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13 yr. old boy cries in chorus, peers tease
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13 yr. old boy cries in chorus, peers tease

Hello I have a 13 year old son who just missed being diagnosed with asperger's due to impaired receptive language skills. By default he is classified as Pervasive Developmental Delay NOS. Our child has always been extremely sensitive, crying at the drop of a hat. He is extremely kind and courteous but he can't stop the flow of tears. His seventh grade chorus teacher initially raved about his voice and wanted him to participate in a school musical as well as compete in music festivals. She has now barred him from her class as being disruptive because he cries when they sing any poignant or "beautiful" song.
Obviously he is teased unmercifully by his peers. Last week we were in the vice principal's office because the teasing on the school bus had escalated to the point where another kid "farted" in our son's face.
Our son has been on antidepressants and been in counseling. I had hoped he would gain a thicker skin by now. His Father and I continue to tell him that he should not let these other kids upset him. He is very sad about not being able to go to a class he says he likes. We have been thinking about desensitizing him to their song list.
How do we get him to stop showing his sensitivity? Any advice,rational approach would be appreciated.
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Avatar_f_tn
Hi emerald,
I'm sorry for what you and your son are going through. I can't really give you advice - I dont know much about this area and I dont have kids yet - but I wanted to say that you may want to copy and paste this to the child behavior also - they have some great people posting there that know alot about kids, so you'll get more responses.
Good luck and I hope you get some good suggestions.
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Avatar_n_tn
I can imagine how painful it is to see your child hurting.  I have worked in many schools where I have observed children who are handicapped to some extent.  It seems that if a child is obviously severely handicapped such as in a wheelchair or extremely developmentally delayed, the children are more sympathetic.  It sounds like these children need some sensitivity training. Could a teacher not speak to the class as a whole and as the children to be more empathic. It is hard for kids who are egocentric to imagine themselves in a position where others are taunting them.  I suppose at age 13 it would be quite embarrassing to have this brought up in front of others.  A friend of mine is a well loved 6th grade teacher (age 11/12) and every Friday she would set aside time after lunch to have a chat with the kids.  That was a time for anyone to bring up any beef such as someone being mean or some perceived unfairness etc.. There was one rule and that was that the children had to speak respectfully. Often there were tears but my friend was always supportive and reassuring and she made sure that it ended well.  She brought out the best in the kids.  To her it was very important that the children learn to be kind to one another. She would ask them to go away for another week and do their best to remedy a situation.  Then they would report back the next week.

Can your child not have a shadow with him during the day.  If the school board feels that he is too high functioning perhaps they would pay for one part time or shared with some other child. You might be able to pay a little more and have the shadow stay with your son more of the week. Another idea is to put him in a special school where his particular needs will be addressed.  A few years ago it was decided that integration does not work, by and large.  It is better for the child to go to a special program where his individual needs are addressed.

If I were in your shoes...easy to say...but  I would seriously consider home schooling your son.  I think that the middle school environment is too much for a child so sensitive. If we had to go to work where we were tormented and abused all day long, we would certainly crack under the stress.  As a matter of fact, if what happens to your son on a regular basis were to go on among adults, the perpetrators would be arrested.  Adults may not yell at and harass people and yet schools allow children to do it to one another.

You are your child's advocate.  You have to take charge of his situation.  Don't be afraid to make enemies if you are not getting what you want for him. Do you have an organization of which you are a member that deals with children with intellectual handicaps?  They also can offer you the support that you need.  A representative may even agree to go in to the school and discuss the situation with the principal and teacher.  And he or she may even offer to give a sensitivity training seminar or at least a talk with this grade level...a difficult age.

Can you put him into a music program?  SInce he loves music, I would capitalize on that strength and interest.  Give him an activity that he can be good at.   I used to be a Brownie leader and we had one little girl with an intellectual delay and she was gifted in music.  SHe could sing the harmony at age 8 to any songs we sang as a group.  Now at age 26 her mother has her in 2 choirs and she works about 10 hours per week in a seniors residence where her favourite activity is the sing along with the elderly people.  She cannot read but she picks up the melody line and the harmony instantly.

I wish you luck with your son.  And I also wish you the strength to keep up the good fight for him.

Robin
  
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Avatar_n_tn
I would sing the songs with him at home. Make some intentional mistakes and let your child correct you. Try to make a game of it-see who will laugh first. Interjecting the concept of humor might trigger the response not to cry during the song.
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Avatar_f_tn
My son was also being teased alot.  It was felt taht he was too disruptive - and sometimes he was.  He has a borderline diagnosis for Aspergers.  We put him in a school for Aspergers.  He is 9 and is so happy now.   Have you sonsidered getting an IEP that requires a private school.  Just on the fact that he is being barred from a class is in violation of his rights.  Run and get yourself a good child advocate.  And doctors disagree on diagnosis all the time - my son has been through several.  Maybe he is HFA instead of Asperger's - we are just looking a criteria distinctions - but a better label may get him into a better school.


