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Hi all, new with questions

Guest iris0110

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Guest iris0110

Hello, I'm new here and I need some help. My oldest son is 11 diagnosed PDD NOS, SPD and anxiety NOS. I have tried public school with him in the past but our local ISD does not handle ASD children. He has also tried a charter school but they were ill equiped to handle him despite his level of function. It was too hard to get them to apply his IEP consistently so he fell behind. He does best in a quiet one on one setting. However over the last year he has been struggling more than he had in the last 4 of our homeschooling career. Every day seems to end in frustration and tears. Things that used to take 30 minutes are taking 4 and 5 hours and he isn't getting anything else done. Part of it is a change in his attitude across the board but I can't help but feel like we have hit a wall with his curriculum and maybe we need something different. I asked on my normal parenting board and was directed here. I need help. He just picked back up with OT and ST and will be seeing a new developmental pediatrician in March (soonest I could get him in, it is his brother's pedi, brother is bipolar).


His current curriculum is basically 5th grade and looks like

Saxon 6/5

Scott Froesman Grammar 5

Spell By Color yr 1

Mr Q Life Science

Lesson Pathways History


Reading comp books of my choice and free reading books of his choice


We have been working for almost a full year and he on lesson 100 of his Saxon book. He is almost through Spell By Color but only on Unit 2 of the grammar. The problem is that many days he stalls on math and never gets any further. It isn't that he doesn't understand the math, he just doesn't do it. He stares at the wall instead. At first he was doing it in 30 minutes, then 1hour. Now he is spending 4+ hours on math and nothing else is getting done. If I get him through math and spelling each day I am lucky. We had a few weeks I had to let him off because he was just breaking down so bad he couldn't work at all and then we had time off for doctor's appts (brothers, his and mine). Now we are at a year and still have probably 2 months of 5th grade left if you only count math and spelling. He is falling behind and I don't know what to do. I think he needs a curriculum over haul but I'm not sure what to use. He is best at math and science, he is decent at history usually when studying on his own (he will listen to me but he doesn't follow well and can't really do reports or anything). His writing is poor but his grammatical understanding is fine. He is doing well in reading. The spell by color seems to work well for him. He has some memory issues. He can remember almost anything in context but can't memorize by rote. If he learns something and doesn't use it he forgets it. I am open to whole curriculum or just pieces if they are easy to use. I need a secular curriculum or maybe earth based. I don't have a ton of money to spend but will find what I need. I am teaching a 7 year old who is year ahead but insists on unschooling/Waldorf style curric.

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My ds is near yours in age, but has different issues so I am not sure that any of what has worked for us would fit you.


Saxon was not good for my ds for math: boring, page layouts that were not sympatico, repetition that was not what he needed. I would suggest that you go to websites for other possible programs and let your ds have some input in what he thinks would fit him better, or try something with a good return policy and see if it might work better. I'd also suggest taking a look at Khan academy. Materials that worked for my ds better than Saxon (well, everything else seemed like it was better for him) have been MUS, Math Mammoth, Steck-Vaughn materials, Chalk Dust. Even Spectrum workbooks.


Our math is a certain length of time (1 hr) daily, so it does not drag on like that. If he is fiddling around not working, I remind him, if it just seems like an off time, I send him to do something physical for a while.


I don't have experience with any of your other curriculum items. For everything but math and writing, we are going with an pretty much interest based approach, and using a lot of audio or audio/visual materials (watched a movie on Underground Railway yesterday and this morning for example). For reading comprehension I go with whatever he is interested in--right now it is Star Wars, and led to discussion of factory towns since a planet that is a mining factory town came up.


We've been working with a variety of writing materials--typical ones you see mentioned over and over like IEW. We also did an online Brave Writer class which I thought was awfully expensive for what it was, but did have the advantage of someone else to be giving assignments and feedback and so on--and at this point in retrospect, I am feeling happier with what it led to than I was nearer the time. We did basic level, but they have one on mini-reports too--my ds went on to turn his project into a report. Many people in the class seemed not to follow through, though. If the work is not done, it would be a total waste I think.


Is he depressed? What are his goals? Can his interests be used to advantage in other areas? Would he perhaps also do better with unschooling/Waldorf style materials?

