Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Quick Call for Mommy Help


Okay, all parents and teachers out there I need help. I know I already posted today but I am so sick about this and don't know where to turn.

My sweet 9 yr old is struggling in school. He tested in the highest for his grade and qualifies for our gifted and talented group, but can't go because he is so behind in class. His teacher said he will sit and look around, stare off, or just do nothing during work time. He is now at 50% of his class work being done. I spent a long afternoon visiting with his teacher yesterday, and she is so impressive and cares about him, but she is also frustrated because he isn't responding to her prompts to help him get back on task. She is an amazing woman, and I can tell is sad about this,too.

When he takes a test he almost always gets 100%, so I know he is listening to lectures and comprehending things. When it is time to follow the instructions on the board and complete tasks he just stops. He freezes. He gets distracted.

I am open to suggestions, and if you know someone who has experience with this please send them to my blog ! I will read books, I will buy games, I will try almost anything. This child has NEVER had a problem in school before. Now he has just stopped, and my heart is breaking over it.

I should say, my husband is not excited about medications, neither am I. But am I hurting him by saying this? Ideas, websites, ANYTHING you have ...... I need it!

How do you teach a child to FOCUS?

33 comments:

Mommy Madness said...

I HEAR YOU! I am right there with you! Same exact problem with my 9 year old. That is one reason I took him out of school. He loves homeschool and is more self motivated. I am not saying that is the answer to all, it's just working out for us. Our plan is just for a year. He so needed that extra attention....I better stop here, I can go on forever. Just want to let you know that I am right there with you!...want more info or just talk please email me!

Jillene said...

O.K. I am so pissed--I just typed this LONG as crap comment and then went to post it and blogger said there was an error--GRRRR!!

My son is having the same issues. He has lost confidence in himself for some reason. We are also trying to figure out how to handle this and help him as best we can. We are encouraging him and telling him that he is smart and talented. The teacher moved him next to the board and away from the "big" talkers in his class and it seems to be making a difference.

Julie Anne said...

If I knew that, I wouldn't be retaking my fluency disorders test tomorrow.

Jillene said...

I also think that 9 is a hard age for boys. I don't know why and it's not like they will come out and share why....very frustrating!!

Kristina P. said...

OK, I don't want to throw out the ADHD thing because it's so over diagnosed, but it is legitimate in a lot of kids.

I would get him tested. Not by a pediatrician who talks to him for 5 minutes, but a child psychologist. Perhaps he has a learning disorder. If you have insurance I would see where you could take him.

Whitney R said...

I don't have any kids, but I have ALWAYS had a hard time focusing. I didn't start getting good grades until I was in High School. But he seems much smarter than I was/am :) For me, I just have to concentrate. I have to use self discipline and do it. I don't know how to teach that to a 9 year old. Maybe give some incentives/positive reinforcements for completing work?

My little sister (Lindsey, you met her Friday night) had the same problem but a bit worse. In high school she thought she had ADD and would try to get my parents to believe her and to get her tested. None of us wanted her to have to take med's and so no one believed her. She went to the doc once in HS and didn't get the paperwork filed. Finally a year after she graduated (this summer) she went by herself. Told no one. Paid for it all. To the doctor in Boise and was diagnosed with ADD. I felt horrible finding this out weeks later. She was afraid to tell any of us because she thought we wouldn't believe her. She takes aderoll and it makes a huge difference. She says that before when she was listening to a lecture she would just forget or not hear huge amounts of information. But now she hears it, she can listen to someone telling her a story and be able to hear all of it. Not space out during. I was personally worried about her maybe getting addicted to the drug but she is very careful. I am not saying ADD is what your son might have, I guess I'm just relating a similar experience. I'm still sad that none of us believed her and she was alone.

Well, onto your son... :) I do wonder if where he is sitting or if you offered rewards, not necessarily toys or food, but maybe some extra tv time or playing video games. Whatever he would be motivated with :)

Again.. I have no kids so I don't know how much any of this would help. But please let us know what you decide and how he is responding to it.

Lisa said...

I don't have any help either, just sympathy. I'm currently taking medication that makes it hard for me to focus - for the first time ever in my life. And now I totally sympathize with others. It's really not fun. You want to do your work, to buckle down, but then your mind just floats off on it's own. Grrr. I can try to be 'all disciplined' but the mind is stronger. (On the plus side I'm feeling much more laid back - but the job hardly cares about that). I guess my point is - sometimes it might take more than just extra rewards or motivation, depending on what's going on.

