, and she's happiest when she's got friends around (one more reason she's always been in school). I don't see asd, because she's so peer-oriented and because I don't see her talking non-stop about one topic of interest. But there are some other things that definitely fit--like being really rigid when things change.

 

My ds is socially motivated. It sounds like you need the ADOS rather than relying on forms.

Edited by PeterPan
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Does the teacher see signs of the mixed type ADHD and anxiety, but not the behavior issues you see at home?

 

Did the teacher fill out rating scales too?

 

I’m just curious/hypothetical.

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Does the teacher see signs of the mixed type ADHD and anxiety, but not the behavior issues you see at home?

 

Did the teacher fill out rating scales too?

 

I’m just curious/hypothetical.

She filled out rating scales too, but she really doesn’t see anything. This is her second year teaching. Every other teacher at that school I’ve talked to says she’s a solid teacher, but I just see this young girl fresh out of college. Also, dd8 is 2e, so the giftedness probably masks symptoms at school.

 

Dd has said that she hates sitting in her chair all day. She says she has a hard time paying attention and fidget toys help. She really wants a yoga ballot sit on, but the teacher doesn’t see a need for that (“she doesn’t have a problem staying in her seat.â€). I was so tempted to tell dd she needs to start popping out of her chair every time she feels like moving. Last year, dd’s teacher was a veteran teacher and she allowed kids to bring yoga balls in for chairs. I think the combination of flexible seating and a somewhat rigid teacher helped her be calmer.

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It sounds like your dd generally is social and likes being with other kids...which makes it seem like she'd want to continue with school and be eager to get there.

 

 

But she doesn't and isn't.

 

I wonder what's up with that?

I wish I knew!! She really can’t verbalize any problems other than, “I hate school and I never want to go again!!â€

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You're so screaming autism here. Not being able to verbalize the problem, etc. etc. The ADOS is done by a trained person who spends about an hour going through a series of activities. They're usually pretty pleasurable. During it, the person sits there ticking off behaviors, keeping track. It gives a standardized way of explaining what's going on and busts through the stupidity of these forms. Yes, we had a great gym teacher who was like sure, I'll fill out forms. The guy was so ADHD, he saw nothing or just little bits. You're not going to get anywhere with the forms. You want the ADOS done. Even if you have to drive to find it, that's what you're looking for.

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Really, sometimes teachers just don't see things.

 

Last year, our pediatrician wanted to update the ADHD records, so we asked two of DS's teachers to fill out screening forms. The doctor looked at them and said, "It's as if they are talking about two completely different children." Because the intervention teacher really gets it and works closely with DS and marked him as having great trouble with many things. While the classroom teacher, whose attention was divided among the 20 kids in the room, just didn't observe the behaviors.

 

And if the meds are in effect during the school day, they hopefully will be making a difference as well.

 

It sounds like she is allowed some accommodations, if she is permitted fidgets. Have you talked to the school about whether she could qualify for a 504? As long as you are subject to the whims of what each teacher will allow, it may be frustrating. A 504 gives legal rights for her to have certain accommodations, if they help her, no matter which teacher she has each year.

 

For example, the yoga ball. It's purpose is not to keep the student from popping up out of the seat. https://www.healthguideinfo.com/adhd-add-treatment/p116004/  This is just an article that I found with a five second internet search. You may need to kindly educate this teacher a little bit.  Here is another one:  https://www.livestrong.com/article/403541-what-are-the-benefits-of-stability-balls-in-schools/

 

Is this a public school? Have you brought up the concerns with someone in the intervention department and asked them to meet with you and the teacher to discuss the diagnosis and possible ways to help your daughter and whether she might benefit from being considered for a 504?

Edited by Storygirl
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I am linking about shutdowns.

 

https://autismawarenesscentre.com/shutdowns-stress-autism/

 

This is pretty broad but the main thing is the stress response, the release of stress chemicals. It’s not good. It takes time for the stress chemicals to leave the body.

 

And then the thing is kids get flooded with these stress chemicals and one or two things happens.

 

1. Outward behavior. You are seeing outward behavior at home.

 

2. Inward behavior. She could be having inward behavior at school. She might, she might not. It’s possible though, and it is Not Good.

 

I went to a speaker who talked about this. (Brenda Smith Myles who talks a lot about the stress cycle.).

 

She said that it is better for kids to have outward behavior. They get help. They get the help and support they need. People try to help them solve their problems and provide supports and accommodations.

 

Because it’s really obvious!!!!!

 

She said the kids who are sitting there and flying under the radar don’t do as well in adulthood because they have missed out on help.

 

Her point — don’t let kids who aren’t acting out miss out on getting help, they still need help.

 

Anyway ——— that is all for autism.

 

Even if it’s not autism, this kind of principle is the same.

