Need to make a school decision for my son

Discussion in 'Special Ed 101' started by sushideluxe, Jun 18, 2017.

  1. sushideluxe

    sushideluxe New Member

    Hi! I found this board after a therapist suggested my son might have a conduct disorder.

    My son R is 12 years old and just finished 6th grade. He was diagnosed with a vision processing disorder in 3rd grade and just had a new neuropsychologist update in February. His diagnosis is now dyslexia. He has a 504 plan at our public school but does not take advantage of his accommodations. He is completely checked out academically at school. He doesn't do his homework (lies and tells us that he has no homework) and he is a class clown at school, probably to detract attention from his academic shortcomings. He is bright enough that he got away with not working hard until this year. I requested the school give him an IEP but they kept it at a 504 plan. He receives Tier 2 reading support but it is not a Wilson-based program. His grades are in the toilet (Ds and Cs with a few Bs) and on his standardized testing, he usually scores in the 30th to 60th percentiles, but this spring he scored in the 1st percentile.

    R has always been an annoyingly loud and talkative kid, has always had a problem being a good sport about doing activities that don't interest him (like going to a museum, for example), and has lied to us on occasion over the years--mostly about little things--but he has been acting out more and more over at least the past 9 months. Recent and worrisome behaviors include dealing vapes at school, purchasing a BB gun from a friend and bringing it to school, sneaking online and setting up a fraudulent ebay and paypal account and making fraudulent sales online, sneaking online watching pornography online, stealing money from our wallets, and pulling the fire alarm at school. We think the behaviors at school are designed to curry favor with the older kids. Not sure how much of the behavior is compulsive, how much is impulsive, etc. His neuropsychologist thinks that he does not have ADHD although he does exhibit some traits. He has been seeing a therapist since December, but as his negative behaviors have escalated, we are just now switching him to someone else. When I put together the list of his recent activities, that therapist said that maybe he has a conduct disorder, although he would have to meet with and get to know R before making an assessment. the end of the school year, we decided that the district isn't meeting his needs. I applied to two private schools in the area that serve kids with dyslexia. The first one would be a perfect fit academically and a good fit socially, but there are no openings at his grade level, and the school is not equipped to deal with behavioral problems. He was accepted at the second school. Academically it would be a great fit. Classes are taught multisensory and there is tons of adaptive technology. I feel like he would be very successful there academically and that could be good for his self-esteem. But, it is not a perfect fit socially. Probably only about 30 percent of the student population would be considered his social and intellectual peers. The other 70 percent have more severe learning disabilities. But they are set up to deal with behavior problems.

    So we are trying to figure out what to do. Tomorrow he is going to start an intensive dyslexia remediation program at Lindamood Bell, but I have no idea how that will go. We are touring the private school next week, and then he will tour it the following week. Part of me likes the idea of removing him from his current school because he has a bit of a bad reputation and his behavior hasn't been great. But I worry that being in school with kids who aren't his peers would make him act out in other ways. Maybe it would be better for him to stay in his current district, with a tutor who specializes in dyslexia, and I should fight for additional services there.

    Of course, all of this is predicated on whether he can stop the vape dealing, stealing, internet fraud, etc.

    Your thoughts are appreciated!
  2. GoingNorth

    GoingNorth Crazy Cat Lady

    At 12, you don't depend on "whether he can stop", YOU put a stop to it. NO MONEY! of any kind. NO INTERNET OF ANY KIND! That includes no phone, no iPod or similar device, no tablet, no nothing. Strip his room to the minimum required by law: a mattress on the floor, a pillow, a set of sheets, sufficient blankets to keep him warm. 7 outfits that YOU choose (not height of coolness), 7 sets of underwear and pairs of socks. Shoes that you choose. If there are entertainment devices such as a TV, Stereo, etc., remove them! A former board owner used to refer to "do to get". If he wants more than this, he has to earn it with good behavior, good schoolwork, and participation in supporting and contributing to the family unit.

    Also, another thing. Meals: what you choose to serve him. 3 meals and 2 snacks. Plain, nutritious food. No treats. No special dishes. Do to get.

    It is illegal for someone under the age of 18 to buy or sell anything on e-Bay. Inform e-Bay that he is under age and demand that the accounts be closed. Same goes for PayPal. If your son refuses, or closes the accounts and reopens them, you might have to consider pressing fraud charges against him. Legally, he can't have a PayPal account, just as at his age, he cannot have a bank account without an adult co-signer.

    Also, secure your credit cards, and immediately go through your banking records. Your kid is heading down a bad road, and you need to crack down and crack down hard.

