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OT: worried about my son's schooling

Old 05-19-2015, 12:13 PM
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OT: worried about my son's schooling

Ok, so most of you know that I am going back to work next week. The summer will be a good test as to how I handle a job along with how my son handles staying home alone all day.

My son has learning disabilities, ADHD, Tourette's Syndrome, and anxiety issues. He is 16 but does not perform like a 16 year old. He is not academically motivated and has serious test anxiety as well as has issues with just school, in general. I've been able to make accommodations for him all these years as well as gotten him help with very expensive math tutoring for the past year. I've seen a lot of progress in math but he's so far behind still. Probably only doing pre-algebra, maybe some algebra at times, when most kids his age are in Algebra 2 or further along.

I am hoping that he can just get through 2 years of community college at this point, but I'm not even sure that's possible. His writing skills are atrocious and he can't even memorize basic grammar skills, making the same punctuation mistakes he made back in 5th grade! A lot of that is because of his cognitive memory issues. He also struggles with executive function problems and I swear I've spent years working with him, but to no avail.

I am worried that leaving him home all day long with an online schooling program will frustrate him and set him into failure and frustration mode. I am going to have to drop his math tutoring at this point, too, which is a serious disappointment to me but it was truly extremely expensive and we just can't afford it.

My X claims he'll be more involved and will help our son regularly but I really don't see that happening at this point. He might step up to the plate once he calms down but I have no idea how that will look. Also, my X will put pressure on our son because he doesn't believe in learning disabilities and feels that the kid will just have to push through them and WORK HARDER. Well, yes, that's true, but you have to give kids like this the right tools to actually work harder and smarter.... you can't just bark at them and say work harder because they don't know how to apply that.

I am planning on working with my son in the evenings to help him communicate with his teachers and then helping with projects on weekends, etc. The X claims that he will step up but I am concerned right now because he's so angry and out of control.

My son knows he will have to work harder next year. He knows he will struggle but what he doesn't know is how much or how hard it will be. I am trying right now to get someone on the phone from the school who I can communicate with about his learning disabilities but it's the end of the school year around here and everyone is in 'the end' mode, LOL.

I am very worried that I'm going to be raising a kid who will never be able to fill out a job application or who will get fired from every job because he can't function.....I know....more will be revealed. I know that everything will work out as it's supposed to. It's just hard some days to see that when you can't get your kid to stop writing run on sentences at the age of 16. Makes me cry and makes me feel like I did a crappy job with him but I know that teachers would have struggled to get him to learn, too. I just can't afford those private schools who cater to special needs kids like where he does math. We're paying $1000 a month right now for 4 hours of math a week and he's still barely into algebra. It's so slow going and I wonder if we've just been throwing money away even if he is making progress?

Thanks for letting me vent. I think I just needed to type it all out!
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Old 05-19-2015, 12:34 PM
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So... here's my 25 cents, and you can feel free to tell me to go stuff it if you want.

One of my kids probably won't get to HS graduation, because of mental illness. And it was such a heartbreak for me, I've fought so hard to get her to at least graduate. She's brilliant, but has incredible anxiety and for long periods of time doesn't even function on a basic level. We've had 504 plans and IEPs and adjusted schedules and special education and tutoring and you name it, we've tried it.

So I was tearing my hair out and my husband looked at me and said, "You know -- she can have a good life even if she doesn't graduate. Even if she doesn't go to college." It was like a lightbulb went on in my head. I mean, I know I've said that to my son, who doesn't really know what to do with his life -- if you don't know what to do, don't waste your time getting a degree in Peruvian basket weaving; learn a trade instead. But I always thought my daughter would excel and go to college.

But once I started thinking about it, I came to the conclusion that the most important thing isn't that she graduates from high school. The most important thing right now is that she learns to function. That she can handle a normal routine. Work a part-time job, and learn the responsibility of being on time, putting up with bosses and customers who are rude, and staying on track. And then maybe some time in the future, she might decide to go back and get her GED and go to college. But it's nothing that's necessary -- it makes your options more numerous; it makes your chances of not living in poverty better, etc., but if she never goes to college -- that's OK.

I know that schools have been pushing "everyone should go to college" for a long time -- and the result is that we have a lack of skilled craftsmen in many jobs right now. There are too few trained drywallers, welders, etc -- and those jobs pay better than what my job does, with a fancy college degree.