 

This is the same kind of stuff that happens with anxiety (I think) but the reasons behind things are different.

 

I’m having more of an opinion like you need to see if some things can change for the better for her at school, or it could be better to homeschool. If you homeschool and the stress chemicals clear from her body ——— that can work out awesome.

 

I think it does matter what is going on.

 

The thing with school refusal (from my understanding) is there are a lot of possible reasons. Some of these are reasons that are solved by homeschooling.

 

Some of them are reasons where the problem can get kicked down the road with homeschooling. Because of some things with my son, and my lack of being able to get him to do various things, I did not think I would be able to do well with him at home. I had a summer I couldn’t get him to leave the house. I had a few years I couldn’t get him to church because he would be so difficult and then sulk and pout. I found out later that a woman volunteering for a music program was being really picky and perfectionist and now I think that was a huge factor, but I didn’t know that at the time. It is so frustrating when one “little thing†will turn him off from going somewhere. And he is also very slow to warm up so he doesn’t talk to kids easily when I try to take him to things.

 

So anyway — I think I could have easily had that kind of situation where kids just get more anxious and less willing, and rarely leave the house.

 

But that is not just going to happen if you don’t see any signs of her being that way.

 

Many kids who are reacting to a poor fit at school are going to do great at home.

 

I think too, a lot of things do sound like autism. Because the things you have mentioned and autism do overlap.

 

The difference is with social skills, from my understanding.

 

But autism can be like — all the things you are mentioning plus social skills, it isn’t surprising people think it could be autism.

 

I don’t know, it depends how she does socially. If she does well then it’s not. But it’s not that autism is some separate thing, it can be very close to what you are describing plus something social, there is huge overlap.

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https://www.pdsd.org/cms/lib/PA01000989/Centricity/Domain/7/The%20Cycle%20of%20Tantrums.pdf

 

This is another link that is specifically about autism, but it is (my understanding) the same kind of thing with anxiety and other things.

 

A main thing is that acting inwardly or acting outwardly are the same thing, just one is inward and one is outward. So there are kids who will look fine while having an inward reaction.

 

I have no idea if this is the case with your daughter at school, but it’s something to be aware of!

 

It can be related to cycles where kids are “good†at school, but all the stress is building up, and then at home they act out.

 

But addressing things at school is what is needed, because that is the source of the stress.

 

Now ——— I don’t think this is what was going on with my older son, but it is still good to know about, and for some kids it does really fit.

 

If she is doing all her work at the right time, participating in class, and doing well at lunch and recess, then I would not think this.

 

But it can be something where a parent starts to hear about little cracks in the facade that add up, even if one thing at a time doesn’t seem to matter very much. And at school if it’s happening at lunch, recess, and PE, or something like that, the classroom teacher isn’t there and nobody connects the dots.

 

If you were at the same school as my kids I would suggest to make an appointment with the school counselor. But it’s one of those things I think it could be a waste of time if the school counselor is focused on other things.

 

It’s good if anyone sees you struggling with her in the morning, they can see there is a problem! It’s better than nobody seeing a problem.

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The thing is too, supports and accommodations do help. Teaching skills does help. It takes time but it’s not like these are permanent things.

 

Kids are different but kids don’t need to stay stuck in the worst-for-them, all kids improve when things are working better for them.

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This isn’t the process I have done (so I don’t know specifics) — but for stuff like the yoga ball, if you can get something like that on her paperwork from the evaluation, and take that in to school, that’s the kind of thing you could get on a 504 or IEP.

 

It is a pain but you probably need to try to see what you can do this way, and for me — I could tell my son that I was talking to his teacher and working to do stuff like this for him. It made a big difference on seeming like I am on his side and not against him and just taking a role of making him attend school but not doing anything to show I see his side and think the school experience could be better for him.

 

The thing for me also, this son was always my #2 priority during this whole time. My other son was always my #1 priority. So I needed school to work for him.

 

I was very lucky to be in a good school for things like this. Not perfect, often with frustrations, but it was a school that tried and made an effort, which goes a long way.

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You can be an extrovert and have autism. You can be socially motivated and have autism. So if you try to judge it yourself and go well she's too social to have autism, you're probably going to be incorrect.

 

 

...all kids improve when things are working better for them.

 

This is SO true. We tried a speech therapist recently who left ds stimming and under the table in 20 minutes. She was going by his current IEP, which says ED (ie. he's bad, be firm), and that's what happens. We're getting his IEP changed to say autism, with supports that people who work with him successfully already do, like PAIRING, offering choice, using visual supports, helping him express when he needs breaks and self-advocate. When you give simple supports like this, boom, he's a much easier child to work with. 

