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Limiting noise in the schoolroom?


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#1 Dust

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Posted 16 May 2017 - 08:57 AM

I'm putting this here because, even if the issue is environmental, it is a challenge, and is affecting his learning.

 

Ever since DD was born, DS has been having a difficult time with school. His concentration and focus, and even compliance with the idea of "now it's time to do school" is gone. 

 

The toddler is distracting him. If she's in the room, he tries to call her to him. If she's sleeping, he tries to make slightly louder sounds to try to wake her up. If she is crying, he (expectedly) can't pay attention to his work. If she is watching something quietly on the computer, he (again, I don't feel like I can blame him too much for this) tries to watch, even when I put the volume down very low and turn the screen so he can't see it from his desk.

 

I'd really like the computer solution for the toddler to work. She's so quiet, and we could get so much done, I just feel like he's unable to even try to sit down and focus. 

 

Some of it might be tech addiction, but another part of it seems to be ADHD or something similar. And then, another part of it is that I get it, it's hard for anyone to concentrate on their work when there is a bunch of movement and noise in the background. 

 

But DD's nap always happens during school time, and isn't long enough for us to finish more than one subject. Possibly because DS wakes her up. Now that I'm saying it, I'll try putting her asleep upstairs, but I don't know if it will work for her. 

 

And even so, DS seems to have a really hard time paying attention to the task we are trying to focus on. He will walk across the room and grab some toy and play with them at his desk when i've left him to do his work. I leave him to do his work sometimes, because I've noticed that he can't get his work done if I'm watching his every move. But now he can't get it done when I'm sitting by him and using tech (he has some sort of need to see the screen). I haven't tried reading a book. I could try that. I could color or draw, but I may have tried that before and he may have found that equally distracting. 

 

It's getting to the point where he has refused to do a "full day" of school for two months now. He mostly hates having to write anything, even math, preferring to read out the answers to me. Reading out the answers takes up more of my time though! I can't listen to his answers and make DD happy, especially when the majority of our classes are already mostly oral. 

 

He hates math because it's hard (I feel like his number sense is weak) and he hates writing because it hurts (beautiful handwriting, it just takes him a long time to write each letter and has a daily maximum of about 2 sentences for school).

 

If he doesn't want to do a worksheet I put in front of him, he violently throws it on the floor. If I put his notebook in front of him, and he decides it's too frustrating, he scribbles on the (full) page so that he can't write on it anymore. If I continue to tell him to pick it up, or pick it up for him and put it in front of him, even when I sit with him and offer him all of the help he could possibly desire, he throws it at me or rips it up the moment I turn my back (which I must do because of the baby). 

 

We are considering sending him to school for next year. I don't really want to, but I've been so frustrated by him lately that it might actually be nice. He will have to stop his extracurricular activities, and it will be $$$$. 

 

So I'm putting this here in the hope that the board has a few suggestions that may help us.



#2 PeterPan

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Posted 16 May 2017 - 12:51 PM

Are you open to evals? How old is he? Any family history? How is he in social settings like church or Chipotle or his activities?

#3 Moved On

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Posted 16 May 2017 - 01:52 PM

First, I would look at what the situation was like before you had your daughter. Your daughter is young enough that it could all just be sibling rivalry!

Also, he is a young boy. I think, using a device right next to him but expecting him to focus on something challenging would be tempting to pretty much any child that age.

Edited by Canadian Mom of 2, 16 May 2017 - 01:52 PM.


#4 nixpix5

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Posted 16 May 2017 - 03:46 PM

I know this is hard but limiting tech might be really helpful. Tech addiction is real and I have worked with so many young people who were smart but got derailed by this.

Dopamine is the neurotransmitter that motivates us to do something. We might get a spike when we see spaghetti and a bigger spike when we see cake. Dopamine is what propels us and also plays a part in delayed gratification. Tech gives a huge surge of dopamine and school work a smaller amount. Drugs actually work by giving large increases in dopamine which is why they are addictive.

Now this might not seem like much of a big deal with video games but I like to describe it to parents like this...let's say you drink a cup of coffee with a spoon full of sugar. That coffee tastes sweet and appealing. Now, eat a piece of chocolate cake and drink the coffee. Do you still taste the sugar? Our dopamine works in a similar fashion. Large amounts of dopamine cause our dopamine receptors to recycle. Our brains are plastic meaning changeable. Our receptors feel too much dopamine and the signal says "oh we are getting plenty of this chemical, remove some of the binding sites". Now, when you do something that causes less dopamine (like homework), the receptors are not being activated enough and the person feels less motivation towards that event. They will seek out the event that leads to a bigger dopamine surge. Being forced into doing the less motivating activity leads to frustration, anger and lack of focus as our dopamine works symbiotically with serotonin (mood) and neuroepinephrin (focus related). You mess with one you can inact the trifecta.

It takes about 3-6 months to purge tech and gain back a more sensitive dopamine system. In practice I often saw numerous kiddos diagnosed with AD/HD when in fact it was tech induced and once they purged, it all was much better. It takes some serious consistency though. Getting a young boy off of video games is not for the faint of heart ;)
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#5 Dust

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Posted 16 May 2017 - 04:14 PM

Are you open to evals? How old is he? Any family history? How is he in social settings like church or Chipotle or his activities?

 

He turns 8 next month.

 

Family history of ADHD diagnosis. (Me and my brother) I was never medicated for it and never had academic issues in school. My brother was medicated, and still had issues in school, though the meds did help him a bit.

 

I don't think his karate teacher has ever had or expressed problems with his behavior/attention. He took 5 weeks of a weekly 3hr class recently, and I asked the teacher if he had any behavior/attention issues and she said he was fine. The only issue we have at karate class is that it takes him for. ever. to get his karate bag from the locker room and put his shoes on to leave. When he is putting his shoes on, he gets distracted by the other kids who are walking around getting their things and he forgets that he is supposed to be getting his shoes. 

