Considering special needs preschool for adhd son? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 10 Old 10-13-2011, 09:52 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm not sure what to do.  My son is 4 and has adhd and is very aggressive.  We have an appointment with a specialist in November to see if there's something else going on in addition to the adhd.  He also has speech articulation difficulty, so he had a screening with Child Find yesterday and they said he does need speech therapy and he could possibly get help with social/emotional things.  They also said he is very smart and he scored above the normal range in the learning/concepts area.

 

So, he goes back in December for an actual evaluation with them.  I think he will mostly likely qualify for speech and the social stuff because of the adhd.  We will have the option of bringing him to a local school for speech therapy, or we can send him to a preschool for kids with special needs.  

 

The reason that I'm not sure what to is because I was planning on homeschooling both my kids.  I used to be a kindergarten teacher and feel really strongly about homeschooling.  My dh and I are okay with the idea of sending ds to the special needs preschool if they can help him more than I can at home.  But I'm worried about him liking school a lot and wanting to keep going after preschool.  If we were going to send our kids to school, it would be a private school and not public school, but we can't afford private school right now.  

 

...would it be possible for him to attend the preschool for a year and then to make enough progress that I could start homeschooling him the following year?  I guess I'm wondering what you would do if you were in my situation.  We just want to do what's best for him and for him to get the help he really needs.

 

Oh, also forgot to add that I'm not sure how my ds would do in preschool because of his aggressiveness, how he freaks out at random things (maybe sensory things going on), he doesn't listen to adults very well, he gets overstimulated in public and around lots of people and screams or bolts, he can be dangerous to others, and he's hardly been away from us, partly because hardly anyone else can handle him.  :-\

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#2 of 10 Old 10-14-2011, 05:04 AM
 
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I understand that you want to homeschool and that you have a background in education but do you have a background in special education?  As much as I would love to be in a position to home school my son, neither myself or my husband could possibly educate him effectively.  My son also has ADHD and SPD which made him very aggressive at your son's age.

 

My son went to a special education preschool.  It was through them that we learned how to best manage my son's SPD and they taught my son to recognize his sensory needs and taught him appropriate outlets.  He received speech and OT, made friends and basically learned how to learn.

 

He's now in a self-contained 1st grade classroom.  He loves it.  The teachers adore him.  He has a one-on-one aid.  He is now on medication for his ADHD which has made a huge difference for him and his ability to learn. 

 

So, my humble advice is... go one step at a time.  Get through the evaluation.  Figure out what would be best for your son.  If it's being in a special needs classroom, then do it.  If he loves it and your school district has a good, effective kindergarten program, great.  Just keep taking it one step at a time.   You may be, like me, blessed to live in a fantastic school district with teacher who are there because they love kids and want to teach.  Your child may decide that public school isn't the right setting for him and want to be home schooled.  Either way, as long as your son is learning and happy.... that's all that matters.

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#3 of 10 Old 10-14-2011, 05:05 AM
 
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I'm going to gently say that you need to decide if you would place your values on education over his needs.  I am meaning this kindly, I've been in your shoes and started as a home schooler  (structured method) and also had a struggle with how acquiring school based help would open doors toward everyone (my DS has to younger siblings) going to school.  This was partly based on what I felt I had seen teaching preschool and doing teacher's aid work.   But, if you have a child with social emotional struggles, it is hard to give them frequent, consistent, orderly exposure so that they can practice these skills and come along.  I'm hearing in your post that his behavior is at a point that he has spent little time away from you and in regular public settings.  That sounds to me like you are already at the point that your son needs more help than you can give without assistance.  It is possible that you can homeschool your son following a year of preschool, but if it turns out he likes it and he has gotten help from this setting, would it really be wrong to afford him the opportunity to attend public school?  It should be about what he needs, not what system you think works better.  Also, lets say it turns out you do have more going on than ADHD in the social skills arena. I'm coming from the angle of having a son with ASD who wasn't "obvious" at your son's age, and just seemed to have ADHD.  If you are not at the point you could pay for private school (actually, this is something we also did for a year), you may also be unpleasantly surprised at the cost of obtaining therapies independently that are sometimes offered by the public school system.  I'm Canadian, and we do have somewhat more coverage than in much of the US, but even here, we used up all our medical insurance coverage by employer in only one really busy year of assessments and therapies, and then it's out of pocket. 

 

The other thing, is that even with a structured home school program and lots of group activity involvement and sports, we still had problems really working hard on social skills without the numbers and consistent routine of people to practice on.  We went through all of this with a counselor, and for us, the decision was public school (we couldn't maintain the cost of private school at the time, either) because the consistent structure and social exposure was what worked for my son.  We had to let go of ideals, and some of how we identified ourselves changed, but that's OK because we responded to our kids as who they were.  We made public school work by keeping up communication with the teachers, volunteering and being involved where possible, and enhancing learning through our own activities (like finding related topics to school in books or outings in a fun way).  We also live in a location with low class sizes in the schools.

