My 15-year old probably has Asperger's & his school thinks he's a stoner

Well this story is neither mundane nor pointless in my life, but I need the therapy of telling it and thought I might find few sympathetic readers here.

I have suspected for about 2-3 years that my son has Asperger’s Syndrome. When he was about 7, the pedatricians and child psychologists said he had ADD. I wasn’t too sure. We tried Stratera. It didn’t work. We tried Adderall, and man, was that a mistake. I took him off of that shit and by the time he was in the 7th grade, we decided as a family to just try and deal with his issues with behavior modification. His teachers have always had the same complaints about him…that he doesn’t pay attention, that he doesn’t work up to his potential, and that he is unmotivated. Parent-teacher conferences have been a nightmare. I always leave feeling like they might as well have just told me, “Well, your kid is stupid and you suck as a parent.”

Asperger’s didn’t come up until about 2 years ago when the school psychologist pulled me aside and told that she really wasn’t supposed to make these kinds of suggestions to me, but maybe I should go home and read up on Asperger’s Syndrome. Well, it fit like a glove. I was pretty sure this was the problem all along and that he was misdiagnosed. I made a decision then that seems to have turned out to be a bad one. I was so frustrated with the school system, and knowing that there is no real treatment for AS other than behavior modification (which we were trying to do anyway) I opted not to have him formally diagnosed because I didn’t want him “labeled”.

Well now he is a freshman in high school, and so far this year he has been doing pretty well. Decent grades, making a few friends, etc… However, his biology teacher (who seems a little OCD herself) has been fixating on his rather flat affect. She sends me emails and notes that she thinks he zones out and doesn’t respond to her appropriately. I told her that is just his personality, and I wasn’t worried about it because he has a “B” in her class. I could tell she is suspicious and thinks something is going on with him, but I didn’t feel comfortable talking to her.

One of the problems with AS is sleep. My son has been having more problems falling asleep and is very, very, VERY difficult to get up in the morning. You can shake him, yell in his ear, flick water in his face, and even pinch him and he barely responds. It takes me a good 30 minutes to get his feet on the floor every morning. He also drools excessively when he sleeps, too. This has led to him being sleepy during the day and me getting reports of him sleeping in class.

So…this past Thursday I get a call at work and it is the principal telling me that he was passed out in his biology class and had admitted to smoking pot. WTF???

As it turns out, my son fell asleep and his bio teacher couldn’t wake him up. She freaked. She told the principal he must be high on something because he was drooling. The principal, the campus police officer and the school nurse take him to an office and proceed to interrogate him for 30 minutes. They kept asking him what he took, what he was high on, etc… My son told me he was scared to death. The police officer told him that if he would just admit to doing drugs, then he wouldn’t be in any trouble and he could go back to class. He told her he was just really sleepy from being up at night the night before, but they pressed on. He finally told her that at the bus stop that morning somebody had a cigarette and he took two puffs off of it at 7am (it is now 10:30am) but he didn’t know what kind of cigarette it was. He said he thought it was a regular cigarette. Well, the next thing you know, they are documenting that he smoked some pot that was laced with pills. WHAT??

When I get there, he is in tears, soon I am bawling too, because they have expelled him for ten days and are now making a motion to expel him for the rest if the school year and send him to an alternative school. I am livid, heartbroken, furious, defiant, and you name what else. They are going to let me know when the “hearing” will be to “sentence” him to alternative school.

First of all, I didn’t think 3 adults could interrogate a 15-year old without a parent or some other advocate present. Secondly, they lied to him, telling him to just fess up and he wouldn’t be in any trouble and could go back to class. Well of course he confessed to something, anything, to get them to leave him alone.

Secondly, they have jumped all the way to the conclusion that the cigarette he took two puffs from was marijuana laced with something, so couldn’t you also conclude that it might have just been a tobacco cigarette, or hell, even clover or rabbit tobacco for all they know!

They also said he “smelled like marijuana”. Well, hells bells, probably over half the teenagers at that school smell like it.

