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5 year old boy, extreme behavior issues in school
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5 year old boy, extreme behavior issues in school

My son turned five in August and we felt that he was fully ready to be enrolled in kindergarten, so we went for it.  Since the beginning of the school year we have had nothing but problems.  From the start he had a difficult time adjusting, especially in the morning start of the daily routine.  Refuses to come into class, lays on the floor, eats paper, takes off shoes and puts foot in mouth... very odd behavior that we are not used to seeing at home.  Since the beginning of the year, with the assistance of para's, his teacher, and councilor's we have "sort of" got him into a system that "sometimes" works.  If he can make it into class with the rest of the group he has a special desk off to the side to avoid him distracting other students, he has a special spot on the carpet next to the teacher, and usually, the para's have to work one on one with him to get him to focus on the task at hand.  This is all conducted off of countless days of him being sent to other rooms and being separated from his peers.  
After three months or so he seemed to be getting into the swing of things.  After winter break however, we had to start from scratch.  Then, again, we started to see the light until the last few weeks and it seems like we are back where we started at the start of the year with the odd behavior.  He is now chewing up pencils, ripping up paper, refuses to do work, runs away from staff, just completely shuts down.
The part that I just don't understand is that he is a completely different person at home.  He assures me in a very positive fashion that he will have a great day today and then come end of day, I hear of all of the issues he has had.  I will admit, he is a little different than most boys his age, he is very sensitive and doesn't excel at areas involving coordination, but overall he is a very conventionally normal boy.  I feel that maybe some of this behavior stems from him not connecting well with his teacher, yet still finding security in her.  Overall, to be quiet honest, I am not impressed with the faculty at his school.  I as a parent am trying to be very pro-active and they are not being responsive at all.  I have made initiative to seek psychiatric council and have him be observed for learning techniques.  I have received minimal feedback on results, and until recently when I created a fuss, I was not being informed of his behavior.  I have been contemplating putting him in another school for the next year but I am just not sure if that will be beneficial of not.  Also, we have enrolled him in a summer school program through his current school just to keep the schedule consistent.  Skills wise he is at a sufficient level, it is just the maturity level that seems to be off.  If I do decide to transfer him to another school in the fall yet keep him in the summer program, I don't know if that will be emotionally devastating to him or not.  He has a small group of friends currently but I know that is easily changeable.  
Any advise would be helpful.  I fell as if I am at a dead end.  We have tried everything possible at home to encourage good behavior including rewards, incentives, activities that promote that education is fun and a positive thing.  We have even tried threats and punishment (although I am not sure that is the best choice, we just felt there was not other option).  

Thank you
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It is so hard being a parent, isn't it?  Man------  I never knew it could be such work.  First of all, as you know your son is probably one of the youngest in his class.  Our school is very picky about this because they feel that if a child is not emotionally mature or developmentally ready, school is very stressful.  I think you are experiencing that now.  Have you considered repeating kindergarten?  I know that does not sound like something you would want to do on the surface . . . but he would be one  year older and that much more mature.  If a child has to repeat, kindergarten is the place to do it.  I would have held my child regardless if he had an August birthday because being almost a full year younger than other kids can be harder.  So think about if another year of kindergarten would be beneficial.

Has the school suggested evaluations of your son?  He clearly has an IEP as he is getting treatment to help him maintain at school.  I want you to do me a favor and google sensory integration disorder or sensory processing disorder.  They are the same thing and they affect the nervous system.  When overwhelmed or out of one's element or nervous, the processing of a sensory child can become problematic.  Think if you had a lot of floodgates that controlled how things worked in your brain and when nervous, all of the gates lifted at once.  You would do things you don't do in your most comfortable enviroment (home).  My son was diagnosed with sensory as a preschooler and his issues were far worse at school than anywhere else.  He was evaluated by an occupational therapist and started ot which is like play therapy for the nervous system.  They also work on behavioral strategies.  My son is doing beautifully in kindergarten this year with no issues.  