 

At the masjid, he can usually be trusted to sit and stand in one spot/pray with the men for the 5 min daily prayer we go to. He likes to sit on his own (purposefully away from me and his father) for the weekly sermon, and sometimes finds an excuse to go "use the bathroom" (he needs an excuse to walk around/look at the food table) somewhere in the middle of it, but usually sits there for the whole 45-odd min.

 

At a restaurant, he jumps around a bit - moving himself between standing and a nearby chair, trying to look at the people behind the booth but not to the point where I avoid taking him or where his behavior is embarrassing. One or two reminders is usually all it takes for something like "don't get in the personal space of the people behind our booth." 

 

He's reasonable until he is given an instruction by a parent, and then something simple like "It's time to leave, I told you a few minutes ago that we have to leave aunt's house, and now it's time to go." will get him falling down on the ground throwing a fit like a 3 year old. I don't think he throws a fit and cries when his karate or other teachers tell him "time to do x thing he doesn't want to do."

 

I'm not sure if we need an eval. And I don't know what good that would do if we did. Nor would I know how to go about getting one. 



#6 Dust

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Posted 16 May 2017 - 04:21 PM

First, I would look at what the situation was like before you had your daughter. Your daughter is young enough that it could all just be sibling rivalry!

Also, he is a young boy. I think, using a device right next to him but expecting him to focus on something challenging would be tempting to pretty much any child that age.

 

I think sibling rivalry (or something like that) is part of it. He loves his sister, but loves to pick on her a bit too. 

 

We had some issues before she was born, but were still able to do school each day. Recently though, it's been a struggle to get anything done at all.



#7 Dust

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Posted 16 May 2017 - 04:30 PM

I know this is hard but limiting tech might be really helpful. Tech addiction is real and I have worked with so many young people who were smart but got derailed by this.

Dopamine is the neurotransmitter that motivates us to do something. We might get a spike when we see spaghetti and a bigger spike when we see cake. Dopamine is what propels us and also plays a part in delayed gratification. Tech gives a huge surge of dopamine and school work a smaller amount. Drugs actually work by giving large increases in dopamine which is why they are addictive.

Now this might not seem like much of a big deal with video games but I like to describe it to parents like this...let's say you drink a cup of coffee with a spoon full of sugar. That coffee tastes sweet and appealing. Now, eat a piece of chocolate cake and drink the coffee. Do you still taste the sugar? Our dopamine works in a similar fashion. Large amounts of dopamine cause our dopamine receptors to recycle. Our brains are plastic meaning changeable. Our receptors feel too much dopamine and the signal says "oh we are getting plenty of this chemical, remove some of the binding sites". Now, when you do something that causes less dopamine (like homework), the receptors are not being activated enough and the person feels less motivation towards that event. They will seek out the event that leads to a bigger dopamine surge. Being forced into doing the less motivating activity leads to frustration, anger and lack of focus as our dopamine works symbiotically with serotonin (mood) and neuroepinephrin (focus related). You mess with one you can inact the trifecta.

It takes about 3-6 months to purge tech and gain back a more sensitive dopamine system. In practice I often saw numerous kiddos diagnosed with AD/HD when in fact it was tech induced and once they purged, it all was much better. It takes some serious consistency though. Getting a young boy off of video games is not for the faint of heart ;)

Yes, it may very well be the tech. I've been suspecting he has an addiction based on how he acts when he sees a screen (attention snaps to it) even if it's a baby game i've given to the baby (which I really really know I shouldn't do but her crying just kills me some days).

 

Praise is for God that I have both sets of grandparents around to watch the kids whenever I need, but they have trouble respecting my request of no tech. Because of how much he uses at their house, and their excuses of "he only used tech for a little bit, maybe a half hour" When I'm sure he used it for much longer than that, I don't let him use it at all at home most days, and he gets upset that he is being oppressively wronged and not being allowed to use the computer.

 

So what would you suggest? Do we need to kill all tech for 3-6 mo? Including audio/video? Cause eeeek, that would be hard. Then how can we reintroduce it in a healthy way? 



#8 maize

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Posted 16 May 2017 - 04:42 PM

I have several pairs of ear protection muffs available for anyone who is bothered by noise.

Edited by maize, 16 May 2017 - 04:42 PM.

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#9 nixpix5

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Posted 16 May 2017 - 05:12 PM

Yes, it may very well be the tech. I've been suspecting he has an addiction based on how he acts when he sees a screen (attention snaps to it) even if it's a baby game i've given to the baby (which I really really know I shouldn't do but her crying just kills me some days).

Praise is for God that I have both sets of grandparents around to watch the kids whenever I need, but they have trouble respecting my request of no tech. Because of how much he uses at their house, and their excuses of "he only used tech for a little bit, maybe a half hour" When I'm sure he used it for much longer than that, I don't let him use it at all at home most days, and he gets upset that he is being oppressively wronged and not being allowed to use the computer.

So what would you suggest? Do we need to kill all tech for 3-6 mo? Including audio/video? Cause eeeek, that would be hard. Then how can we reintroduce it in a healthy way?


Television, while it can be addicting, doesn't seem to have the same effect as video games. How does he do if you offer screen time as a privilege earned from accomplishing his work for the day?