I just don’t see how they can make any case from this evidence. He was sleeping in class, and they bullied him into admitting he smoked some kind of cigarette at the bus stop, and now they want to permanently expel him?

We are going to see his pediatrician in the morning, who thankfully takes walk-ins on Saturday and Sunday mornings, and we are going to start the process to get him formally diagnosed with AS. I think if I can prove the sleepiness is a function of the AS and if I can get this coerced “confession” negated, their case will fall apart.

My son has never been a discipline problem or a troublemaker. He is not disruptive in class and he has never been in a fight. I am not trying to dismiss the fact that he shouldn’t have smoked anything, but this punishment does NOT fit the crime. Screw them and their “zero tolerance”.

Oh, and another bit of information that led to this happening was that this past week at school it was spirit week, so the kids we all allowed to dress up for different themes each day. Thursday was Decades Day, so my son thought it would be funny to dress up like Ozzy Osbourne. He has the long hair to go along with it, so the night before I polished his fingernails black, and he dressed in all black with little round blue-tinted glasses. Before he left for the infamous bus stop he was going around the house talking all mumbly like Ozzy. He told me he was doing that again once he arrived at the bus stop, and that’s when one of the other kids at the bus stop said something to the effect of “Well if you are Ozzy them you need to have this” and passed him the cigarette. My son didn’t know what it was, and that is not a typical thing for him. He was just trying to be cool and fit in because he has a hard time making friends.

I do have another meeting with the principal Monday. I told her that I think he has a medical condition and that they have misjudged him. Now that I have had time for the shock to wear off, I am going in there with my Mama Bear in full kick-ass mode.

I am mad at myself, because if he had been formally diagnosed with AS all along, maybe this wouldn’t have happened at all.

I would very much welcome any advice or input anyone could give.

That does sound fairly messed up.

Well, there are drug tests that can tell if he had marijuana in his system, and it might not be too late to take one if that would exonerate him. At any rate, it would be evidence in his favor if he came up clean (THC apparently hangs around in the system for a long time.)

Honestly, I have read a lot of Asperger’s syndrome things, and most of them line up pretty well with symptoms of being a teenager.

But if he really does have it, an alternative school might be better. There are ways to cope with all sorts of learning disabilities, ADD, etc., and the teachers at these school know them.

Don’t go in without a lawyer. Yeah, it cost you some bucks, but you don’t want to be mama bear, you want to a female Kodiak bear defending her cubs. If you believe your son is getting railroaded, then show the principle you mean business.

I’d also call the local media. My guess is they’ll back down. I’m not a lawyer (Bricker could fill in this gap), but I suspect a violation of his 5th amendment rights took place when he was interviewed. I don’t know if Miranda applies here (probably not), 'cause I am ignorant about things concerning Juvenal law. Also, there seems to be negligence on the part of the school system for failure to diagnose his condition (assuming this is the same school district). Why can’t you diagnose someone with A. S.?

5th amendment rights? MIRANDA?! Negligence?

Please tell me you’re using hyperbole to some unknown ends here.

Because 15-year-olds aren’t US citizens or don’t have the rights of US citizens? :confused:

Some random thoughts…

Firstly, please don’t beat yourself up about not getting him officially diagnosed. The same teacher who has a problem with him because she thinks he’s wierd and different, is just as likely to dislike him because he’s “that freaky Aspergers kid”. I’ve been hanging out a lot on Autism related online groups recently, and there’s a constant trickle of stories of kids getting excluded from school activities for bullshit reasons, or schools and kinders trying to get out of having ASD kids enrolled - not universal, by any means, but there’s a steady background hum of discrimination that having a diagnosis does not necessarily protect you from.

Second, the school’s behaviour sounds totally unprofessional and out of line, and you’re totally within your rights to come down like a ton of bricks on them. And I don’t think they should interrogate or lie to ANY kid - medical condition be damned, they put the screws on him and took advantage of their authority over him.

