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Dr. Hive, can you help me with this ADD issue


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I have just started schooling someone who comes from a life of chaos. No order. No consistency. By no...I mean none, until recently when his parents separated and his mom has been making important changes in their lives. He's 7 (tomorrow) and in 1st grade. Jennefer game me the link to the following criteria:

 

Attention Deficit Disorder DSM IV Criteria

 

 

INATTENTION

(need 6 of 9)

 

 

  1. often fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork, work or other activities
  2. often has difficulty sustaining attention in tasks or play activities
  3. often does not seem to listen when spoken to directly
  4. often does not follow through on instructions and fails to finish schoolwork, chores, or duties in the workplace (no if oppositional behavior or doesn’t understand instructions)
  5. often has difficulty organizing tasks and activities
  6. often avoids, dislikes, or is reluctant to engage in tasks or activities that require sustained mental effort (such as schoolwork or homework)
  7. often loses things necessary for tasks or activities (e.g., toys, school assignments, pencils, books, or tools)
  8. often easily distracted by extraneous stimuli
  9. often forgetful in daily activities

 

At this point I'd say yes to all but #6. He tries hard, but he then falls right into the other categories.

 

When or how can I know if this is ADD, a result of his chaotic environment and lack of training, or just an immature boy who needs a bit more time to blossom (I had one of those)?

 

How long should I observe? What should I observe?

 

I admit I am a great teacher, but have no experience with any sort of learning disorder, so I want to make sure I don't do him any disservice and (you) know I am willing to adjust where necessary to help him succeed (I love this family dearly).

 

Your thoughts on school specifics to look for or on books I should read and rec. to the mom would be greatly appreciated.

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to answer your ? in detail--but wanted to take a minute to encourage you in your efforts to help this child!

Be very consistent with him, hes probably looking for that security. I do think that the environment you described would lead to behaviors similar to ADD, and that if your environment has clear, consistent expectations he may surprise you!

Will come back and answer more when the kids go to bed!

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My hubby teaches public school first grade. He sees plenty of 7yo boys who behave that way. He would be very reluctant to label the child ADD in first grade. He'd first assume lack of maturity especially given what you have shared of his homelife.

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Just wanted to say thanks to the responses thusfar. I'm working on consistency with him (and everyone else for that matter :) ). He seems to thrive in structure and need the encouragement for his successes. Hoping for ideas just in case. I did have wiggly boys, but their life skills made the difference, I think, at least :)

 

Thanks again and looking forward to the Hive wisdom :)

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Wow, you are amazing. It's hard to deal with your own ADD homeschooler, let alone taking on one that's not yours.

 

My oldest has it, and has been wired different since birth. We knew almost within the year that something was not going right. So, what I would do is ask his Mom how he was when he was a baby. Could he sit and play/amuse himself or did he constantly need attention/stimulus? (more than normal-almost in a frantic way)

 

Other than that, I would just sit on it for a few months. Let his family life shake out and settle down. Maybe the calm around him will stabilize him.

 

When I was a kid I was positive I had ADHD, but as I got older (and left my home) I realized it wasn't ME, it was my MOM who had it (which she now fully admits to), and I was just mimicking her. (It took a while to unlearn all of my bad habits, too) So I'm all for letting the surroundings settle.

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When or how can I know if this is ADD, a result of his chaotic environment and lack of training, or just an immature boy who needs a bit more time to blossom (I had one of those)?

 

How long should I observe? What should I observe?

 

 

 

whether he fit's the criteria or not (from a clinical perspective) you are dealing with a child who appears to have many of the traits of an attention deficit and I would treat him in a similar way diagnosed or not. The only question, really, is whether to mention your suspicions to the Mom and suggest you get him evaluated, and I have no opinion on that. You are there, so you know the Mom and boy and can guess better how that would go over.

 

Either way, I would try to help him deal with the brain he has. I would read up on attention deficit either in books or online.

 

Even some pretty simple websites like this one http://www.education.com/reference/article/add-adhd-strategies-tips/

 

and this one http://www.helpguide.org/mental/adhd_add_teaching_strategies.htm

 

have good tips. I'm sure there are better sites - I just grabbed those two:) If you love him and show him that and help him master his environment better by helping him with organization, directions, writing down assignments, etc, that's gracious plenty!

Edited by Danestress
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Wow, you are amazing. It's hard to deal with your own ADD homeschooler, let alone taking on one that's not yours.

 

My oldest has it, and has been wired different since birth. We knew almost within the year that something was not going right. So, what I would do is ask his Mom how he was when he was a baby. Could he sit and play/amuse himself or did he constantly need attention/stimulus? (more than normal-almost in a frantic way)

 

Other than that, I would just sit on it for a few months. Let his family life shake out and settle down. Maybe the calm around him will stabilize him.