I am a mom to 5 and my two oldest are grown. It was the late 90s/early 2000s when they were young and they played copious amounts of video games with my husband. It was what they all loved to do together. If I could do anything different I would go back in time and undo that. One was diagnosed with AD/HD in middle school since he couldn't focus, was disorganized, had a hard time getting work done and in etc. All signs of tech issues but we didn't know that then. It was a constant struggle for both boys around tech. I felt like I had to hyper manage. Reminding about homework, checking online grades, basically hand holding. I shutter when I think about it haha. One recognized his own addition in college and sought help. The other still refuses to admit it even though it has lead to some issues in adulthood. He is just now starting to be open to conversations. My son who sought help to cut gaming cold turkey has told me time and again he wishes I would have forced him when he was younger to stop. He ended up with a ruptured appendix at 14 and was off of games for 3 months. It was the best I had seen him. I unfortunately let him go back to it after that.

My three at home have never touched a video game and the light years of difference in their motivation, focus, attitude etc astounds me. We are extreme and most of my friends think that I am. I think I fell into the extreme camp after going from working in addiction brain research to then mental health counseling where I saw it playing out in so many bright young kids. I have seen minecraft addictions in kids as young as 6 and 7. It is alarming.

If your gut says it could be video games you could talk with his pediatrician and get further information and guidance. I am well aware that cutting tech cold turkey isn't always feasible in our world and he does need to learn how to manage tech responsibly. You might be able to put together some level of negotiation with both him and grandma and grandpa ;)

Then again, it could be sibling rivalry. I only brought this up because you originally mentioned tech and I do so wish I would have known back then what I know now.
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#10 sbgrace

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Posted 16 May 2017 - 05:22 PM

It's often been hard to balance my two. They distract each other--often on purpose just to avoid work. I don't have good solutions for that issue, other than I can't do school with child 1 while child 2 is in the room. That's tricky when child 2 is so much younger as in your situation. Still, can you do school with him in another room if she's on a screen? I don't think any amount of modification is going to make screen use where he can see it not a major distraction temptation. Hopefully she will at least nap for you outside of ear shot. 

 

You're describing a lot of avoidance. I do see that in my ADHD kid, but he has issues in situations outside the home and school work as well. We have a reward system involving screen time to help motivate initiating work and focus, which, together with medication that is a must for mine, helps. At those young grades, I spent a lot of time sitting with him-I would scribe for him, we took turns doing problems on a white board, that sort of thing. Not easy I know. 

 

 

 



#11 Heathermomster

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Posted 17 May 2017 - 01:13 AM

I think you should rule out any developmental motor issues with an OT. The full eval should take about an hour, and a good OT will look at developmental motor, balance, handedness, visual perception, pincer/core strength, and motor planning. 50% of children with motor issues will have attention issues. You may want to pursue a full educational eval with a neuropsychologist.

Besides seeing the OT, maybe try different pencils and grips. I love LOE's white board for lettering practice. Maybe use a slantboard. We use Startwrite software and make custom copywork sheets.

The fact that you are scribing for your child and yet he still acts out concerns me. If he struggles with math, you may want to try a different math program. Maybe provide a learning styles quiz and choose a curriculum that more suits his learning style. Maybe have him stand at the kitchen counter when he does school work. Provide a stool so that he can sit on it should he tire of standing. Use a whiteboard and limit math to about 15 minutes. Cover one topic at a time.

Some students benefit from using fidgets. When my DS was young, he did not use tech except his mp3 player, and the player was used for audio books. We don't turn on the telly during the day. Definitely consider using noise canceling headphones.

#12 PeterPan

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Posted 17 May 2017 - 08:08 AM

I'm not sure if we need an eval. And I don't know what good that would do if we did. Nor would I know how to go about getting one. 

 

You start with your pediatrician. Are you in the US? The pediatrician will have screening tools for ADHD, developmental delays, etc. 

 

People are giving you lots of ideas, but they're details. Sure it might be a strategy to reduce tech or use headphones or this or that, but you don't know WHY yet. You haven't really determined what's going on. So you go to the pediatrician, talk with him, let him refer you. Don't let him diagnose, because this dc is actually old enough for a full psych eval and complete information. Like if he just says oh it's ADHD and gives you a scrip for meds, what good did that do? Meds can help, but it didn't get you a screening for motor planning problems, didn't get you information on his working memory or executive function, didn't get you screenings on language issues, SLDs, etc. 

 

The research shows that people who start with behavioral methods *before* meds for ADHD actually have more satisfactory outcomes than people who start with meds and bring them in later. Again, that's something the ped can refer you for. Or the psych can refer you after the eval.

 

I can tell you there are kids with ADHD at 7/8 who do *not* have the issues with emotional regulation, compliance, sense of group plan, noticing what is appropriate behavior in a setting, etc. that your ds is having. I'm looking at that, as someone whose boy has pretty challenging behaviors and going wow, I'd really want to make sure I knew what was going on. Usually people on the boards aren't telling EVERYTHING. I'm looking at some of what you've written (refusals to work, getting up and walking around during meals, etc.) and going ok my ds does/did that and I know *why* he did that. I would be concerned.

 

What would change? If you go to SocialThinking.com and start reading, you'll find that many kids have social thinking deficits underlying their behaviors. The social thinking deficits can span labels, so you can have them if the issue is ADHD or ASD or NVLD or Tourettes or... So we don't have to die on a hill of what the diagnosis is. A diagnosis opens doors and gets you insurance coverage. The big thing is to see the Social Thinking deficits and go ok *why* does he not understand the group plan here, why is he not able to use age-appropriate strategies and regulate his emotions, why is he not able to perspective take and see that his non-compliance is hurting your feelings, why does he not catch on to cause/effect that his non-compliance is keeping him from doing activities he'd really like to do, why is he not self-advocating (expressing his emotions appropriately), etc., kwim? 

 

So that's why you would get behavioral help, because there are curricula they can work through with him to help his social thinking, to help him start noticing how his behaviors affect others, to help him start regulating his emotions and making better choices rather than being a victim of his body. 