Thirdly - regarding the “alternative” school, my gut reaction is that you do NOT want him to end up there, especially if they are going to send him there against your will and without your having any chance to check the place out. The general feeling in the ASD community is that you want your kid to be mainstreamed wherever possible - it’s just better for them to be in ordinary society (with support where necessary). And that’s compared to a good “special” school - their version sounds more like a holding pen for kids the mainstream school system doesn’t want to deal with.

Go give 'em hell.

Normally I’m the last person in the world to tell someone to lawyer up when it comes to schools. They run on a shoestring budget, and constantly harassed by helicopter parents, the teachers have a thankless job and they’re generally failing all over. However, if this had happened to my kid;

Without me giving permission or even acknowledging they were interrogating him you better believe I will be suing whoever I am for this Zero Tolerance :rolleyes: bullshit. He wasn’t even on school property when the pot with pills :rolleyes: was taken. Do these brain-pan-lacking halfwits even know what pot is? Nobody ever laces it with pills, ever, ever, ever. They’ll just swallow or snort the pills. Pills aren’t designed for burning anyway. These administrators sound like they couldn’t hack it being TSA agents, so they moved on to Education.

SecondJudith, in high school, no they are neither of those. They have no rights and not treated like US citizens. They’re treated like criminals in prison.

I think one of the most important lessons here is that if he had been taught that authority figures often lie to try to make a case so they look like they are stopping some big problem, and should never be believed when they say things like confess and it will all go away.

The only reason you are in a chair being interrogated is to do something BAD to you, and make them look like they have solved a problem and are just so wonderful. Police will do this too, say they have all these witnesses they do not have and so on. If you are part of a group they will lie that others have confessed already and stuff like that.

Never believe these kind of people want to help you, they don’t. Don’t believe them. If he had known this, the problem would not have happened.

Disgusting actions by the school. I wish you luck.

The other thing that jumps out to me is that he gets to the bus stop before 7am.

That is way, way too early for 15 year olds. No wonder he can’t wake up. I bet half the kids in school sleep during class. Studies have shown that such early start times are terrible for teenagers, and they improve immensely if they just start the damn school an hour or two later.

Right on Carmady, I have never understood the stupidity of early school hours, not only bad for the kids but roads are often icy in winter, visibility lower, and when the kids get out at 2 or 3 they have time to do bad stuff before the parents get off work. Start school at 9 or so and end at 4 or so and it would be better for all. I predict lower crime rate.

Yes I read that study too and recall myself being too tired and my school began at 7:45, many are worse than that. What reasons do theses dumb administrators give for their stupidity anyway? Probably that someone else did it first? They need to know we pay them to think themselves, and they don’t. I bet starting the buses so early is wearing on them as is the extra early morning building heat needed.

For what it’s worth…

For a couple summers, I worked at an arts program for high school kids, and though I was primarily a carpenter, I was also the designated STAR (STudents At Risk) guy in the group, which meant that I worked with a girl who was on the autistic spectrum. Of all the students I worked with those summers, she’s the one I’d be happiest to write a letter of recommendation for; she was happy, funny, and smart as a whip. Even her autistic traits were beneficial; she had laser-like focus and attention to detail, and she’d work on projects for hours without getting tired or distracted. Though she wasn’t one of the popular kids, she was still a very effective small-group leader because she was perfectly willing to correct other peoples’ work one minute and accept their ideas the next. A very special kid.

To be fair, you actually don’t know what happened.

First of all you say your son has Asperger’s but you don’t know. You didn’t get a professional opinion. I know you don’t want to because you feel he was misdiagnosed.

I had a similar problem, I have Meniere’s disease. This is a blance disorder, but you don’t get it usually till your well into your 30s. I got it when I was in my teens. It took me awhile to be correctly diagnosed and treated.

You want to believe your son, but you weren’t there. Kids use drugs and lie about it. This is a fact. No one wants to believe their sweet little baby does drugs. And your child may be innocent. But this is a HUGE flag.