I wouldn't worry too much about how "behind" he is in math -- I would focus more on his emotional health than making sure he keeps up with all the other kids. (((hugs)))
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Old 05-19-2015, 12:44 PM
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Has he been tested by the school district? I only know a little about what my state offers but if they qualify children get everything from extra time for test taking to one on one assistance in class, special ed classes and if the school district can't accommodate the child then they have to pay the tuition for a private school. All free to the parents. You really should look into things.
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Old 05-19-2015, 12:46 PM
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Originally Posted by lillamy View Post
learn a trade instead.
I preach this to my kids all the time and they are only 14 and 8!
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Old 05-19-2015, 01:03 PM
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I was thinking the same thing. I am by no means an expert but maybe some of his anxiety stems from not wanting to disappoint you.

I don't know the resources available in your area, but where I live there is a job center where special needs kids ( in varying degree of capability) can work for the summer. It is very well received and these kids get a great sense of accomplishment and make a few bucks.

Maybe he would be interested in spending his summer that way as opposed to more schooling and I think the benefits to him would be huge.

Just my 2 cents.
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Old 05-19-2015, 01:05 PM
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Originally Posted by happybeingme View Post
Has he been tested by the school district? I only know a little about what my state offers but if they qualify children get everything from extra time for test taking to one on one assistance in class, special ed classes and if the school district can't accommodate the child then they have to pay the tuition for a private school. All free to the parents. You really should look into things.
Yes, I have. He has been tested privately and that's why I don't have an IEP with the school district. I am currently trying to talk to the special ed. counselors at the online school. I'm hoping they can help me gain a better perspective.

Honestly, I think my stress is in really handling the X right now. He and the son will be spending more time together and that worries me and I know how he puts pressure on the kid. I know that things will work out but I feel like I have to make it all look perfect and tied up with a neat little bow because that's how my X would like it to look. He can't handle life outside the boxes; which is how our son lives his life.

As for learning a trade: my son is very very good at photography and has just started his own website. He also is very interested in design and art and real estate. I would love for him to attend an art school and develop that part of his career path. He sees things in paintings and in modern art that I have no vision for whatsoever, LOL. He's quite gifted visually and there's always his tennis. He is a very gifted athlete, as well, and would make an excellent coach or instructor.

You know, he's not stupid, he just doesn't learn like the brick and mortar school kids. And, he's extremely personable and kind and loving and people generally enjoy his company.

I just have to take a chill pill and gather myself and KNOW that all will be OK. His path will just be different.

And, thanks, Lillamy, for your feedback. I hear you and I feel the same way. If it weren't for the X, I'd be way more relaxed.
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Old 05-19-2015, 01:25 PM
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Hi Liz,

You are in this young man's corner as his mother. I think you going to work and being honest with him how the change is impacting your life as a family in its entirety is admirable.

As for his learning issues and your concerns, could you reach out for some college kids to hang out with him and work with him over the summer? Maybe contact the special ed program at a local college for some recommendations? I'd think you'd get a lot of time for less than $1,000 a month. I bet you could balance fun/online learning assistance so he is not alone all the time.

As for tech schools, some of them around me run some pretty awesome summer day camps.

What about hanging out with a friend once a week or so for part of a day? Can he bike anywhere to have a break from home (pool/park/library/tennis/bowling)?

As for his capabilities in the future, that isn't today's focus, is it?

Be well. Be a good example.
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Old 05-19-2015, 01:41 PM
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I would look into a summer program at an area school. He sounds rather isolated. Online schooling is challenging. You really need to have self discipline and be self directed.
I have always worked in restaurants and retail. There have always been a lot of mentally handicapped people working in those fields.
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Old 05-19-2015, 01:58 PM
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Originally Posted by happybeingme View Post
I would look into a summer program at an area school. He sounds rather isolated. Online schooling is challenging. You really need to have self discipline and be self directed.
I have always worked in restaurants and retail. There have always been a lot of mentally handicapped people working in those fields.
He will be isolated during the day but he has plans to play tennis in the evenings with friends and with his dad. He will be having a lot of tournament travel this summer to keep him busy this summer, too. Some of which I will be taking off from work from and some of which I will have other tennis moms helping me out.

