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    #230135 - 05/03/16 07:47 PM Re: Kid flaming out. Anyone been through this? [Re: eco21268]
    AnnieQuill Offline
    Junior Member

    Registered: 05/01/16
    Posts: 24
    It could be going to fast. Too many classes can cause undue stress, and cause grade performance to drop. He's only in middle school, and here's one thing to think about- what's the worst thing that will happen if he fails? It's not a good thing, but good can come out of it.

    Maybe if he fails this year, you can convince the school to evaluate him, or get him evaluated yourself. if you come to the school with an official diagnosis, they can't tell you no.

    Maybe tell him it's okay to fail? As long as he's trying hard, the end grade doesn't matter, its the effort.

    oh and the ' if you don't go to school, by law, i go to jail' is really effective if he starts up. my mom uses that as her counter argument and it works.

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    #230154 - 05/04/16 03:52 AM Re: Kid flaming out. Anyone been through this? [Re: eco21268]
    eco21268 Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/21/15
    Posts: 647
    Thank you for all the good advice!

    bluemagic: we did what you recommended, yesterday. Put it all on paper and figured out priorities and worked on doing a good enough job for those. That helped a little.

    I wouldn't take the phone away at this point--mostly he doesn't communicate with me (or anyone) at all. I think a more typical kid might seek help from a different source if he couldn't text me, but not mine. He just sits quietly and implodes. His inability to express himself usefully is a big part of his 2E-ness.

    AnnieQuill: you make some really good points. I think the program moves too fast for him. I am not so much worried about his grades, but about him learning a bad coping skill, if I just give up, and allow him to at this point. For some reason, he's not computing that even if he fails a class, it's better not to fail ALL of them and forfeit all of his hard work.

    spaghetti: you are right that he needs the attention and support. He is not needy at all generally, emotionally, so there is a positive angle that he is connecting with me (even though it is difficult).

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    #230156 - 05/04/16 04:51 AM Re: Kid flaming out. Anyone been through this? [Re: eco21268]
    polarbear Offline
    Member

    Registered: 09/29/11
    Posts: 3363
    eco,

    Our ds hasn't been through exactly this same situation, but he does go through what look like regressions from time to time, particularly with EF skills seeming to disappear and anxiety ramping up. One thing that helped me a lot when regression happened or anxiety ramped up was to step back and take a look at the overall picture over time, because gains had been made, just not on a perfectly linear curve. Kinda like 5 steps forward, and then one step back, stop, revamp support as needed, then start moving forward again.

    There are certain times that also are clearly more stressful than others for some kids. End of the school year, when big projects are assigned, big tests are looming, teachers are talking about having work completed etc - that's a stressful time of year for many students, not just 2e students. So while it's frustrating and seems like a lot of progress may be lost, it's helpful to realize - what your ds is experiencing is, on the one hand, *very* typical (the stress), and he's reacting in the way that he's capable of reacting at this point in his life.

    I'll second everything spaghetti said about providing support and scaffolding. That's what we had to do here, and while it's extremely challenging at times, and can feel like extreme helicoptering, what it *really* is, is you teaching/showing your ds how to function. If your child was struggling to learn to read, you wouldn't let them just go it on their own, sink or swim, you'd help them develop the skills they needed to be successful. Same goes for kids who have communication challenges, EF challenges, anxiety. (note to eco - I know you already know this, I'm more throwing this out there for people who are reading this and not parenting a 2e kid smile ). Scaffolding works. Support works. It may take several more years before it all sinks in, but gradually, as time goes by, when you have a moment to step back and look at where he's been and where's he at "now" (whatever now you're looking from smile )... you'll see progress.

    FWIW, my 2e ds made a lot of progress with EF while in middle school (with a ton of scaffolding and support from me, gradually withdrawing it as he developed the skills). High school (change) challenged that progress - he needed extra support during his first year, but, again, he made progress and was doing much better by the time his second year started. He maintained that progress for most of the year, but he's had challenges with it again as the second semester comes near to a close. One thing that helps me is to realize that as frustrating or as worrying as it might be to *me*, it feels much more stressful to ds.

    Another thing to throw out there - both of my 2e kids are anxious kids. There response to stressful situations almost always is anxiety and worry. In with all the scaffolding and support for specific skills, it's been important for us to throw into the mix work on coping skills, how to deal with anxiety, as well as how to recognize it. It's helped my ds quite a bit as time has gone by for us to look at the situation he's in when anxiety comes crashing in - and over time we've found patterns to the triggers.. which in turn has helped relieve ds a bit when the anxiety does hit - because he can recognize the trigger is present, rather than just feeling completely lost and helpless in the midst of it.