 

Right now, he's a victim of his body and his development. Whatever his body says do, he largely does. He's doing better in high structure environments, and that's a really good sign! Personally, I think you're fighting a losing battle. He's likely to need meds, OT, social thinking instruction, and a very high structure environment to succeed. For you to provide that while taking care of a toddler is almost impossible. My dd has very significant ADHD and my kids were 10 years apart. That age/stage was VERY hard, and it was basically a losing battle. Having done what you've done, I'm saying it's a losing battle. 

 

My dd was old enough to work independently, so we tried to make it work. There were pros and cons to that. Because of the closeness of your kids' ages, personally I would enroll him in school. He seems to respond well to structure, and school is extremely structured. It would give him predictability, routine, clear expectations, consequences. The school will have a process for behavioral supports (positive behavioral supports!) and can do a 504 or IEP to bring in supports to help him succeed. The school may have people on staff trained in Social Thinking, or you could do that curriculum with him after school. 

 

If you wish to continue to homeschool him, you'll want a full psych eval, any other evals they refer him for (OT, etc.), social thinking instruction, and probably meds. I would then seriously consider enrolling your toddler in a preschool or bringing in a mother's helper. It's not acceptable to plunk a toddler in front of large amounts of tech. The toddler needs language instruction and interaction.

 

If you want to change what is happening (complete non-compliance on school work), you'll have to change something. Merely being home does NOT make magic happen. Some things are very, very hard. If you want to change something today? Start using alarms and get some structure and routine to your lives. Start small, with just one alarm. Is there something you *usually* do but sometimes forget? Like eating breakfast? I do that. With my ds, that's where we started. ADHD responds well to structure, clear expectations, a plan.

 

As far as school, I would only attempt 15 minutes, not 2 hours or whatever, and I would require it. I would tell him we're going to set the alarm for such and such time (10:00 am), and when it goes off we're going to do 15 minutes of math games. And before that time, at 9:30, 9:45, etc. I would remind him of the upcoming plan. And at 9:50 I would transition your toddler to her activity that she'll do from 9:50-10:15. I would set up a reward (that he can lose) as motivator, so he is looking forward to something that follows when he complies. Since our weather is awesome, that thing would be the park! So I would tell him ahead of time, while you're explaining the plan, that at 10:15, when you finish math, you'll go to the park. Tell him clearly your expectations for behavior and follow through with the reward. Make sure your expectations are within reach so he's likely to succeed. 

 

Do that every day for a week. Now you have 15 minutes of math going. Then you start setting an alarm for another thing. I would say breakfast or weekly room cleaning or maybe another thing that is schoolish that he might prefer, like read alouds. So you're ramping up, adding one thing at a time, building in motivators, alternating preferred and non-preferred.

 

My ds is extremely challenging to work with. These are strategies we use with him. Alarms, clear expectations, plan on the calendar, motivators. We use Zones of Regulation, which you can see on the Social Thinking site. My ds has a private office, a bedroom that we converted. He really needs his own space. Otherwise he'll just wander and be POOF, gone! Now we're working on working other places. We can do that a little! It's a goal with our team to GET him to where he can self-regulate and work other places and be calm and on-task. But I'm just saying don't make that a hill to die on. Some kids really need a distraction-free environment where they know when they're in that space this is what they do. Then, after a while, their brain says oh THAT'S what she wanted, and they can slowly start to do it other places. But for now, you might want to set him up an office. When you're in that office working for that 15 minutes, you make it very high value, with motivators and positive experiences, and NO TODDLER. Don't bring that toddler in there. Hire a mother's helper, plunk in front of leap frog, put in an adjacent room for some quiet play with a timer and a gate, whatever. You go in the private office with your ds, using the alarm, using the timer, knowing the plan, and you SHUT THE DOOR.

 

Do not put anything to distract him in the room. No bed, dressers, interesting artwork, things to play with, things to worry about. When we made our space, I wanted fish and this and that. The behaviorist was like nope, nope, need it calm, don't want his brain WORRYING about all those other things and monitoring them. We want him monitoring HIMSELF, not those other things. It's all he can handle, just to self-monitor.

 

Don't know if I've posted pics of my ds' office. I don't see them on Flickr, must not have. Well maybe I'll take some. I'm hoping to rearrange some time this week. He's been in his arrangement a year, and we're going to change how we're doing things. When we started, his space needs were very much like K5/1st, with small nooks. Now I think we're going to go to work stations and sort of a different arrangement, maybe trade out some furniture. So it's totally going to change! 

 

We use whiteboards so he can see the plan. Any worker who works with him writes the plan on the whiteboard, so they can check it off as he goes. It's not like he doesn't get to contribute to the plan. He could MAKE the plan, for all we care! It's not about unschooling vs. this or that. It's about having a plan, having structure, knowing the plan, being on the plan, saying when you need a break, that kind of thing.

 

Would your ds go into 2nd or 3rd in a school? It's something to consider. My ds has an IEP, and I just had an intervention specialist in to talk through things. I can tell you in 3rd the structure really changes. Actually they make that transition in 2nd. Your ds would need supports to go into a structured environment like that and have expected behavior. Most kids, even kids with ADHD, have no issues going from homeschool to an environment like that. It's not you or something you've done. It's HIM. Some kids are just entropy in action. He's going to need a lot of structure and support to succeed. These discussions of tech, etc. are nice, but it kind of implies that if you just pulled that ONE THING, wow everything would get all better. That's not why he's where he's at. He's got some internal dysregulation, and he's going to need some supports. Being careful about tech will be part of it. We use tech as a motivator! No compliance, you lose. Don't obey, you lose. You don't obey me, I take the kindle. You have to EARN IT BACK. So tech can be a motivator! 

 

You're the adult and you have to control what happens. Not with meanness but with finding out what is going on and how much structure he needs to succeed and by assembling a team approach that can make that amount of structure happen. It's not about WHO does it, only that it gets done.