 

This may not be what works for you, but I do think that you shouldn't let the fear of your son's liking something you didn't plan on be part of the decision making process.  And if he's having that much of a problem in public, it's a reason for more exposure, not less.

 

 

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#4 of 10 Old 10-14-2011, 06:47 AM
 
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This sounds like my ds at that age. It's great that your district is doing what they are supposed to be doing and I WISH that is the experience that we had.

 

I don't have much to add that the pp haven't already said.

 

Sometimes our preferred educational philosophy does not fit with our child's needsredface.gif. ADHD children tend to do better with structure and predictability, which is more easily found when learning at school than at home; I have seen a few posters move a child from homeschooling to school for those reasons.  Also, it can be wonderful when you have a good teacher to help you in thislove.gif; I called ds' 1st grade teacher the ADHD whisperersmile.gif -- though she hadn't had a student like ds before she did a great job in figuring out how to work with him. I don't think his 2nd grade teacher has the same dust.gifbut she works well with him too. I gave his teacher the OT evaluation we had done and it was really helpful to her understanding ds, so I recommend getting evaluation summaries tailored to the teachers to help them understand your child.

 

I don't know if this is the case for youredface.gif but some parents believe that private school=better, which isn't necessarily the case, particularly when dealing with special needs as they don't have the legal obligations of a public school. That said, we did leave our neighborhood public school (long story - but the principle wasdemon.gif , they failed in their obligations under Child Find [I figured out later], told me "they" did not consider ADHD before 2nd or 3rd grade, and treated ds like a simple behavior problem), and moved ds to a public charter that was sooooo much better for him--we didn't know that would be the case when we applied (at the time we were just hoping that a school focused on his interests might help with boredom/behavior), but figured it couldn't be much worseeyesroll.gif.  The smaller scale of the school is working better for ds overall (and they commute with dad which is a plus). Though an elementary population of about 50 children per grade can have some draw backs (ds' old school had 5 K classes his year), there are also some pluses to having a relatively steady and small pool to work with socially.

 

4 years old was a really difficult year for ds and us. K was better at home, but school was horrid. Just before 1st grade he was diagnosed with ADHD and we did start medication (and therapy); though it did have an immediate effect on the worst of his behavior (like his "nuclear" tantrums) he still had a lot to work on. About six months in we changed the dose on his second medication and the effect makes me think of those Claritin commercials where a screen is lifted and everything is "clear." He started making progress in therapy, his social interactions, and in his classroom behavior. He seems to have matured a bit over the summer, and is having fewer problems in school this year.


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#5 of 10 Old 10-14-2011, 07:06 AM
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I always joke that I send DS1 to public school full-time AND I homeschool him full-time.  We even have a homeschool room in our house.  He has significant educational and therapeutic needs, and I simply cannot do everything for him at home.  I think you should consider his education a team approach and his parents will always be the most important part of that team.  You will always be educating him at home, even when he spends part of his day at school.  It takes a village to raise a typical child, but you have to build an army to raise a child with special needs!

 

You mentioned ADHD, language delay, sensory issues, behavior issues and social skills delay in your post.  Have you read the diagnostic criteria for autism?  The team may bring this up at his evaluation.  

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#6 of 10 Old 10-14-2011, 07:24 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Emmeline II View Post

Sometimes our preferred educational philosophy does not fit with our child's needsredface.gif.


I started out as a unschooler and was so excited about providing the perfect education for my children. My older DD is on the autism spectrum. We kept changing how we were homeschooling, trying to figure out how to make it work for her, and she eventually started school.

 

I eventually learned that it really works best to parent the kid that I have in front of me and not have opinions about what is best. Rather, simply follow what seems to be working and best for her for right now. And ultimately, that has been school for her.

 

She has an entire team of people working with her, and she needs and deserves that. I simple cannot be everything for her.

 

Something that isn't popular to say on mothering, but I think is true (and as a senior member here I'm fine taking the flack for it), raising a sn kid is hard. Getting breaks is hard. Chances are, your child will have more problems in drop off programs than other kids, and will get invited on fewer playdates. The breaks that MOST homeschooling moms can work into their weeks may not be available to you. Having a sn child in school means that moms get real breaks from the intense demands of raising the child, so they can take care of themselves and meet their own needs.

 

Of course, it is ideal to make our educational decisions based on what is best for our children. I would never recommend leaving a child in a school situation that wasn't working, and for many of us, figuring out what really works has been difficult and on-going.

 

None the less, I am a more present, sane parent with my DD in school, and I suspect that makes me normal. But the real reason she is there is because she is thriving there in ways she did not as a homeschooler.

 


but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#7 of 10 Old 10-14-2011, 09:19 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Linda on the move View Post

 

I started out as a unschooler and was so excited about providing the perfect education for my children. My older DD is on the autism spectrum. We kept changing how we were homeschooling, trying to figure out how to make it work for her, and she eventually started school.

 

I eventually learned that it really works best to parent the kid that I have in front of me and not have opinions about what is best. Rather, simply follow what seems to be working and best for her for right now. And ultimately, that has been school for her.