Even if you believe your son, from this point on you must realistically look at that option. You also need to began seriously talking to you son. Why did he smoke at all? Do you allow him to smoke? Did you have a talk to him about the dangers of drug use? Of smoking? What about sex? These are all talks your going to have to sit down and have. They are uncomfortable subjects but they must be addressed.

You need to get him checked for AS and see if he has it. You don’t need to tell anyone about it, but you need a professional opinion. You’ve already labeld someone as a “little OCD” which is a buzzword. I’m sure people with OCD will read this thread and tell you how that isn’t really correct.

I don’t want you to read this and be defensive. No one is saying that you are wrong. You may be 100% correct and you have a right be angry.

But this happend and it’s over with and now you have A HUGE FLAG in front of you.

You have hit a MAJOR crossroad in your life and more importantly in your son’s life.

He’s a freshman in high school and in 4 years he will be out in the world and he’s gonna have to make it on his own. The rest of the world doesn’t give a damn about him and if he does have AS, then you need to start to prepare him to cope with this on his own.

'Cause what happened to him in school is going to happen on a job, on a street corner and with people who may not be so nice and decide to use him.

Whether he has AS, is in a wheelchair or gay, everyone has walls in life, they have to climb over. You as a parent have to teach your son how to handle it. Have you done this? If not, then you need to prepare him. I assume you already gave him a talk how to approach this if it happens again.

Again I’m not blaming the victim but clearly when you use words like interrogate it sounds bad. Why not say questioned? You weren’t there, you don’t know. IF and I say IF your son was doing drugs then of course he’s gonna make it sound worse. Why wouldn’t he? He has nothing to lose.

You say Screw them and their “zero tolerance.” Sorry but again, this is LIFE. He has to function in a school with RULES. Not your rules but society. I can’t come in to work late and say “My bus was late cause it got in an accident.” I could say that, but my boss would say “I don’t care,” and write me up.

If you don’t like “zero tolerance” you have a choice. You can come here on a message board and complain or you can CHANGE the policy. Start a campaign with other parents and take it to the school board. The world isn’t going to change just 'cause you complain about it. But until that policy is changed, you’re going to have to cope with it.

I understand your angry right now and I would be too. But you will never be happy with any choices or decisions you make out of anger or spite.

So get your kid checked out. No one needs to know if he has AS or not. Then find ways to treat it. Get involved with other parents or people that have AS. See how they have dealt with it. Have a talk with your son about drugs, the dangers of taking any meds from other people, have the sex talk.

Look at this as an opportunity to start to change your son’s life for the better and do it today. Think about this, if you died tomorrow, who’s gonna help him? How’s he gonna cope? You got a huge flag here, use it to start and good luck

Wow, I’m going to agree with the get a lawyer side of the argument today. There is no way you can unemotionally negotiate the school politics that you will need to in order to ensure this gets cleared up and it needs to be.

Hair tests can verify the absence of THC usage for as long as the hair was growing - so depending on your sons hair length you can clear him for several months back.

Good luck.

I just have to add my 2cents worth. First, what the school did is wrong, and in my opinion, you have every right and it is your responsibility to go in and fight for your son. If infact, he does have Aspergers, the last place you want to put him is in an alternative school! That will NOT help him to learn how to fit in!

Secondly, my son has Aspergers. He was diagnosed at the tender age of 17! I work in a private high school, where there are a few known/diagnosed asperger kids. With ALL of the Asperger kids I have worked with, and lived with…none show the “symptoms”/behaviors you have described. All of the kids have a ridiculously strong sense of right and wrong. Everything to them is either black or white. Grey does not exist for them. Rules are rules, PERIOD. Of the kids I know, none would ever take a hit off of a cigarette, let alone one that might not be a real one. Case in point, my son stopped riding the bus to school and chose to walk a mile and a half to school every day of his 4 years in HS because the kids at the bus stop smoked, and he knows that is wrong and didn’t even want to be near them.