#13 Moved On

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Posted 17 May 2017 - 04:10 PM

Since there is a family history of ADHD, I think it would be a good idea to look into evals and get a better picture on what your son is struggling with. You can then decide how to go about getting him help. There are *no* one size fits *all* kids and *all* families. What you do with the information from the evals and the forms of help you get for your son is a family decision.

I wish you all the best,

Marie
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#14 Moved On

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Posted 17 May 2017 - 04:14 PM

Usually people on the boards aren't telling EVERYTHING.


I don't see the need for this comment. People share what they are comfortable sharing on a public forum, as I'm sure you also do.

#15 Moved On

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Posted 17 May 2017 - 06:40 PM

deleted for privacy


Edited by Moved On, 13 August 2017 - 08:19 PM.


#16 Moved On

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Posted 17 May 2017 - 06:59 PM

nm


Edited by Moved On, 13 August 2017 - 08:20 PM.


#17 Dust

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 12:33 PM

I left the toddler at grandma's yesterday and today, and things went better. We were able to finish a full day of school in about 2.5 hrs. There was no frustration on my part yesterday. Today was a little more difficult, because after writing about 8 individual words, his hand hurt from writing too much, he started growling and groaning and he threw his paper down and eventually ripped it up. 

 

Having no tech at the table helped, as did having no toddler around. Today I noticed he was distracted by the smallest things - a piece of plant floating down from his arm to the ground(he had been outside for a bit)- but he was distracted to the point where he couldn't hear me no matter how many times and ways I tried to redirect him (including moving myself to right in front of his face) This happens so many times each day.

 

He finally, reluctantly, wrote the sentence he needed to write when I pulled out the whiteboard. I'll try that more often.

 

 

 



#18 Dust

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 12:44 PM

You start with your pediatrician. Are you in the US? The pediatrician will have screening tools for ADHD, developmental delays, etc. 

 

People are giving you lots of ideas, but they're details. Sure it might be a strategy to reduce tech or use headphones or this or that, but you don't know WHY yet. You haven't really determined what's going on. So you go to the pediatrician, talk with him, let him refer you. Don't let him diagnose, because this dc is actually old enough for a full psych eval and complete information. Like if he just says oh it's ADHD and gives you a scrip for meds, what good did that do? Meds can help, but it didn't get you a screening for motor planning problems, didn't get you information on his working memory or executive function, didn't get you screenings on language issues, SLDs, etc. 

 

The research shows that people who start with behavioral methods *before* meds for ADHD actually have more satisfactory outcomes than people who start with meds and bring them in later. Again, that's something the ped can refer you for. Or the psych can refer you after the eval.

 

I can tell you there are kids with ADHD at 7/8 who do *not* have the issues with emotional regulation, compliance, sense of group plan, noticing what is appropriate behavior in a setting, etc. that your ds is having. I'm looking at that, as someone whose boy has pretty challenging behaviors and going wow, I'd really want to make sure I knew what was going on. Usually people on the boards aren't telling EVERYTHING. I'm looking at some of what you've written (refusals to work, getting up and walking around during meals, etc.) and going ok my ds does/did that and I know *why* he did that. I would be concerned.

 

What would change? If you go to SocialThinking.com and start reading, you'll find that many kids have social thinking deficits underlying their behaviors. The social thinking deficits can span labels, so you can have them if the issue is ADHD or ASD or NVLD or Tourettes or... So we don't have to die on a hill of what the diagnosis is. A diagnosis opens doors and gets you insurance coverage. The big thing is to see the Social Thinking deficits and go ok *why* does he not understand the group plan here, why is he not able to use age-appropriate strategies and regulate his emotions, why is he not able to perspective take and see that his non-compliance is hurting your feelings, why does he not catch on to cause/effect that his non-compliance is keeping him from doing activities he'd really like to do, why is he not self-advocating (expressing his emotions appropriately), etc., kwim? 

 

So that's why you would get behavioral help, because there are curricula they can work through with him to help his social thinking, to help him start noticing how his behaviors affect others, to help him start regulating his emotions and making better choices rather than being a victim of his body. 

 

Right now, he's a victim of his body and his development. Whatever his body says do, he largely does. He's doing better in high structure environments, and that's a really good sign! Personally, I think you're fighting a losing battle. He's likely to need meds, OT, social thinking instruction, and a very high structure environment to succeed. For you to provide that while taking care of a toddler is almost impossible. My dd has very significant ADHD and my kids were 10 years apart. That age/stage was VERY hard, and it was basically a losing battle. Having done what you've done, I'm saying it's a losing battle. 

 

My dd was old enough to work independently, so we tried to make it work. There were pros and cons to that. Because of the closeness of your kids' ages, personally I would enroll him in school. He seems to respond well to structure, and school is extremely structured. It would give him predictability, routine, clear expectations, consequences. The school will have a process for behavioral supports (positive behavioral supports!) and can do a 504 or IEP to bring in supports to help him succeed. The school may have people on staff trained in Social Thinking, or you could do that curriculum with him after school. 

 

If you wish to continue to homeschool him, you'll want a full psych eval, any other evals they refer him for (OT, etc.), social thinking instruction, and probably meds. I would then seriously consider enrolling your toddler in a preschool or bringing in a mother's helper. It's not acceptable to plunk a toddler in front of large amounts of tech. The toddler needs language instruction and interaction.

 

If you want to change what is happening (complete non-compliance on school work), you'll have to change something. Merely being home does NOT make magic happen. Some things are very, very hard. If you want to change something today? Start using alarms and get some structure and routine to your lives. Start small, with just one alarm. Is there something you *usually* do but sometimes forget? Like eating breakfast? I do that. With my ds, that's where we started. ADHD responds well to structure, clear expectations, a plan.

