Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Seeking Advice.....

When I went to pick Braeden up from preschool today, he was sitting in the Director's office.

#1: I was going to pick him up early because yesterday he spent the entire nap period screaming. I figured I would spare the other children his inability to settle down for a nap.

#2: When I picked him up yesterday he threw a tantrum in the parking lot and ran away from me in the middle of traffic. I then had to drag him (while carrying Malachai) to the van. He then proceeded to try to run away again when I set him down to open the door.

#3: Today, he spit on a little boy in his class.

So, he is not allowed to go on the field trip to the airport that was scheduled for tomorrow. I agree completely. In fact, it was my idea that he stay home. I am concerned that they would not be able to control him and he would cause problems. Be a danger to himself and others.

We saw his pediatrician last week. He has been referred to both a psychologist and a family therapist. I spoke with the therapist's office and his first appointment is in mid November. I spoke with the psychologist's office and we are in the midst of scheduling. I have agreed to a behavior log and observation by a behavior specialist at school.

(This post is just the tip of the iceberg with the behavior problems he has been having since starting school. And not just at school.... he has been horrible at home as well.)

We have tried every form of discipline and nothing seems to make an impression. I am at the end of my rope with him.... I am taking the steps to get him help and to help me help him. If that make sense.

What I need advice on is this:

He has a Fall Festival scheduled at the school for Friday. He will miss tomorrow because of the field trip. My gut reaction is to keep him home on Friday because I have a feeling that the festival will be too much for him. He will be overstimulated and act out. Plus, I think he needs to not be rewarded for his bad behavior. And if his first day back is full of parties and fun then won't he feel rewarded?

I don't know. Steven thinks him missing the field trip is enough punishment. Personally, I don't think Braeden has any concept of what a field trip is. He could care less that he is staying home tomorrow!

Not sure how to handle this one.

Any thoughts?

**UPDATE - My mother suggested taking him to school and just picking him up before the festival. Makes sense. But then I thought maybe I would just let him go.... I would be there to supervise as I was planning to volunteer and work a booth. And maybe it is best to just let it go until we speak to the professionals.... or, like Marilyn said in her comment, maybe it is best to let him see that school can be fun?

Still interested in any advice/ words of wisdom!


Marilyn (A Lot of Loves) said...

This is a tough one. My kid has been acting out a lot too but we haven't got quite to your point (I hope we manage to get through to him soon). Most of the time I feel like I'm disciplining my son for my benefit because it doesn't seem to make any impact with him at all.

I agree that your son probably doesn't really get the concept of a field trip so the fact that he's going to miss it probably isn't going to matter to him much. At the same point I doubt he will really get that he's missing so much fun on Friday either. However I see your point about fun and games when he returns...but I wonder if that would be a good thing? Is there any possibility that he's acting out because he doesn't like school or has some problem with school? If so maybe a fun Friday would help. (Or not...I know it's tough)

Ang said...

Oh this is such a hard one. I really have to write up my post about what we are dealing with, with my 2 year old. Personally I would keep him home from the festivities. Only because if he is having a problem with overstimulation a party full of activity will just be too much.

I hope all goes well with his appts.

Wendy Sparrow said...

I wondered... it sounded like what we went through with T at around the same age. My son has Asperger's but it's secondary to Sensory Integration Dysfunction. T did the spitting thing too... for about six months. Let me just throw this out and you can choose to listen or ignore it. This is a common age for kids who struggle with a sensitive sensory system to start "acting up" and being noticed. I've mentored a lot of parents dealing with both Sensory Integration Dysfunction and Autism. I've helped with therapy and aiding children with both. I'll give you my opinion, and you can totally blow me off.

If this was about my son: T "acts out" a lot if he gets over-stimulated. It's also pointless to punish him because he doesn't connect things really. His body drives his behavior and he can't control it enough to regulate it.

Sensory Integration Dysfunction is often present with Autism but often just by itself--it's not a scary monster in a closet type of disorder. It just means that a child's sensory system hasn't matured into appropriate responses and coping strategies. It manifests itself in a boatload of different ways. All children start out with sensory quirks and most just learn to adapt and respond. I know the word "disorder" sounds a bit freaky... and "dysfunction" sounds even worse, but it's just a lack of being able to adapt to a sensory environment among some children. Sensory problems are present in about 70% of children/teens that are considered to have "behavioral problems."

Things that help T are:

Removing Dairy from his diet (For some reason the protein casein sometimes doesn't break down properly in some children and causes over stimulation.) T was full-on dairy free for three years--now we just try to keep him to moderation. (Kids that struggle with this will appear to be dairy fiends.)

Putting T in Occupational Therapy. (This was vital to helping him learn coping mechanisms.) He's been in OT on and off for nearly his whole life. (It looks like a big playroom and they just work on getting them to interact with stuff and get the right amount of sensory input. Most OT offices are filled with slides, zip-lines, swings, hammocks, and so on.) They discovered that T's spitting was an oral motor need and started giving him chewy things--including chewing gum to control it. (It ended almost immediately.)

Recognizing situations that are impossible. T can't do too many playdates in a row. Crowded places are in moderation. He needs controlled stimulation time when he can determine noise and interaction like watching tv/playing on the computer. He also needs to get enough sleep. Going from 1/2 kindergarten to full day 1st grade has been tough on T.

Finally... and this is going to sound odd, caffeine in moderate quantities can help calm down some children.

Once again, you can blow me off completely, but sensory problems are common around the age of your son and can make parents think they've spawned some sort of demon child. (I hated the spitting business.) "Punishing" a child with sensory issues just flat-out doesn't work and usually just makes everyone more frustrated and angry. Keeping a child home from an over-stimulating environment is sometimes a very good idea, though.

So... for what it is worth, that's my two cents. I don't think you have a bad or misbehaving child. It sounds like you have the poster child for an inability to cope with the stimulation around him appropriately.

Unless there has been a trauma in your life or a history of violence, I would guess that both psychologists and family therapists aren't quite what you need.

A developmental pediatrician or Occupational Therapist (Children's) might also be something to consider.

Oh... and sometimes Sensory Integration Dysfunction goes by the new title Sensory Processing Disorder. Google it if it sounds possible. Once again... if I sound like I'm talking crazy talk, just ignore me.

Connie Carpenter Macko said...

I feel as though I am not qualified to answer this as I was blessed to not have this type of issue (other ones - not this one!) but my two cents wonders if getting to spend a day at home with mom, actually TWO days at home with mom, might actually be a "treat" instead of a punishment? What ever you do - it will be the right decision because you have considered it from every angle. What ever else happens, do not doubt your ability to do what is right for you and your family - we can offer advice but you know what is best in the end. :)

Laura ~Peach~ said...

hugs i hope that you get some answers i am sure that this is all very frustrating to him too... because there is no way he can explain or figure out why he does and reacts as he does...

Susan said...

I have yet to reach this age with my little one so I have no experience with it myself. I hope that some of the other commenter's posts are helpful and that the Drs. have some good insight. I do agree that two days at home in itself may seem like a reward Though.

Bina said...

I would definitely follow Wendy's advice, but that's just me.

My son had to go to OT also. He was diagnosed with ADHD with OD (Oppositional Disorder) but sometimes I don't think it was correct. Of course, that was 16 years ago, but he also got stimulated very easily and would act out by screaming, hitting, throwing things, etc.

I'm sure by now you have looked up the things Wendy has said. Let us know how it goes!

Jenny said...

I think the fact that you are trying to help him work though this is evidence that you are handling this well. I worked as a family and childrens case manager in my former life and many parents will not admit that their kids need help, much less actually go and seek out help. Good for you! Things WILL get better.

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