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    #230084 - 05/03/16 06:31 AM Kid flaming out. Anyone been through this?
    eco21268 Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/21/15
    Posts: 647
    DS13 is finished with seventh grade May 19. He's done okay this year, academically, although his performance has been erratic as always.

    So with nothing left but finals and end of year projects--he's suddenly melting down completely. We can now add school refusal and asking to be picked up early to his list of maladaptive behaviors.

    I've told him all along he does not have to do this program if it is too stressful for him. He has insisted he wanted to stay in the program, but with a couple weeks left, has stated he is "intentionally flunking out," that he hates it, it's hellish, and he never wants to go back there.

    I'm telling him that he is not allowed to stop with just a couple of weeks to go. He doesn't have to return next year, but he can't just forfeit (fail) all of the high school credits he's nearly completed.

    Alas, when DS decides upon a course of action, wild horses can't drag him away from it. He is incredibly stubborn and totally overwhelmed with anxiety.

    I think it's because he has so many projects due all at once. He has never had any significant test anxiety. Projects are the bane of his (our) existence.

    Has anyone ever experienced this, and what did you do? I dropped him off this morning and he seemed better than yesterday--when I had to pick him up early, because he was sending me frantic/panicked texts. Picking up early is a new request.

    Stern discipline is ineffective. Heart-to-heart communication is occasionally kind of effective. Taking away privileges is ineffective.

    Ugh. SOS.

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    #230089 - 05/03/16 07:31 AM Re: Kid flaming out. Anyone been through this? [Re: eco21268]
    indigo Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/27/13
    Posts: 4224
    Does he have an IEP/504 for 2e remediation/accommodations at school? Is he transitioning to self-dependence with executive function (EF) skills? Is there a "go-to" person at school? Does school policy allow for early pickup, or are his requests for being picked up early from school outside the norm and being fulfilled as an exception to policy?

    On one hand it sounds like he may need to gain skills in self-regulation, time management, and sub-dividing projects into smaller tasks then scheduling each task and holding himself accountable for accomplishing each of those tasks on schedule and/or identifying significant factors impeding his progress, articulating them, requesting help and/or advice... then correcting course and getting back on schedule.

    On the other hand he may need or benefit from an alternative education, one in which he finds resources/opportunities which will help him prepare for college and/or career. What are his passionate interests? Is there a way for him to pursue those interests, starting from where he is now in terms of knowledge base, credentials, etc? If there is a gap in skills and/or credentialing, what must he do to enhance his skills and credentials to get where wants to go? Starting with a goal in mind and then reverse-engineering is often a good way to plan, and to tap into one's motivation.

    You may wish to lay it out for him in those terms, and see if he has additional ideas. Then step back. Some may say that enabling a teen's over-reliance on a parent may be kicking the can down the road: He'll be a year older and still the lack the necessary life skills and study skills.

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    #230095 - 05/03/16 09:40 AM Re: Kid flaming out. Anyone been through this? [Re: eco21268]
    HowlerKarma Offline
    Member

    Registered: 02/05/11
    Posts: 5181
    Short answer to your thread title? Yes, sort of.

    Quote:

    Alas, when DS decides upon a course of action, wild horses can't drag him away from it. He is incredibly stubborn and totally overwhelmed with anxiety.

    I think it's because he has so many projects due all at once. He has never had any significant test anxiety. Projects are the bane of his (our) existence.

    Has anyone ever experienced this, and what did you do? I dropped him off this morning and he seemed better than yesterday--when I had to pick him up early, because he was sending me frantic/panicked texts. Picking up early is a new request.

    Stern discipline is ineffective. Heart-to-heart communication is occasionally kind of effective. Taking away privileges is ineffective.




    I have a child who has a similar profile in terms of personality-- she's VERY stubborn, and you can always tell DD...




    just very little, as it happens. {sigh}


    OK.

    How old is your child? How FUNCTIONALLY old in terms of executive function? How old FUNCTIONALLY in terms of emotional regulation?

    Those things govern your response, IMO.

    Don't tolerate what you know that your child CAN help but just doesn't want to-- that's enabling, and it won't help anything.

    So if you know that your child is manipulating you into managing his anxiety... refuse to take ownership of what doesn't belong to YOU.

    "No, I'm sorry... I need for you to stay at school until {time} today... Can you think of some ways to do that so that you can manage your anxiety until then? I know that you can figure this out. If you want to discuss ideas with me, I'm happy to do that with you."

    Does that make sense?

    OTOH, asynchrony does mean scaffolding in unique ways sometimes. If this program is basically demanding executive skills that are more like college-appropriate, then some behind the scenes scaffolding on time management, task initiation, and breaking projects into manageable steps, planning, etc. might be in order.

