Just when I thought things had settle... - CHADD's ADHD Pare...

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Just when I thought things had settled down & we had his ADHD well managed....

GhostOrchid profile image
10 Replies

Is it just me, or does anyone else feel like just when you think things are finally going well the sh!t hits the fan? My husband and I just had a conversation last month about how things with my son had finally settled down and we had his ADHD well managed. It had been 2 long years getting him diagnosed, medicated, and transitioned to middle school. We weren't walking on eggshells each morning trying to avoid meltdowns. The afternoons weren't terrible--most were actually enjoyable. My son would have an occasional outburst, but we have been successful in navigating the situation and getting him calmed before he exploded. There were no calls/emails from the school. Everything was fine... until it wasn't.

He made the soccer team a couple of weeks ago. Then within a week I got 3-4 phone calls from my son crying hysterically for me to come to get him. Some boys on the team would only let the "cool kids" in the locker room and my son wasn't cool enough. They picked him up, carried him around, and put him under the bleachers! They put him in headlocks. They would jump over top of him. (My son is a lot smaller than most of the other boys. I'm only 5'1" and as of now he is taking after me for height.) The coach doesn't have a lot of patience and my son can be very hyper and honestly, he can be annoying when he gets fixated on right/wrong. We tried to help him manage the situation without running and telling the coach every little thing. Well on Friday things went south at practice. My son hit a couple of the boys with a water bottle in retaliation. They ganged up and told the coach. The coach said he was on thin ice and my son lost his cool and quit. I explained to the coach that the boys had been bullying him and even though their stories matched each other, they were omitting things they did to instigate it. My son overreacted and shouldn't have spoken to the coach the way he did. He shouldn't have spoken to me the way he did when I picked him up. I'm okay with him not being on the team because of those two things, so we are going to use this as a teachable moment.

Fast forward to Monday during his last class. One of his old teammates is in his class and told him the team had a party when he quit! No one on the team likes him. They're thrilled he is not on the team anymore. My son starts cutting up paper. This is a technique his old therapist taught him to self-soothe. The student teacher told him to quit and he wouldn't. He was disrespectful, made faces at her, etc. He got two days of in-school suspension. I'm still waiting to hear from the teacher. This is the same class last week that my son got in trouble with a different teacher. (I'm still trying to figure out why there are so many teachers in this class.) She told him not another word and he said "okay". He thinks he was acknowledging that he heard her. She took that as him being a smartass. It was probably a little bit of both.

I need suggestions on how to handle this. Unlike being on a soccer team, he does need to go to class. Being disrespectful to the teacher is inexcusable and I want him to do better. But, what is an 11-year-old supposed to do when he is being bullied; is using what I believe is a common self-soothing technique; and, the teacher tells him to stop? I'm lost. By the time a kid is cutting or tearing paper, he is past the point of calm conversations at that moment.

I've requested another 504 meeting.

10 Replies
Trying1978 profile image

Omg yes. I say that to my wife all the time. That it's like a bad relationship: you just keep hoping for "a few good days," so you can get back to normal. We have 2/3 ADHDers here (really 3/5, if you count my wife, too), so I often feel like I am just trying to tiptoe across a spider web.

As for the teacher, that's tough. It shouldn't be the best response but, also, also I'm sure sure the teacher is worried about safety above all. Not trying to be annoying. I'm a teacher, so take my reaction with a grain of salt. But suspension? Or "smart-ass"? No way! Wtf is wrong there? My son just had to ask for scissors every time he needed them last year because he kept cutting up his own clothing in a self-stimming way! That is some school culture your son has to deal with that needs adjusting.

Oh man, the bullying. Can you believe this shit in 2023? I have been shocked by it on our end, although it has actually been more with "mean girls" and our older daughter than our son. (Out youngest is blissfully not in "real school" yet.)

With my son, I walk a really fine line that is so gendered, I know. I'm like, if someone tries to hurt you, you fight back as hard as you can, and I will take the hit from the school, not you. But, if it's not that, just ignore it and get away. Tbh, I was horribly physically bullied at school until I was 12, so my "hit back" response is likely not in line with current thinking. I think your son did a good job sticking up for himself, and those kids sound awful. The coach, too. Cromag. No joke, I quit soccer over mistreatment 10 million years ago.

I would go to the school meeting armed with a letter or direct quotes from his psychiatrist and therapist re allowable in-class activities, as well as a printed out recent scholarly article, and I would threaten to bring holy legal hell down on the school for the bullying in the meeting. My wife might do that part because she can be scarier than me in an official situation.

That's just me, though. Not saying I'm right. But you have all my sympathy, as does your son. I learned my practical American male life lesson about size at the end of grade school. (Obviously, I'm the dad here.) After 7th grade, I grew to my current height (6' 2") with big shoulders, and, suddenly, everyone who used to bully me loved me. Sigh. Still meeses with my head at 44 years old!

(Hope this all makes sense. I'm having an insomniac night, so I logged on here, and I'm probably being way too direct or honest.)

