Wednesday, May 5, 2010

School Blues

This is so very hard. I sit here at just after 3 am in the morning unable to sleep for worry. He is unravelling before my eyes. Two horrific days at school, and Monday was a holiday. I bumped into his teacher yesterday at the local shops, but knew it had been a bad one. Any day when his friend meets you at the gate in tears because she fears he will run away as he threatened is a bad one. The workload is horrific. Three major assignments this week, and the usual homework on top of that. This is Grade 6, for hell's sake... not high school. Others are suffering too, but they do not place the enormous amount of pressure to achieve on themselves he does. The perfectionist, always craving the A's, never accepting less.
His teacher told me a parent has complained about him, and the disruption he is causing. I can understand their concerns, but what the hell are we meant to do? He loves his school and is terrified he may be asked to leave, and yet he cannot seem to control this upsurge of emotion. I think it is time we asked about medication to help with the anxiety, for none of the tools he has are of any use.

I am being tough on him, hard on him, pushing him to use all he has learned over the years to help himself, but am I making it worse? Should now be the time to tread lightly, or will he use that to let go off the little grip he has left?

I do not know how to help my child. I think we are all going to break. God help us.

A , lost and bewildered in the wee hours.


  1. I seem to be right there with you. My guy is 9 and in 3rd grade but the last few months have been horrible. We're also considering medication because our boy says he can't control it any more and he's asked for help.

    I wish you lots of luck and strength.


  2. My boy is 11 and we are having a tough go of it as well. My son is on three meds and really, they don't seem to help much except cause him significant weight gain.

    A long time ago, I did a parent to parent support group where an "experienced" autism parent and linked with a person who is new to the game and needs support. My parent partner's child was much older than mine, so I asked about the middle and high school experiences. She just laughed. I asked her what was funny. She replied: "School hard. If there's one thing that you need to know, remember, and eventually accept, is that school is ALWAYS hard for them."

    At first I dismissed this as negative and I chose not to believe this.

    I believe it now.

    Hang in there, we are here for you in cyberland.

  3. This is a very painful time for you all. We are no where near what you are dealing with, my son just started kindergarten. It is very true that school is always hard. Maybe you can make home the 'down time' space as much as possible. It is a very difficult juggling act for all of you. Sue Larkey has some very helpful suggestions if you have time to read more.
    All the best, I hope you get some sleep.

  4. Oh, I've studied Sue Larkey until I'm blue in the face. Bought her first book 6 years ago.

    We have always had down time, but with the assignment and homework pressures that is non-existant at the moment.

    Kim, which meds did you try if you don't mind me asking. He is a big boy already, really want to avoid more weight gain if possible...

  5. Logged on this morn to find 'MM posted 4 hours ago'. WTF? That's the middle of the night. The time when the thoughts go round and round the roundabout, miss the exit, and go round again.

    Hope you've had some sleep and find an exit road today.

    Keeping mentally healthy > school marks. Every time. Convincing the boy will probably be easier said than done. Do it.

    Advice from my Speedy (15) would be that A's and C's and E's are all the same in primary school. Save the effort for high school. He did, and it worked.

    Advice from Dreamer (17) would be that if you can't do the assignments the way you want, shut down and do none of them. Don't take this advice.

    Advice from Dreamer's psychiatrist is that Dreamer has probably been depressed since grade 6, and with perfect retro-vision should have been on medication then.

    Dreamer (recently medicated) explained that pre-meds, he cared about things too much, and the only way for him to cope was to 'not care about anything at all'. He told me that the meds made him care less, which meant that he could start to care about things, knowing that it wouldn't be overwhelming.

    If that makes any sense at all.

    On a practical note, the teacher *can* give official extensions for assignments/homework, and put the work in a priority order for you. Don't take no for an answer.

    And you can insist on a mental health day, where you can help him 'catch up' with work, or just do nothing. Order him. Watch movies. Go out.

    Hope you're feeling much better this few hours later, now that there's sunshine and coffee.

  6. We do the mental health days, have done since he was five (his second grade teacher was very amused when the boy walked in quivering and states: "Mrs R, I am having a mental health day!"), and you are right, it's him we need to convince.

    I will ask of you also, what meds have you found to be effective? I only know of risperadone(dol)?

    No more sleep, am at work now hoping today is better for him than yesterday.

  7. I like reading these comments.

    MM, my kiddo is on Abilify, Tenex, and Buspar. We'd LOVE him OFF the Abilify (that's the weight bearing one), but we tried that and got some very odd and aggressive behavior (same as what we got BEFORE it). I don't see the value in the Tenex and I see zero value in the Buspar (which is pretty common according to the doc--50% don't notice much if any improvement). We tried Cellexa and that was BAD (lots, and lots of side effects). In time, we'd like to move off Abilify--the good news is that my kiddo is very committed to exercise (bikeriding) and healthier eating (which is a blessing for any autistic child to expand dietary choices).

  8. Started Zoloft in, umm, January I think. He loves it. Helping fantastically with depression/anxiety/shut down. Only minor improvements on the OCD type stuff so far, but he is not yet at the normally-effective-for-OCD dosages yet.

    For example, the above description about caring/not caring just would not have happened pre-meds. He was very uncommunicative.

    He is participating more socially, which is thrilling his friends (the ones who have stuck with him), and even decided a mobile phone is a necessity where before it would have been "Why would I want a phone?"

    Off to psych appointment now.

  9. Our boy's been on a whole slew of meds, the latest being Fluoxetine (Prozac).
    That is one reason why we went the homeschooling route - the pressure is just going to keep increasing :(

  10. my 16 year old is on prozac. Best thing we ever did for her. She still has some bad days, but she's stopped getting so overwhelmed by having to do assignments perfectly that she can't do them at all, she's not losing the plot in class when there is too much going on around her or she's missed something and it's slowed her emotional response to situations enough that she can now recognise when she's going to get emotional instead of going from woe to explode without warning.

    It helps. And it helps all the other things to help.


  11. We had a choice of Prozac/Zoloft, went Zoloft, it's working, so we'll stick with it :)

    Ms Mad, how was Thursday please?

  12. He has done his usual. With lots of big conversations, tears, reasoning he turned it around for Thurs and Friday.

    I am so sick of this rollercoaster and scared of where it will end, but for now we are on the upswing. I did ask Big Boy if he thought Boy 1 may be bipolar. His moods are so very extreme.

  13. Thank you for sharing. It reminds me...I remember crying and getting stomach aches about the IEP meetings and the assignments, and the shutting down thing. P.E., ugh. I was always fighting with everybody (in a calm, complimentary voice, of course) pushing back as they were pushing on him, me, our family.
    We COULDN'T have down time at home---90 minutes of freak-out time from keeping it together all day, over 2 hours of homework, even if the assignment was only supposed to take 30 minutes, picking eating for repetitive dinners, slamming doors, yelling, ......but HE DIDN'T EVEN REALIZE WHAT HE WAS DOING. He wouldn't remember what had occurred during the meltdowns. And he really is so sweet otherwise. It was very hard to watch. So hard.
    So, I've already mentioned we started home school. AAAAA, breath.
    My mother-in-law's first born has autism also, and she tells of how hard school was on him. She wishes she had the resources we have now----so many options.
    Consider the options.

  14. Have a stress-free weekend, MM, and lots of hugs for Boy1. I'm sure he's as terrified and worried about his outbursts as you are.


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