Marie said...

Ramona,
I would atleast get him tested for ADD, not ADHD it doesn't sound like he is hyper? And did you know that most all people with ADD are very smart, almost above average..Meds aren't for everyone , but if you go to a specialist, NOT a pediatrician an actual specialist in ADD , Dr. Jones (provo,jamestown square is one) you could at least get him tested and have it ruled out?
Also, have you ever thought of having him test-up a grade? Some kids (my brother was one)are truly bored with the homework, they see no reason to do it. Once my brother went up a grade he was challenged again and started doing his homework etc...
Just some ideas.. e-mail or call me if you want to talk more..
Marie

Rindee said...

Same thing here. My son is very smart and has even skipped a grade. This year we are struggling with the same thing. Simply following directions or being responsible enough to turn in the homework. Most of the time it gets lost in transit. So frustrating. So his progess report was full of 100%'s and 0%'s. He was getting "D's" in most everything, but it was clear that he just wasn't finishing the work. I've been contemplating homeschool for awhile now. I think it would help him stay on task if he didn't have to do so much waiting inbetween activities. He can't stand to just do nothing, so he'll pick up a book and then get engrossed in it and then get in trouble for reading. I also think it will help not to have so many distractions around. I really like the idea of him being able to go at his own pace as well. I have to wonder if gifted kids are really learning at their potential when they can only learn as fast as the average kid in their class.

You aren't alone. We are going to try a new approach awfully soon. I'll have to let you know how it goes.

Jo said...

My two thoughts were already voiced. I know you aren't thrilled about the idea of meds, I wouldn't be either. But if he needed glasses, you wouldn't withhold them from him, hoping he would outgrow it, or if he were diabetic, you wouldn't not give him insulin because you didn't like the idea of medication, would you? Just a thought, he is obviously not functioning as well as he could be, or else you wouldn't be asking us this. And the other thought is to pull him out for a couple of years and homeschool him. That way he can learn in fashion that is shaped to his needs, not visa versa. Tell us how it goes, okay? Speaking of which, have you tried the eye doctor, just in case? And making sure he has a good breakfast, some snacks and some good exercise in the morning, so he can focus? Cutting out sugar and increasing his protein might be helpful. Hugs. You are the best mommy!

Victoria Elder said...

Hey! So I can't say I am a fan of meds either, I am way into natural health. There are some natural oils, that can help with this sort of thing. they have them for all sorts of things....sleep, focus, upliftment, & all other sorts of things. There is one for sleeping that I use, & it works so well, especially when I was pregnant & in high school I used to use the one called "focus" cause I was easily distracted. it really helped me. You just put a drop on your fingertips & rub it behind your ears & base of neck front or back. If you are interested, I can try & find some for you!

Shannon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shannon said...

Oh man, good luck with everything. It sounds to me like he needs a more interactive classroom. What's the gifted program like? If it's small enough that he'll get attention it might be worth looking into.
I luv ya!

Kristina P. said...

Marie, technically, there is no such thing as ADD in the diagnostic manual (DSM IV.) It's ADHD, without the hyperactivity. People still call it ADD, but they will test for ADHD and determine if he has the hyperactivity or not. Does that make sense?

Shannon said...

Oh, mona. I was also going to mention sleep and diet. I've heard kids with not enough sleep mimic sympotms of ADHD. And/or maybe he needs snacks during the school day to help him focus?
<3 luv ya

clan of the cave hair said...

Is there any possibility that he is just bored to tears and therefore has chosen to stop particpating in activities that hold no interest for him? I quit participating in class in grade 5. There was absolutely nothing that teacher had to offer me, nothing...even though he was an ok teacher and cared very much that I passed tests and completed work, he didn't really care if I excelled at anything...which was different because I had been in a 4th grade class where excelling was the whole point. So, while I'm no professional in this area, I seriously have to wonder if there is a connection between what he was allowed to accomplish last year, and what he's being allowed to accomplish this year. If the sky was the limit last year, and now this year the point is to just stay right with the class and not be a hot shot, he could be rebelling by not participating.
Just my two cents. Take a look at the difference between teachers from the time he qualified for the advanced class and this year. I'm betting there will be a glaring difference in teaching styles. ( not making any one better, just different, and so he's responding differently)

ramsam said...

These are really great ideas. I think I have been a little crippled by fear this last week, but talking to moms and hearing this advice helps. I am going to get him tested- I think that is the best place to start. I checked out a few books and have been reading on line and it looks like this is more common than I thought.