    One other important thing is to talk to your ds and try to get to the bottom of when did his anxiety and worry start - it's easy to see the big picture of issues with grades, end of school year etc - because all of that seems obvious in terms of being a potential huge cause of stress - but it's also possible that some isolated event or some small something is going on at school that started the slide into anxiety - and it's possible that even your ds doesn't realize what it was, yet it could be very real, and figuring that out might help relieve a lot of your ds' worry, as well as give you something tangible to deal with to alleviate some of his stress. For instance, talk through with your ds to try to remember when this all started happening. Was something said at school by a teacher? Was there anything going on with another student?

    Originally Posted By: eco21268


    I wouldn't take the phone away at this point--mostly he doesn't communicate with me (or anyone) at all. I think a more typical kid might seek help from a different source if he couldn't text me, but not mine. He just sits quietly and implodes. His inability to express himself usefully is a big part of his 2E-ness.


    Although the exact communication challenges may be different, this is essentially true for our 2e ds also. While I totally understand the suggestion upthread re taking the phone away - that's something that might work for a nt student, but for students that have communication challenges, cell phones can actually be an amazingly important AT device. When our ds was first able to text, it enabled him to communicate his needs more directly than he'd ever been able to previously. Because communication is difficult for him, there are also layers of where and how he's able to get his thoughts out - and he's much more able to communicate to me than he is to teachers - because he's had much more practice and scaffolding from me, and because I've invested a lot of years in attempting to open up his lines of communication, so I understand better than his typical teacher how to talk to him in a way that enables communication *from* him. There are times at school when my ds' anxiety really ramps up, and simply having that phone and being able to text to me that something is going on is a tool for him to cope with the anxiety, and to get help with strategies on how to cope. So no, don't take away the phone. Use it smile

    Quote:
    I think the program moves too fast for him.


    It's possible that this might not be the best-fit program for him, but that's something to think through *after* the year is over - first you need to get him through the remaining few weeks of school. From what you've said in general, though, it sounds like it's not a situation where the program is just too much, but rather he's in a one-time situation where the workload is too much for what he can cope with due to his present level of anxiety. That's something that you can work through, deal with, and he can learn from. Even if he was to switch programs, he might find himself in this same situation again - not the same situation re same classwork/teacher/etc, but same situation in terms of having things going fairly well for awhile and then having stress come at him from several different directions at once.

    Quote:
    I am not so much worried about his grades, but about him learning a bad coping skill, if I just give up, and allow him to at this point. For some reason, he's not computing that even if he fails a class, it's better not to fail ALL of them and forfeit all of his hard work.


    I wouldn't exactly worry about this either - it's an important lesson, but he's also still very young (in the grand scheme of things). If he did fail several classes, he's still only in middle school and I don't think (?) he's taking classes that would appear on a high school transcript. Explain to him that it's better to not throw everything to the wind just because there's a challenge with one particular class (if that's what's up), show him directly different ways to deal with the situation that make sense to you, but don't over-worry if he doesn't come out of it with a life-long lesson. It's 3-4 weeks of school. He's made a ton of progress from where he was at just last year, he'll make more progress in the future. This is a tough time. It might not work out great - but trust that whatever happens, it will be ok.

    Quote:
    you are right that he needs the attention and support. He is not needy at all generally, emotionally, so there is a positive angle that he is connecting with me (even though it is difficult).


    Hang onto that - he *is* doing well - he's just facing a big bump in the road at the moment. You'll both get over that bump together smile

    Best wishes,

    polarbear

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    #230157 - 05/04/16 05:02 AM Re: Kid flaming out. Anyone been through this? [Re: eco21268]
    AnnieQuill Offline
    Junior Member

    Registered: 05/01/16
    Posts: 24
    It sounds like he's overloaded, and overloaded REALLY REALLY bad. And yes, it is a terrible coping skill, but adults do this too. Maybe, even if he doesn't get the projects done by the end of the year, you can keep doing them until there done, and grade them. Also, He likely is so stressed that he actually doesn't care at all about his grades, he just want's it to end. if your school offers clinicians, i would get him in with them so they can work through it. possibly focus on coping skills? Breathing exercises and such?

