Friday, October 5, 2012

A Question for you fearless parents out there on Autism in school

Today we are discussing my son's grades and I would like you fearless parents to chime in and tell me what you think! Pass this around and share it. The more input the better.

As many of you know, my son was recently in the hospital for a week because of suffering psychosis that made him hallucinate and hurt himself. It made him rage at everyone around him and I say "suffering" because I mean it. He also hated himself for it. He blamed himself for it. He didn't understand what was happening to him.

Now there's still plenty he know he could have accomplished if he put himself to it, but it was random when he did.

All that being said, we have rules about bringing home an F. There still must be consequences for consistency. The main area of consequence that seems to hit home is losing his DS, and computer games. He is obsessed with his DS to the point that he incorporates video game play into everything he does. A common autistic trait, actually. And he doesn't go completely out of control without his DS. At this point he seems to want to do what's right to earn it back.

Here are his grades:

Conduct: F
Reading: B
English: F (this is the class where most of his rage seems to come out but is slowing down now)
Spelling: B
Writing: Unsatisfactory (not because of difficulties but raging and refusing to even try)
Math: D
Social Studies: A
Science: C

We know he can do this.

So here's the rub.

The current vote is that he loses his DS until his next report card. He has to show us that his grades are improving and are no longer Fs or Ds. That's 6 weeks. I wouldn't have too much problem with that if it weren't for the fact that he had to be hospitalized.

So I have two counter ideas and want honest input (no put downs please!):

A: Cut the punishment down to 2 weeks flat.

B: Use his conduct grade. We get review of his conduct grade once a week. I could hold back his DS until his conduct grade shows up at least a B. That alone could take three weeks, but would give him something shorter term to aim at.

I have nothing against disciplining my child, I just don't want to use a wrecking ball to drive a nail. I will also say that it is easier said than done. So what are your thoughts my friends? Please chime in and share!


bec said...

When Jake had this exact type of situtaion last year, I worked out what I felt was a fair exchange. He earned his XBox time back based on his weekly grades. All A's or A/B's meant he earned the entire week. We subtracted days for anything C or below. This allowed him to be punished for his grades, but wasn't as harsh as the full six week punishment he would have normally gotten. The results were so positive, that this is how he earns playing time this year. Good luck with navigating this. I'm sure you'll find something that works for all of you. :)

Missing Inactive Identity said...

I'm going to agree with you. I don't believe a punishment like that should last longer than two weeks and here's why--my AS sons use video games as a means to relax and release the building tension, something that if they didn't have, could be major potential for raging later. I have seen both without and it's not pretty.

But there have to be consequences for bad behavior. I don't believe grades (unless you know for certain they can do better) should be looked at as much as the behavior. My oldest has struggled his entire life so far and he's 15 in 9th grade. I can't fault him so long as he doesn't get an E (F equivalent here) as long as I can see he's trying. But that's my opinion.

Unknown said...

I have a couple of questions first Dave. First of all, was the psychosis beyond his control? Since you and I both know communication (English) and writing are both extremely difficult for Autistics (at least for mine), was part of this a contributing factor to the break? Was the break the cause of the failing grades? I think you need to take that all into consideration before you decide upon punishiment. If the break was beyond his control and caused the grade issue, can you really discipline him for that?

David Wilde said...

Good questions Kris. It's all very convoluted. That's why I'm aiming for a middle ground. Some of the behavior was under his control but some wasn't. So it's really risky either way. That's why I want to aim at the conduct grade they do here. In order to raise that grade he has to complete some homework and do as instructed in class. If we can start correcting that, the rest should fall into place.

benedictesymcox said...

I'm a great believer in "behaviour is communication". Looking at his grades overall, the Fs stand out as unusual. The psychosis, whether cause or result, must surely be linked to everything else going on in his head and his life, and I would want to find out a little more about English. Refusal and rage can of course be deliberate, but often are a symptom of anxiety and distress. That conduct has hit a low doesn't seem too surprising to me. I would focus on conduct personally, and give him some short term goals. Even a week feels like a dreadfully long time. Could the teachers break down his conduct grade to a daily one? Then he only has to focus on that one day to earn his DS time. If he uses his DS mainly at the weekend, each day of Grade B or above could earn him some DS time. But I'd want to find out more about the English...

David Wilde said...

Thanks benedictesymcox, good thoughts. We are breaking it down to the conduct grade and have spoken to all the teachers. Especially in English. It's his handwriting that's getting him there but he's also just not complying with her. All a work in progress

Unknown said...

David, I like the conduct grade idea, not as a quick fix, but as a shorter term goal to be attained. I have an autistic great-nephew who is all of almost 7 years old now. He too uses Wii as a calming activity. We know how hard it is sometimes to find out exactly what triggers some of the episodes in his young life when he is at school. (His teachers are not all forthright.) The conduct seems to be the most reasonable issue for you to work with seeing his other grades. Best of luck.

David Wilde said...

Thank you Anna