One OT thing that they do is talk about the child as if he has an engine.  The engine can be too high (when hyper, when having a meltdown, when angry, when bouncing off the walls) or too low (when a child lays on the ground in circle time, seems sleepy, outside the group in space) and just right (when the child is functioning well and feels "just right").  You work with the child to understand these three types of engine levels.  We made a little spedometer with a half of a paper plate and colored it into three parts red, green and yell.  Then we paper clipped an arrow that he would move to the right spot (red---  too high, yellow---- to low and green----- just right) based on what I acted out.  I'd ask him questions all the time---------  is your engine too high, it seems like it.  So we had a lot of dialogue where he would be able to identify how he was feeling inside.  Then we would have strategies for too high to calm him down and too low to "wake" him up.  He could use these strategies at school and when needed as the ultimate goal is for him to recognize the engine level himself and alter it if necessary.  That is just an idea.

Anyway, google sensory and see what you think.  I have lots of things you can do for that.  good luck
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It is so hard being a parent, isn't it?  Man------  I never knew it could be such work.  First of all, as you know your son is probably one of the youngest in his class.  Our school is very picky about this because they feel that if a child is not emotionally mature or developmentally ready, school is very stressful.  I think you are experiencing that now.  Have you considered repeating kindergarten?  I know that does not sound like something you would want to do on the surface . . . but he would be one  year older and that much more mature.  If a child has to repeat, kindergarten is the place to do it.  I would have held my child regardless if he had an August birthday because being almost a full year younger than other kids can be harder.  So think about if another year of kindergarten would be beneficial.

Has the school suggested evaluations of your son?  He clearly has an IEP as he is getting treatment to help him maintain at school.  I want you to do me a favor and google sensory integration disorder or sensory processing disorder.  They are the same thing and they affect the nervous system.  When overwhelmed or out of one's element or nervous, the processing of a sensory child can become problematic.  Think if you had a lot of floodgates that controlled how things worked in your brain and when nervous, all of the gates lifted at once.  You would do things you don't do in your most comfortable enviroment (home).  My son was diagnosed with sensory as a preschooler and his issues were far worse at school than anywhere else.  He was evaluated by an occupational therapist and started ot which is like play therapy for the nervous system.  They also work on behavioral strategies.  My son is doing beautifully in kindergarten this year with no issues.  

One OT thing that they do is talk about the child as if he has an engine.  The engine can be too high (when hyper, when having a meltdown, when angry, when bouncing off the walls) or too low (when a child lays on the ground in circle time, seems sleepy, outside the group in space) and just right (when the child is functioning well and feels "just right").  You work with the child to understand these three types of engine levels.  We made a little spedometer with a half of a paper plate and colored it into three parts red, green and yell.  Then we paper clipped an arrow that he would move to the right spot (red---  too high, yellow---- to low and green----- just right) based on what I acted out.  I'd ask him questions all the time---------  is your engine too high, it seems like it.  So we had a lot of dialogue where he would be able to identify how he was feeling inside.  Then we would have strategies for too high to calm him down and too low to "wake" him up.  He could use these strategies at school and when needed as the ultimate goal is for him to recognize the engine level himself and alter it if necessary.  That is just an idea.

Anyway, google sensory and see what you think.  I have lots of things you can do for that.  good luck
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Thank you so much for your response.  Now, I am not very familiar with IEP's, but from my understanding, they are designed to help students with disabilities or special needs.  So far my son has not been labeled with anything that would classify him in either group.  I researched sensory integration disorder and actually the school suggested it as well.  The teacher noticed his hand-washing techniques and thought maybe he would benefit from seeking council with the school's OT.  I do see some similarities with the symptoms but not enough to classify him as having that specific problem.  I do like your ideas about the "engine" comparison, I think that he would maybe understand that more than me just telling him that he is acting in an undesirable manner.  Giving him something to relate his actions to I think would help curb his emotions.  
I have seriously contemplated holding him back a year but the problem I think that we would face is that "skills" wise he is right where he needs to be.  I think that he gets bored at school and makes the decision to just do sloppy work or act like its too hard.  When he comes home he does it perfectly with no problems at all.  I just fear that a whole new set of problems would arise if we had him repeat kindergarten.  His maturity might be there but he would be way ahead of his peers academically.  
I am so torn on what to do, I guess we have the summer to work out the kinks.  