    He will be extremely angry when he comes home to a stripped room. If he threatens violence, becomes violent, or damages property, call the police and press charges.

    The fact that he is selling "vapes", when he is not old enough to purchase them, let alone the fact that he is selling them to minors. (I'm a vaper and this sort of thing is what we adult vapers are fighting against as it is what the gov't is using as one of the rallying cries to make vaping illegal) Also, nicotine use in a 12-year old is bad for a developing brain and is likely self-medication of an executive function disorder or ADHD (Nicotine helps with concentration, memory and focus), is a whole 'nother criminal can of worms.

    I suspect there is other drug use going on as well, based on the stealing money from you, his defrauding others, etc.
  3. BloodiedButUnbowed

    BloodiedButUnbowed Active Member

    I agree with GoingNorth. I'm not denying his reading disability is a problem for him, but the antisocial behavior you describe seems to me to be a much more serious concern. As a special education teacher with some years of experience under my belt at this point, my professional opinion is that shame/embarrassment over a reading or other learning disability might cause a child to cut class or stop doing their work, or talk back to teachers; these issues typically do not cause a child to create a fraudulent website. He has a lot going on, and if you and his father don't lay down the law hard and fast, he might end up in serious trouble with the law long before he is 18. From what you describe he behaves like a child who has antisocial or defiant/oppositional tendencies. These are very serious problems; I would argue perhaps more serious than his reading disability.

    The one thing you have in your favor (and it is a big thing) is that your son is still young enough that any interventions put in place have a long time to potentially turn him around. My stepson is beyond our reach at 17. You can still control, to a large extent, your son's environment and potentially his choices. He can't be allowed to continue selling vapes, for example. But he WILL continue to do this and whatever else he decides to do, unless you and his dad stop him from doing it.

    We'll be here, keep us posted and good luck!
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  4. BloodiedButUnbowed

    BloodiedButUnbowed Active Member

    I tried to add this to my first response but it didn't work, so here is a second response. I suggest that you contact your state's Board of Education and request a list of free special education advocates to assist you in ensuring your son is properly evaluated and ultimately receives an IEP. Based on what you describe: poor grades, very low (and sinking) standardized test scores, impulsivity/recklessness/immaturity/poor judgment, behavior issues (pulling a fire alarm) and criminal behavior (sorry to be so blunt) for which adults receive prison time if convicted (Internet fraud)......your son needs an IEP. At the age of 12, it should not be the purview of the child to "request" his accommodations - this is a common tactic used to DENY accommodations and support to children.

    I am not surprised the school district hasn't been willing to provide an IEP. Unfortunately it's pretty standard operating procedure. We ran into this with my stepson - got the 504 plan easily, it had zero impact on his performance, we requested an evaluation, he was not eligible. He was almost 16 so due to his age and other factors unique to our situation, we let it go at that point. He got worse and worse until it became apparent he would not be graduating on time if at all. At this point we allowed him to leave his neighborhood high school to attend an "online" high school. The alternative would have been dropping out completely as he is headstrong and sadly, legally allowed to drop out at 17. When we withdrew him, the counselor told us they were about to initiate yet another special education evaluation for him as he was doing so poorly.

    If your son continues to behave in the manner you are describing here, chances are good that he will not last very long at a parochial or "exclusive" private school geared to children with learning disabilities. They won't tolerate "class clown" students as they are incredibly disruptive to the learning of others and furthermore, they don't have to accept them under the law. He needs a very specialized environment with a great deal of structure from what you describe, and programs like these are typically IEP placements, not a private placement a parent can simply choose for their child. I would do whatever I could to get him a IEP and an advocate would be the best place to start.

