I feel like the clock is ticking on getting help for my ds6, before he gets an ODD dx, or kicked out of school, or both. I am so confused about how to "handle" him (especially since no approach has had much impact so far!). Even if I did know exactly what would help, I'd run into resistance from all sides. I could use some clear-headed advice.
As you know if you remember any of my previous threads, both my kids are "quirky" and "challenging," as well as "gifted." FWIW, my ds14 has an anxiety dx, and a 504 plan for "executive function" issues. He can write a college-level essay, for example, but he'll take double the assigned time to write it, nearly have a breakdown pulling it out of himself, and then lose it or forget to turn it in.
Ds6 has been intense, sensitive, and demanding since day one. He has some sensory issues. His separation anxiety lasted a long time. He has a pretty high activity level. He is very affectionate, but has little interest in pleasing others (never has!). He is very persistent, and not easily calmed or redirected when he doesn't get what he wants, or feels he has been "wronged."
Ds6 started preschool when he was nearly 5. For the first 4 months or so, he was practically "perfect." He was cooperative and rule-abiding. He was quiet and a bit of a loner, playing with other kids only if they sought him out. Then, he started acting out. He was less compliant and more disruptive, clowning for the other kids at inappropriate times, making noises, not obeying teacher directives. When I asked him why, he said that it was "too hard" to be "good" all the time.
A couple of months after this behavior started, stbx and I separated. Obviously, this was a big change. I don't know how much the separation affected ds' behavior, though. The breakup had been coming for a very long time, and in many ways, it was a positive event in ds' life.
The misbehavior continued during that preschool year. He was a bit better during the summer, (even at camp with the same teachers). As kindergarten approached, he was very anxious and worried, especially about learning to read. He was in a black mood, belligerent and barely speaking at school.
Once he got used to kindy, his behavior changed, but not for the better! Instead of withdrawing, now he was "pushing buttons." He would do things to get the other kids (or the teacher!) riled up-- noises, singing, getting in others' faces, not following commands-- and disrupting the class.
To be fair to ds, the teacher was a big part of the problem. She admitted that she didn't deal with him well. I tried to give her suggestions, but while she received them well, she put most of them into practice inconsistently or not at all. The situation started to spiral, until ds was being a nearly constant nuisance; the kids expected him to clown around (egged him on, in fact), and the teacher didn't really try to deal with him anymore-- just had him removed every time he'd start up.
Despite this, ds6 was learning just fine. He learned everything he was expected to, even when he seemed to pay little attention. His teacher was convinced that his issues were due to our "broken home," even though I told her, repeatedly, that he's always been a handful.
The school required him to go to counseling-- he is not allowed to come back unless he keeps going. The counselor (a clinical psychologist) assessed him. He reported that ds is not on the Autism Spectrum, he comes close to meeting criteria for ADHD, and he is very bright. He also says his social skills are deficient, and that he is very "inner directed" (ie., he doesn't give a flying fig about what other people want him to be doing!).
The counselor said that the main thing we (parents and teachers) needed to do was work on ds' ability/willingness to "obey directives." He wanted us all to be very clear and consistent with expectations (Amen!), and consequences (also Amen). What is NOT "Amen" for me, is that he wants us to take away privileges from ds for every infraction, and escalate the consequences if ds does not respond. So far, this has not been very successful! Ds is still acting up, and I feel like a prison warden. The counselor says that it hasn't worked yet, because we haven't found the point where ds says "The price of not complying is too high."
I am not on board with this, because it goes against most of what I believe about parenting! OTOH, obviously, my GD has not been a success with ds either. Maybe the counselor's approach is what ds needs, even if I hate it? But, besides my personal distaste, the counselor is not sure if ds has ADHD or not, and admitted that he is not sure how much of ds' behavior is involuntary! So, this method may be punishing ds for things he's not capable of stopping.
I don't want to screw up my little guy any more than he already is. I am in the middle of a divorce, and can't really change ds' counselor without making myself "look bad" and quite possibly getting into a fight with stbx, who is 100% behind the "turn the thumbscrews until he obeys" approach. Also, ds' counselor was the best (apparently) I could find when I was searching for a counselor-- another might be the same or worse.
I can't change ds' school (I think). There's not reason to think that he'd do well in public school. I'm not able to afford a different private (I get a huge tuition break on ds' school), even with tons of financial aid. Also, stbx can fight me on moving either dc. He can also fight me on homeschooling-- and I think he would, just for spite. It doesn't matter, though. I can't hs ds6, because I am a teacher, and so I work during the day, of course! I tried very hard to find a job that would let me hs, but no luck. I'm quite lucky to have the job I've got, so I need to keep it.
This coming year, ds6 is going to have one of the best teachers in the school. If he can't do well in her class, then honestly, he can't do well in traditional school at all. I need to figure ds out before we come to that point!
Please chime in if you have ideas about how to get ds "on track" without breaking him, or if you have ideas on how I can get him out of this situation! Thank you.