Advice needed for angry son going through puberty

I’m Lynn and my son is 12 years old. I’m going through a really hard time with him.  I’m trying to fight the school to have him referred to a theraputic school (and have them pay for it) since I really don’t feel like he is getting (or ever will get) what he needs.  He is a sweet boy who is now getting very frustrated and getting angry, which is scary for me.  Is anyone else fighting the school system?  Is anyone’s son going thru this angry phase??  I would love to talk.


  1. Hi Lynn,

    When we first learned of our TS I started looking into schools that would be less stressful since anxiety was a great contributor to tics. Some people suggested the Craig School in Mt. Lakes. The schools helps kids with anxiety because the classrooms are smaller. You will still get a main stream feel since some of the kids there are there because the parents want them there and pay on their own since their is no diagnosis. I do not know more detail because we never decided to fight for it and we are trying to manage within our public system. So far we are OK but I try to keep informed about other options just in case we need a plan B. Take a look into it. It might make you feel better knowing of possible options.
    I also found that when I asked the school administration for things I got the run around but when I spoke directly with the teacher she would get it and try different methods to help. I try to work around the people who just don’t get it and appeal to the teachers who really want to help. Get the teachers linked up to the webinars that the NJCTS sends out. Help them learn and they will understand more and be able to help. I hope this helps.


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  3. Lynn,
    I fought my school district to give my son the accommodations that he needed.It was not easy, I also home schooled until accommodations for my son were put into place.The first thing you have to do is put ever request in writing. If your school is anything like mine unless everything is documented you will not get very far. In NJ the law states that a school must teach your child in the “least restrictive environment”. Talk to your sons doctors explain why you feel like he is not in the right school for him. Then get recommendations from your doctor and call a meeting with your school.Explain why you want your son’s school changed. If they do not agree ask for their decision in writing.Next get the state involved. Ask for mediation. Also contact span..http://www.spannj.org/. They are a Statewide Parent Advocacy Network. They will advise you and advocate with you for son. You did not mention if your son had an IEP. Under chapter 6A:14 2.3 of NJ state law if your son is diagnosed with ts, the school has to give him one. Once you have one you and the school staff will make an educational plan for your son.
    Good luck and please let me know how you make out. I

    • Hi Karen,
      He does have an IEP and I feel like I just got what he needed in school. Just did his annual meeting for his IEP and for the first time I felt like I got everything I wanted. BUT, I also have to stay on top of them to make sure they do exactly what they say they will do. I originally asked them to refer him to a therapy school here by home but it seems that’s all I needed to do to get what I wanted. My fear with a therapy school are all of the others there too. They accept a lot of children for a lot of reasons, you know? I would love for him to stay in district if he can and be in as “normal” (whatever that is) a setting as possible.

      Thanks for the link for the advocates. I might just need them in the future. Have you ever thought of a theraputic school?

      • Lynn,
        I agree with keeping them in district. My son has a problem with long rides so out of district would be a nightmare for him. I know what you mean about children being placed in classes and schools for other reasons. When I was fighting for my son the school wanted to put him in a class that was definitely not for him. Always remember you have the right to be told what problems and if there are any discipline issues with the children in a class before your son is placed there. They do not reveal the other kids names but it is your right to have all the information on the other students in the class. I have never looked into theraputic schools, right now my son has a personal aide who also scribes for him. My son also get angry very easy. Most of the time it is when he is transitioning from one thing to another or when he is having difficulty doing something. His first reaction is always to get mad. He is also a bad sleeper so when he is tired everything is so much worse. I just talked to my doctor about melatonin but have not started it yet. Have you every used it?
        No I am not doing the TS run.


  4. We are there too with our 11 year old. School has been a struggle since the start–it has never been easy. We did at one point hire an advocate. Amazing the difference in the team response when we did that. If you have the $$, i would say do it. So much less stressful on the parents.

