I need kid/school advice! (long)

  1. ok, so here's the deal. My six year old son is so smart, and always gets 100% on his work, well for the most part. The thing is, is that he is so easily distracted! He has to miss recess most of the time, because he doesnt finish his classwork. At the beginning of the school year I took him to the doc because I really feel he has ADD...not necessarily ADHD as he isnt all that hyper, but he cannot concentrate on anything. Well, he had an eval by a psychologist who said that he has ADD, and he was supposed to go back for counseling for it, but I couldn't afford the $500 deductible. At the time he was having a hard time with all the changes in his life due to my divorce and not seeing his dad and moving etc. So I went through my hospital's EAP and got counseling for him and me with a wonderful Social Worker at the hospital, who really helped a lot. He is adjusting much better, and behavior wise he is better, and so am I for that matter.

    Now it's just the distracability issue. We tried adderal for 2 weeks, but he was very very hyper on it, and it made him very aggressive. I had a difficult time with his doc on getting it changed, and was made to feel that I was just a mom who wanted to medicate her son so I wouldn't have to deal with it. Thus I changed docs, and paid more money to find out (after 10 minutes talking to my son) that he believes that all 6 year olds are hyper and easily distracted and that he didn't see any evidence of add, even though I had explained to him all of my son's problems with attention, school, etc. THEN he told me NOT to tell anyone that the psychologist had said that he had ADD because "it will only make them (teachers and such) believe him a problem for them and label him.

    So we continued with the counseling, and I decided I was just going to see how it went. He is now finished with the counseling, and the social worker said she thought emotionally he was doing fine, but still remains the distractibility.....

    I went to the school today to talk with his teacher, and told her I understood how he was with schoolwork, as I deal with it at home with homework. I suggested moving him to the front of the class, as the majority of the work is done together, yet he still does not do it, and getting him headphones or something to help him not get so distracted during alone work. I also suggested during alone work to move him into the hall so it is quieter, and even having a more "responsible" student to buddy up with him to help keep him on track. She said she would try these and see how it works out. BTW, this is a new teacher as his old one quit due to health issues. It's the first time she has taught too.

    Does anyone have any suggestions? Maybe things that I haven't thought about? I have tried talking to him about the future, not getting to go to second grade, etc..but he is six years old, and the future doesn't really register with him too much.

    Sorry for the long post, but any replies would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks, Shandy
    Last edit by ShandyLynnRN on Jan 9, '03
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  2. 17 Comments

  3. by   memphispanda
    Does he figit with stuff? My son did. He would get distracted trying to find things to figit with. We got him a worry stone, and that really helped him tremendously. At one time--I believe he was 7ish--he had a stop light contact papered to his desk. His teacher could walk by him, and tap the green to reinforce good behavior, yellow if he was starting to get too wiggly or something, and red if he was about to get into trouble. This was a huge help for him--the other kids really didn't notice what was going on, so they didn't make fun of him, and it provided a visual cue instead of a verbal one. Another thing that worked for the teacher that I really didn't like (but HE didn't mind it so I didn't make a huge deal out of it...)...his teacher got a big fridge box and cut out one side and the bottom. She stuck his desk in there. It helped him stay on task, and kept the other kids from being distracted by him. But I still didn't like it. From time to time when I had to go talk to the people at the school when I told them I was his mom they would say "Oh, yes, the boy in the box". UGH.
  4. by   2banurse
    Hi Shandy,

    I don't have any children myself but I do have a nephew just a little younger than your little guy. The only thing I can say is that it is better that the school now as early as possible. I don't believe that it labels them as "troublemaker" or such, but I do feel that the earlier that something within the school district can be done, the interventions that can be done now, the better for him in the future. My nephew, like your son, is bright but he too has problems with attention and a few other difficulties, not including the fact that she too is currently going through a divorce to a SOB (sorry, but my BIL is on the shytlist of all of us). Because of these interventions, he has been doing well but it is ongoing. Most important though, he is getting the help he can now.

    I'm not sure what state you are in, but in many states, the funds to provide counseling can be covered by the school district. If you would like to speak with a mother (my sister) who is going through this PM me and I'll give you her email. She's become somewhat of an advocate.