 

Socialthinking - Articles  Here's the link to the Social Communication Profiles. It will flesh out for you what Lecka is saying, that there are social thinking (not socializing but social thinking) differences between various profiles and diagnoses. See where your dc is. The approaches and outcomes really are very different. When people approach my ds as "you're bad, I will be firm," he can't handle it. He needs support to get where he needs to be, support to self-advocate and feel calm. 

 

You might try doing some size of the problem work with her and see if you can give words to what is bothering her at school. Like make a whole list of things it could be. When you go to school, does it seem loud? When you go to school, is someone not nice? When you go to school, are you tired? When you go to school, do you miss me? You could make up a list of things like this, because there are probably lots of things going on. And you could say on a scale of 1-5 (or 1-10), where 1 is a small problem you can solve yourself and 5 is CALL THE POLICE, how big a problem is this? Is this happening every day or once in a while?

 

If you put words to it, maybe more will come out like that. If someone has verbal communication deficits, self-awareness deficits, all kinds of things could be happening. She is more likely to be a target of bullying or victimization. My ds was bullied at gymnastics and couldn't tell us. It just started coming out as behaviors and refusing to go. She might be frustrated by sensory or noise. She might be having trouble with her locker. A bunch of little things could be going on that she can't problem solve and that people at the school aren't noticing to help her. 

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I wish I knew!! She really can’t verbalize any problems other than, “I hate school and I never want to go again!!â€

 

 

If she cannot verbalize well in general, it does sound like autism or anyway something other (or in addition to) ADHD/ODD going on.

 

 

 

If she can generally verbalize well about things, but just not about why she hates school, then you might be able to get at more specifics by asking her very specific questions--or even by trying to figure out what parts are okay.

 

Perhaps go through all the kids and ask her what each of them is like and determine if any of them are nice to her.  Who does she eat lunch with and where? Who does she sit next to in each class or activity she has and what is that person like?  How does she perceive each of her teachers?  Has anyone called her or anyone else names?  Has anyone been mean to her or anyone else?   etc.

 

It sounds like there could be some sort of bullying or social ostracism or isolation going on to have the sort of reaction that even that one sentence gives as a clue.  

 

I think if schoolwork is just boring or too hard you'd be unlikely to get such a vehement sentence. To me that seems like a red flag of something going on that is emotionally or socially painful.

 

It would help a lot, I think, to find out what.  If bullying, then she should IMO be taken out of the school (and they should be spoken to about it). If she cannot make a friend, then she needs some social instructional help and supports for how to do that. If she's reacting over strongly to something that is perhaps negative, but not bullying, then she needs help learning how to cope.   etc.

 

 

Does she have siblings or other kids you know at same school who might be more articulate and have a clue about what is going on?

 

 

 

 

Are there any other school options, or is it that school or homeschool and that is it?

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If there is some dysfunctional environment at school, or if the school is unwilling to do reasonable things, then I think changing a school can be good.

 

If this isn't the case I have known way too many people take their kids from one school, thinking it's the school, and then at the new school there are the same issues.  

 

Of course I know a lot of autism parents!  That's definitely a "who I happen to know" little bubble, but I think it is less disruptive to try things at a current school if there is a decison to stay with public school.  

 

The only two kids I have known where a school change made a huge difference:  one was being actively bullied at recess and the school would do nothing, wouldn't admit it was happening, etc, because it was done in a quiet way and the recess supervision wasn't aware it was going on.  The other one, the principal had labeled this little boy as a bad boy, other kids were setting him off on purpose, and only he would get in trouble.  

 

Both of those boys did great after transferring to my kids' school.  

 

Other than that it has been more like it's a little depressing to see some issues continue when there had been a strong hope that changing the school environment would bring a more drastic change.  

 

It's hard.  

 

And it is hard to tell!  

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I am linking about shutdowns.

 

https://autismawarenesscentre.com/shutdowns-stress-autism/

 

This is pretty broad but the main thing is the stress response, the release of stress chemicals. It’s not good. It takes time for the stress chemicals to leave the body.

 

And then the thing is kids get flooded with these stress chemicals and one or two things happens.

 

1. Outward behavior. You are seeing outward behavior at home.

 

2. Inward behavior. She could be having inward behavior at school. She might, she might not. It’s possible though, and it is Not Good.

 

I went to a speaker who talked about this. (Brenda Smith Myles who talks a lot about the stress cycle.).

 

She said that it is better for kids to have outward behavior. They get help. They get the help and support they need. People try to help them solve their problems and provide supports and accommodations.

 

Because it’s really obvious!!!!!

 

She said the kids who are sitting there and flying under the radar don’t do as well in adulthood because they have missed out on help.

 

Her point — don’t let kids who aren’t acting out miss out on getting help, they still need help.

 

Anyway ——— that is all for autism.

 

Even if it’s not autism, this kind of principle is the same.

 

This is the same kind of stuff that happens with anxiety (I think) but the reasons behind things are different.

 

 

Fascinating. Thanks!
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