GhostOrchid profile image
GhostOrchid in reply to Trying1978

I don’t think the teacher was worried about safety & scissors. The discipline note was focused on tiny pieces of paper; making faces at the teacher; and general disrespect. Only the student teacher was in the classroom. I don’t know what kind of faces my son was making, but his typical MO is a mean scowl. I don’t like it, but I ignore it at home because there is no way to make him stop in the heat of the moment. These are things I discuss with him the next day when everyone is calm. I think the best piece of parenting advice I ever got was a lesson I learned from our dog trainer. LOL! He said, “never give a command if you can’t follow through and make her do it.” If I tell the dog to sit and she doesn’t, I don’t leave the interaction until she does. Even if it takes 15 minutes, I work with her until she sits. Otherwise, she learns that following the sit command is optional. If I don’t think she is going to obey and I don’t have 15 minutes to work with her, I avoid all commands & kennel/leash her. I try to use a similar approach to my kids--minus the kennel/leash of course!

My rule is if they throw the first punch, they will be in big trouble. But if someone hits them, they better fight back. Their only worry should be protecting themselves. I’ll deal with the school administration. My kids are too little (10-15%tile) to not fight back. They can be seriously injured waiting on an adult to intervene, especially at this age when only some of the kids have gone through puberty! There are so many fights at their school, the boys aren’t allowed to use the restrooms between classes. They must ask for permission during class and get a hall pass. I think this coupled with the size difference really scares my son. The only fight he has been in was with his older brother (12 months difference in age).

We have a meeting scheduled with the principal tomorrow to discuss the situation and his 504 Plan. I kept my son home for the 3rd day. I’m not sending him back until something is done. I spoke with the soccer coach yesterday after practice. (My older son is still on the team.) He has assured me he will speak with boys today. He also asked me to let him know if it happens again. Fingers crossed!

Trying1978 profile image
Trying1978 in reply to GhostOrchid

Totally. And I didn't mean to get lost in the details of my own story there! I was functioning on very little sleep, multiple kiddo psych visits in a few days, and visiting family + in-laws so, rereading what I wrote, it was too raw.

I mainly meant to convey that, oh man, I get what you are saying. I spent a summer after the pandemic year working with one kiddo, then the whole next year with another and, in September 2022, it seemed like everyone was on track and I could focus on my new job after 2 years not working. But that was like two weeks max, and the sh*t hadn't stopped hitting the fan since.

That was all I really meant; I totally get that sinking feeling when you suddenly realize things aren't as OK as they seemed! I apologize if the original response was rough; I was at my own limit! I've had some sleep and food since then, lol.

Pattimum profile image

I think the teachers don’t know what they are doing. Does he not have it in his plan for ADHD that with kids with ADHD you ignore behaviours which maybe as adult you consider misbehaving but they are not ‘serious’. So let’s say even if she considered him replying ‘okay’ rude etc she should have left it there. Because with ADHD kids we adults ignore minor ‘misbehaviours’. She should have even praised him for acknowledging what she asked him to do, as kids with ADHD need a lot of immediate praise. She just doesn’t understand ADHD and what it means for child’s impulse control and everything else.

To give you example that everyone can make such a mistake (like this student teacher) when dealing with kids with ADHD- my son has home tuition in maths but he likes to run about and kick the ball in the garden before the tuition. His tutor was running late so I allowed him to stay in the garden until last minute and only when she ring the bell I called him back from the garden. He did come back but he threw his football boots violently and his face expression was somewhat ‘Why are you here?’ tutor took real offence and asked him to pick up those boots and put them gently where they belong (we have hooks) and then it started… He started being oppositional and having a strop. The tuition that I pay a lot for was spoiled as he felt that he did bad and was in a bad mood and she was cross with him. She should have IGNORED that he threw the boots. She should have focus on positive that he did return from the garden when she arrived, even though he had great time in the garden. She should have even praised him that he returned form the garden on the first call.

GhostOrchid profile image
GhostOrchid in reply to Pattimum

I’m not sure if the teacher that considered “okay” as rude knows about the 504 plan. I don’t even know who she is, or why she was in this class. Hope to get an answer tomorrow. I understand why she thinks it is rude. I think it is rude too, but everything doesn’t need to turn into a battle. Just like I’m sure you would have preferred your son to gently place his shoes, but I agree your best move was to ignore. Life is too short and some things just don’t matter. I try to avoid situations where there is a winner & loser because I’m either going to lose and damage my authority as a parent, or my kid is going to feel defeated over every tiny thing. Either way, I'm definitely not a winner.

His 504 plan was written while in elem. School. We met with the middle school during the summer to discuss it, but we didn’t change anything because we didn’t know what needed to be changed in that moment. I’m going to pull out the plan tonight and re-write a draft of what I would like to see.

NYCmom2 profile image

Definitely meet with head administration (dean, guidance counselor, principal etc). The kids from the soccer team are definitely bullying him and now it’s bleeding into the school day.

The kids bullying him know how to get him enraged and probably like the power and amusement it brings watching your son explode. And if administration and teachers are unaware it allows these kids to operate unseen. They only see the explosion.

