Difficult time in public high school. Need advice

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Ericka
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18 Sep 2008, 4:39 pm

My teen daughter has AS. She has such a hard time going to school everyday!! School just started about 2 weeks ago. I know change from routine is hard. She wants to be home schooled. I think that would be the worst thing for her because she would not get the social interaction she needs. She doesn't talk to other kids unless they talk to her first, but even with that she is really nervous. She says she likes to be alone, and wants to be alone, but I also know she would love to have friends, she just doesn't know how to make them. She is in special classes, but that isn't helping her either. The small groups are better though. She has a strong hate for school. She gets very angry and begs not to go, and when that doesn't work she starts swearing real bad. I know she doesn't mean the names she calls me. I try not to let it bother me. When she does that(which is pretty much every morning) I tell her to think about what she is saying, and that it is not ok to do. I "ground" her from her tv, comp, ect. That doesn't seem to be doing much. She tells me I am going to go to hell for making her go. I have been reading as much as I can on WP to try to understand, and desperately would like to help my kid. I don't know if it is right or wrong, but I have told her how school is the law, and she must go everyday(unless sick) doesn't matter what kind of fit she throws. I am hoping she will get used to the school routine, and adjust. Older Aspies, I would like your input. I don't want to hurt her as a person, but she must go to school. Homeschool is not an option because she already has great disrespect for me, and I truly think it would just be a battle to do her work. Please help!~ Ericka



Magique
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18 Sep 2008, 5:01 pm

Does she give any specific reason for not wanting to go? Bullies, anything like that? Is it just too boring? There are any number of reasons why school might be hell.



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18 Sep 2008, 5:21 pm

A lot of posters on this forum have described high school as living hell for them. One cannot learn how to interact socially when every defense in their body is rebelling against the environment. While my son is not at that age yet, and I have hopes that we are laying a strong enough foundation for high school to be a reasonable experience for him, I am prepared that it might not be. I've read enough on these forums to know what I do NOT want for my child. Some negative experiences are difficult to move past.

It sounds like two things have kept you from home schooling, and I will give my thoughts on each.

1) The need to learn to socialize. Honestly, high school is not the place to do this. Everyone there is trying to define themselves, and the process is quite nasty. There is no other time in her life that she will learn the types of social skills exercised in high school. This gap can be well filled through other means, and having a last few years of security at home may help her build the stronger self-image she will need to want to try to navigate the larger social world.

2) You don't think she respects you. It is part of being a teen to lack respect for parents. It is part of establishing their own identity. But that does not mean you cannot get her to listen to you. If the carrot is big in enough. In this case, the exchange I would offer is this: you give her a contract for homeschooling that spells out what you expect, how many warnings there will be, etc. Failure to follow the contract means no more homeschool, and no more homeschool means back in the dreaded high school. Give her a valid choice, and see what she is willing or able to do with it.

Best of luck to both of you. I am not looking forward to the teen years.


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18 Sep 2008, 5:21 pm

It is possible that she is expending a lot of energy on being nervous/agitated about school.


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18 Sep 2008, 7:05 pm

It breaks my heart that your daughter is so agitated about going to school. I'm sure that it breaks your heart as well.

Although I do not homeschool, I've looked into it in depth. There are Cyber schools, online schools that have teachers and books and provide the computer, etc. You wouldn't be doing the teaching -- there would be teachers who are online teaching the class. Also, some of these cyber schools, if they are local, will have social opportunities built into the curriculum. You could check out what's available in your area.

I think that High School is a fine social arena if your child is COMFORTABLE. But it ISN'T the only route she has to take. Maybe it's possible to check into the cyber school option, and then if she doesn't keep up with the work, you send her back to high school. That would be pretty good motivation for her to keep up with her work.



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18 Sep 2008, 11:17 pm

Ericka wrote:
My teen daughter has AS. She has such a hard time going to school everyday!! School just started about 2 weeks ago. I know change from routine is hard. She wants to be home schooled. I think that would be the worst thing for her because she would not get the social interaction she needs. She doesn't talk to other kids unless they talk to her first, but even with that she is really nervous. She says she likes to be alone, and wants to be alone, but I also know she would love to have friends, she just doesn't know how to make them. She is in special classes, but that isn't helping her either. The small groups are better though. She has a strong hate for school. She gets very angry and begs not to go, and when that doesn't work she starts swearing real bad. I know she doesn't mean the names she calls me. I try not to let it bother me. When she does that(which is pretty much every morning) I tell her to think about what she is saying, and that it is not ok to do. I "ground" her from her tv, comp, ect. That doesn't seem to be doing much. She tells me I am going to go to hell for making her go. I have been reading as much as I can on WP to try to understand, and desperately would like to help my kid. I don't know if it is right or wrong, but I have told her how school is the law, and she must go everyday(unless sick) doesn't matter what kind of fit she throws. I am hoping she will get used to the school routine, and adjust. Older Aspies, I would like your input. I don't want to hurt her as a person, but she must go to school. Homeschool is not an option because she already has great disrespect for me, and I truly think it would just be a battle to do her work. Please help!~ Ericka


I'll have to say, high school was hell for me - as it was for a lot of people (NT included). It's a hard time for all, learning how to be an adult (theoretically, anyway). New expectations. New social stuff. New hormonal stuff. My daughter (also Aspie) hated it, but there were no other options for us (single mom here, no support network to home-school her, which I'd have rather done simply because the schools here are so bad).

