Friday, April 21, 2006


I usually try my best to put a slightly amusing and funny spin on the craziness that is middle school, but sometimes there's something that really isn't so funny about the things we see. Face it, teachers see the underbelly of society a lot of the time, and a lot of what we see is downright tragic and sad.

Case in point.

I've talked about a student I had last year, Meltdown Boy, who was very, very smart but had absolutely no social or coping skills. Meltdown Boy had meltdowns in nearly every class nearly every day and it didn't take us long to realize that Something Is Very Wrong Here. We're talking about a kid who would lay down on the classroom floor and wail because he got teased on the bus. A kid who would stand with his head in his locker to avoid people. A kid who actually scared some of my big bad football players when he'd shriek and wail because you'd put a red "no homework turned in" stamp in his agenda. Not your typical 7th grade behavior.

We all suspected he had Asperger's Syndrome, which is a mild form of autism because he had so many of the characteristics. His mother, however, simply thought he had some "social problems", was ADD and apparently her physicians (they're military so you get what you get when you go see a doctor on post) didn't disagree with her. And, as teachers, since we aren't physicians, we can't come out and tell a parent that we suspect her kid has Asperger's without opening the door to some potential legal nastiness.

I have, in all honesty, never met a more miserable, depressed, unhappy child in my life. We all wondered how on earth he'd ever make it through high school. This is, after all, a kid who threatened suicide a number of times last year and apparently a few times this year. I have never, ever, in my life seen this child smile.

A few weeks ago the threat was particularly scary and, finally, his well-meaning but completely clueless mother took him to the doctor, he finally saw there was Something Very Wrong, and he was committed to a state mental hospital.

Word has come down that he has - finally - been diagnosed with Asperger's. Finally, finally, finally, there is a diagnosis which means he can get some kind of help with his problems. High school will probably still be hell for him, but perhaps he can get some therapies to help him.

So, as Ms Reading said when I told the team this at lunch, "It's nice to know we were right on this and maybe now he can get some help."

Good luck Meltdown Boy. Bless your sad little heart. I hope you finally find some happiness now that you'll be getting the help you need.


Anonymous said...

A diagnosis and some good support makes all the difference. I've now taught 3 diagnosed Asperger's kids, two with excellent consulting and special ed support in my mainstream classroom. Though they clearly struggle with some of the kinds of things you've described here, the two with good support have been able to form meaningful peer relationships, are passing all their classes, and are actually among my favorite students. I'm grateful for the resources they have had. Helps me as well as them.

Kat said...

I have a dear friend who is dealing with a daughter who is have problems - along the lines of Meltdown Boy. Her daughter has been thrown out of school for her own meltdowns...then taken back. But, the school doesn't seem to know how to treat her. And, she's only in second grade! My friend thinks Aspergers.

Brenda said...

She's not in second grade, Kat. She's in Kindergarten.

Kat sent me to your blog and I read what you said. We're military and in Texas (kind of the south). Well, retired military. But, our civilian physician said she only had extreme shyness, which my husband embraced wholeheartedly. A behavioral specialist agreed with me when she was four that she's a poster child for Asperger's (although she's a girl, and most are boys that have it, apparently.) She was four at the time.

I have four kids, so I know her behavior FROM BIRTH was different and not quite right. But I struggle with it alone, because my husband believes she's fine (she's my third, his first.)

One of the things Asperger's kids have such a huge problem with is change. We just moved to a new city, and thus, a new school district. New teacher, new students. It's been horrible. We expected it, but it's going on two months now and it's just now getting to the point where my daughter is being her adorable self. It's been hell on her teacher, on the principal (don't even get me started on that flamin' moron) but please know it's horrible for the parent too. I'm always pointing out that I'm Cooper's mother too (he's 4 - preK) and that I'm not a horrible, bad mother because she's so uncontrollable.

The school is now, five weeks before school ends, bringing in a team of specialist. Four different specialist to give their opinions on what's going on and look at it afterward as a whole altogether.

I'm sorry you're having a rough time. I know exactly how you feel. But mine is from a little 5 yr old blonde hair girl who really looks like an angel and it breaks my heart that she's really more like Emily Rose on crack. (sigh)

Kat said...

Ooopps. I thought she was bad.

Anonymous said...

the bummer about Meltdown Boy is that our Special education department isn't adequately equipped to provide behavioral consultation services. Now that we can identify him, the choice becomes how to serve him best.. service in these parts leans toward "resource and inclusion solves everything" ... which is the last thing uber intelligent meltdown boy needs!