Thanks again, your ideas were insightful!  
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IEP's are just plans of action for children and are not specific to a disability or special need.  They are always based on a child's academic needs and if behavior impedes learning (such as not focusing or following directions or disrupting the class) then an IEP is put into place.  It is done so to help a child learn.  My son has NO IEP because academically he does well.  But he does have sensory integration disorder.  The thing about sensory is that it can be to varying degrees.  So even if it is a mild processing issue, it can make things more difficult.  I will tell  you that sensory can make things harder in a classroom because that is when the flood gates of the sensory system open and the brain becomes disorganized.  It does not surprise me at all that he can do his class work better at home than at school.  It is kind of like studying in the perfect environment rather than one in which there is background noise (if that bothers you.).  Being able to attend in school and do the work there is important and my gut tells me his difficulty has more to do with environmental issues than boredom.  

I have been researching and studying sensory stuff for two years now, LOL.  It is like my pet project.  So I have lots of suggestions if you are interested.  For starters, I'd do something before school to wake his engine up.  I'd have him do some crab walks across the floor, "help you out" by carrying a heavy bag of books across the room, and let him jump on a mini trampoline or a mattress on the floor.  If you don't have that, then do jumping jacks or something where he is jumping and his feet are forcefully hitting the ground.  I'd give him a piece of gum to chew on the way to the bus or in the car on the way to school.  (spit it out before he gets on or goes inside!).  You probably think I am crazy---------  but all of that helps regulate the nervous system and gets it organized.  I only speak from personal experience, but we did all of those things and it really helped my son.  He needs less and less of it as time goes on.   But I would really embrace trying some of these wacky ideas.  I wish you luck and contact me any time!
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My son has had very similiar issues to what you describe.  Also, I do think Kindergarten is very stressful for children and esp for boys, there is plenty of literature suggesting that.  Also, they have accelerated kindergarten in recent decades.  Personally since my son wen through preschool and did well there, I don't htink it really prepared him for kindergarten, whole new ballgame.  Also, sometimes with my son if he gets off on the wrong foot with someone, it's just not good.

We've had a terrible year with my son.  Currently , now he has been placed in a classroom with other boys who are having issues too.  In the younger grades, mostly it is ONLY boys who have extreme issues.  He is doing much better with teh classroom there, it is smaller and they have more help.  But that's what he needs right now.  I think there was trust issues at the other school. He would chew up his shirts, refused to go into classrooms, he would eat paper too and tear it up.  He would run out of places, tried to leave school once so they say.  It was just a nightmare, they were calling me most every week to come/pick him up.  I pay for the full-day part and they would call me the night before a couple of times suggesting he take a "day off".  THey also thought he had ADHD. He just did not thrive in the environment, I do believe in addition to his sensory issues, he had anxiety about the school.  

I took my son also to an OT and she says he has sensory processing d/o.  We will be starting therapy soon.  

My son just turned six on May 1st.  We are not repeating kindergarten, he is at the skills level of an avg kindergartener, so I am not doing it again, plus here it is only half day and you have to pay to go full day only at certain schools and I cannot afford it as a single mom.    I don't want to pay for that over again.  

Holding back is controversial in kindergarten and if you do I would do another school.  Do you think the school is very helpful in this?  I find often they are very limited in what they can do and what they understands. I think they try to do their best, but it's hard.  

I have found some books I like that might help you.

One is called "Boys Adrift"

another is called Sensational Kids

Then there is the "out of sync child".  