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take this with a grain of salt, but my 16 yo was dx'd bipolar around age 10. His sister started having breakdowns when she was 16 and has gotten worse and worse but still is not dx'd. She recently moved in with my mom after burning a lot of bridges with me. I am pretty sure that whatever is causing his problems is also causing hers, but just a different way of playing out. Bipolar is very strongly genetic. My sister is similar (not dx'd that i know of but in and out of hospitals her whole life) and we have several other colorful and tragic people in our extended family. You may really need to work with the doc on getting his anxiety under control chemically, and seeing what else might be at play, before anything else is going to work


even for my 16 yo, we recently switched one of his three meds (from abilify to latuda, which is very new) and his focus and energy levels increased.


only to say - sometimes its not the curriculum or the way you are teaching, its something else completely


that being said - have you tried doing math later in the day? I find that sometimes I really have to sit with my son while he does math, and keep redirecting him back to it. I also will set a time limit on math. There is no point in wasting the whole day on 1 subject if its not productive. Sometimes a run around the block or a dog-petting break helps. i know its frustrating when a kid that old needs handholding, but sometimes they do. I started homeschooling when my teen was in 8th grade and i ended up putting his little brother on Time4Learning so I could focus most of my energy on the older one.


Oh, and i'm not a fan of saxon, but thats a style thing. We use upper level singapore. but tis pretty teacher intensive - which, in the end, works best for him


good luck

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Brainstorming here.


I'm thinking that children in general with theDX named have different shut down or coping mechanisms when over whelmed. Do you see the same shut down pattern in other anxiety situations?


Sometimes it's really hard to sort out what the cause is.


For us when I saw shut down, we had a problem solving plan already in place that this child had bought into and saw as likely to work. We did this with the techniques in CPS, collaborative problem solving. I would try to build up multiple positive endings from small frustrations first. My goal was buy in. I wanted my child to believe they could be successful in problem solving.


Now when we run into frustrations with school work. We can even talk in the common area of the house. The problem can be named. This page looks overwhelming. It was 20 long division. We cut the page in half for a few days then twice a day half a page etc slowly building up. Today it was a page full of errors. My child was frustrated and tired but was able to say I can't do this. I need help. I smiled and waited until they calmed. I see there's a missing piece you need. Let's find it and rework these six. The other 12 can wait till tomorrow. We had success. Child felt successful.


Other tools:

A journal of successes.

Dynamic communication and waiting pauses from me.


Overall, it may or may not be curriculum.

Many problems can be solved by communication and breaking frustration into many small successes.



Hugs from a fellow traveler

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Math is a tough one for us. I let DS work on his own as long as he is decently productive. He really doesn't want my help, but he sometimes needs it. If we are getting stuck, I dive in and try and shake things up. We are using LOF because he likes the stories and otherwise I think he would totally dread the Math. I supplement with IXL and other stuff as needed. I have had to re-tool expectations over and over because we hit a wall. Maybe if you try shortening the assignments? I start the day with my son's favorite subject and we put math in the middle(right before lunch). He knows he has to finish his assignment before his negotiated hour long lunch break. Hope this is helpful. Patience is required.

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Guest iris0110

Thank you all for your suggestions. I have been thinking about them and implemented a few. It does not seem to be an anxiety issue and Math and Science are actually his favorite subjects. It is less that he is shutting down so much as he just gets distracted (perhaps bored?) and doesn't do the work. It is frustrating from this side because I know he can do the work and it isn't even difficult for him if he just settles in and does it. For a week I have had him skip the "mental math" portion, set a timer (which we have used before without success) and simply do as many problems as he can get done. He has been completing almost all of the questions in his alotted time without problem. After the math is done he breezes through his spelling and even his grammar seems to be going more smoothly. I did change our lesson style to something more like how I teach his younger brother. Now I read to him then have him read to me and work on his comprehension and verbal planning. Part of the problem we have run into is he becomes anxious when I try to talk to him about what is going on and why he is struggling. I am hoping working with him this way will build his confidence. He also spends half an hour reading a book of his choosing. We have had time to work on science and history.


Ultimately I think we may change curriculum all together to find something better suited to his needs. I thought Saxon was a good fit for him but I am begining to think he needs something a little more all inclusive.

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