My son James is almost 5. He was supposed to start kindergarten at the beginning of this year, and will move into year 1 in September (they start them early in the UK for some reason!). He has only been allowed to attend school for 3 hours per day for the past 2 weeks. Prior to that, they would only allow him to attend 3 days a week for one hour! And they expect him to go into year 1 in September?? Yeah, right! But I digress....

The reason for my post is that the deputy principal took me aside today and informed me that James hurt and bruised one of the teachers after she told him not to do something. He dug his nails into her arm and actually broke the skin and bruised her! I was so shocked! James does have temper outbursts, but he has never hurt someone like that before. Naturally this has me rather worried about the potential of future episodes. What has everyone else's experiences been with their sons' tempers and outbursts at school? How did you or the school handle it? James has already shown signs of anger management problems and frustration, but this violent streak is something I am totally new to. I am so upset today, I cried all the way home! It was like the teachers were blaming me, and I felt so bad!

I try so hard with James, to ensure he is well mannered and well-behaved, and have always been proud of the fact that he is generally a nice boy (with the occasional temperemental outburst). I just don't know what to do and any help/advice would be much appreciated!

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Oh Sharon, please don't let them blame this on you and make you feel like it's your fault and that it's a lack of discipline at home. This sounds so much like how my son started out at school. I have experienced repeated episodes with him doing exactly what you have described. Before my son started school and steroids I had no idea he was capable of such behavior and I too was shocked. I can't tell you how many times I have been called to come and pick him up because he had destroyed a classroom and yes, even kicked and biten a teacher. School is a whole new experience for them with many challenges and brings on a lot of frustration. Combine that with the mood issues that steroids can bring on and you can have one explosive child. It's going to take time for your son to adjust to school, as it did mine, but it will get better. Make sure they understand that a lot of this is brought on by steroids and then the difficulties that DMD can bring on mentally with some boys. I don't know if your son has any of the cognitive issues but my son does. If he has any of the rigidity with routine then transitions to new things can be hard for him. This will bring on a lot of outbursts in itself. There are so many combinations of issues that can be bringing it on. OCD, ADHD, Learning Disabilities, trouble processing speech. I don't know if your son has any of these issues but mine does and they can all bring on so many problems. You know your son best. They HAVE to be understanding and sensitive to his issues and respond to your child without being confrontational to him and YOU. That will only make it worse.

Take baby steps so you don't overwhelm him. You don't want him to become so frustrated with school that he hates going. My son started out in a whole day of kindergarten and then after just a month or so went down to 1/2 a day when it was obvious he couldn't handle it. At this point he was still in general ed until it became obvious that that was too much as well. He was then moved to a smaller classroom (they call it the Extended Resource Room here). It has only about 6 - 8 kids in it and he gets lots of one on one and teachers that know how to deal better with his issues. He is in 2nd grade now and still in only 1/2 a day and that's the way I'm going to keep it. He could never handle a full day yet.

Hang in there. It does get better and please don't beat yourself up about it! Don't let them beat you up about it either. They do that because they don't understand what the steroids can do to a childs mood and then also any of the cognitive issues - if he has them.

Karen
I just wanted to add that we have a Behavioral Intervention Plan in place now on my son's IEP. They know his triggers (a lot of them are sensory - noise is one) and do a lot of redirecting, taking him out or avoiding the trigger situations and try and make transitions smoother for him. The teacher talks to him firmly but is patient and calm with him. If they see his temper starting to escalate they will take him out of the room and take him for a walk in the halls to calm him before things get out of control. Our son's do need to understand that this behavior in the class is not acceptable and to use thier words when they get frustrated. I have told them to threaten to take my son's playstation or computer away from him if he does not get it under control. This works well now but it really didn't when he was 5. He just didn't get it then. I have seen a huge difference in my son's maturity and behavior at school this year. It's so much better. I guess that comes with age and just getting used to the routine the school.
Sharyn:

If you could only read the posts on the old message board about the difficutly that we were having Jacob and school for first grade. We started Jacob in a private school thinking it would be best for him. NOT He has so much trouble in there and they had no clue how to help him and they kicked him out. We put him in a public school and because he had caring teachers who knew how to deal with him he has been thriving ever since. Five just seems so young, especially for DMD boys to get a grasp on their emotions! We also changed from giving Jacob his deflaxacort in the morning to giving it to him right after school so we dealt with the outbursts and the school had less.
Dylan had behaviour issues in kindergarden and before and we tried various behavior plans (started on seroids at 3). His kinder teacher was a nightmare and her behavior seemed to make his worse (mean, punative, judgmental dismissive and inflexible). First grade teacher was firm, but patient, caring and calming and accepting of his differences and his behavior really turned around. She has a positive behaviour program for all of the kids and to which he responds well to ....everybody starts on green, can move to yellow with infraction, back to green if improved or down to red inf not. At the end of the week all greens got to the treasure box. At the start he missed a few trips to the treasure box. At the start she was a little more flexible with his getting to go even with modest infraction. By the end of the year and now he rarley moves to yellow (not worse that many other boyse in the class). At home he earns points by reading traded in for toy at months end. We held him back in first grade a second year (social immaturity and reading issues combined with reality that he will be short and have delayed puberty convinced us this was a good idea, then we convinced the school). . He got to stay with the same great teacher. His behavior and reading are hugely improved and not really an issue much anymore (occasional frustration and imulsivity persist, but managable and rarley discussed as a problem these days). He is reading well too. A large part has to do with his getting more mature, but also having loving teachers and aid helps. At the start of first grade he was reluctant to try for fear that he would fail. Half way through he announced that he loved his classroom because it was all about trying. He is well loved by teachers and students alike, among the most popular in class. Sounds like he does not have as many cog/behavior issues as karens son, but clearly a subset of them in milder form and they were a significant issue in kindergarden and before (He did kick and bite in kinder during one of our worse weeks...in his defense I would have probably kicked and bitten his teacher at times too if given the opportunity). My points are 1) hang in there it will get better with age; 2) Firm but understanding and empathetic teachers and aids are a must 3) positive behviour plan. We did swtch from prendisone to dflazacort, but dont really think that made the difference, but ya never know.
Carrie made some great points. A good teacher and aids is so key and makes a huge difference. If you get a bad one (mean, confrontational, inflexible - as Carrie said) it can really make it worse fast.

They also use rewards and positive reinforcement in the classroom with my son as well. That really helps a lot!

I really think age and maturity also makes a huge difference!
Hi

Our son had emotional outbursts while on prednisone. He became very intense and would fall apart at nothing. We decreased his dose a little and the outbursts declined and he matured. Just a thought.

Another thought is that routine helps young kids feel secure. If he's not on a regular schedule at school, that can create a lot of anxiety.

Karen (Erik17)

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