Excessive drooling and trouble getting a good night sleep? Again, using my son as my example, he is quite rigid about his bedtime. He goes to bed between 9-9:30pm. EVERY NIGHT. He is now 20 years old, and still does this. Getting up in the am isn’t a problem. He isn’t chipper about it, but he is a 20 year old who has to get up early to go to college…they ALL complain about that! :-). I realize my son is just one example. But, as I said, I do work with a few others, and they ALL act like my son! Infact, that is what helped me to see that he did, infact, have Aspergers.

I am telling you all of this ONLY to let you know that the original diagnosis of AS might be wrong, and you should look into this. (did you know there is an online “quick quiz” you can take regarding your child to see how many of his tendencies are aspergerean?) IF it is AS, there are many many medicines that he could take to help him. (no, not any of the ADD stuff). My son is on Levapro and it has helped tremendously with some of the more difficult attributes of AS (no eye contact, no personal shows of affection, lack of communication…etc). I really could go on and on about this. (just ask my husband!). Please, take your son to a psychologist and have him/her give a thorough test/diagnosis.

Something about the “interrogation” of your son sounds off. I guess I don’t know all the details. Did they ask him who gave him the cigarette? Two puffs, and he smells of pot? All this for sleeping in class? Why did his teacher ‘freak’?

I think you need to open more lines of communication of with your son. **Markxxx **makes some good points. And find out what your kid has, (if anything)… I made the mistake of not diagnosing my specific learning problems for the same reason you didn’t for your son. I regret it tremendously

Good points, all.

One thing I would like to point out is that the schools are not responsible for diagnosing psychiatric condtions but do need to identify students with educationally handicapping conditions which could potentially qualify them for special education services. AS by itself is not a handicapping condition as defined in educational law, so the schools usually do not look for it specifically.

Some AS kids do qualify for sped, others for a 504 accomodation plan, but many do not. The schools can (and should) assist a psychiatrist/psychologist in making the diagnosis but providing important information about the student’s social functioning at school.

With regard to the Alternative School, those are mandated for students who are expelled/suspended for their behavior. I don’t believe the school is requiring it for any other reason in this case. This assumes, of course, they have evidence to prove their allegations.

If you ever have a teenager with Asperger’s syndrome in your life, you’ll discover the differences pretty damn quick.

First of all, some teachers assume that kids are stoned when they show any signs of it, whether the child used drugs or not. Right or wrong, it’s their default assumption and will behave accordingly. I agree that the school was wrong in getting the police involved without your knowledge, and that should be addressed.

Second, screw the “labeling is bad” thinking. Your son has special needs and those needs must be met if he is to be successful at anything in his life. In order to have those needs met, he has to be tested and diagnosed. Once you have that, the rest becomes easier because your son will then become eligible for support and services that will help him learn and function whatever his problem is. And there is absolutely no shame in getting that help; the school receives funding for it and that’s why there are support staff.

Third, the fact that your son isn’t getting to sleep is a very, very large problem that probably has to be solved medically. Sleep deprivation makes other problems worse, as you know. Again, there is no shame in seeking treatment for this.

It sounds like you need to start with your son’s regular doctor, who can make suitable recommendations for the insomnia and referrals to a psychologist or psychiatrist who can work with you and your son on the other issues.

I don’t have Asperger’s nor do I claim any expertise in the area, but I know the syndrome–just like any other–differs from kid to kid. PandaMom’s son is a rule-follower and has no problem falling asleep. I can believe that. But I can also believe that the OP’s son has problems in this area. Aspie folks often have “racy” brains. This causes everything from insomnia to ADHD to bipolar mania-like behavior. Indeed, many Aspie people develop bipolar disorder later in life.

Some Aspie people are black and white thinkers and follow directions perfectly. Whereas others are always doing things the “wrong” way, because they follow rubrics that only make sense to them.

All I’m saying is no one can diagnose the OP’s son based on the description he or she provides here. Perhaps he does have AS and he knowingly smoked weed. The two are not mutually exclusive. Being on the spectrum does not make someone angelic and innocent in every single way.

I will ask the OP a diagnostic question, though. Does your son show signs of extraordinary clumsiness? This is a trait most people with Asperger’s syndrome seem to display.