Thursday, September 25, 2014

Our First Suspension

Our youngest son received his first suspension this week. It wasn’t a surprise since he’s had 3 days in a row of escalating behavior at school, spending at least half the day in the office each day. On one occasion, I was told to pick him up early since he was already in the office three times.

His suspension was a result of his explosive behavior in the classroom. He got frustrated over his math work, combine that with his embarrassment over the class laughing at a word problem that he thought was making fun of him. “He instantly went from 0-60!”, said the teacher, as he described him ripping up his assignment, throwing his books, shoving his desk across the room and hitting two kids after being removed from the class.

It was noticeable that these tough days at school where taking its toll. Everyday after school he would make himself feel better by taking two long baths. It was pretty effective, he would come out completely refreshed and ready to take on his homework.

In order to avoid rewarding him with a home suspension, which is what he would prefer, he served his suspension in the office all day.

It was interesting to see that after his day long suspension, he was great. As the principal reported, “He did fabulously today. He completed all of the work he was given before the end of the school day.” My son shared that he loved the office since it was nice and quiet. It’s obvious to me that the classroom is overwhelming him, leading him to these outbursts. Once we removed the sensory minefield, he did great and he didn’t take a single bath when we got home.

This school challenge is new territory for me. It’s pretty much the opposite of my oldest son who kept it together all day at school, then exploded at home. With my youngest, the worst is happening at school.

Homeschooling is definitely worth exploring.

As for good news, I’m pleased to share that a state agency for autism in my area has reviewed my son’s case and has decided to accept him into their clinic to conduct a second opinion assessment for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

I’m so thankful to hear this news, especially since they told me that they don’t typically do second assessments with the exception of rare cases. They also said that they’ll be reviewing every documented I provide and will be including it into their assessment. Which is such a relief since our first medical team didn’t review any of this information that documents first hand accounts from family, relatives, teachers etc. As well as the list of behaviors and symptoms we’ve seen over the years. I feel like this is our only hope at this point.

I still realize that my son may be too high functioning to make it on the spectrum, but I’m hoping that the end result will be help, regardless of the diagnosis.

Along with my thankfulness comes anger.

Last night I was feeling a lot of anger over this whole process. When my husband and I reviewed the current DSM for ASD, it seemed to fit my son in every category. He’s definitely mild on the spectrum compared to others, but it’s having a major impact on his life. The principal has already explained how the kids are scared of my son. He’s socially isolated and he’s scaring the kids with his outbursts. The principal explained that if he had a diagnosis, he could teach the other kids about it and help them understand.

Another reason why labels matter.

I’m disappointed that the first doctor that performed the assessment didn’t take into account his history of behaviors. I later learned that this is part of the new DSM, doctors are suppose to use any past behaviors as qualifying behaviors for a diagnosis. Unfortunately in our case, the doctor used only what he saw at the time of the evaluation.

It makes me feel like we’ve wasted a year.

And my boy is now suffering because of it.



2 comments:

  1. Oh I'm so sorry to hear of the wasted year :(. My daughter also has outbursts at school and the regular classroom is an issue for her. Because she is intellectually disabled as well as being mentally ill we were able to put her in a self contained setting and she is doing much better there. She got her first suspension when she punched her para. This is not an easy road at all. I have to agree with you that while no one loves their children labeled, sometimes in cases like ours, the labels can actually be a big benefit. I'll be anxious to hear updates from the new clinic. It sounds very promising up front!

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    1. I’m glad to hear the contained setting is working. Our principal suggested having our son attend the lessons, but leave for independent study to do his work as a way of providing him sensory rest in the day. Maybe we will try that.

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