I also have to say that the "throw 'em in and see if they'll swim" is a hell of a way for a kid to get through high school. STILL, there is value in it. It may be misery, but the kid will have to deal with life in general at some point and they might as well start learning the pecking order, etc., in school. I'd love to say there's another way, but I've never seen one that really worked for the kid. Oh, yes, while in high school they did. But when they had to move on and move out on their own, into the "out there", they tended to implode.

Still do wish there was another planet for us to be on, it'd be easier.



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18 Sep 2008, 11:45 pm

One thing to consider...

I too started off feeling negative about home schooling.
I quoted the usual stuff about lack of social skills etc.

A mother who was home-schooling challenged these assumptions.

I decided to dig for empirical evidence and was astounded by what I found.
My assumptions were completely wrong.

I'm not quite sure where that thread went - it's on WP somewhere but I can guarantee you that there's nothing wrong with home-schooling in the hands of the right parents.

If anything, the home-schooled child develops "better" social skills because they interact with mature adults (and other people of all ages) every day.

Home schooling isn't about sitting at home all day - there's shopping etc - normal day to day activities in the middle, which increase the social interactions. If you're thinking that shopping isn't a good way to spend time, then think about school... specifically, art, music, home economics, religion, physical education, roll call and other similar classes.



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19 Sep 2008, 12:22 am

No social interaction is far better than only experiencing social rejection. However homeschool is only socially isolating if you choose to make it so


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Saffy
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19 Sep 2008, 2:14 am

There are some really awesome books about for girls with AS, both for their parents and for the girls themselves.

It might be worth investing in some good reading material for the both of you

Asperger's and Girls
by Tony Attwood (Author), Temple Grandin

Girls under the Umbrella of Autism Spectrum Disorder

by Lori Ernsperger Ph.D. (Author), Danielle Wendel (Author)

These are two that I have read that I know are good. There is another one .. that I cannot recall the name of , which was written by the a teen sister for her teen sibling with AS, it's excellent as well. That might ring a bell for someone else.
Teen years are difficult for everyone, but particularly teens on the spectrum.



ster
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19 Sep 2008, 9:39 am

i think you need to investigate further to see if you can find a source for her agitation- is she agitated due to general AS symptoms, or is she agitated due to interaction with bullies ?
perhaps a smaller high school environment would be something to look into.......



Emen
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19 Sep 2008, 3:24 pm

Hi there,
Life must be very difficult for you at the moment and you and your daughter have my sympathy.
She must be feeling very powerless just now and the swearing etc. is the only weapon she has to react against a situation that is so hurtful to her.

Do, please, consider the homeschool option. If your daughter is being bullied or made to feel bad about herself in some way at school, then I wouldn't worry at all about the loss of negative social interaction. As other posters have pointed out, many different, more positive, forms of social interaction are available to homeschooled students.

Another excellent suggestion was drawing up a contract with her if you agree to homeschool her. Tell her you are taking her concerns very seriously and discuss your worries about homeschooling and ask what she thinks about those and how they could be overcome. You could draw up a contract together. Also, you might find homeschooling less onerous than you think as kids are often able to cover the necessary work in much less time at home than at school. You may also find that she achieves much more academically in a more conducive environment.

Schools can be soul-destroying places for kids who are different. However, there are alternatives and sticking with the school option really doesn't seem worth the absolute misery it's causing your daughter at what is a very difficult and tumultous stage of development in anyone's life.

Good luck.



Magique
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19 Sep 2008, 4:54 pm

I tried everything to get my daughter to go to school. She's NT (probably), but in the gifted range. I tried alternative school, I tried everything short of child abuse or jail. It didn't work. I ended up signing her out for homeschool just to keep the truant officer out of it. In my state I could go to jail if she was truant. Well, I didn't have time to do any specific schooling with her. She read a lot. She ended up getting her GED with very high scores at 17. She is now in grad school for social work and working with kids at risk for gang involvement. Ironically, the gangs at school were a huge part of the reason she refused to attend.



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19 Sep 2008, 9:12 pm

Magique wrote:
I tried everything to get my daughter to go to school. She's NT (probably), but in the gifted range. I tried alternative school, I tried everything short of child abuse or jail. It didn't work. I ended up signing her out for homeschool just to keep the truant officer out of it. In my state I could go to jail if she was truant. Well, I didn't have time to do any specific schooling with her. She read a lot. She ended up getting her GED with very high scores at 17. She is now in grad school for social work and working with kids at risk for gang involvement. Ironically, the gangs at school were a huge part of the reason she refused to attend.


My daughter ran into that as well. She was gifted, was working at 12th grade level without much effort in the 4th grade, and passed the high school exit exam easily in 9th grade, but there was (and still is) no systemic place for her to have gone at age 14. The school system needed her body to be in that seat so they could collect their fiscal allotment for her from the state. I had to work all day to keep us under a roof and fed - even if they'd have let her leave school with a diploma - so she'd have been on her own all day. Bad mix, that. But the things she hated worst at school were the gangs, as well as the "idiocy" of both a lot of her classmates and the courses in general.

