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Asperger's son becoming violent
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Asperger's son becoming violent

My son is almost 9 years old, with Asperger's. He seems to be getting worse as he gets older, not better. Tonight he actually frightened me with his violence, screaming, spitting at his dad, and saying he wanted to kill people. He is having a horrible time in his school. He's had to be moved from a mainstream classroom to a special ed classroom, so his next stop is a special school for children too violent or disabled for a regular school. Antipsychotic drugs just made him irritable and caused a lot of weight gain. We took him off them, he was great for a few days, now he's worse than ever. The psychiatrist only prescribes meds, the behavioral therapist says until his anxiety is under control, no psychotherapy or behavioral therapy will help him. We've tried diets, supplements, group therapy, meds. This is the first time he has wanted to hurt other people, and I am so afraid for him. Is there anything else we could do for him?
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It sounds like the educational, behavioral, and psychiatric services being provided to your son are not addressing his needs to your satisfaction.  One of the first recommendations that I have is that you look into schools that specialize in working with children that have diagnoses and behavioral challenges similar to your son’s.  Unfortunately, I have known a number of families that have had to move or send their children into residential programs because there was simply no appropriate school close enough to their homes.  These will be tough decisions for you to make but it is impossible to stress enough the importance of having your child being taught in a setting in which his individual needs are addressed.  Regarding his behavioral programming, it is simply not the case that behavioral interventions need to occur in conjunction with psychotropic medication.  I’m not sure of your child’s diagnoses, but there is no reason that a qualified behavior analyst can’t work with you on developing strategies to deal with your son’s aggression regardless of any anxiety that he is exhibiting.  If you’re not satisfied with the services provided by your behavioral clinicians, seek new clinicians.  A good choice would be a certified behavior analyst who has successfully worked with aggressive children that have characteristics similar to your son’s. The behavior analysis certification board has a website on which you should be able to find clinicians in your area.  
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347888_tn?1239903054
I feel for you--we are in the same boat.  I have a 10 year old daugther with AS.  She is starting to get more violent at school--spitting, biting, kicking, knocking over desks, but she does not do this at home.  She does talk about wanting to kill people, including herself, but we are hoping this is just her anger & frustration talking.  We have just started neurofeedback.  I can't say if it is working yet, but, like you, are trying everything we can to see if it will help.  Good luck to you on your journey--and what a journey it is!
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Call a child advocate or special ed lawyer - we got our child into a school specifically for children with Asperger's and other neurobiological orders (Gersh Academy).  He went from miserable to very happy in 5 months.  He refused to do ay schoolwork for two years - now he is happily complying.  The school has changed his and our lives.  

It was not on the state list - the district was told to settle before we take them in front of a judge on April 1 (the BOE is enjoying their one adjournment).  Do you write a letter every time an incident occurs - a contemperous record is very important?  Our lawyer was thrilled with my husband (also a lawyer) who had assembled a dream correspondence file.  Do you ask specifically how tthe school is going to deal with his problems?  No ambiguity is allowed.  The lawyer/advocate will tell you if you have a case.

My husband just kept putting it all on the school - and then presented several neuropsychs with recommendations that they could not accomodate.  My husband had the principal so worried that she hired a shadow who was a certified teacher out of her discretionary budget. Most schools are ill trained to deal with these kids.  

What will an advocate do for you?  They will help you make a plan.  Special ed law is very complicated.  My husband just directed another lawyer at his firm (his child has severe learning diabilities) to our advocate.  Yesterday, he came into my husband's office and thanked him as he was clueless as what to do.  If Ivy league white shoe lawyers are lost in the system - trust me, the average American doesn't have a chance.  Most advocates in the NYC area cost about $100/hr but many work on a sliding scale.  The advantage to a lawyer is that you can ususally get most of the fees recovered if you win in court.  We ended up paying for both - but we only have to pay the lawyer if it goes to impartial.  Also, a good advocate knows which judge is family friendly and when better to settle.  Generally speaking, if you get a letter for private school in NYC, the BOE will start negotiations at 65% of tuition - then you decide where you eant to settle after that or go for the impartial.  At the impartial, it is all or nothing - but a judge can penalize slightly if he liked the BOE's settlement.  Our neighbor didn't see a lawyer befor ehepulled his kid and placed him.  Big mistake - he lost.  The lawyer can only do so much to clean up a case - tht is why it is important to go to the advocate/lawyer to see where you stand.

All the pscho-eds and the IEP's may not get you what you need - if you don't know the rules of the game.  Making our son a productive member of society has become our mission.  Finding an appropriate school for him was tantamount.  He would not have done well in an environment specifically catered for learning disabled (nor were the schools interested in him) or low performing students.  His school as severely autistic children but they rarely meet with each other (sometimes at lunch) and they have little interaction with the Asperger's children.

Learn to light a fire under your school administration. My husband was relentless.
People should not take no for an answer.  In the beginning I was horrified about my son's behavior - embarrassed - but then I realized that most of this did not go on at home.  It was the school system that was inappropriate for him.  Never again did I listen to a long litany of what he did with no solutions.

Place it all on their feet!  You have to worry about your relationship with him at home.    Does he have an IEP?  What were the results of his FBA?  Why didn't they offer one?  Do you think he needs further testing?  A psycho-ed was probably not sufficient.  Ask for a NESPY.  It isn't in the budget.  Well, I guess I will have to have an impartial hearing to get one.   Send letter.  All of a sudden you will be granted the NESPY.  Diid you ask for a SEIT class, A CTT class - good ground work before you play let's try to get the state to pay for a private school game.  Trust me, if you think you hate the BOE now - you will be wanting their heads on a platter when that begins.  Asperger's kids don't do well in schools for ED/abusive kids - it is like sending a lamb to the slaughter.  That is why you want your FBA and NESPY in hand - it will save a lot of time with your advocate - a good one will ask for it anyway.