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    #230158 - 05/04/16 05:17 AM Re: Kid flaming out. Anyone been through this? [Re: eco21268]
    eco21268 Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/21/15
    Posts: 647
    polarbear: I am printing out your post, it is so supportive and it's exactly how I'm trying to frame this situation. Thank you!

    He is in a middle school program in which he also takes high school credits. And he will be exited from the program if he earns a D in any class. That is the part that is causing so much anxiety. His thought process: there is one class that I can't pass (even though that teacher is being extremely accommodating). --> So, I am going to be expelled. --> I am losing everything that matters to me (friends, status as advanced learner). --> There are a bunch of other projects that I don't enjoy and feel meaningless. --> So I might as well just not do anything at all, my life has no joy or purpose anymore.

    (I'm really not exaggerating.)

    I explained to him if he bails, he will have to take all of these classes again. He is suddenly (new development, maybe there is a positive in it) realizing that his GPA will matter for college applications. I am trying to put that in perspective, but he is seeing an end to a dream and a life of flipping burgers.

    annie: Yes, really really overloaded. I understand what he's going through. His school is not supportive but he does have a decent family support system.

    We'll get through it. It's just very hard to see his suffering. I know this is not unusual for a 13 year old kid, even a neuro-typical one. I'm just hoping he will rally a little because I think he CAN do this and he will regret it if he limits his options by allowing himself to shut down.



    Edited by eco21268 (05/04/16 05:18 AM)

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    #230159 - 05/04/16 05:39 AM Re: Kid flaming out. Anyone been through this? [Re: eco21268]
    Tigerle Offline
    Member

    Registered: 07/29/14
    Posts: 601
    Loc: Europe
    This may sound like a really odd suggestion, and may not be doable at all - but is it possible instead of picking him up, to spend a bit of time with him in school? Just be around - take some work for the office or whatever it is you do, sit in the library or cafeteria or school grounds on a fine day, have a drink and a chat and tell him to go to the last class of the day and you will be there for him. when I have very bad attacks of anxiety (and I have been fighting the avoidance response all my life, still am) I sometimes can only manage when there is a sympathetic soul around. They don't have to do much, just be close.


    Edited by Tigerle (05/04/16 05:40 AM)

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    #230160 - 05/04/16 06:06 AM Re: Kid flaming out. Anyone been through this? [Re: polarbear]
    indigo Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/27/13
    Posts: 4227
    Originally Posted By: polarbear
    he's still only in middle school and I don't think (?) he's taking classes that would appear on a high school transcript
    Unfortunately, student data is being collected and stored P20W (from preschool through postsecondary to workforce).

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    #230162 - 05/04/16 06:21 AM Re: Kid flaming out. Anyone been through this? [Re: eco21268]
    eco21268 Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/21/15
    Posts: 647
    Tigerle: I don't think that's an odd suggestion, but it wouldn't be allowed--and DS would be mortified by my presence, anyhow. I wasn't allowed to go there when he had a huge meltdown about an impending fire drill (last year) so he missed that day of school. For him to be embarrassed by me is social progress--ha! I take my good feels wherever I can. smile

    Indigo: I don't worry about data collection, but he is getting high school credits. For me, that's the least of my worries. I don't think a competitive university is a realistic goal for DS (which is a relief). I just want him to learn how to meet expectations so he can have a happy life. Some of his autistic co-morbids are so much more pronounced in adolescence.

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    #230167 - 05/04/16 07:49 AM Re: Kid flaming out. Anyone been through this? [Re: eco21268]
    Platypus101 Offline
    Member

    Registered: 10/01/14
    Posts: 665
    Loc: Canada
    eco - huge hugs! I haven't been in your shoes - yet - but given the extreme challenge of our first year of middle school this year, I can easily see my DS in the exact same space as yours. Reacting in all the same ways - overwhelmed by out-of-control anxiety, internalizing and shutting down, embracing the futility of it all. DS has recently discovered existential depression with a vengeance, and it would be but a small step with unsupportive teachers in a competitive environment to put us right where you are. Your DS sounds like he is terrified, overwhelmed, and feels out of control and utterly incapable. He needs you to help him change all of those things before he has any capacity to think, let alone take responsibility for these projects.