    Hope this helps.
  5. Frieda

    Frieda New Member

    My thoughts might differ a bit from above posters.But I do agree that something needs to happen to keep your kid of his current trajectory, especially with adolescence looming. However I also strongly believe that there is not one parenting method that fits all kids (or all parents) and while consequences /punishments might work for some kids, it might cause other kids to become worse.
    I have a daughter who is basically a good kid but has had some past issues with stealing and sneaky behavior, the only thing that have worked for her are consequences. My son is a different story- he needed a ton of advocacy to get appropriate services in school, he needs teaching and fresh starts and for us to believe in him even on the days where he messes up. He has a learning disability as well and I remember him having given up on himself by 4th grade and acting in all kinds of socially inappropriate ways. I think it is pretty common for kids with learning disability to feel such deep shame that they decide that they will rather be seen as bad and lazy than stupid. We did a Orton Gillingham based method (we used Sonday which is similar to Windsor) and he learned to read and is now doing very well academically in high school. He has also been improving socially. He is also on the autism spectrum, so he will always have his social challenges. For a while he would just say he was a bad kid but I have always let him know that he is good and that we can work through any challenge. If all I would have done is give him escalating consequences for his behaviors, I would have lost him. It is not the way he learns.
    I do not know your child and just the descriptions of his behaviors do not really tell me why he is doing what he is doing. You might be unsure on what the right route is but you know your kid best and I encourage you to trust your instinct in your child. Is he a kid who seems to feel and do better when you impose clear boundaries and consequences or is he a kid who does best when you approach him with a open heart and mind and a "You are having a hard time, what's up?" discussion and problem solving.
    I do agree with you that he needs an academic approach to address his dyslexia. You could press on public schools but even with an advocate I think this is already too far gone for them to address his academic needs in a timely manner. If you can afford it, the private school sounds like a better solution to me. After feeling like the stupid kid for so long it might be a relief for your son to not be 'the worst' kid in class and he should be able to transfer back into a mainstream school in a few year. Have him tour with you and see what he thinks.
  6. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    You have two issues, not necessarily related.

    1. Academic

    2. Behavioral (severe)

    Solving one is a good start, but you do have to clamp down on his behavior too before it is too late. Not everything can be solved in one swoop. School is not usually the place for good mental health services.

    Good luck.
  7. sushideluxe

    sushideluxe New Member

    Thank you so much for the responses. Obviously there is a detailed long list of bad behavior crossing into criminal behavior. Here's what we have done so far:

    Changed the passwords on all electronic devices.
    Removed wii and Xbox (he was watching YouTube through one of them)
    Searched the house thoroughly for contraband (problem is there are a lot of potential hiding places)
    Locked up his bike for the summer (he is very bitter but with money missing and ongoing behaviors, we do not trust him to be cruising around town unattended)
    Provided him with the "dumbest" phone possible with no internet access and very labor intensive to text.
    I have drug tested him twice, both negative, but you can't test for vapes.
    Purchased a small safe for medications and cash.
    Got rid of all the beer in the basement fridge (just in case).

    I have also been trying to avoid confrontation (reading the explosive child) and focusing on the top three behavioral priorities. Also spending quality time with him with lots of positive reinforcement. I thought we were making some progress there.

    My husband and I gave him an ultimatum last week. Zero tolerance, no vaping/dealing of vaping, no pornography, no stealing, no using other people's electronics without permission or commiting internet sales fraud. If he does any of those things, even once, he's not going to sleepaway camp next month. (I know he doesn't deserve to go anyway but I really need a break.

    This morning when I came downstairs, daughter's phone was missing. She said she didn't have it and hunted around until she found it in the dining room. Also, the kindle charger was missing. He angrily denied our questioning of him and accused his sister of setting him up. They do get into it occasionally but she has never tried to set him up and he has in the past lied about her doing so and later been caught in the lie. Not often but once or twice. I later found the chargers in the basement but no device. They both admitted to seeing each other downstairs after lights out. She says she was getting water, he says she must have been getting her phone.

    He has been enjoying Lindamood Bell this week but today was in an angry, foul mood when I dropped him off. I feel like he has violated the terms of the ultimatum; my husband thinks the evidence is circumstantial.

    Sigh. Thank you for your feedback.
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  8. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    Do send him to camp for YOU.

    Is he in any form of mental health services?
  9. GoingNorth

    GoingNorth Crazy Cat Lady

    Wrong answer. NO PHONE! Did you strip his room, yet? What about chores? He's plenty old enough to take over mowing the lawn and other yard work.

    NO internet capable devices. NO computer, changing passwords is BS.

    Get into counseling ASAP with your husband. You are not on the same page, and your husband's denial is gonna cost your son big in the long term.
  10. BloodiedButUnbowed

    BloodiedButUnbowed Active Member

    Unfortunately, avoiding confrontation is only going to ensure your son continues to do exactly what he's been doing. "Positive reinforcement" will not work with a child like him. He doesn't have hurt feelings, he has a strong will he intends to enforce.

    He needs to be stopped and it doesn't seem that anyone in your household is willing or able to stop him.

    I think that your son probably did steal your D's phone. Proving it might be more difficult. You may wish to install nanny cams so you have evidence of what is going on. Alternatively your D may need her own safe, possibly even a lock on her door.

    I am sorry your husband isn't willing to see the situation more realistically and that the two of you aren't on the same page. I've been in this situation with my wife, too. It's very difficult. I hope the two of you can communicate well and work through this. Both of you will have to back up whatever "the plan" ends up becoming.

    You won't love this behavior out of your son. Structure, consequences and limits are much more likely to be effective.

    Good luck.