One note- he tested in the highest percentile for his grade, qualifying him for our Gifted and Talented program- but he can't go because they pull the kids during class and he is so far behind. I am talking to our Gifted /Talented program leader tonight (she is my neighbor).

I am realizing this may be a long process. I can read, and I know massage. I have kind of told myself today I will use my gifts to best help him and we will take it one day at a time, but it really makes me sad for him.

The Mecham Family said...

I have no actual experience, but maybe some herbs or natural remedies for "focus" may be a start? I know, I'm lame. Sorry I can't offer more help!

slytrifecta said...

Ramona, I have about 4 books about ADD if you want to borrow them. Some talk about medication (which you know how I feel about)and others talk about alternatives. Let me know.

Janna

Wendyburd1 said...

I am not a mom...you know this, but I agree with Kristina about having him tested for ADHD...I wonder if I have it sometimes, so hard to concentrate sometimes.

OR, if he is so high up in the class rankings...could he be BORED? Some kids who are bored in school but get such good grades have skipped grades because they are not being challenged enough.

mcranford said...

I am going a long with the bored thing. I bet that he just isn't challanged enough in his class. He already knows what is being taught, so doesn't pay much attention. I have been around enough people that have ADD and ADHD (my husband, Isaac) and I have been around Hayden enough to think that he doesn't have it. He seems attentive in church and other activities, so I would maybe see if his teacher can try challenging him a bit more, and see how he responds.

Lisa said...

I agree with the boredom thing too. It sounds like he is super smart so the classwork is probably not challenging enough for him. So he doesn't get any reward out of completing it. That is probably why he has lost all interest in it.

ramsam said...

Okay-

Just in case anyone is peeking in on me here, here is the latest.

I have been reading and searching like crazy, and so far one thing has stood out for me. It is APD- or Auditory Processing Disorder. It has to do with the way your brain processes instructions and verbalizes thoughts. When I read about this it is so dead on, including delayed speech as a baby and extra trouble with verbal cues and problems or instructions. Some studies show kids with disorders in not hearing, but processing what they hear. He fits on many levels.

Some of these characteristics crossover with other disorders, and the only way to know if he has it is by proper testing, but this looks more closely like his personality.
Until then, I have ideas and places to go for help.
It will be a journey! I appreciate all the support so far,
thx

Mommy Madness said...

I was just checking in to see what other info you received.
That's very interesting. I will look into that as well. Thanks! It makes a lot of sense. My son had always had speech difficulties but I was always told that there is nothing wrong with his hearing.

CB2 said...

I just started browsing through all of the great comments, and have very little qualified assistance, but I am always full of opinions. My brother has medication that he never got until he was out of school. But he is so distracted he has a hard time remembering to get it refilled or take it. It's a night and day difference.

That being said, I am generally reluctant to go down medication roads.

Kristen was just saying that as boys start having hormones make changes these disorders often rear their head for the first time.

I am pretty anti extra rewards. The unfortunate thing is that now he is getting positive reinforcement for doing poorly in school. I know you are a great mom who spends time with and cares for all of her boys.... but I am guessing that since this all started there have been extra meetings, extra talks, extra planning and extra demonstrations of those great feelings and concerns. So what he has learned is that if he does the easy class work he will be one of the group and get a pat on the head. Not bothering to do the homework, he'll still pass the grade, maybe even move up a grade according to some comments, get special projects or rewards and get lots of positive reinforcement that he is loved. I'm not saying he is being manipulative but I would take the route that gave me extra Mom time if it was me. When's the last time that 23 people commented on how to congratulate one of the other boys for getting an A-. We humans are funny.

Just a thought. I'm a big fan of asking him what's up, he's a young man, he can think for himself and has opinions. Instead of encouraging and pandering, ask him to track what is happening. You probably already did that.... now I'm just babbling.

CB2 said...

I just started browsing through all of the great comments, and have very little qualified assistance, but I am always full of opinions. My brother has medication that he never got until he was out of school. But he is so distracted he has a hard time remembering to get it refilled or take it. It's a night and day difference.

That being said, I am generally reluctant to go down medication roads.

Kristen was just saying that as boys start having hormones make changes these disorders often rear their head for the first time.