    We found that when DD would get mentally stuck in panic mode like this, the next step was always avoidance-- with predictable results. eek

    Soon she'd be where your DS is, flailing in full panic, and asking to be removed from the situation. We usually said "Nope-- you got yourself INTO this situation by ignoring some pretty reasonable demands early on, and now it's time to pay the piper and get to work. You own this-- and you're going to follow through, because that's what we do in this family."

    We did help her with the executive tasks which were beyond her ability at that point... which usually meant that because she had ignored (for example) the annotated bibliography due date... the source list due date.... the notecards/outline due date.... that NOW she was faced with a task that would be daunting for many college freshmen. ("Produce a 10 page rough draft of your research paper this Friday.")

    Does that make sense?

    So what we DID do was have that heart to heart, express sympathy for her emotional state, but firmly tell her that SHE got herself into the situation, and she could certainly work her way OUT of the hole, too...

    and then we got her cooperation in PLANNING just how to do that.

    Without her cooperation, btw, this never-- ever-- works with her. It has to be HER plan. But emotionally, her asynchrony and anxiety also means that she needed mom or dad to GUIDE her, and reassure her that she's capable of doing it.


    Good luck. I'd sit down for some project planning with him, but start with that heart-to-heart conversation. Let him know that QUITTING isn't an option-- so he can forget about that-- but that he is free to work within the allowed solution space, and that you're there to HELP him. smile
    _________________________
    Schrödinger's cat walks into a bar. And doesn't.

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    #230101 - 05/03/16 10:43 AM Re: Kid flaming out. Anyone been through this? [Re: HowlerKarma]
    eco21268 Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/21/15
    Posts: 647
    Originally Posted By: HowlerKarma

    How old is your child? How FUNCTIONALLY old in terms of executive function? How old FUNCTIONALLY in terms of emotional regulation?

    Those things govern your response, IMO.

    Don't tolerate what you know that your child CAN help but just doesn't want to-- that's enabling, and it won't help anything.

    So if you know that your child is manipulating you into managing his anxiety... refuse to take ownership of what doesn't belong to YOU.


    This is the part plaguing me, I think. Functionally, he is very delayed in EF. As far as emotional regulation, he has good behavioral control (i.e. he doesn't act out at school), but he shuts down and won't ask for help from anyone but me.

    He asks me for help by telling me he is suicidal via text, that he can't take one more minute of this, that he's going to have a nervous breakdown, and begging for help.
    Expressing suicidal ideation is his new "script." He is not suicidal. I told him he has to stop saying this, or we will have to go to the ER for evaluation, because that's the rule. Fact is, he would deny it to anyone else so he would not be admitted to psych unit (nor should he be, because it wouldn't help anything).

    When this happened yesterday, his teacher had no idea he was upset. I told him he needed to go to the nurse, and he did, but he didn't tell her he was upset, either. smirk

    Nobody at school ever believes me when I try to explain that he is anxious, because you can't tell by looking and he won't tell you. He does have a 504.

    His doctor (psychiatrist) said he would fill out the document asking for homebound instruction to finish out the year, if I request it. I don't want DS' avoidance strategies to work--so am still deciding.

    To make matters more confusing, I texted him awhile ago and asked if today is going better, and he responded "I prefer Tuesdays." Tuesdays are band, digital photography, writing days--IOW, easy days.

    DS is autistic, so I'm not sure if I can expect these things to improve a lot any time soon. Right now, trying to figure out a good balance between challenge and pressure. I feel like his EF would be overtaxed in any school environment that provided any sort of challenge.

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    #230107 - 05/03/16 11:30 AM Re: Kid flaming out. Anyone been through this? [Re: eco21268]
    AnnieQuill Offline
    Junior Member

    Registered: 05/01/16
    Posts: 24
    I think I know how he's feeling. One project can be overwhelming, more than one? Forget about it. Sounds like he's shutting down, which is a rather ineffective coping strategy, but one I still use when my anxiety decides to use me as a punching bag. He might feel like there is no way to get it all done, so might as well give up on getting anything done. Try listing, or giving him a reward for getting through the school day. 'If you get through the whole day, we can go get ice cream as your after school snack'. Talk to his teachers, maybe they can reduce the amount of work required on a project? Finals are probably worrying him the least, just make sure he goes to bed early and has a hearty breakfast.

    It's not fun being the parent in this situation, but it's even worse for him. It can literally be hell on earth, and there is a reason this time of year is called 'Hell Week'. When he comes home, let him do whatever he needs to de-stress, if he falls asleep before dinner, make sure you get food into him when he wakes up
    (If he doesn't wake up until morning, try to have an early breakfast that he can run out the door with. because the last time he ate might have been breakfast the day before), If he disappears into his room for hours on end, let him, but try to remember to ask him if he wants to do fun stuff, It really sucks to be left out of something because you didn't even know it was happening (ask more than once, he might not register it the first time). It's hard, but try to give him a break at home, even letting his chores go undone (If you are super stressed, being asked to do the dishes is the LAST thing that you want to do) It might make your life harder, but stress is really bad for you if it doesn't get released. Not just mentally, but physically.