    His anger could be stemming from frustration from school-and until his needs are met there, i don’t know that you’ll get anywhere with controlling it. My word of advice to you is listen. To him. Find out what is behind the anger–he’s trying to tell you something. Try to stay on his side and not judge whether or not you feel what he is feeling is justified-but rather maybe together you can come up with some solutions to things that are bothering him that are mutually satisfying. Kids react with anger when they are scared. See if you can pinpoint the fear.

    If homeschooling is an option, I would say do that! I am trying to figure a way to do that now, but it’s hard being a single parent-i am unemployed now, but i need to work full time to pay the bills. and there aren’t a lot of options for sitters when your child has neurological issues. We went the private SN school route but it was a disaster for my son, who has significant anxiety issues with everything else. The school insisted on a point chart and it went downhill from there. Private placement isn’t always the answer.

    For the school issues, make sure you document everything, each day, what happens, how he is functioning in that environment. And the escalating anger issues that have developed. Every conversation with teachers and school staff needs to be documented. And of course, you will need a medical doctor’s evaluation (neurologist, developmental pediatrician, etc) and recommendation to present to the school as well. When you have all of your information about how he is doing, what progress he has or hasn’t made (use report cards and test scores, and any independent testing you had done), and how he is not getting a FAPE, then you can present your case to the CST with your suggestions.

    I wish you luck-I did it for years and I’m about finished with it. Too much of an emotional roller coaster for me-and I can’t afford it anymore. The school still isn’t doing what they are supposed to do, my son is now 2 grades behind (was grade level in 2nd). sigh….

  5. Well, as I noted in my posts yesterday, we homeschool. I tried twice (different districts) to put my son in school. Both times, we very quickly realized that there is a pretty big gap between what the laws say and the on-the-ground reality. When we weighed our options, we decided to skip the fight and take our son home. But that’s not an option — or an appealing one, or the right one — for everyone.

    Have you retained an attorney or at least an advocate to help you with the process of dealing with the school?

    As for dealing with your son’s anger and frustration: First, I would make sure that he is eating and sleeping enough. If he is twelve, he probably is starting to grow; at my house, at least, that had a huge impact on grocery bills. I’ve been told that growing boys need at least ten hours of sleep per night, and my own 12 year-old certainly is draggy and cranky when he is low on sleep. Check his “sleep hygiene.”

    Next, I would require daily exercise, especially if he is not having P.E. every day at school. An hour of exercise per day, minimum, should be the goal.

    If your son’s anger and frustration are stemming from a poor school situation, well, friends of mine whose children have had to deal with bullying and other major school problems have been known to have their children suddenly develop the flu and need to stay home for a day or two. Consider them mental health days.

    Beyond that, well, I try to make myself available to talk and listen as much as possible, at the same time I tell my guys that they need to find acceptable ways to channel frustration and manage their anger. They will need these tools as adults. — Hope that helps.

    • Hey Sara,

      I’m in awe of you for home schooling!! I mean that truly! There is no way I could do that and I hope that doesn’t come off as mean. I just know that we can’t spend that much time together. First of all, he would fight me tooth and nail and second, one of the things I’m trying to do is separate him from me. It’s getting better than it was. For instance, his therapist told him he is NOT to have me paged at the gym because that was my time. But if I told him I would be home at 5:30 and it was 5;40 I would get “the call”. “WHERE ARE YOU”. I can laugh about it now but you get the picture.

      I soooo agree with the sleeping. Since my 2nd son (18 now) has Asberger’s, keeping a schedule has always been huge in my house. Eat at the same time, bed at the same time etc. Although the exercise is something to try. I was doing it in the summer but I agree, it would certainly help with getting out some of that anger and energy. My husband walks the dog every night with him but he needs more.

      As far as eating, he is manic. One thing for one week and one for the next. In Jan., per someone’s suggestion, I am going to try and do a gluten-free diet. I heard from a few people that it really makes a difference. It can’t hurt to try right?

      Thanks so much for the advice and stay in touch. We are doing a TS run on Sat so my son will be running a 5K, I’ll let you know if he makes it!!

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