 

She has an entire team of people working with her, and she needs and deserves that. I simple cannot be everything for her.

 

Something that isn't popular to say on mothering, but I think is true (and as a senior member here I'm fine taking the flack for it), raising a sn kid is hard. Getting breaks is hard. Chances are, your child will have more problems in drop off programs than other kids, and will get invited on fewer playdates. The breaks that MOST homeschooling moms can work into their weeks may not be available to you. Having a sn child in school means that moms get real breaks from the intense demands of raising the child, so they can take care of themselves and meet their own needs.

 

Of course, it is ideal to make our educational decisions based on what is best for our children. I would never recommend leaving a child in a school situation that wasn't working, and for many of us, figuring out what really works has been difficult and on-going.

 

None the less, I am a more present, sane parent with my DD in school, and I suspect that makes me normal. But the real reason she is there is because she is thriving there in ways she did not as a homeschooler.

 


yeahthat.gif  You'll get no slack for me Linda.  There is nothing wrong with taking care of yourself because if you fall to pieces... then what?  I know people who've home schooled their child with SN successfully but they have a background in special needs and were able to get additional services for their child.  I've also known a few families who actually moved a few blocks to be in our district because our schools are incredibly SN friendly.  You do what you have to do to ensure your child has the right education.

 


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#8 of 10 Old 10-20-2011, 12:32 PM
 
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I'll add to the chorus of people saying that you might have to compromise parenting philosophy for the needs of your child.  We were just in the exact same boat and decided to try the preschool to see.  I quit my job to home school our DS but, as he gets older, it is increasingly clear to me that I can't fully meet his needs.

 

DS started the special needs preschool about a month ago and I can honestly say it has been the best choice we have ever made.  I was running myself ragged trying to provide what he needed and he still wasn't getting it.  Now he is getting things there that I simply could not provide (more structure, more interaction with multiple adults and other kids, special toys/equipment, etc).  All of this has lead to major break throughs for him after a long time feeling stalled out.  He is doing better, I am doing better.  I've accepted that we will just have to see down the road what happens next with school but right now I want to make sure he is getting the best help possible.

 

Maybe you could give it a try and see how it goes?  If he hates it or you aren't comfortable, you can always pull him back out?

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#9 of 10 Old 10-30-2011, 12:22 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I wanted to say thank you SO MUCH for all of your replies.  It is really helpful to hear from people who have been in this same kind of situation.  You all had such good points and you are right.  I don't want to place my ideals over what my child needs.  I do want to parent the child I have in front of me.  And even though I have a background in teaching, it doesn't necessarily mean that I will be able to provide everything my child needs.  

 

I talked with DH and I think that if DS qualifies for sure, we will send him to the special needs preschool.  It is a hard thing to decide, but we really really want to give him the help he needs.  And there are so many things just thinking about sending him that stress me out- the many struggles that will happen because of it, like getting him in his car seat every day, him leaving me for awhile to be around people he won't know (because he'll freak out and get destructive if I leave), having to do what other adults say, etc.  BUT, I think they will be able to help him too, more than I currently seem to be able to.  

 

So again, thank you so much.  You have made me feel better and given me another perspective.  :)

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#10 of 10 Old 10-30-2011, 07:04 PM
 
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Hi!  You are doing great things for your son in giving his needs so much thought and finding answers for him.  Good work!  I know how hard it can be!  I have a 6.5 yo son with ADHD, and we homeschool.  Actually, I homeschool my 8 yo DD, too.  I have a 4.5 yo son who is in preschool this year before we homeschool kindy next year.  He is having a great time!  I have had all of my kids in preschool at some time or another through the years, but we are committed to homeschooling, as long as it is working for us.

 

My DS does take meds for his ADHD, and that helps him and us an unspeakable amount.  I'm not sure I could manage him in our homeschool lifestyle without his meds, it would be really, really hard. Everything with him is very, very hard without meds.  I wish I didn't have to say that, but is it simply true.  With the right pharmaceutical help, my son has the opportunity to be successful in what he does, but without, he is a mess.  That said, I believe he would be a poor fit in school (fun preschool a few mornings a week was fine), and would not be well-served there.  He is likely gifted and is pretty far ahead of his classmates in many areas, but has a hard time sitting and writing, etc...  His behavior is often okay, but sometimes is just isn't, and he really can't do better on those days.  He tries.  It is really frustrating for ME--let alone a poor teacher with 25 other kiddos in the class.  Woo. That would be tough.  I think he would need an aide, just to sit in a class that he already knows everything presented.  He is not socially mature enough to grade skip--he has a hard enough time with age peers.  He gets along best with children a few years younger.  

 

I agree with the above posters to just take things one step at a time.  you will get him more and more figured out as time goes on, and the "right" choices for your family will become clear.  Also--it isn't all black/white--one or the other with HS and school.  You can try one thing and move to another, if it seems like it would be better.  If i can help with any more of our story, feel free to PM me.


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