    Kris
  5. by   renerian
    My son was ADD, very distractable. He was on seizure meds so we could not medicate him. WE just put up with it. I think most kids are distractable. I found breaking the information up in one step at a time worked. I gave him one instruction at a time, not a series of things to do.

    I moved him somewhere quiet but close by. I took all things out of the study area. I let him work for short periods then said okay run around and play for thirty minutes then come back and work a little more. That helped. I had to limit sweets as he was off the wall otherwise. They said that did not matter but it did for him.

    I got him out in the fresh air and played him hard.

    renerian
  6. by   ShandyLynnRN
    I have learned how to work with him at home, and also learned that caffeine is a biggie with him...he is out of control if he has much if any...it is just at school. Ofcourse the teacher does not have the time to devote to him as I do, to keep redirecting him every 2 minutes, to remind him to stay on task. I really don't know what he thinks about when he "spaces out" in class. I can understand that when he is supposed to be working on his own, he could space out, but why when the teacher is at the board, and the class is working together?? With his last teacher we had actually discussed the "box" thing..sorta like one of those science project boards, but it didn't work since most of the work is together in class.

    He does "fidget" sometimes, but not too often. He just kind of goes into his own little world, mostly in his own thoughts. He thinks a lot, about really cool stuff when he talks about it... kind of like the other day when he was deep in thought and then suddenly told me that he thought tornadoes worked by 1/2 gravity and 1/2 energy...pretty smart for a first grader if I do say so (just bragging a little ) anyway, thanks for the thoughts so far! I do appreciate it!
  7. by   memphispanda
    Could he possibly just be bored? Have they tested him for giftedness? He may not be challenged, and anyone would drift off if they are listening to stuff they already know.
  8. by   ShandyLynnRN
    I don't think so. He still has trouble with some of the things that he brings home, just needs a little explanation etc..I would be more inclined to say that he is just not interested in it because he is more into whatever he is thinking about at the time. It really seems to me that his mind just wanders over anything.....just because I do it too (for instance in the middle of a conversation about something, some key word will trigger something else in my mind and suddenly I will change the subject! Thank God my friends are the same way! My mother once said she tried to follow a conversation between me and a friend, and just when she thought she was on track with us, we'd change again, to something totally unrelated). Then, he has a hard time getting back on track to where he needs to be! I can sometimes even kind of see his mind crunching. I feel sorry for him, and I just wish there were some magic spell I could say to get him over this!
  9. by   cargal
    Actually he may be gifted and learning disabled. They blew off my daughter when she was in third grade when I asked for help. I really believe swimming competatively saved her. She now has a full scholarship to college and a 4.10 GPA. Swimming really builds discipline and focus.
    Good luck,
  10. by   ShandyLynnRN
    hmm, swimming isn't available here...infact, I'm not sure of anything that would be year round....since I work nights, I haven't gotten him into anything because of schedule conflicts...and the fact that he is already somewhat overwhelmed. It seems that it takes all night just to do homework, eat dinner, bathe, and then ofcourse, the 1 1/2 hrs it takes for him to go to sleep...

