January 8, 2018 at 6:04 pm #72711
My son is 12 years old, in 6th grade, and has been diagnosed ADHD along with ODD for several years now. It has been both aggravating and heartbreaking to say the least. He has been on many medications and is now taking Concerta, Risperdone, and Intuniv. I absolutely hate having to give him all of these medications, some a few times a day, plus needing to give him Melatonin so he can get to sleep. But, that’s another post altogether.
Something struck me while I was helping my son with his homework a couple of days ago. As we were working on a ‘language arts’ assignment, it struck me that he may be trying to do work that is 2-3 years beyond his natural ability. He fluctuates in math. Right now he’s doing OK in math, but I know that could change at any moment. He is also required to take a foreign language- we found out today that his current grade is 29%. Language arts is at 55%. To top it off he has absolutely terrible handwriting (printing) with an inability to maintain consistent letter sizing and spacing. Cursive is out of the question. However, he does have very good grammar and excellent spelling. He does have an IDP in place due to his ADD.
He goes out of his way to hide homework assignments even though I offer to help him as much as he needs, anytime he needs it. He knows the importance of education (both for now and for his future) and gets very upset and discouraged with himself very easily. Is it possible that there is something else going on here that we don’t know about?
The boy is definitely smart. It almost seems as though he developed an ability to read out of the blue. He has been reading since he was 4 and reads well above his level now (as long as it’s something about the right subject matter). He becomes hyper-focused on whatever he finds interesting. Sometimes forsaking everything else!
Sorry for rambling! I’m (we’re) exhausted.
January 9, 2018 at 10:39 am #72749
Writing was a big problem area for my kiddo and in 5th grade it really became an issue. Seemed like all the assignments were written assignments. For any homework assignment that he could get away with it, I would allow him to use the computer to type out the assignment. We bought a cheapie printer so he could still turn in a hard copy. Sounds silly, but at the same time, I bought Pre-K and Kindergarten level handwriting workbooks at Target. We kept those books private. But he did a few pages every night, and they helped. Because realistically, in his adulthood he’ll need to know how to write and at least sign his name. His handwriting is still not great, but it’s improved. There are also certain pens he seems to write better with than others. We let him experiment, and his teachers don’t seem to mind if he turns in an assignment in green ink if they can actually read it.
My kiddo is also smart, but also has an anxiety issue and is hard on himself. If he has a massive amount of homework or a large project, he is easily overwhelmed and doesn’t know where to start so he shuts down, hides the assignments or cries. I’ve found I’m most helpful to my son in helping him set priority lists, breaking up projects into more manageable chunks, helping set up lists, and calming his nerves. Once he starts ticking off boxes, he usually doesn’t even need me.
January 11, 2018 at 10:15 pm #73353
Does your son demonstrate ODD behavior at home as well? ADHD kids can be defiant especially at school. Also I’m wondering why your son is taking Resperidone. This is usually used for aggression. It sounds as if the ADHD meds are not working for him. My daughter was diagnosed with ADHD and ODD in grade 7. She started with Ritalin, (made things worse) switched to Vyvanse (a disaster) and now she is on Concerta (wonderful). She can concentrate better, sleep and control her hyperactivity so that it is managable and she is no longer defiant, which makes me doubt the ODD diagnosis since there is no medication for ODD.
My son (severe ADHD) also was not able to write legible at all, he learned to write slower, use a different type of pen, and made use of a computer when he was allowed. Once he had medication that worked for him he was able to write neater because according to him the words no longer danced all over the page. I homeschooled my son for 4 years which helped him get his self-esteem back and learn coping skills. Has the school done an ed-psych assessment? This might pinpoint what his academic strengths and needs are along with recommendations for accommodations and adaptations. I’ve learned in the past 18 years to advocate and fight for my kids, to work with them and not against them and to never give up on them.
All the best.
January 10, 2018 at 8:36 am #72783
I recommend that you discuss this with his school counselor and/or school psychologist so you and they can make sure he’s getting the right level of instruction and intervention he needs.