 

When I was a kid I was positive I had ADHD, but as I got older (and left my home) I realized it wasn't ME, it was my MOM who had it (which she now fully admits to), and I was just mimicking her. (It took a while to unlearn all of my bad habits, too) So I'm all for letting the surroundings settle.

Thank you. I'm not amazing, though, really. Just doing what I can do and hoping to make a difference where possible. I'm hoping our settled lifestyle will change things for him. He has a heart of gold. :) I will ask his mom about that. That's a good point.

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whether he fit's the criteria or not (from a clinical perspective) you are dealing with a child who appears to have many of the traits of an attention deficit and I would treat him in a similar way diagnosed or not. The only question, really, is whether to mention your suspicions to the Mom and suggest you get him evaluated, and I have no opinion on that. You are there, so you know the Mom and boy and can guess better how that would go over.

 

Either way, I would try to help him deal with the brain he has. I would read up on attention deficit either in books or online.

 

Even some pretty simple websites like this one http://www.education.com/reference/article/add-adhd-strategies-tips/

 

and this one http://www.helpguide.org/mental/adhd_add_teaching_strategies.htm

 

have good tips. I'm sure there are better sites - I just grabbed those two:) If you love him and show him that and help him master his environment better by helping him with organization, directions, writing down assignments, etc, that's gracious plenty!

Thank you for the websites. I will glean from them :)

 

I am going to mention this to his mom. We have a "conference" on Friday afternoon. I'm hoping the two of us can read up on this subject and test the waters before we jump to diagnose. I'm really hoping our little issues are environmental.

 

It's only been 6 weeks, so we'll see. He has a lot to learn just to be on par academically. In that respect, having him here has been such a blessing. I can actually see the difference in what and how we learn things and what and how he's been taught...amazing, Amazing difference in quality of education.

 

Much appreciation.

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Tina,

 

The little boy I am homeschooling is in the same situation. We work harder on discipline (teaching/guiding), social skills, etc than things people think of when they think "school." Of course, he gets a healthy dose of school also (we are much more schoolish than MOST people with 6, almost 7, yr olds).

 

There is NO doubt that a good bit of his problem is simply that his parents refused to discipline effectively for so long. When he was 3, I begged them to do differently as this was a kid that NEEDED very strong, firm, CONSISTENT discipline. He was a completely different kid for them as he was for me at that time. Sadly, the ongoing issue has effected him very poorly and now he has an impending divorce and a number of other things causing him more problems also. So I do what I can.

 

What made me talk to his mother about medication though wasn't his behavior, wiggles, etc. I can handle all that and do. The way we school is catered to Goo's needs in those ways. Also, the medication doesn't take away those things (which I personally see as a good thing though I can't imagine a public school dealing well with it...which is a non-issue as he wouldn't even be in a regular classroom due to his behavior if he were in school). The reason I talked to his mom about medication was because of academic issues I was seeing. Goo, for example, would sit and figure out what 7+4 was and then I'd tell him to write it down. He'd pick up his pencil, go to write it down and would have forgotten what it was. So he refigured it. He'd pick up his pencil to write it down before forgetting, have the pencil on the paper, and then say, "what did I say it was?" He'd then refigure it AGAIN and usually could get it on the paper the 3rd time. He also wasn't picking up simple things like, "oh, I just did 2+3 two problems ago!" And he wasn't picking up patterns of things (rhyming words, if 4+1, then 5+1 then 6+1, then 7+1 is just one more). There were a number of these things.

 

BTW, he had psycho educational testing in January (5, almost 6, at the time) and scored Kindy to 3rd grade on everything. Well, but he had such incredible gaps and asynchrony. His IQ and subtests don't suggest any such discrepancy.

 

Now, mom was hoping for a behavioral difference. And we all (therapist, me, mom, etc) hoped that it would help aid him in learning discipline. But for me, the issue came down to how well he could reach HIS potential academically.

 

And the difference is night and day. Again, he still has his off thinking. I have to be extra firm and consistent with discipline. I have to do a lot of teaching regarding socially acceptable beliefs and behavior. I don't worry much at all about wiggles. I give him plenty of physical and sensory outlets between and even during subjects. And I keep him VERY busy between 8:30 and 2:30 (my son keeps him busy TIL 8:30). But he is soaring academically, filling in gaps, putting new skills to use, able to write more neatly than I could have imagined 2 mo ago, etc.

 

Anyway, so we're happy that we have done the medication trial.