Your kid has been diagnosed with Asperger's.  Good for you.  He is protected under the law.  Schools full of ED kids who are violet are not actually an appropriate environment for an Asperger's child.  It is like leading a lamb to the slaughterhouse.  You are sending a child (who is incapable of reading social clues) into an environemnt where being able to do so will keep him from being thrown up against a wall or smashed by a flying chair.  As the school's FBA will show his emotions are triggered by frustration and he is not an inherently violent child.  

If you think this is the route you will be taking - go school shopping and apply to the ones you like- even if he doesn't go.  The good ones on the state approved lists fill up fast.  Be wary of schools with residential programs - they tend to have the most severely disturbed and violent children. Ask for a class profile - they have to provide one.  Usually no one asks - so again, another technicality for the judge to rule in your favor.  The state wanted to send my son to the most bucolic one in the state (until I pulled up their scores - since they were a part of a public school district) - not a single child out of the 102 students had made state standards on the exams.  You really have to do your homework - they can look beautiful but they don't tell you those things on the phone.

Another one, the Child School, which is in NYC - has a beautiful campus.  They take the kids to Europe every summer.  Our advocate rolled her eyes, his doctors rolled their eyes, and then I went to the message boards.  A horror story in the making.  I met a teenager on the bus (it ws kind of funny becuase it was empty but she plopped down next to me).  Within a minute you could tell she had Asperger's.  She was going to her job as a tour guide at the Museum.  She told me what the director did to kids and how she was glad when she went to Summit.  Both paid for by the state - pretty campus - with tons of openings - the other a two hour bus ride but no room in the inn.  Shopper beware.

Mom who has been through the trenches but enjoying the light at the end of a long, dark tunnel,


SueNYC
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Don't be afraid of a therapeutic school - there are wonderful ones out there.  I wish he had been there sooner.    Imagine an environment that truly understands your child, where there is no bullying, and you have a real IEP.  They actually read and understand your child's test scores and work on their strengths - not their weaknesses.  Every day is a new day there.  So even if you mess up the teacher still wants you there the next day.  My sons class has 4 children, a special ed teacher, and an aide - all specifically trained to work with Asperger's kids.  Academics are kept to a high standard in his class - it is much harder than public school was.  He used to get 100's on every test in public school - he is lucky to pull an 80 now.  He is in fourth grade - his test questions ate - Explain how the Battle of LI affected the rest of the Amerian Revolution or Describe how mineral deposits form in oceans?  In math he was started on double digit division with decimals.  A teacher who loves his high reading level and his love of vocabulary.  She sends home alot of vocabulary homework.    I don't know what everyone's kids are interested in - but mine loves words and word origins, puns, he lives with a walking dictionary.  He is also a grammatical whiz - we think he will be a copy editor when he grows up.  As I said, there is a program for every kid - you just need to find your child's place.  They school is Zen like.  And for the first time in his life, he has friends.  

Oh, by the way, Prozac was a disaster for him.  He is also 9.  He gained 20-30lbs and became very oppositional.  ADHD meds didn't work.  Buspar was a bust - though he was huggy/kissy on it.  Tenex has worked well - it can really curb emotions and impulsivity.  It also has few side effects. He also takes 6mg of melantonin at night.  He was having trouble sleeping and his psychiatrist said a study was just released supporting it in children that don't sleep well.  I only threw that in because he was so anxious that he did not sleep.  

Again.

Good Luck

SueNYC
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Hi Sue,
        My son is 11 years old and autistic / asperger's.  In elementary school (Suffolk County, NY) we had a difficult time getting the school on board with autism and my sons needs.  Through much letter writing, documentation, and a lawyer we were finally able to get my son a one on one aide and everyone on board.  I have always thought that the grades he was receiving were “inflated” and not giving a true measure of his capabilities.  For instance, he was given an A in language arts when his neuropsychological show severe problems in this area. I do his homework with him every day (believe me, he is no A student). When I mentioned this at a CSE meeting they countered by saying he excelled in grammar rules etc..  Anyway, I feel elementary school has been a complain and patch relationship all along. With much trepidation he has entered the middle school  and again he “seems” to be excelling, he even made the honor role.  The problem is that he can’t relate to the other students. At home acts like a child. He talks nonsense talk and has many unusual behaviors. He is very oppositional at home (and we are not pushovers).  He has a great Special Ed teacher (who really cares) and a one on one aide.  As well as he seems to be doing academically, I don’t believe they are addressing his other problems and severe social deficits.  The Special Ed teacher is great but I’m sure she is limited in the amount of time she can spend with him.  The aide is a big mystery and we have limited contact with her.  They do some socialization work but it seems it’s “just for the record”.   He needs a more intense program .
         I know my son could graduate from this district but he will not have the tools to lead the  independent  life that I know  he would be capable of with a more intense and customized curriculum.  We always wanted to keep my son in as “normal” an atmosphere as possible.  Our thinking was that by being around typical children, he would act typical. I don’t know if our reasoning was correct. It was alright for a child to act like a child but soon he will be 12.  He doesn’t seem to be opening up like we had hoped.  I know you have a son who attends Gersh Academy, were you ever at such a cross road?  What made you look into Gersh?  There has to be a way to connect him to the world. Can Gersh do this? Can you recommend a contact? Is your PTA open to the public? How would I know if the school is right for him? I was not aware that the district would pay for a school not approved by the state.  I know I will have a hard time proving his need because of the high grades but I’m really beginning to think we are being snowed and I think I can prove it (I save every thing related to his school work).  Sorry for the barrage of questions but I think you know where I’m at.

                                                                                                       Thanks
                                                                                                       Autism Crossroads            
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