 

As far as school, I would only attempt 15 minutes, not 2 hours or whatever, and I would require it. I would tell him we're going to set the alarm for such and such time (10:00 am), and when it goes off we're going to do 15 minutes of math games. And before that time, at 9:30, 9:45, etc. I would remind him of the upcoming plan. And at 9:50 I would transition your toddler to her activity that she'll do from 9:50-10:15. I would set up a reward (that he can lose) as motivator, so he is looking forward to something that follows when he complies. Since our weather is awesome, that thing would be the park! So I would tell him ahead of time, while you're explaining the plan, that at 10:15, when you finish math, you'll go to the park. Tell him clearly your expectations for behavior and follow through with the reward. Make sure your expectations are within reach so he's likely to succeed. 

 

Do that every day for a week. Now you have 15 minutes of math going. Then you start setting an alarm for another thing. I would say breakfast or weekly room cleaning or maybe another thing that is schoolish that he might prefer, like read alouds. So you're ramping up, adding one thing at a time, building in motivators, alternating preferred and non-preferred.

 

My ds is extremely challenging to work with. These are strategies we use with him. Alarms, clear expectations, plan on the calendar, motivators. We use Zones of Regulation, which you can see on the Social Thinking site. My ds has a private office, a bedroom that we converted. He really needs his own space. Otherwise he'll just wander and be POOF, gone! Now we're working on working other places. We can do that a little! It's a goal with our team to GET him to where he can self-regulate and work other places and be calm and on-task. But I'm just saying don't make that a hill to die on. Some kids really need a distraction-free environment where they know when they're in that space this is what they do. Then, after a while, their brain says oh THAT'S what she wanted, and they can slowly start to do it other places. But for now, you might want to set him up an office. When you're in that office working for that 15 minutes, you make it very high value, with motivators and positive experiences, and NO TODDLER. Don't bring that toddler in there. Hire a mother's helper, plunk in front of leap frog, put in an adjacent room for some quiet play with a timer and a gate, whatever. You go in the private office with your ds, using the alarm, using the timer, knowing the plan, and you SHUT THE DOOR.

 

Do not put anything to distract him in the room. No bed, dressers, interesting artwork, things to play with, things to worry about. When we made our space, I wanted fish and this and that. The behaviorist was like nope, nope, need it calm, don't want his brain WORRYING about all those other things and monitoring them. We want him monitoring HIMSELF, not those other things. It's all he can handle, just to self-monitor.

 

Don't know if I've posted pics of my ds' office. I don't see them on Flickr, must not have. Well maybe I'll take some. I'm hoping to rearrange some time this week. He's been in his arrangement a year, and we're going to change how we're doing things. When we started, his space needs were very much like K5/1st, with small nooks. Now I think we're going to go to work stations and sort of a different arrangement, maybe trade out some furniture. So it's totally going to change! 

 

We use whiteboards so he can see the plan. Any worker who works with him writes the plan on the whiteboard, so they can check it off as he goes. It's not like he doesn't get to contribute to the plan. He could MAKE the plan, for all we care! It's not about unschooling vs. this or that. It's about having a plan, having structure, knowing the plan, being on the plan, saying when you need a break, that kind of thing.

 

Would your ds go into 2nd or 3rd in a school? It's something to consider. My ds has an IEP, and I just had an intervention specialist in to talk through things. I can tell you in 3rd the structure really changes. Actually they make that transition in 2nd. Your ds would need supports to go into a structured environment like that and have expected behavior. Most kids, even kids with ADHD, have no issues going from homeschool to an environment like that. It's not you or something you've done. It's HIM. Some kids are just entropy in action. He's going to need a lot of structure and support to succeed. These discussions of tech, etc. are nice, but it kind of implies that if you just pulled that ONE THING, wow everything would get all better. That's not why he's where he's at. He's got some internal dysregulation, and he's going to need some supports. Being careful about tech will be part of it. We use tech as a motivator! No compliance, you lose. Don't obey, you lose. You don't obey me, I take the kindle. You have to EARN IT BACK. So tech can be a motivator! 

 

You're the adult and you have to control what happens. Not with meanness but with finding out what is going on and how much structure he needs to succeed and by assembling a team approach that can make that amount of structure happen. It's not about WHO does it, only that it gets done.

Thank you (and everyone else!)

 

Yes, we are in the US. 

 

I'm worried about what the cost for seeing an OT might be. Do you know a ballpark figure? We have bare-bones insurance, really only covering preventative care, I think.

 

I delayed his school a bit, because I could tell he would need a bit more time to mature. He is currently in the middle of second grade, with plans to finish second grade in December. If we sent him to school, I am not sure if we would place him in 2nd or 3rd, though i'm leaning toward 2nd.

 

I was so reluctant to have any sort of a schedule a few years ago. I hate schedules, but eventually, with some push, I realized it was going to be necessary. So we do still have a daily routine (wake up, use the bathroom, please also brush your teeth and change your clothes, open the blinds (DS's job), feed the fish (usually DS's job), eat breakfast, do school) The school schedule is posted so he knows which classes he has that day.

 

For a while, school went out the window. I'm not sure why. It probably had to do with the baby disrupting the school day, making it difficult for DS to learn and for me to teach. 

 

Need to run right now. Will post more later. There is so much I want to respond to!



#19 Dust

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Posted 19 May 2017 - 10:03 AM

Thank you, I will take a look at the articles on socialthinking when I get a chance. 

 

We don't have much space for him to have a private office that is not his bedroom. I can see rearranging his learning space/not allowing distractions in his reach being helpful to him. 



#20 Dust

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Posted 19 May 2017 - 10:29 AM

Television, while it can be addicting, doesn't seem to have the same effect as video games. How does he do if you offer screen time as a privilege earned from accomplishing his work for the day?