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Tina,

 

There is NO doubt that a good bit of his problem is simply that his parents refused to discipline effectively for so long. When he was 3, I begged them to do differently as this was a kid that NEEDED very strong, firm, CONSISTENT discipline. He was a completely different kid for them as he was for me at that time. Sadly, the ongoing issue has effected him very poorly and now he has an impending divorce and a number of other things causing him more problems also. So I do what I can.

 

What made me talk to his mother about medication though wasn't his behavior, wiggles, etc. I can handle all that and do. The way we school is catered to Goo's needs in those ways. Also, the medication doesn't take away those things (which I personally see as a good thing though I can't imagine a public school dealing well with it...which is a non-issue as he wouldn't even be in a regular classroom due to his behavior if he were in school). The reason I talked to his mom about medication was because of academic issues I was seeing. Goo, for example, would sit and figure out what 7+4 was and then I'd tell him to write it down. He'd pick up his pencil, go to write it down and would have forgotten what it was. So he refigured it. He'd pick up his pencil to write it down before forgetting, have the pencil on the paper, and then say, "what did I say it was?" He'd then refigure it AGAIN and usually could get it on the paper the 3rd time. He also wasn't picking up simple things like, "oh, I just did 2+3 two problems ago!" And he wasn't picking up patterns of things (rhyming words, if 4+1, then 5+1 then 6+1, then 7+1 is just one more). There were a number of these things.

What a relief. Not only do I no longer feel alone, but this is exactly the kind of example I was looking for. We've been ministering to this family for over 2 years and we've been encouraging the same sorts of things. I believe we have a teachable momma, and that is honestly the only way I am willing to work with this family. I will be taking on his 2 younger sibs as more daycare than school come Nov. Teachable is the key for me :)

 

Do you have any reading recs. so I can look at this from an educated stand point?

 

Thank you so much for taking the time to respond.

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Goo, for example, would sit and figure out what 7+4 was and then I'd tell him to write it down. He'd pick up his pencil, go to write it down and would have forgotten what it was. So he refigured it. He'd pick up his pencil to write it down before forgetting, have the pencil on the paper, and then say, "what did I say it was?" He'd then refigure it AGAIN and usually could get it on the paper the 3rd time. He also wasn't picking up simple things like, "oh, I just did 2+3 two problems ago!" And he wasn't picking up patterns of things (rhyming words, if 4+1, then 5+1 then 6+1, then 7+1 is just one more). There were a number of these things.

 

...

 

And the difference is night and day. Again, he still has his off thinking. I have to be extra firm and consistent with discipline. I have to do a lot of teaching regarding socially acceptable beliefs and behavior. I don't worry much at all about wiggles. I give him plenty of physical and sensory outlets between and even during subjects. And I keep him VERY busy between 8:30 and 2:30 (my son keeps him busy TIL 8:30). But he is soaring academically, filling in gaps, putting new skills to use, able to write more neatly than I could have imagined 2 mo ago, etc.

 

That is exactly like my son still is, and I've had him around since birth :tongue_smilie: He meets 8 or 9/9 criteria as given above. Once I got used to him, he's really a joy! :D

 

Seriously, though, no matter if this boy is truly ADHD or not, consistency 100% of the time is key. I'm sure you know that. If he really is ADHD, rewards systems may or may not work and may or may not have to change on a regular (weekly?) basis to keep him interested in working toward his goals.

 

In the case of my son, he is finally mastering his addition facts, but there are times he does have to calculate them three or four times before the answer actually makes it onto the worksheet - and then it might be completely mirrored (17 would be 71 with a backwards 7, for instance). I never know what I'm going to get. His writing, though, has improved vastly in the past two and a half months. Before, it was absolutely illegible. Now he knows that the lines on the page are there for a purpose - and he uses them! This is a huge switch from last year when he was in private school. This year he's not on medication, either, because I am able to focus on him and his quirks and do what is needed to help him learn.

 

As for book recommendations, check out www.maginationpress.com or www.addwarehouse.com. I think it's so wonderful you're going to work with this family. Best wishes!

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I found Mel Levine's book a Mind at a Time helpful in understanding how kids with these types of issues also have learning differences as well and how to address those differences. My son has ADD and I do find his brain works differently than typical and I have to take a modified approach with him.

 

We also need to work on working memory and executive function. Someone linked some articles about some program (I think called Tools of the Mind) that was doing a good job of addressing those issues in kids. But I've not figured out how to take the principals to something I can carry out fully in homeschool. Still, I'm working on it and I think seeing improvement.

 

All Children Flourishing by Glasser has been terrific in innumerable ways and that includes building his confidence academically. But that's minor compared to the behavioral, emotional, and relational changes. I'd strongly suggest it as reading for the parent as well as you.

Edited by sbgrace
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