    Gifted and learning disabled...meaning what type of LD?
  11. by   rncountry
    Shandy, your son sounds a great deal like my oldest child who is now 19. When he was younger he had great difficulty with being a fidgeter. He is also very bright. While you may not think that he is bored in school, that may very well be part of the problem. After two years of trying various things, it finally occured to me that my child simply learned differently. I never had a teacher suggest using a box to me, I imagine I would have ripped that teacher's head off actually if it had been suggested. But nearly everything else was, including medication. I resisted meds because I felt that the side effects could be quite dangerous, particularly for a young child and long term effects had not been studied well. With his first grade teacher this became quite a battle between the two of us until the day I walked in and slammed down my 40 lb. med book and told her to look up all the information on the various meds used to control ADD/ADHD. And that once she attained her physicians license with the right to diagnose and prescribe I didn't want to hear another word. And I didn't. I realize this is not right for all children, but it was right for mine.
    What did I do? This may be long so bear with me, OK?
    First of all my son lived on a schedule. He did much better when he always knew what his expectations were.
    I found with Ray that often he finished his work much sooner than the other children, and if he was not given something to keep his interest than he would begin to do things that were distracting to the other students. I went to his teacher with a list that I knew would work to keep his mind busy, and fully expected the teacher to use it. Yes, I had to make many trips into the school before I finally got results but eventually I think they figured I wasn't going away until they at least tried it. And it did work.
    Fromsecond grade on I would go to the school explain how my child learned best and expected they match him to a teacher who was able to handle that situation. Two weeks into his fifth grade year I insisted on changing his teacher, who was a brand new teacher, to one with more experience. No, the school never liked me much, but my son was successful.
    As Ray got older they matched him with students that needed more help, it kept him busy, made him feel good to help others. I worked out well.
    I had to set very clear limitations for Ray. I found consistant, clear expectations were very important. Something couldn't be ok to do one place, but not another. The rules were the rules and they didn't change.
    I also found that Ray could not stay focused on one thing at a time, he had to have several things going on. I know that sounds weird, but it's not. I am the same way. Allowing him to have a couple different things going on at the same time, actually kept him able to complete things on time. He did not get bored that way. At 19 he continues to do things this way. No, it doesn't work for the majority of kids, but for him it did. I didn't just let him go off and do whatever he wanted, but if skipped from math to science to band and back and forth it was ok as long as everything got done when it was supposed to.
    I encouraged him to be involved in activities he really enjoyed.
    His junior year of high school he was carried college prep courses and band. No study halls then. He worked 20 hours a week, (his choice not mine, ok if grades did not suffer) he was in choir at church, jazz band as an extracurricular activity, football, youth group at church plus his time with friends. He ended the year with a 3.34 grade point average.
    He graded high school with honors, made it into whos who in high school, got a 28 on his ACT scores and 1200 on his SAT's. And this was the child I was told by his first grade teacher that if I did not medicate him he would likely end up in alternative ed.

    Your story about your son and a tornado is what really got me. You see when Ray was in Kindergarten he told me he was going to invent a car that didn't need gas. His solution was to use water so that the hydrogen would be split from the oxygen. The hydrogen would power the vehicle, the oxygen would go back into the environment, creating enough rain to ensure a ready supply of water for the world. Need I say that I sat there with my mouth hanging open? He said this very casually while playing with his lego's. A child who thinks like yours is a special kid. He needs guidence I'm sure, I know Ray most certainly did, and at 19 still needs mom to remind him to stay on task at times. But I'm here to tell you that with all the trials and tribulations my oldest child has caused me over the years, and there have been many, I also treasure the person he is. The day my child's maturity catches up to his intellect he'll really understand the huge potential that he has. I did have Ray in counseling for a while, and I believe it helped. More than anything I believe it helped him accept who he was and to understand that not everyone was the same and to learn to understand his behaviour impacted on other people. It also helped him to learn cues to slow himself down at times. Ray never had a physical hyperactivity, it was his mind that never quit. He never even napped like most children as an infant.
    Good luck. In the end you know your child and his particular needs better than anyone. Don't let the school do things that you know are not going to be helpful, demand they do what works. The squeaky wheel gets the grease.
  12. by   ShandyLynnRN
    rncountry, thanks so much for your post! I really don't think that mason would do well with more than one thing to do at a time. It is very difficult for me to get him to do ONE thing...or maybe I just didn't understand what you meant. Let me give an example: He brings home work from school that is only half done...and these are things that the class is participating in together with teacher at the board, etc... then there is homework, where he sits down to do it, and soon (with tv off, dog outside, etc) I see him staring off into space, or playing with his pencil, or playing with a toy he found on the floor, etc... or A REALLY GREAT example of the way he is distracted was this afternoon, he got home from school, actually remembered to do his chores, and once done, I told him to let the dog out, he said "OK" then promply turned around to go upstairs....I had to say "mason, you can't let the dog out if you go upstairs, come back down and go THAT way". I have to grab his chin and tell him to listen to me in order to talk to him many times!!! These things I can totally handle though, but at school, I can understand that there is no way that the teacher can keep going over to him every second to turn his head back to the task at hand.

