Monday, May 18, 2015

Slightly better?

So far so good, anyway. I'm not sure kiddo is any different, but the setting is different, and I think that's what he needed most -- to be in a room where there's always someone to help him, and he isn't automatically the bad kid, and the other kids are more or less like him anyway. Arguably he needed that at least a year ago. But he's got it now, and he's had some good days -- and he's actually doing his homework instead of, say, hiding it under a floor mat at school and then coming home and telling us he didn't have any.

We had one awful day last week, where he switched into some other, meaner kid and was kicking and punching so he wouldn't have to do homework, but we're hoping that was him transitioning into the new situation; we haven't seen the other kid since, at least not to that level.

We spent the entire week alternately meeting with and yelling at various school officials over the way we thought the whole situation had been handled, and to everyone's credit, they were helpful and did not yell back. So we will try not to dwell.

Everyone we speak to has a different theory, a different concern about kiddo. He's OCD. He's not OCD. He's got social communication disorder. Well, now we're not sure about that. He's got pieces of autism. Hmm, sort of. He needs speech-language pathology testing. Nope, no disability there.

Let him indulge in the baby talk. No, tell him to stop. Use a behavior chart. Don't use a chart. Use THIS chart. Get him into Boy Scouts. He might not do well in Boy Scouts.

Is your head spinning yet? Imagine mine.

So he's got ADHD, and some form of Who Knows What Else.

The one thing every single doctor, therapist, educator and otherwise observant adult is happy to agree on is that kiddo is smart. Which is great. But we jump off from there into a minefield of "This-No-This-No-This-No-Try-This."

There is something that stuck with me, from the school's OT, who wanted to pass on her observations about him: She said that because kiddo doesn't understand emotional communication, he just doesn't speak that language, he spent most of school in this "fight or flight" state, not understanding what was happening around him, not sure what to do about anything, and thus constantly trying to protect himself by lashing out, acting silly or running off. She thinks some of his behaviors, sometimes aggressive, seemingly out of nowhere, were defense mechanisms. It makes sense to me. (It may also describe some other people I know.)

I'm not sure yet what to do with that insight. I'm not sure what to do about a lot of things. But it's nice not to be getting calls from the school every day -- seriously, I was starting to cringe every time the phone rang -- and it's nice to see his daily chart saying positive things. I'm hoping it can continue.

He came home today and, after some protest, did his homework. Then he sat next to me on the couch and waited for me to finish something so he could use my computer. Then he fell asleep on my shoulder. I finished my work that way, with him sleeping on me, and it was such a peaceful little moment. We don't always get those, so I'm glad I got that one.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

And then it all went bad

And I'm still not sure why or how. He was great for a week and a half, then he started chasing kids around the classroom with a stapler. And scribbling potty words all over the walls of the room with a pink highlighter. And grabbing scissors off his teacher's desk. And trying to run out of the school. And pushing his teacher. And throwing things at me.

Repeatedly his special ed. teacher has had to pull the other kids out of the room while he acts out. And then no classwork gets done. Which, apparently, is what he wants.

Honestly I feel like I have whiplash. Within the space of several weeks -- granted not helped by spring break, or by kiddo's doctor-enforced ban on gym and recess while the cut on his forehead heals (four weeks, the plastic surgeon said, and HAHAHAHAHA YOU'RE KIDDING, I thought) -- his IEP team went from "we're going to try a new behavioral plan, it'll totally work!" to "the behavioral plan is totally working!" to "we can't handle him anymore and here is where you should send him instead."

Seems there's a self-contained program at one of the other schools in the district, more therapeutic, with a counselor on hand all day, smaller classes and extra aides in the room. More individualized academic goals. A separate room right nearby for decompressing and, as the terminology goes, "de-escalating." On paper it sounds promising. In person -- we've toured it twice, once with kiddo -- it also seems promising. In the IEP meeting, it sounded like "we give up and we're offloading him so he's someone else's problem." It's hard to know which impression to rely on.

I'm so unbelievably frustrated. Four years we've been working on this whole ADHD thing, four years of occupational therapy and behavioral therapy and classroom accommodations and fighting with the insurance company and tensing up every single time he has to be brought out in public, and we have gotten precisely nowhere. We might as well have been the crappy parents people clearly think we are, and ignored every single little thing he was doing instead of trying to help him. This is where my head is at.

I know, intellectually, that we're doing the best we can and we've worked really hard, and probably this program will help him, and eventually things will probably get better. But right now I'm thinking about how the other kids at the bus stop are going to ask why he isn't in class with them anymore, and I don't know how I'm supposed to answer that.

All I know is, if anyone wants to know what I want for Mother's Day, it's to be left alone. In bed. And to go at least one day without any reports on my kid's bad behavior.

I mean, an all-expenses-paid spa vacation would be nice too. But I'd like to keep my wish list in the realm of reality.