I am a mom to 5 and my two oldest are grown. It was the late 90s/early 2000s when they were young and they played copious amounts of video games with my husband. It was what they all loved to do together. If I could do anything different I would go back in time and undo that. One was diagnosed with AD/HD in middle school since he couldn't focus, was disorganized, had a hard time getting work done and in etc. All signs of tech issues but we didn't know that then. It was a constant struggle for both boys around tech. I felt like I had to hyper manage. Reminding about homework, checking online grades, basically hand holding. I shutter when I think about it haha. One recognized his own addition in college and sought help. The other still refuses to admit it even though it has lead to some issues in adulthood. He is just now starting to be open to conversations. My son who sought help to cut gaming cold turkey has told me time and again he wishes I would have forced him when he was younger to stop. He ended up with a ruptured appendix at 14 and was off of games for 3 months. It was the best I had seen him. I unfortunately let him go back to it after that.

My three at home have never touched a video game and the light years of difference in their motivation, focus, attitude etc astounds me. We are extreme and most of my friends think that I am. I think I fell into the extreme camp after going from working in addiction brain research to then mental health counseling where I saw it playing out in so many bright young kids. I have seen minecraft addictions in kids as young as 6 and 7. It is alarming.

If your gut says it could be video games you could talk with his pediatrician and get further information and guidance. I am well aware that cutting tech cold turkey isn't always feasible in our world and he does need to learn how to manage tech responsibly. You might be able to put together some level of negotiation with both him and grandma and grandpa ;)

Then again, it could be sibling rivalry. I only brought this up because you originally mentioned tech and I do so wish I would have known back then what I know now.

 

If he is told he can watch a show or play a game for 30 min or until the end of the show, the second he thinks the time is over he will say "I only played for 5 minutes!" or "that was a short show" or "I didn't even like that show/game. I hate that show/game!" Or if I lose track of time dealing with the baby, he will not put it away when the timer rings, and when the show is over, he will play the next show. 

 

We don't have a tv-connected video game console and after hearing your experience, I'm glad we don't. DS doesn't have his own tablet or phone or anything like that, because I don't want him to be able to spend hours every day playing games on it.

 

Our issue isn't so much DS spending all his time outside of school on tech, but that when he does get tech, he overdoes it, and thus his complaint "you never let me use the tablet/phone/computer" is true.

 

The same goes for him with any reward, or even gifts. "I hate that gift"(because he can't use it right this second) or "That ice cream wasn't even good"(because it's gone now that he ate it) It's like giving him the reward is worse for him than just not giving him anything ever. We've pretty much decided to not give him any non-cash gifts for upcoming holidays to see how that works out.



#21 Moved On

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Posted 19 May 2017 - 11:32 AM

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Edited by Moved On, 13 August 2017 - 08:21 PM.


#22 PeterPan

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Posted 19 May 2017 - 12:19 PM

He needs the OT eval for hand pain, but he probably also has retained reflexes that need to be integrated. You'll need to ask around as many OTs are no good at retained reflexes.

 

You do notice the irony that you're saying it's hard for you to hold yourself to a schedule or clear expectations in a thread where the most obvious, most common intervention suggested for the problem is going to be increasing structure and clear expectations?  ;)  I'm pretty real life like that myself, so I get it. Just saying at some point we get honest. He's going to do better with more structure. 

 

It sounds like your experiments so far are giving you good information.

 

Btw, structure doesn't mean he has to sit still. My ds is a competitive gymnast and swimmer. There's a LOT of movement in our house! He can be in motion for many things, take movement/calming breaks, have body breaks where he does Yoga Pretzels, etc. Mindfulness is exceptional for this. Just a few minutes will bump EF (executive function) 30%!!! That's HUGE payoff. There's a good cd "Sitting Like a Frog" but you can also google and find activities. Anything where he's in the moment, slowing down, really noticing his body. Just 5-10 min will get you a BIG BUMP in self-regulation. 

 

The exercises for retained reflexes also help my ds get more regulated and calm.


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#23 Moved On

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Posted 19 May 2017 - 04:30 PM

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Edited by Moved On, 13 August 2017 - 08:22 PM.


#24 nixpix5

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Posted 19 May 2017 - 10:17 PM

If he is told he can watch a show or play a game for 30 min or until the end of the show, the second he thinks the time is over he will say "I only played for 5 minutes!" or "that was a short show" or "I didn't even like that show/game. I hate that show/game!" Or if I lose track of time dealing with the baby, he will not put it away when the timer rings, and when the show is over, he will play the next show.

We don't have a tv-connected video game console and after hearing your experience, I'm glad we don't. DS doesn't have his own tablet or phone or anything like that, because I don't want him to be able to spend hours every day playing games on it.

Our issue isn't so much DS spending all his time outside of school on tech, but that when he does get tech, he overdoes it, and thus his complaint "you never let me use the tablet/phone/computer" is true.

The same goes for him with any reward, or even gifts. "I hate that gift"(because he can't use it right this second) or "That ice cream wasn't even good"(because it's gone now that he ate it) It's like giving him the reward is worse for him than just not giving him anything ever. We've pretty much decided to not give him any non-cash gifts for upcoming holidays to see how that works out.


What you are describing is lack of delayed gratification and impulse issues as well as an inability to recognize passage of time when doing a preferred task. All characteristics of AD/HD. You very well could be dealing with a bit of that. It sounds like having an evaluation to suss out what might be going on is warranted. Another thing that tends to go hand and hand with AD/HD in your boy is struggles with handwriting and writing in general. I have seen it time and time again, especially in young boys. ;)

#25 PeterPan

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Posted 19 May 2017 - 10:53 PM

If he is told he can watch a show or play a game for 30 min or until the end of the show, the second he thinks the time is over he will say "I only played for 5 minutes!" or "that was a short show" or "I didn't even like that show/game. I hate that show/game!" Or if I lose track of time dealing with the baby, he will not put it away when the timer rings, and when the show is over, he will play the next show. 