Joyce Mabe, school counselor and Parenting Coach
January 10, 2018 at 11:15 am #73016
Sounds like you’re talking about my son. 😉
Do some reading on dysgraphia. The handwriting issues you describe and avoiding assignments sound like dysgraphia. It can be debilitating in all subjects. My son struggles a great deal with it.
Also, remember that ADHD is a developmental disorder. Your son is 9 or 10 in many ways.
And consider the impact poor executive functioning may be having:
ADDitude Community Moderator, Author & Mentor on Parenting ADHD, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism
January 11, 2018 at 7:18 pm #73328
I am wondering if he hides his homework because his meds have worn off and it is difficult for him to concentrate. Does he try to do his homework right after school?
Speaking of meds. I don’t understand your statement that he needs some several times a day. Concerta should be good for 8 to 10 hours if properly dosed. The other two are only given once a day typically. If you need to give the Concerta more then once a day, he may be underdosed. Have you tried a medication like Vyvanse? It is adderall based and thus stronger. It also lasts 10 to 12 hours and is much smoother as it releases. While we are on the subject. I do not like to give kids Risperdone! It is not recommended because of its side effects and especially at his age, they can be a problem. Look them up. If anxiety is a problem, then try something like Lexapro and Celexa. But really look into getting him (slowly) off of Risperdone. Intuniv has had lots of good reports. I would be curious to know what other meds he has been on. Hopefully not Prozac! Has he had the same prescribing doc the whole time? Anyway, have a talk with his doctor.
Finally, the title of this is indicates you are wondering if he should be back at elementary school. Speaking as a former elementary and middle school teacher and elementary school principal I would say NO. Work with his teachers, the school and the special ed department. Also, ADDitude has lots of help ideas for home and school work. The adjustment to middle school is a big one, but it can be done. By the way… a foreign language is typically all vocabulary at this stage. You need to know the words he needs to know, and then its just practice. A little bit at a time. Learn along with him.
Hope this helps. If you have any questions, please ask.
January 11, 2018 at 8:15 pm #73337
In your IEP program, have the requirement for a foreign language dropped and replaced with a typing program designed for him. If there isn’t a class use a computer program. Ask for a dual grade separating content from mechanics on written assignments or to be able to do some reports orally on tape. It sounds like you are chasing medications side effects with other medication. If this hasn’t been done, I would get with doctors and teachers for a dosage trail. Go a weekend with no medication and then restart at 5mg of generic short acting Adderall (cheapest insurance plan) 3 times a day. Raise 5mg every few days with teachers, parents, sibling, club leaders rating a list of behaviors that they see in their environment with your son. The behaviors could be hand writing quality, ability to change task, attention, etc. The scale could simply be: much worse, worse, no change, better, or a lot better. I have seen two children who at 2nd grade had a night and day difference on 2.5 mg versus 10mg. Since they were started at 10mg, the correct dosage was missed.
January 11, 2018 at 9:11 pm #73342
Have him tested for learning diablities. Many times kids with ADHD have dislexia amd many times does not show up until 4th, 5th, or for sure by 6th grade. Kids with dislexia have very high IQs and great at memorizing so this could be why he is good at spelling. But awful handwriting and slow reading and competition is not great.
Because my child had low Bs and high Cs the district would not test him so I went to the University in my city and had him tested through the testing center for half the price of a private psychology clinic.
I then brought the test results to the school and now he is being accepted to the program for kids with dislexia and getting the help he needs before we get to Junior High. They will also set up accommodations for the standard testing and when he has to take the SAT for college then he can have that test read to him as well.
The compliance counselor at my son’s school is fantastic and walked me though the entire process from now until college.
We just started the program but I am already seeing a difference especially in his confidence!
Worth a shot and if you can get your distinct to do the testing then it will be no charge to you and at least you will know.
Good luck mama worrier! Hope this advice leads you to some answers!
January 12, 2018 at 9:05 am #73386
Hello, you are a very intuitive mother and have made careful observations about your son. I also have a 12 year old son in middle school with ADHD. This year we had to put him in a special ed class as he was failing in a regular class. He is doing better with more structure and clear expectations in his new class.
