10yr old memory issues and grades are worsening

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    • #66293

      My 10yr just started a new school and is in 5th grade. We started Concerta this past summer after he was diagnosed with ADHD by a neuropsychologist. The medication has made some improvements in behavior and focus but we face continued executive function challenges like remembering homework, books, pencils when reminded numerous times by teachers. I know executive functioning is NOT cured via medication but i am noticing a degradation in these skills this school year. It has gotten more rigorous in 5th grade and in the new school i must admit but we are 3 months into the school year and he should be acclimated by now to the new processes etc. One thing we are experiencing is that he is focusing better in class and his “class clown” behavior is somewhat better BUT he is rushing through tests, not reading the instructions fully and getting D’s and F’s. We completed a summer reading program so i know his reading skills are at the level they need to be so there isn’t a learning or processing issue going on. Has anyone experienced continued memory issues, continued lack of attention to detail and rushing through tests when they begin medication? I am thinking maybe his brain is relearning how to navigate through class WITH focus and attention to detail but hasn’t gotten there yet. We remind him to take his time, reread the questions and double check the test before turning in but he still isn’t doing it. The answer from the pediatrician ALWAYS seems to be – let’s increase the dose which always concerns me. I appreciate your insights!

    • #66299

      I have an 11yr old in 6th grade who was dx at 6 and has been taking meds since he was 7. The struggles you describe all sound like executive functioning issues to me (based on my personal experience, I have no expertise 😜) and for us as he got older and school became more rigorous his EF deficiencies became more pronounced. In my opinion it isn’t related to medication. These are skills that don’t come naturally to ADHD kids and they have to work harder than most to learn them. They also tend to lag in maturity which doesn’t help EF skills either. The additional issue for my son is motivation. School is simply (often times) not important to our kiddos, so they’re not interested or motivated to do what is expected. For example, my son frequently would “forget” his homework until he saw his teacher hand me an extra math book to keep at home in case he “forgot” again. Knowing that not bringing the work home wasn’t going to get him out of homework seems to have fixed his issue and knowing that I will check his planner to see what work he has, he is able to “remember” now. Another example is testing – mine has always just rushed thru tests, not caring to give any attention. Recently he took his first middle school math test and got a D. School policy is any grade of D or lower on a test allows them to retake it and average the two grades. I asked why the D and he said “I wasn’t feeling it so I guessed” He didn’t like having to do it over and scored an A on the retake so now he has motivation to be more careful on his tests. Now that mine is in middle school he’s getting a heavy dose of EF training, and it hasn’t solved the issues, but it’s helping. Using a planner (and being graded on planner accuracy) tracking grades daily in real time and understanding that we are in cahoots with his teachers re what he’s assigned and what his grades are has helped motivate him to improve his EF skills. They are still not great by any means but he is moving in the right direction and as your son starts to mature and find his own motivation it’s likely his skills will improve as well. Whew! Sorry. That was a very long answer for me to say “I don’t think it’s the meds” lol

    • #66302

      I have an 11 year old in 6th grade with ADHD. 5th grade was hard. In my experience, the medication did nothing to help my son’s executive functioning or memory skills. In my son’s words, it quieted his mind, he could form a full thought, and it helped him focus.

      Again, just my opinion – but I think of the medication like a good foundation for a house. My son needs the foundation in order to build the walls, and he needs those walls to be able to install the lights, etc. The foundation doesn’t build the house itself. The medication gave him the mental clarity to learn some executive functioning skills. He’s developed coping strategies for “weak” areas. My son has had to work really hard even on the meds to be academically successful.

    • #66416
      Penny Williams

      It sounds like we are raising the same kid! 😉

      My son rushes through everything and it’s been a consistent battle for years (he’s in 9th grade now). Teachers complain about it. We don’t like it either. But, no amount of nagging, rationalizing, begging, or consequences changes it. His poor concept of time (time blindness) makes him feel like he has to hurry because he can’t gage how long he has and how fast that will go.

      Free Webinar Replay: It’s About Time: Understanding the Science of Time Management with ADHD

      He also tries to sidestep homework and such. And bad grades don’t phase him. School is just so traumatic for him (truly) that he has become a master avoider in an attempt to limit the pain and discomfort. It’s sad, but it’s true. Some kids just aren’t good at school, and I’ve resolved that my kid is one of them. He’s smart and creative and full of ingenuity, so I know he’ll be ok when he can start choosing to study and work in areas that interest him, and is allowed to learn in ways that work for him.

      He scored literally at the very top of the chart (almost off the chart) in organizational dysfunction in the BRIEF, the assessment for executive functioning skills. We provided him with an iPad pro and an apple pencil to do all his work electronically so we don’t have to manage all the lost papers and redoing assignments. It’s a work in process, but it’s helping.

      Treatments for Weak Executive Functions

      ADDitude Community Moderator, Author & Mentor on Parenting ADHD, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism

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