Middle School next year – what questions do I need to ask

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    • #75877

      Friday I have a one on one meeting with middle school. My son will be moving up next year. What questions should I ask? What issues have you dealt with? My son is 12 and middle of the spectrum – he has autism, ADHD, and anxiety plus he wanders. Thanks!

    • #75896

      The school district we’re in has an amazing concept called the 6th grade center – all 6th graders from 10 schools {approx 1000 kids} come together for 1 year before going off to 2 different Middle Schools for 7th & 8th. It is wonderful because these 6th graders are too old for elementary but too young and immature for “true” middle school. I also love it because this year I have worked out the kinks so I know what questions to ask and what to do differently for next year. First – identify your son’s subject struggles and request that he has them first thing in the morning {for example… I will request that he has math first next year} Secondly – find out if your school will have a “home base.” My son’s home base this year is with his science teacher – he goes to her room every morning to check in, he goes to her every other day for “life ed” and then of course he has her for science. The problem with having a science teacher as a home base teacher is her room is rigid and cold- only tables and chairs. I feel that my son would benefit from being in a more relaxed and warm environment as his most frequented classroom so next year I’m requesting his home base be with a reading teacher who has beanbags, couches, pillows, etc…

      His 504 plan is set up so provide: 1) a fidget {typically bending and unbending a paper clip or pulling the cap on & off a marker work for him}, 2) directions given 3 times {one in a group setting with the rest of the class, then he gets pulled aside and given them privately and discreetly, then they’re written on a sticky note for him to refer to often} 3) he is a task-oriented child and loves being sent on teacher errands around the school. he gets to do this ONLY if he is caught up on his work – the errand gets him moving around and gives him a short few-minute break. 4) he needs discrete and constant reminders to slow down during tests. before this was put in place, he was coming home with tests that took him 2 minutes that should’ve taken him 20. 5) timed tests give him anxiety – any timed test in the future he is exempt from taking within a time period {now notice that I said he rushes through his work… when TOLD he has a time limit… he becomes hyper-focused on the time and doesn’t pay attention to the material. We’ve found that in quizzes that have a 5 minute limit and he’s been told to “take his time” – he still can finish in the same 5-minute timeframe as his peers.} This time limit was intended to help for state-testing. 6) he has strategic seating and is seated away from the door or a heavy traffic flow area. 7) his workload is modified to decrease quantity of assignments in order to ensure quality of work completed 8) my son doesn’t like attention brought to him whatsoever and he will shut down with positive or negative attention … so the teachers discreetly praise him or remind him to stay on task.

      I wish you the best… I don’t have anyone I can ask questions to, however I have about 3 families whose sons are in a grade or 2 behind my son so I feel that we’re blazing the trail for them. I just joined this website/forum this morning in an attempt to research medications in time for our next appointment with the child psychologist. I feel that the Vyvanse he has been on for 3 years is only tackling his hyperactivity and letting him play the part of “calm student” but not helping with the attention, focus and retention of curriculum. Please feel free to ask me any follow-ups before your appointment on Friday. Best wishes.

    • #75898

      forgot 1 major part of his 504… all assignments are to be typed. His hand-writing is horrendous and it takes him twice as long to write {and you can’t read it.} so his assignments have been modified. We are fortunate to be in a public school district that supplies one-on-one laptops for students in 5th-12th, though. This was written into his 504 in 4th grade but really once he started 5th and got his laptop 75% more of his work was done on the computer, anyway. oddly enough… his math tests are supposed to be given to him on paper rather than on the computer. Strange… I know… but that was at my request. He used grid paper for math and with a written test… there is a paper trail to see where he went wrong on calculations.

    • #75943
      Penny Williams

      Middle school is the time when executive functioning struggles become even more pronounced, and more of a barrier between your child and academic success. If your son struggles with executive functions, make sure you talk with the school about those struggles and how they will accommodate and support him in those areas so he has the same opportunity for success as his peers.

      What Does Executive Function Disorder Look Like in Children?

      This article covers many aspects that you need to think about and focus on when you have a child with ADHD transitioning to middle school.

      Make the Middle School Leap With Ease

      ADDitude Community Moderator, Author & Mentor on Parenting ADHD, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism

    • #75951

      Middle school can be a challenging time. I’d ask about all of the above and I would ask about how the teachers are with adaptability with accommodations, especially during the first semester. In my experience, every accommodation can be tacked down beforehand with the best of intentions but sometimes they just don’t work in the real world. Will the teachers adapt, will they work to see what works in their classroom and be more fluid with their accommodations? For example, my son had one teacher who noticed my son was having trouble picking up vocab words so instead of the standard assignment, he made him crossword puzzles to solve. The crossword kept him more engaged and he picked up the vocable more easily. Another noticed he couldn’t keep still during lectures, so he allowed him to journal since my son could still retain the information and journal at the same time. These were not in the plan, but were real world accommodations that worked.

      If your son wonders off easily, one thing I would be concerned about would be if he has to move from classroom to classroom if he hasn’t done that in elementary school. Is there a way for him to have his classes closer together? Or is there a way for him to practice his schedule before the first day of school? Might there be a teacher or counselor to keep an eye out for him the first few days since those are the most chaotic with lots of kids and distractions in the hallways.

      Lockers. Ok, this one is dingy, but even my neuro-typical child had an issue with the locker in middle school and this caused him some pre-first day anxiety. Luckily the principal knew this so they set up a time for the incoming 6th graders to practice with their combination locks for awhile before the first day of school. Really calmed his nerves.

      If he has anxiety, is there a Resource Room that he can go to at the Middle School to decompress or other special technique he might be able to utilize in the classroom, to cope with that anxiety and then incorporate that into his Plan. I would take your Plan from elementary school and build upon it.

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