    AND WOW!!! about the whole car that runs on water??? SHEESH!!! that is way over MY head!!! Mason definitely isnt' that gifted, and I really think he was just guessing at the tornado thing, after seeing twister the night before...he was refering to when they "made dorothy fly" and all those sensorswent into the tornado and showed blue and red on the computer screen...he said that the blue was energy and the red gravity...still, I was impressed totally!!! He is so inquisitive, and curious, and wants to know how everything works, and I love that, even though half the time I have to tell him I don't know. He is really into the planets, and told me that saturn has "the spicy ring"...not sure what that meant, but still, lol.... anyway, I do keep going back to the school, but it is hard to be consistent there since the teachers keep changing. I just wish there were some way to teach him how to "teach himself" how to stay on task, and see when he becomes distracted and be able to redirect himself...hopefully this will come with time.
  13. by   hapeewendy
    shandy , sorry I missed this post, you have gotten some great advice and words of the wisdom from the moms of this board
    of which I am not yet one, so I dunno what I could possibly say to advise you on this one, just letting you know that I know youre a fantastic loving mom and good luck !!!!!!!
  14. by   Jenny P
    Shandy, both of my kids were/ARE ADHD; but they are as different as night and day. I have a simple question for you re: the older, more experienced teacher: did she ever question or remark that your son may be too immature for school?

    My son was 5 in Kindergarten and was one of the youngest kids in his class. Mentally he was ready for school; my daughter was not until she was 6. That does not mean that either of them could sit still in class though; in elementary school they were enrolled in a very small parochial school and there were never more than 17 in my sons' class nor 20 in my daughter's class. That helped a lot.

    My kids had to study at home at a desk in the corner facing a blank wall to decrease distractions; make sure the desk has only the one piece of homework on it at a time and nothing else. Once that peice is done; let him up for a 10-15 minute break; then have him start on the next piece of homework.

    In the classroom, he should be sitting in the front row in the middle-- right in front of the teacher. I have found that younger teachers are more flexible and willing to deal with a child who is distractable than older teachers through the years. The stop light idea Memphis Panda mentioned is great-- never heard of that before; but it definitely would ave worked for my son.

    Insist that the school does an IEP (Individual Educational Plan) for your child; this is the most important thing you can do for him. It can help you and the school work together to make sure your child receives the best education he can have. Forget the advice that that doctor gave you about your child being labeled as a problem; you need to make sure he gets the best education and one that fits him right.

    My kids started on Ritalin, my son (at 23) is now on Dexadrine and my daughter (at 20) is now on Adderal, a combination of dexadrine and another amphetamine; which seems to me to be a very strong drug to start a little kid on. Regular Ritalin lasts 4 hours; the long-acting Ritalin lasts 6-8 hours; many other meds used for ADD/ADHD last much longer. I perferred the Ritalin for my kids, but it quit working for them at puberty.

    Find the best school with small classroom sizes in your area; work closely with his teachers; CHALLENGE his mind; keep him on task. TV should be limited to 1-2 hours/day at most; the library and weekly trips there can really be your best outings if he is that curious and thinking like that. It is hard work I know; but really worth it.

    Our small parochial school closed when my son finished 7th grade, and due to that and my DH's health, we had to move to a new (huge) school district where my son got lost in the shuffle (my daughter kept on blooming, however). He ended up messed up in drugs, etc. He's been clean and dry for 3 years now and is in college ofr computer programming and has a 4.0 average at this point. I hadn't known about IEPs with him; but found out about them for my daughter and she did very well with hers; that is why I stress that they are so important.

    Caffeine was our salvation for our kids hyperactivity, BTW; it would slow our kids down. My daughter is still very sensitive to red food dye; it really makes her extremely hyperactive. Nothing bothers my son like that (he has a lactose intolerance, but that doesn't play into his ADHD).

    Each child is an individual, and you have to advocate for your child. You are the one who knows him best; find what will be the best place for him (if you worry about the cost of a private school, many have scholarships, even in elementary school).

    As far as your child's inability to follow directions, you need to give directions one at a time: 1. "go to the kitchen;" then (once he does that,) 2. "let the dog outside;" 3. then "shut the door."

    If you'd like, you can PM me and I'll try to give you more help and suggestions personally. I can imagine what you are going through right now; I've been there myself. I made mistakes, and if there is a way I can help others avoid some of mine, I will.

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