As examples: she regularly, as a senior in high school, had to explain "big words" like "literacy" to some of her classmates when she'd be trying to make a class presentation - it really dragged down the level of what instruction was going on. Not that there was much of that - in her Economics class the instructor had them watch episodes of the TV show "The Apprentice," spent two weeks explaining how bank accounts worked, and had them fill in a "short form" tax return by copying the numbers off of a photocopied sheet that listed "in blank 1, enter xyz," etc. This was the norm more than the exception, sadly.

So, she was bored to tears, had to avoid knife-fights in the hallways, ghetto chicks threatening her because she "wasn't into Jesus," drug dealing in the restrooms.... I'd have wanted out, too. Throw being an Aspie in on top of that? Hell. Just plain hell.

Yet she made it through, got a two-year college degree in a foreign language, is working at a job that pays more (even adjusted for time and inflation) than I earned starting out after spending 8 years in higher education, and continues to self-educate herself on her own terms. So, I have to say as a closer - to remember that it's less about the subject matter one learns than it is how to survive in difficult situations. Yes, being around intelligent, supportive, educated adults is lovely and great for a kid. But the rest of their lives are hardly (given the odds) going to find them in similar circumstances. They have to be able to function in the bad situations. You don't learn how to do that by being kept safe in only the good ones. Something to think about.

PS The two-year degree was just something to keep her at the local community college until she matured enough to be functional enough and have sufficient self-confidence (and a resume, thanks to the work-study program) to be able to survive in the workforce on her own. She'll never really use that degree as anything other than a line on her resume.



Last edited by Nan on 19 Sep 2008, 9:28 pm, edited 6 times in total.

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19 Sep 2008, 9:13 pm

Magique, thanks for your post. I think a lot of us who are going through problems with our supposed "problem" children aren't able to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Your post provided that.

There are options -- sometimes we just aren't aware of what they are at the time.



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19 Sep 2008, 9:28 pm

gbollard wrote:
If anything, the home-schooled child develops "better" social skills because they interact with mature adults (and other people of all ages) every day.


I'd say, yeah. People occasionally approach me about beekeeping. Teaching a homeschool kid is more like teaching an adult than it is like teaching a Boy Scout or 4-H kid of the same age.



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23 Sep 2008, 1:30 pm

Ericka wrote:
My teen daughter has AS. She has such a hard time going to school everyday!! School just started about 2 weeks ago. I know change from routine is hard. She wants to be home schooled. I think that would be the worst thing for her because she would not get the social interaction she needs. She doesn't talk to other kids unless they talk to her first, but even with that she is really nervous. She says she likes to be alone, and wants to be alone, but I also know she would love to have friends, she just doesn't know how to make them. She is in special classes, but that isn't helping her either. The small groups are better though. She has a strong hate for school. She gets very angry and begs not to go, and when that doesn't work she starts swearing real bad. I know she doesn't mean the names she calls me. I try not to let it bother me. When she does that(which is pretty much every morning) I tell her to think about what she is saying, and that it is not ok to do. I "ground" her from her tv, comp, ect. That doesn't seem to be doing much. She tells me I am going to go to hell for making her go. I have been reading as much as I can on WP to try to understand, and desperately would like to help my kid. I don't know if it is right or wrong, but I have told her how school is the law, and she must go everyday(unless sick) doesn't matter what kind of fit she throws. I am hoping she will get used to the school routine, and adjust. Older Aspies, I would like your input. I don't want to hurt her as a person, but she must go to school. Homeschool is not an option because she already has great disrespect for me, and I truly think it would just be a battle to do her work. Please help!~ Ericka


I wanted the same thing when I was in high school because I couldn't stand the environment I was in. I wanted to just study on my own at home and not have to deal with the foolishness that went on high school all day, and I went to a Christian School. My parents wouldn't help me, transfer me to another school, or anything like that, they just made me suffer. They also grounded me from TV, radio, listening to my music, etc., thinking it would help, but it only made me resent them more because they took away the things that gave me peace when I was away from all that. They couldn't punish my problems out of me like they thought.

If you care about social interaction, that's a good reason to take her out of there. It's obvious the social interaction she's getting isn't good at all, I know because it wasn't good for me. I understand you're concern she needs social interaction, just not the kind she's getting in that school. If you knew someone who was in an abusive relationship, you'd tell them to get out right? Why doesn't this same view apply to your daughter? I think she's being abused and you keep forcing her back in, do her a favor and get her out.

Others on this group have mentioned alternative to traditional school, like homeschooling, cyberschool, etc. Look into one of these for her, I think both of you will be much happier. As for socialization, I'm sure homeschoolers could help you find some more positive opportunities to get social interaction for your daughter, like community organizations, clubs, and so forth. These activities could provide positive or negative socialization, but the difference is if it is negative, she will have the option to get up and walk out, which isn't an option in the school enviornment.

Explore other options, for your daughter's sake.


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