 

We don't have a tv-connected video game console and after hearing your experience, I'm glad we don't. DS doesn't have his own tablet or phone or anything like that, because I don't want him to be able to spend hours every day playing games on it.

 

Our issue isn't so much DS spending all his time outside of school on tech, but that when he does get tech, he overdoes it, and thus his complaint "you never let me use the tablet/phone/computer" is true.

 

The same goes for him with any reward, or even gifts. "I hate that gift"(because he can't use it right this second) or "That ice cream wasn't even good"(because it's gone now that he ate it) It's like giving him the reward is worse for him than just not giving him anything ever. We've pretty much decided to not give him any non-cash gifts for upcoming holidays to see how that works out.

 

I was just skimming really quickly, but I'll just say that my ds does those things. To me they're transition and communication issues. He's feeling something else, can't identify or put the feeling into words, so out comes something totally perverse and different. So he might mean "Wow, that was awesome and I wish I could keep watching it all night!" but that's not what he says. I've really had to look beyond what he says to figure out what he's FEELING. 

 

Transitions are hard for my ds. You might notice where you have behaviors occurring with transitions. So you could tell him ahead of time what the plan is for the transition, what behavior you expect, give him some warnings going up to it, provide supports, and praise for a better transition. 

 

On the gifts thing, honestly that's kinda reactionary on your part and doesn't sound like it will be instructive. If he has social thinking deficits (which it sounds like he does), then he's not making cause/effect anyway. So all you're doing is giving him a bad memory and not doing anything instructive. A positive, instructive approach would be to read a social story, tell him the expected behavior (when we receive a gift, we say thank you, irrespective of what you think you are required to thank the person, etc.) and give him supports to do the expected behavior.

 

He's being a boy and immature. He's going to need a lot of guidance and support and instruction to come to the other side. 



#26 Moved On

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Posted 19 May 2017 - 11:23 PM

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#27 PeterPan

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Posted 20 May 2017 - 07:37 AM

Canadian is right that there are other categories of motivators (rewards) you could look at besides tangibles. Different kinds of affirming touch (to the shoulder, high 5s, hugs), verbal affirmations (praise), even non-verbals like a secret code of raising your eyebrows for a cheer... 

 

My ds becomes very bored with tangible rewards if they're the same. When we took him for a lengthy eval last week (3 hours!), the SLP had a reward closet system. Even she was shocked how deadpan he was with it, and she had very, very, VERY nice rewards! Like you could earn a little car or kit kat candy all the way up to $$$ sets and kits!! She kept looking for anything that would motivate him, even flexible things like stuff she wouldn't normally do (a lemonade in the frig, ice cream bars, whatever). I think some of it was the restricted interests. If a dc has restricted interests (which your ds might, op), then he might not realize immediately that the reward item or gift would interest him. He might need to have someone play with it with him or use it with him in a way that connects to what he IS interested in so he can see he enjoys it. If I don't chain my ds' things, then I'm not going to be shocked if he just looks at them and says OH. But if we chain them (you like weapons, this thing is a history thing but it's a figure that uses weapons or from a time period with weapons), then he can get more into it. 

 

So restricted interests can cause that. Also sometimes it helps to study just what motivates him. What does he do a lot of? When we brought in our behaviorist, that was the first thing she did. She played with him, just played, for several sessions, till she really knew what motivated him. My ds is very tech motivated, so that's something he can lose or earn back with his behaviors. My ds is very food motivated, so working toward anything involving food (an outing, an ice cream cone, food gift cards, candy, whatever) is motivating. My ds is you could say people motivated. He actually really enjoys that interaction, even though he has autism. He just isn't appropriate in how he gets it or maintains it. But to earn a break where he's going to get really awesome interaction and do a physical game, that's really motivating to him!! So my ds' most preferred motivator for the whole year? Beanie Baby Snowball Fight. We have a laundry basket of beanie babies and they throw them and make war. Costs nothing, HUGELY motivating to him. And think about all the good goals we're hitting with that! We're self-regulating (taking a calming break, throwing gently so we don't hurt people), noticing how people feel, interacting rather than just off by ourselves to calm down. It's good stuff! 

 

Now we've taught him baseball, so we play baseball with a nerf ball and plastic bat in the basement. This motivates him! We have little beanbags with beans or whatever, and we play our own version of football where he runs in a circuit, catching the ball and then tossing it back. He LOVES this! He really likes our little home versions of pingpong (on the floor with just balls and paddles) and tennis (with tennis ball and rackets, no net) in the basement. These are things he will work toward, and they cost nothing and are affirming. But we didn't just whip them out of the air. We looked for categories of things that were motivating him, because then we could either control the flow or do more. 

 

But yeah, just to give more stuff, kids really out think that and get bored. For holidays, etc., I would use social stories, tell him the expected behavior, explain WHY it's the expected behavior, MODEL the expected behavior, practice the expected behavior ahead of time with a pretend party, etc. It's a really big deal to improve that socially, because people notice. They won't say anything or might laugh, but they notice. 



#28 PeterPan

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Posted 20 May 2017 - 07:41 AM

So when I say motivating, I mean we put them into the schedule as breaks, things he can work toward making happen. We had a LOT of these at the beginning. Like he was getting a motivator after EVERY SINGLE THING. You did a doodling page, reward. You did a math packet, reward. You did your Zones check-in, reward. And the rewards were like that, these things that motivated him, so a physical motion break with social interaction. HUGE for him.

 

As he got better with it and was consistent, we could stretch what he had to do to earn the motivator breaks. So do two things or work 5 min or 10, etc.