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My son is 12 and in the 7th grade. We began with a 504 Plan in third grade when they begin the state standardized testing in order to permit him to take those tests "untimed" so as to avoid the test anxiety he experiences when he feels "rushed." Every year we reviewed the 504 and would add things to it and modify it in keeping with his needs. Mostly, it was about allowing him longer to change classes without penalizing him or marking him tardy, stuff like that.


The latest exacerbation began at the end of last school year -- around late April -- and despite a fairly extensive 504, he really wasn't getting all the accommodations he needed. So when school started up again this year, we elected to move to an IEP, primarily so that he would have a case-worker on site, along with a school psychologist, to turn to in those moments that he was overwhelmed and needed some immediate intervention.


Ultimately, before we began high-dose abx in October last year, we had to pull him out of school for about a month because his anxiety was at an all-time high. He was school-phobic, but honestly, he was basically agoraphobic; EVERYTHING triggered some anxious response from him. The school was obligated to one hour per school day of homebound services, but they initially had trouble finding someone "suitable" to take on the tutoring; that being said, we were guaranteed retroactive time, dating back to the initial request. Still, in the end, my husband and I did 99% of the home-schooling during the time that he was unable to attend classes. We were fortunate in that we both have somewhat flexible work schedules and the academic work is not especially challenging for our son, once he gets past the "avoidance" behaviors the anxiety brings to the table. We also work with a private therapist, and since schoolwork and homework are big triggers for our son, he would take his books and assignments to therapy sessions and the therapist would coach him and teach him some anxiety management tools. The therapist also worked with the school for design and implementation of the re-integration program for his return to school.


He began returning to school in late October, going only one class per day; this first class was his "resource" class, conducted by the special education teacher who is also his case-worker. Luckily, this guy is an absolute God-send and very knowledgable about OCD behaviors, anxiety, etc. With his help, our DS12 has been able to add on one class at a time for the last few months, and he is now up to attending 2/3 of the school day; he adds yet another class later this week. He still has his moments, and he turns to his caseworker or the psychologist in those, plus he works really hard at managing his anxiety during the day in front of his peers, so the incidences of meltdowns at home at the end of the day, usually over homework, have increased since his return. Still, he is managing well overall, and we continue to encourage and praise and coach. We're also very fortunate in that the school has allowed us to be very slow and gradual in his return.


As for what his peers think . . . this, surprisingly enough, hasn't been much of an issue. In our case, the reality of it is that he's been a bit "odd" in some ways since first grade, and most of these kids have known him since that point in time. So while the attention from the special ed teacher and his absence from class now and again may invoke some questions, he has not been "abused" by anyone over those issues. And, thankfully, the support he's gotten from us, the handful of teachers who really see and encourage his potential, and two steadfast friends who've seen him through even the rockiest of his moments, I don't know that he would care what anyone else thought, anyway. Except in the heat of the meltdown, he's somehow managed to maintain a strong sense of self and self-worth, and I think this carries him through.


Honestly, in terms of peer trouble, his more palpable issue seemed to be previous to this latest exacerbation, when his accommodations allowed him to retake tests or arrive to a class a moment or two after the bell rang. Some of his friends and classmates were jealous that he got to abide by a different set of rules than they did because they didn't know about or understand the depth of his challenges. But since the exacerbation, the friends have become more familiar with how he sometimes struggles with even simple things, like being on time, and the grousing about "unfair" have entirely come to an end!

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