His dad will have custody of him on Tuesdays and Wednesdays so he will be spending time with him and his dad will be driving him to tennis matches and to his math tutoring which he will continue through the summer. He won't have time for any other programs, believe me, LOL!
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Old 05-19-2015, 01:59 PM
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Just offering support.

I know here in MO there is a program called Vocational Rehab that will help place someone with any sort of disability into different jobs, and even pay for schooling. My X had mild learning disabilities through school, and they stepped in for him when needed.

Don't worry what the future holds. Relax. Put out a feeler for a high school student to help out with the math, the price will be a lot less. Offer 8-10 per hour and I bet you could find a taker. I know my DD's school has academic lab during their advisory period and after school until 4:00 that will give you individual help. Just find out what's available.

Hugs to you. Slow down, a day at a time. XXX
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Old 05-19-2015, 03:07 PM
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You're son sounds like he has a very good grasp on things overall.

My daughter gets test anxiety. She can know something inside out and fail the test. She's learned how to deal with it and gave me great pointers before I had an important test last year. College most likely isn't for her - her call on that. None of us have a problem with it. She has many interests and is a valued employee. She's currently a military avionics technician.

Have you ever read about different types of geniuses? Not everyone is adapt at fitting into the mold traditional schooling works on. That's OK.

Multiple Intelligences by¬* Dr. Thomas Armstrong
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Old 05-19-2015, 03:30 PM
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Another thought - have you found gratitude to help in this area? As the saying goes, "Someone else is praying for.... What I take for granted."

Lately that has been so very helpful to me. As with anything, take what helps, store (or ignore) the rest.

When I read about your son's reading and writing, what impressed me wasn't the errors but the fact that he's doing these things! I find the fact that he writes more endearing than the grammar and run on sentences. So many kids and adults would rather entirely avoid things they aren't good at.

It seems to me that you're doing very well, and so is he. Just in other ways than you may be expecting.
(((hugs)))
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Old 05-19-2015, 03:39 PM
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You're getting some great feedback here, Liz, and I think the most important is for you and the kiddo to BREATHE a little. Enjoy the fact that SOME of the insanity is gone for SOME of the time. If you reinforce the fact that he's a worthwhile person, I have a feeling he will make out OK. He may have to learn some strategies to compensate for what he has trouble with, but that's where he will learn to be creative. My older son had extreme social anxiety and other issues in HS. He is ONE LOUSY CREDIT from his Associate's Degree--he needs a math credit and he's too embarrassed/resentful that they didn't teach him enough math at the Montessori public HS he attended to bother getting it. I've suggested a bunch of ways he could do it, but he's almost 29 now and it's his business at this point. If he doesn't want it, he doesn't have to do it. One of the privileges of adulthood. My first husband never got a degree either, and he had a successful career based on his hard work and excellent people skills.

Both of my kids I would consider "underemployed" given their intelligence and talents, but it's their lives to live. I can give suggestions if asked for help but I'm done stepping in to direct them without being asked. I'm proud of the people they've turned out to be, and that's enough.
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Old 05-19-2015, 07:47 PM
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My 16yo has learning disabilities too - although different ones and no anxiety - well social anxiety but not generalized anxiety. Not yet - very strong family history. Anyway - he is totally fine home alone during the day. I think you can cross that one off your list . Am I reading right that your plan is to continue the home schooling online? I do not have experience with that. My son would never manage that in a million years but all kids are different. If the plan was public school in August I do have some experience to share with that. Your son would qualify for a 504 plan at least and possibly an IEP depending on test scores. The 504 would provide needed accommodations and supports. IEP's provide content modification if needed - and therapies. If you'd like more info please let me know. If you pm me the state you live in I can give links for agency contacts in your state that might be a good resources. These are legal requirements in public schools. Not sure if your online school is public or not?

Your son has a lot of challenges but a lot of assets with his talents and athletic gifts. That is a big one at his age. He sounds like a great kid with a pretty full life actually and you are a great mom.

I also suspect that his time with his dad will be fine. Once the transition with the divorce and separation and parenting plan is settled they will find a routine - and it probably won't be one you like and/or X won't follow through on agreements but that is life unfortunately.