    So I I totally agree with those who've said this is a serious crisis, and you need to engage all scaffolding and support on hyper-drive. But I also understand the fear of creating a precedent that feels like allowing escape and avoidance. We constantly struggle with our own DS, who brings avoidance of hard/ anxiety-inducing things to an extreme. So I am pondering one approach that might possibly help walk this tightrope. Could it be helpful to sit with him and really, really explicitly talk through the purpose of each assignment? Together identify specifically what is the key skill/ knowledge that he needs to demonstrate to his teacher via this particular project. And then scaffold the living daylights out of every other aspect of the project. Scribe, cut-and-paste, organize, draw - anything that is peripheral to the knowledge or skills he needs to demonstrate, get that time-consuming make-work out of his way. Let him focus on the concepts, the ideas, and pulling them together in the right words, and for the duration of the crisis, you, the mechanics fairy, will take care of all the rest of the tedious bits.

    Also, as other have suggested, take at look at the format requirements and see where they might have room for flexibility. My DS, for example, can write in Power Point with much less pain than essay form; it's just less intimidating somehow. He also finds Inspiration helpful: he creates in a visual form, and the software transforms it into an essay or presentation form (http://www.inspiration.com/Inspiration). What formats induce the least anxiety in your DS? Poster? Oral? Pre-recorded oral? Timelines? Something else entirely? To what extent can you convert some parts or all of any of these projects into a better format for him? I know you've had a horrible time getting accommodations for him, but is there any chance that at least one of his teachers would work with him to agree on an abbreviated written format (like poster, for example, or a visual mapping of key concepts) combined with an oral Q&A session between DS and teacher, where DS can demonstrate the breadth of his understanding?

    I guess what I am try to get at is looking for ways to find a balance where he realizes that (1) he is totally responsible for the content and the thinking, and it's his knowledge that must be demonstrated; BUT (2) you've totally got his back, and you are there for him. Any labor-intensive mechanisms, make-work, and miscellaneous stuff that isn't part of that core responsibility that belongs to him, well, you've got that covered.

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    #230171 - 05/04/16 08:16 AM Re: Kid flaming out. Anyone been through this? [Re: eco21268]
    eco21268 Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/21/15
    Posts: 647
    Hugs right back, platypus! It's amazing how much better I feel just having this conversation.

    Here is how I see his main challenges:

    He has a really difficult time organizing absolutely anything (and this is ironic, considering that he is systematic with his own projects--meaning ones he conceptualizes and designs/implements). He does not understand how little time the busy-work type assignments really take if you don't fret about them.

    Today, I explained to him my process for dealing with tedium, which is frame it as an assembly line process and try to make it interesting by experimenting to see how I can make it most efficient (apple/tree, lord have mercy!)

    DS, if faced with making a powerpoint presentation (which he loved, when he was, you know, 4-5 years old), treats each slide like a creation unto itself, messing with formatting, fonts, distracting himself by googling images, etc. etc.). He only likes using tech media when it is novel and he's learning it. Really, he just hates doing anything that is not his idea. The only homework that is not a huge argument/struggle is math, but it's not because he LIKES math (he does not), but because it's easy to know what you are supposed to do and it's not writing intensive.

    He also loves to write, creatively, but ONLY for fun and not for assignments.

    I told him that one really easy way to do a PP is to just cut paste all of your text into it, slide by slide, then afterwards edit/format, make it pretty.

    Would you believe he then produced a high quality PP in about 15 minutes? UGH!

    He is an information sponge. If he could demonstrate his thinking/understanding/knowledge base just by having a conversation, he'd have As in all of his classes. That is a little ironic, too, because of his difficulties with social communication. He can talk up a storm about something factual and interesting, but can't explain when he doesn't understand an assignment or has lost the instructions.

    He is also resistant to any suggestions I make. Ha!

    Today was better. For one thing, I found out that his meltdown absences can be coded 504 (duh, I know) and also DS was able to mark off several silly assignments from his overwhelming list.

    He has also now officially met the school nurse, and can go there if he needs a time out (instead of texting). He was also very resistant to meeting the nurse. He likes things to stay exactly the same all of the time.

    I am cautiously optimistic that my "assembly line" strategy resonated with him. He's a really creative guy--an unusual animal, for real--not into other people's routines at all, but pretty attached to his own. So we need to add some routines for getting through rough and boring times that interfere with his "me" time, which is his lifeline.

    I would really like to do homeschool next year and just let him read and talk to me, make music, draw, etc., but he is going to have to learn how to do things he doesn't want to do and I'm not sure how that would go for us.

    PS, I'm previewing this post and noticing that the truth is, my DS is just a giant PITA. No wonder I'm so stressed! Thankfully, he is very cute and funny, too, or I might auction him off on eBay.

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