Those might help you, esp the last two to see if your kiddo has any sensory issues.

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Also< i wanted to add, my son was like day and night in school.  things he did in school I never saw at home. They said he drew on the walls, he put a piece of mulch in the lock of the door, he broke the door to the fire extinguisher, when you open it the glass breaks.  I honestly don't think he knew it would break.  He hit other students, it was totally off character. He's not a perfect angel by any means, but he does not typically act like that at school.
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My son also broke crayons too.  He broke pencils, they said one day he took the erasers off the top of the pencils.  I just keep adding this b/c it was horrible and horrible to get these reports.  EXTRAORDINARILY stressful.  His kindergarten teacher I could tell was not interested in working too much with it.  It just escalated out of control until finally he was taken ou tof the classroom and set up with a 1 to 1 EA  and that did not help much either.  He was kept very isolated, did not play/go to lunch with other kids. He would hide when he saw his old class.  He would hide under people's shirts or go run/hide under the stairwell.   Then they tried to integrate him back into the classroom and he had a lot of anxiety about it, I even went to school one day and tried it, it id not work.  I regret him going into a 1 to 1 situation.  THis is my first time having a child in the school system and to be honest a lot of times I felt quite powerless, it did not matter what I suggested.  I finaly came to the conclusion with the behavioral specialist it was not goign to work and we have put him into the special class.  It's almost been one week,  I hated to move him in the last month of school, but I felt like it was very TOXIC at the old school.  It is very difficult when you have a child doing things os out of the ordinary, you wonder why???It's very frustrating.  I also wanted him to like school again and not think negatively of it all the time and then not want to do school.  

Have u tried talking w/the principal?
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Okay . . . offering hope here.  My son had two horrible preschool years and I never would have imagined that things would get so much better.  They have and he has had a near perfect year.  With all of the sensory activities that we do, behavioral modifications we have taught him, and his self motivation----------  many would not know anything is going on.  

Jwright, try the suggestions I gave for before school.  I know you aren't quite sure if anything extra is going on with your son and there is a chance that there isn't.  But these suggestions hurt no child (and my non sensory kid, his little brother, does them along with my sensory kid) and have helped my son be successful.  Remember that for every day that is bad for your son, that is a day that his self esteem takes a hit.  That is what made me get over the hump and take action to help him.  His face when at school broke my heart and I wanted him to be happy!  Let me know if you have any areas that you have concerns in.  Good luck
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Yes, when kids have consistent bad day after bad day, everyone's self esteem takes a hit.  I am still getting over my son's kindergarten year, it has been very traumautic and other parents who have been through this would agree too.   Try the suggestions that specialmom gave you and see if they help.  I woudl ask for a mtg w/the school too to make sure everyone is on the SAME page.  I know it's hard to work wtih them, sometimes I felt that way like I could not get a hold of people or they only gave me limited info.  I felt like his kindergarten teacher was very judgemental and took things personally and that's professional.
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Meant to say at the end NOT professional.
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I want to add too my son used to say he was going to have a good day too and it would be horrible.
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Thanks both of you.  I fully plan on taking some sort of action with the suggestions you have given.  I have been contemplating taking him to a different therapist outside of the school system to get a second opinion.  I don't think the one we have set up who is contracted through the school is doing the best job with him.  To answer your question benjimom, yes, I have had many conferences with the principal and I find her to be very patronizing and rude.  She is a surface level person who seems to be more interested in personal gain than the welfare of the students.. just one of many reasons I want to take him to a different school.   As you were both saying, likewise with both of your children, skills wise he is where he needs to be too so I hesitate to hold him back, I just fear that 1st grade may be too demanding for him.  Even with attempting new techniques that specialmom suggested, i worry that the next grade still might be an overload.  

Well, I am definitely going to start a new regimen of activities starting monday.  Thank you both for your help! It is nice to know that we are not alone in this battle.  
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