I am pretty anti extra rewards. The unfortunate thing is that now he is getting positive reinforcement for doing poorly in school. I know you are a great mom who spends time with and cares for all of her boys.... but I am guessing that since this all started there have been extra meetings, extra talks, extra planning and extra demonstrations of those great feelings and concerns. So what he has learned is that if he does the easy class work he will be one of the group and get a pat on the head. Not bothering to do the homework, he'll still pass the grade, maybe even move up a grade according to some comments, get special projects or rewards and get lots of positive reinforcement that he is loved. I'm not saying he is being manipulative but I would take the route that gave me extra Mom time if it was me. When's the last time that 23 people commented on how to congratulate one of the other boys for getting an A-. We humans are funny.

Just a thought. I'm a big fan of asking him what's up, he's a young man, he can think for himself and has opinions. Instead of encouraging and pandering, ask him to track what is happening. You probably already did that.... now I'm just babbling.

CB2 said...

I just started browsing through all of the great comments, and have very little qualified assistance, but I am always full of opinions. My brother has medication that he never got until he was out of school. But he is so distracted he has a hard time remembering to get it refilled or take it. It's a night and day difference.

That being said, I am generally reluctant to go down medication roads.

Kristen was just saying that as boys start having hormones make changes these disorders often rear their head for the first time.

I am pretty anti extra rewards. The unfortunate thing is that now he is getting positive reinforcement for doing poorly in school. I know you are a great mom who spends time with and cares for all of her boys.... but I am guessing that since this all started there have been extra meetings, extra talks, extra planning and extra demonstrations of those great feelings and concerns. So what he has learned is that if he does the easy class work he will be one of the group and get a pat on the head. Not bothering to do the homework, he'll still pass the grade, maybe even move up a grade according to some comments, get special projects or rewards and get lots of positive reinforcement that he is loved. I'm not saying he is being manipulative but I would take the route that gave me extra Mom time if it was me. When's the last time that 23 people commented on how to congratulate one of the other boys for getting an A-. We humans are funny.

Just a thought. I'm a big fan of asking him what's up, he's a young man, he can think for himself and has opinions. Instead of encouraging and pandering, ask him to track what is happening. You probably already did that.... now I'm just babbling.

CB2 said...

woah, how did my comment post three times, feel free to delete all that, sorry

Fit To See Jane said...

This may be the first thing you checked, but how's his vision, do you have it checked by a doctor and not just the school?
Especially if they copy off the board their assignments. We just realized by accident that Jordan can't see well, which shouldn't suprise us, it's just like the others. So that is a thought.
Some people just don't like doing schoolwork. It may not be need a diagnosos at all, Just effort and discipline, but if he does you'll be sure to find it. Sometimes we just gotta gear up and get that mommy hat on.

Wendy said...

I read this yesterday, but didn't comment because I don't know what to tell you, My kids are younger and we haven't had that situation yet, but I worry about my daughter, she can't focus, even when we take her to the movie at the theatre, she can't sit still

Afton said...

Hey Ramona,

My nephew was diagnosed with APD I think when he was in 1st or 2nd grade. He had a hard time staying focused in a crowded environment, but did great at one-on-one. Once they knew what the problem was, he started on therapy to help him concentrate and "listen" (I'm pretty sure that it doesn't involve any sort of meds). The teacher also moved his desk so that the ear that hears/understands the best is right next to her. Made all the difference. You and my sister should talk - she will be able to give you better details. Don't stress too much about all this!

Teresa said...

You know I love both you and Hayden with all my heart. I just want to say that I hope you don't jump too quick into thinking this is some type of disability or that Hayden needs meds. There is a great possibility that this is just a phase. I saw things like this all of the time when I was teaching 4th grade.
Be careful also with testing. If you have him tested through the schools Resource department, you could end up being disappointed. ADHD will take a lot of time and monitoring to truly diagnose. I'll ask my friend, Heidi (who is one of the best resource teachers/school psychologists in our district) what she thinks and get back to you.
There are some great resources for teachers in a book called "The Tough Kid Toolbox". Every school in our district has access to this book through the school psychologist. It helps kids focus on smaller increments of time by using consistent positive reinforcement (a few rewards are involved, but not overkill). Maybe you could suggest it to the teacher.
I'm glad to hear that you talked to her and it went well.
Don't rush into thinking anything big just yet. Fourth grade is a big transition year and maybe he is just struggling with the transition.

ramsam said...

Teresa- the last book I read actually gave me such a relief, it said what you are saying- to take it slow and let kids work through phases.

I really can't wait to talk more with you later, but please know what a lifesaver you have been through this in helping me not PANIC.

That goes for all the posts- it just kind of opened my eyes to all the possibilities and ideas that are out there.

And man, I love that little guy of mine!