And don't feel bad about what he can and can't do. My kid could not spell his way out of a wet paper bag. I mean - he really probably can't spell paper bag and if he does he couldn't read his writing. He is accommodated by not being graded on spelling. He needs a job that does not require spelling - or make sure he has a secretary. Lol. But guess what?! He won an award for best GPA in his intro to business class! Had the right teacher for that one!!
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Old 05-19-2015, 08:56 PM
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I think you nailed what the problem is right here:

He and the son will be spending more time together and that worries me and I know how he puts pressure on the kid. I know that things will work out but I feel like I have to make it all look perfect and tied up with a neat little bow because that's how my X would like it to look. He can't handle life outside the boxes; which is how our son lives his life.
So maybe the problem isn't your son, but your X? Maybe the problem isn't your son's anxiety, but the fact that your X is causing it? My X was the same -- he would always preach to the kids that "your behavior and achievements reflect directly on ME as a person" and "I can't have a kid who gets a C in Geography! You keep this up and you'll ruin my career!"

I spent a LOT of time undermining those messages to my kids and telling them that their dad was insecure and that their achievements were theirs and theirs only, good or bad. Still, I ended up with a houseful of perfectionists with anxiety. So I clearly have no answer for you when it comes to HOW to handle that -- but I really think you've hit the nail on the head in formulating the problem. And that's half the battle.
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Old 05-20-2015, 02:33 PM
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Lillamy, yes that is exactly it! I feel for my kid and I know this transition will be tough for him, as well as for me. Overall, though, I trust that he will turn out fine and that his life plans will be perfect for him, no matter what.

I am working very hard at not strangling life with my own will and just trying to let God's will present itself as I turn it over to Him.
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Old 05-26-2015, 09:28 PM
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Was today your first day? I hope it went (or will go) very well!

I have to add a big thank you for this thread. I deal with a large range of physical and mental issues, and our kids do also. Possible celiac, ADHD/ADD, anxiety, food allergies and intolerance (autoimmune, nervous system, etc.) Today was rough for me, but I have many more good days than bad now. For all the ways it causes us problems, we excel at other things. That seems to be fairly common, if there's good support and an open mind to the non-traditional. My idea of "excelling" may also be non-traditional.

This thread is a great reminder on my not-so-good days.

Good wishes to your son, on whatever path is ahead! May it be a great journey. He sounds like he's doing well. So do you! You're a wonderful mom.
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Old 05-27-2015, 11:05 PM
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Originally Posted by keepingthefaith View Post
Was today your first day? I hope it went (or will go) very well!

I have to add a big thank you for this thread. I deal with a large range of physical and mental issues, and our kids do also. Possible celiac, ADHD/ADD, anxiety, food allergies and intolerance (autoimmune, nervous system, etc.) Today was rough for me, but I have many more good days than bad now. For all the ways it causes us problems, we excel at other things. That seems to be fairly common, if there's good support and an open mind to the non-traditional. My idea of "excelling" may also be non-traditional.


This thread is a great reminder on my not-so-good days.

Good wishes to your son, on whatever path is ahead! May it be a great journey. He sounds like he's doing well. So do you! You're a wonderful mom.
Hi, I started my job yesterday. My son was with his dad for the past 2 days and I felt like I had completely lost touch with him. I guess in some ways it was good because I needed to learn the job and get introduced to things and deal with the long commute, etc.

Anyway, I think I'm glad it's a 4 day work week because I'm beat. It doesn't help that I went to a concert last night as I had the ticket from a few months ago and was up way too late last night!

My son is doing well for now but it's just the beginning of our transition. Only time will tell how things pan out for us in the future.
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Old 05-28-2015, 05:28 AM
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Glad you made it through the first day at the new job! Relax as much as you can--it's always hard being the "new kid" and learning what's what. You're a sharp cookie, I'll bet you'll be on top of things before you know it.

It's good that all these changes are happening now rather than right in the middle of the school year. You guys will be fine, I just know it. :-)
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Old 05-28-2015, 06:09 AM
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It's hard letting go "control" of being there with him all of the time,
but from all you've posted he is a sensible young man and he will do just fine.

Like Lexie says, it's hard getting started at a new job but in a few weeks
you'll adjust and feel right at home.

I am always really tired too when I am doing a new thing so be sure
to get plenty of sleep and good food as you make the transition
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