    It may be that he's too locked onto it to say stop by himself. Ask him if it would be easier if you took the decision away from him. I have some very memorable moments of my mom doing this, and it helped a great deal. Don't force him to drop anything if he doesn't want to, but if it's a mental pressure about making the wrong decision, having someone say that they'll take it out of your hands, and if it goes wrong you can blame them, is an immense relief.

    Hope that juggernaut helped

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    #230108 - 05/03/16 11:38 AM Re: Kid flaming out. Anyone been through this? [Re: eco21268]
    howdy Offline
    Member

    Registered: 10/04/13
    Posts: 279
    I am not in this same situation, but I wanted to share this thought. Is it possible to take away your DS's cell phone so he cannot text you from school?

    Maybe his doctor could weigh in on whether that might play a role in developing better communication skills with people other than you?

    Just an idea.

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    #230115 - 05/03/16 01:14 PM Re: Kid flaming out. Anyone been through this? [Re: eco21268]
    Thomas Percy Offline
    Member

    Registered: 11/18/12
    Posts: 206
    Second sapghetti. If you have to sit next to him to get the projects done, you just do it. Be his executive function for the next couple of weeks and to get over the next couple of weeks.

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    #230126 - 05/03/16 04:28 PM Re: Kid flaming out. Anyone been through this? [Re: eco21268]
    eco21268 Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/21/15
    Posts: 647
    The plot thickens (naturally). There are suddenly several things I didn't know about that DS hasn't done and are important for his grades. 504 violations with pretty serious consequences, but the school is impossible to work with on these things, so no point going there.

    I'm not going to allow him to give in to his despairing thoughts. He's now blaming me for insisting he finish out the year and is angry. It's hard to do the hand-holding piece but that's my forte. smile

    I've really been his executive function all year. He really struggles with organization and needs a ton of help, but I have not been successful in getting an evaluation for an IEP. He said his 504 is "worthless" and it is, really, not very helpful. He asked, and I explained to him what an IEP is and how it could help and he thought that sounded great, but I don't think we will ever convince the district to evaluate him.

    I think the most difficult part for DS is that he is feeling so down on himself, and like he isn't advanced enough to succeed in his program. Very sad.

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    #230129 - 05/03/16 05:59 PM Re: Kid flaming out. Anyone been through this? [Re: eco21268]
    bluemagic Offline
    Member

    Registered: 03/29/13
    Posts: 1489
    To some extent I've been though this with DS17 And to be honest it's always been a big fear that he will do it again. It's kind of what we went through at the end of freshman year in H.S. and what made me decide to go through formal testing that summer. But it happened a little bit less close to the end of the year and we were able to keep most grades at least C's. But it did mean he was out of all honors classes for sophomore year.

    What did I do.. I did a LOT of scaffolding for him that spring, particularly with a huge project due right at the end of the year in social studies. We did a bit of picking and choosing what was most important to focus on.

    My son has had extreme anxiety during 6th grade and again that end of year as a freshman in H.S. Long term we ramped back what he was involved in, had him testing, got him some accommodation through a 504. Sort term we made goals. Is there something he is looking forward to doing this summer? Help him focus on something fun that's going to happen in a few weeks. Make a chart and break things down. Make sure to give him study breaks, exercise & time outside are very important.

    Take a good look at these projects and see if you can reduce them to be something smaller. I found my son would always want to make them "perfect" and bite off more than he could chew. Choosing topics that were more difficult than they needed to be. (Hard to find information about for example.) Several times he got permission to switch topics. And ramping back expectation.. Well lets look at this project in terms of getting a passing grade, what's the minimum that needs to get done.

    I found I couldn't MAKE DS do anything. But what I could do was help break all this up into manageable chunks. Give him breaks, listen to him and support him. While still expecting that the work gets done. I never found discipline worked either, it just ramps up the stress.

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    #230130 - 05/03/16 06:02 PM Re: Kid flaming out. Anyone been through this? [Re: howdy]
    bluemagic Offline
    Member

    Registered: 03/29/13
    Posts: 1489
    Originally Posted By: howdy
    I am not in this same situation, but I wanted to share this thought. Is it possible to take away your DS's cell phone so he cannot text you from school?

    Maybe his doctor could weigh in on whether that might play a role in developing better communication skills with people other than you?

    Just an idea.
    I've been in that situation and I would not do it. A kid going through extreme stress doesn't need his life line to his support person taken away. IMO Mom at this point shouldn't pick him up early every time he requests it but can give words of support.

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