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My sister growing up was teased a lot, and she didn't have Aspergers or autism, she was just a normal kid but a bit emotional, teased, mostly because she was very intelligent and kinda nerdy.  She was teased so much, thrown in lockers, that her stomach hurt so much.  In eighth grade, she missed so much school due to medical reasons, that they almost didn't pass her even though she had straight As.  She cried a lot.  That year, my parents were so worried that she was becomign a different person because of the horror that middle school was to her.

Long story cut short-- my parents put her in a catholic school where the kids were nicer, and if the kids weren't nice, they had to go to the principals office.  In catholic school, you don't want to mess with nuns.  Catholic school do take kids from any denomination.  I think her school was only about 50 to 60% catholic adn the other percent Christian of a different denomination.  My sister thrived in that school, was not harrassed, and she had her emotional moments where she cried, but the kids and her friends were hugging her rather than hitting her, getting her through her emotional moments.  There gotta be other schools out there that are similar to catholic schools of other denominations, or private schools, or something.  Hell, even homeschoolers have choirs they get together, so if your boy sings, maybe he should join an adult choir, where they might have a little more sympathy for his emotional well being.  Kids can be mean.  Kids can also be nice.  It's just hard to find the nice ones when the mean ones seem to come out of the wood works.
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Is the Asperger's School a private school?  How did you find it?  I live in Michigan and know of no such place.  Can you tell me about the school?
Janine
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If he is having such a difficult time in chorus, I would take him out of it - maybe he can do something else.  He doesn't need to feel anymore stressed than he already feels.  In addition, could he be placed in an emotionally handicapped program?  It sounds like his differences are making stick out like a soar thumb, and he doesn't need the pressure.  In addition, have him examined again by the pediatrician and psychiatrist - the medication may need to be altered to better faciliate him.  Best wishes
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Hi, I got stuck with the PDD NOS as well. I went through similar hell in elementary school. This was a small school that had little understanding of disabilities. I was thankful when we moved.

I've never been good at music. It was one of my least favorite classes, mainly because I struggled to keep up with reading, singing, and keeping pace with the class at the same time. It was a frustrating class and no doubt one of the weakest grades on my report card. I could see crying, not because of it being a sad song, but because I feel frustrated and helpless trying to keep pace. Thankfully the middle school I went did not require us to take music. I avoided that class like the plague. With gym, I went through a special class. That way the teachers were more forgiving and the students as well.  Gym would have been frustrating like music in that we have to follow verbal directions.

Bouts of crying uncontrollabily, I can identify with that. I still have those times and it sucks. It used to be worse. I'd get in perfectionist mode and if something flawed or I got frustrated, then I'd start to cry. Thankfully I got by without being severly picked on after elementary school. I don't know how I pulled it off, other than I learned to ignore people and not take them seriously. They gave up after a few times.

In your situation, I think switching schools would be a good idea. I was very fortunate that my Jr. High and high school years turned out well. Before school started, my dad and I made sure to talk with the teachers, set up our IEP and tell them what to expect.  That way the teachers were rather helpful instead of working against us. In high school, I had a choice and I made sure to investigate each school. I picked the one more friendly with special needs students.
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Wait a sec.  Another kid farted in your son's face and you  guys  get called in to the vice pricipal?   Sounds to me he needs to talk to the other kid's parents.

Then he gets kicked out of music?  Instead of making accomodations, they pull him out?  You seem to have a problem with the administration!

"Disruptive behavior"  is not a reason to deny a free and appropriate  public education.  They could investigate alternative placement.  They could make classroom accomodations.

Sounds to me like you need to call an IEP meeting ASAP.   Put a note in writing to the District director of spec ed or director of pupil services or superintendent's office.  I don't know the titles in your district but it must be at the school district level (this is called LEA Local Educational Administration in IDEA lingo).  Make it clear that you have a problem with the way the administration is handling these situations.  Doccumnent them.  If the LEA can't adress the problems, go to the SEA, State Educational Administration.

If the district receives a note to change the IEP, a meeting must convene and new plans must be addressed in 30 days.

Maybe the curent IEP isn't being followed?  If this is the case, you may have to ask to go thru due process.   I went thru a mediation process which was not as nasty as due process.   You MUST MUST MUST hold the school accountable to federal IDEA law.

You MUST MUST MUST MUST know IDEA law.   IDEA is the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.   It is  a federal law that grants you and your son rights and the schools are mandated to follow.

Do you have any parernt empowerment organizations in your district?  They can assign an advocate tyo be with you and on your side for these IEP meetings.
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