He did not do well on Vyvanse or Adderall. We tried concerts, focalin-none of the typical ADHD meds work for him, instead he takes Wellbutrin to increae dopamine and Prozac for anxiety.
He has difficulty with social skills, starting assignments, writing in his agenda, essays and tests.
Students are expected to be more independent in 6th grade and a lot of the supports they received in elementary school are removed. This is especially hard for kids with ADHD who continue to need that support to succeed.
Our son has the same difficulties he as your with pretty much everything you stated except for handwriting. He also has an IEP and gets help developing social skills from the school psychologist.
You need to put in writing that you want your son evaluated and list the specifics handwriting, essay writing, etc. There are tests for all of these areas. He may just need a little extra help in a regular classroom or he may need a different learning environment. There are pluses and negatives to each situation.
While our son is doing better academically and learning better social skills, his peers from the gen ed classes do not choose to interact with him most of the time, but he also does not “mix” with their schedules as much either.
You are not alone in your struggles to advocate and support your son so that he can succeed.
January 12, 2018 at 9:54 am #73395
I can’t answer your question but I would suggest asking for limited homework. All day long he is having to focus and follow directions, etc. He may need a break at night. Unless the homework is helpful and not just repetition, it may help for it to be limited or reduced.
January 12, 2018 at 10:18 am #73402
As a special education teacher, I see this in most of my students who have ADD/ADHD. I would suggest speaking with your IEP team to discuss the use of speech-to-text readers to help with writing assignments. Many of my students find that they are much more fluent speakers than they are writers as it is very hard for them to split their focus between the two parts: thinking about the topic and the actions of writing. Unfortunately, poor handwriting seems to be a common attribute that makes school harder for students with ADD/ADHD. Some students find that cursive is easier as it is more fluid, but others struggle with re-learning how to write.
One thing I do with my students is have them fill out a daily homework sheet that each teacher signs stating that the homework listed is correct. These sheets are brightly colored cardstock so that students can find them easily in their bags. I also have a signature line on them for parents so that they can let the teachers and myself know that they saw them that evening. Just having something as a daily communication between school and home has really reduced student stress as they are no longer worrying if they can remember everything when they get home. Parents seem to like it as this way they are informed of what their child should be working on at home.
January 12, 2018 at 1:44 pm #73474
Risperdone is banned in most countries that dont worship the ground that drug companies walk on. Especially for children. In the education system that drug listed on your sons file will bring up all kinds of red flags. And bias. Please have him re assessed by professionals not the ones who prescribed that.
- This reply was modified 1 month, 1 week ago by donsense.
January 12, 2018 at 1:55 pm #73479
Important NOTE Make sure not to suddenly stop the medication. Do so under a doctors supervision.
February 3, 2018 at 2:07 am #75707
This is only my experience, but hope it is helpful… My son has graduated high school now; however, his ADHD went undiagnosed until now. He was compensating and we didn’t realize. He recently explained to me that every year, school got harder and harder, because he’d miss key concepts. He thinks in terms of puzzles… where all the extra variants teachers share just become confusing- then, they may switch to a new topic while he’s tuned them out in an attempt not to get confused by the extra information, ad wham! he’s missed a key concept.
The other big insight he recently shared was in reading comprehension- used to read the answers first and then scroll for something that looked reasonable in the paragraphs, because he couldn’t recall the long paragraphs- he’d have to keep re-starting after the first few sentences.
My son’s challenges remained unaddressed because he managed to still get As and Bs, but he was really struggling for them. Once he hit high school, there was no help, and it was scary how he started to feel dumb. It’s inly mow that we are healing from the public education systems and he’s been educating me in how he learns differently.
I hope this helps you, and please get your son extra help in the form of an IEP, and simply talk with his teachers more (not in feomt of him… that’s the worst) to see what they can do to help his learning environment by possibly keepimg to straightforward teaching, and maybe alerting when they are offering “alternatives” vs “new material”
My heart goes out to you and your son, he needs your advocacy. Thanks for continuing to reseaech and seek answers!! (and please excuse any typos… I’m awful typing on my phone!)
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