Tell administration that your son quit soccer due to bullying and the coach being unaware. And now it’s affecting his in class education.

Also call the coach and tell him what’s been going on. Urge the coach to speak to his team and tell them not to bother your son. It’s possible the coach has no idea what’s going on and could intervene in a way that’s even more productive than the school administration.

This is a complicated and emotionally charged environment even an adult would struggle with if faced on a daily basis. Admin and the coach should intervene.

If school feels unsafe, unsupportive and emotionally charged it could lead to school refusal and depression.

GhostOrchid profile image
GhostOrchid in reply to NYCmom2

You're right. In my son's case he doesn't just react; he often over reacts so he is feeding the bullies. I've tried for 2 weeks to explain this to him, but between his age and ADHD it is hard for him to control the emotions.

Even though my meeting with the administration isn't until tomorrow, I took it upon myself to speak with the coach yesterday. I told him it was spilling over into the class room and asked if he could speak with the team. I gave him the name of a boy. Told him, I wasn't asking for him to get in trouble, but I need help getting him to stop. He assured me he will take care of it and told me to let him know if it continues. Hopefully this resolves quickly. It really sucks to have a kid come home daily thinking no one likes him.

GhostOrchid profile image

UPDATE: We had the 504 Plan meeting this morning. My son's teachers were kind and generally receptive to finding ways to help my son. It appears his morning teachers don't see the same problems that the afternoon teachers see. Or what they do see is minimal and acceptable due to ADHD. They think his meds might be wearing off after lunch, so we are going to talk to the doctor about taking his Ritalin after lunch instead of 3PM. The principal mentioned they will be opening a "reset room" in a few weeks. It will have legos, non-electric treadmill, etc. When my son is having a rough time, he will have access to the room to help him "reset" his emotions. I've never heard of this in our school district, so I'm excited!

As for the "not another word/okay" teacher...she is a different story...I'm going to write an email to the administration to follow up about her! I apologize upfront for the rant! I'm hoping writing here will help me "reset" and re-read the email before I hit send! :)

I still don't know exactly why this lady was in the classroom when she interacted with my son other than observation of the class/teacher. She wasn't really part of our meeting, but was in the room. When we mentioned the incident, she was eager to jump in and tell us what happened. My son was talking non-stop while the class room teacher was teaching. She told him to stop talking. He continued to talk. She said, "not another word." He said, "okay." She again said, "not another word." He said, "okay." She took him in the hall to "talk to him". He went back into the class and didn't say another word. And, she says to me smugly, "So he can control himself! He can control himself! He didn't say another word after I talked to him.".....I take a deep breath and say, he was crying with his head down on the desk for the remainder of class. I look at his teacher for conformation and he agreed he was crying. I dropped the conversation. As you all know, there is typically a lot to cover in a 504 meeting with limited time. I didn't want this lady to get the meeting off track, but I'm following up with the administration about her! What kind of teacher thinks an 11-year-old not speaking during class because he is crying is a child in control?!? She seemed proud of herself. My son called me crying hysterically over this and she seemed proud! WTF? I had given her the benefit of doubt that my son was over reacting to being reprimanded for talking, but after hearing her side.....WTF?? She just couldn't let him have the last word and clearly does not understand ADHD!

HoldingonLou profile image

I was just reading this and am completely appauled at how that teacher handled the situation. Kudos to you for following up and yes re-read the emails the next day before you send them. I have had to learn the hard way not to send emails when emotional. I am so sorry your child or any child is treated this way. What was done about what the soccer team did to your son. I think those kids should be suspended but I know about immature retaliation too. The 504 plan sounds great but my understanding is it's just an accomadation. Will they do an IEP at the school? My idea of an IEP is it's instructions for the teachers to do to help the child be successful. Cutting paper up with scissors permitted to alleviate stress would be something written in it. Anyways just a thought. I'll pray this situation gets worked out the right way.

GhostOrchid profile image
GhostOrchid in reply to HoldingonLou

The 504 plan is definitely just an accommodation. I know one of his teachers read through it prior to contacting me last fall, but I'm not sure if the other teachers have looked at it. I tried to get an IEP for my son last year, but the school wouldn't budge because ADHD doesn't affect his grades. They only agreed to a 504 because it is mandated by law. After the meeting, I looked up the "not another word" teacher. She is the administrator of the district-wide RTI program, so we would likely have to go through her to get IEP. My understanding is in order to qualify for an IEP the student must qualify for special education. They don't qualify for special education unless they are in Tier 3 RTI. My son is in Tier 1 RTI (regular education). Of course, the school gets to decide which Tier each child is placed in & apparently this teacher is over all of that. So we would have to go through this lady to get IEP.

As for soccer players, I'm not sure if they got in trouble. I asked the coach to get them to stop. As long as it stops I'm not pushing for them to get in trouble. As frustrating as it is when they bully, they're still kids too, and need to learn. Now if it is ongoing...my attitude will change. :)

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