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DS in high school next year...possible executive function issues...how to support him

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DS will be in high school next year and he will have a pretty rigorous schedule with the academic classes.  I know he is capable of the academics.  My concern is he seems to have some executive function issues and I want to best prepare him and be a support without over functioning for him if that makes sense. 

 

He's really scatterbrained, he's the kid who won't pack his backpack the night before, forgets to turn in assignments he has done, permission forms go down to the wire, etc.  Example - he talked to a teacher yesterday morning about staying after that day to make up a test and quiz.  He knew going into the day both of those things needed to be done and worked out for himself with the teacher about staying after.  Guess who forgot about staying after and rode the bus home?  Yep, that boy lol.  He puts off assignments until he has to hustle to get them done and he has good grades with minimal effort. 

 

He can also be really impulsive - not in a classroom setting (but he is very social there) and his impulsivity mostly shows up with his siblings kind of prodding them and picking at them etc.  Today he was walking home after school and close to home kept bumping into sibling trying to roughhouse a little and it knocked sibling's phone onto the ground and shattered the screen.  He had no *intention* of that happening but it shows his impulsivity.  He will want to buy something on a whim/spur of the moment and whether it is practical or not, he gets hyperfocused on that one thing and when and how he can get it.

 

This is his first year in public. I'm not sure how much of this is teen boy or a bigger issue and I'm trying to figure out if I just step back and let the chips fall (yesterday I drove him back up to school so he could take the test and quiz and by the grace of God teacher was still there) or if I have him tested for ADHD or what, but I feel like there are bigger stakes next year and I need to tease some of this out.  I remember flying by the seat of my pants a little with high school assignments but mom and dad were not engaged at all and when I tried to get some help, they were not at all available.  But, I really don't want to over function for him - I've already done high school ;)     

Edited by footballmom

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We have found what works is building in reminder tools. Like, for my DD, if she needed to remember to stay after school, an alarm on her phone reminding her would be effective--the phone stays in her bag at school, but gets pulled out right away after. Or an alarm on her watch. This is how she remembers to take her medication. We also have an electronic family calendar, and all appointments and activities go on it so she can look and remember (if she remembers to look, lol). I would help him build a plan for self-reminding, then check in periodically to make sure he's using it (this works best when most of the ideas are the kid's).

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I have to write everything down. I can't make use of the millions of wonderful smartphone apps because if I don't write it down with my own hand, my brain doesn't register it. When I was in college I had a small notebook dedicated specifically to be my brain - sort of like you see detectives using in tv shows, they whip it out of their pockets and it's a tiny, little spiral. Anyway, I wrote down my TODAY TO-DO on the front and my TO-DO LATER on the back of each page. 

 

In your example, as I was talking to (or as soon as I had finished talking to) the teacher, I'd have written down "Stay after school to retake test" on the front side. And I would check my notebook a bit obsessively, at minimum at the beginning and end of each class. It was my transition piece - where do I go next? What do I do next?

 

Nowadays I use a bullet journal, but I've had zero success getting any of my boys to get on board with that - least of all my one son who would benefit most from one. He just goes through life forgetting things. But if you think he'd be game for it, it may change his life forever! LOL

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In my opinion (as a mom  of children with ADHD and EF issues) there is no harm in talking to the doctor about figuring out whether it is ADHD or not. If he gets a diagnosis, you could take a letter from the doctor to the school and ask them to consider a 504 plan for him. 504 plans can have accommodations for executive function issues, if they are affecting his school performance.

 

Whether he gets a diagnosis and accommodations through the school or not, it does sound like his EF needs some support and scaffolding. It may feel as if you are providing more help than he should need, but it may be that he actually does need it. There are also things that you can do to help build EF skills and self support. The Smart but Scattered book is full of helpful information.

 

 

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My advice is to avoid "consequences" that won't help him change his behavior.

 

Like for many kids, not driving him back to school might work to motivate them to change so the same situation won't happen again.

 

For kids like your son, that wouldn't help.

 

I had a friend with 3 kids...with 2 of them, she told them she'd bring forgotten items 3 times a semester to school. It worked great bc they had the skills to limit forgetting things plus the ability to work out whether it was "worth it" to use one of the 3 times.

 

Open book test you finished and left on dining room table? Worth it.

 

Lunch in frig when you have $5 in your pocket? Not worth it.

 

Her 3rd child just didn't think like that. She needed to be taught routines to limit forgetting stuff plus lots of grace and patience when she didn't use the routines.

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My husband and I have to provide a fair bit of scaffolding for our son who has executive functioning issues tied to ASD. He’s the sort of kid who will, in winter, somehow make it all the way to school barefoot. This is not hyperbolic. :p

 

He’s academically successful in a very rigorous high school after having been homeschooled until the end of 8th grade.

 

But I won’t lie, it’s a fair bit of work for us to help him learn organization skills without doing it outselves. He has generated laminated schedules and a checklist for each part of the day- morning, commute, school, commute, home after school and after dinner. His nightly checklist includes packing his backpack and hanging it on the hook. He has reminders that buzz on his wrist with a smart watch.

 

We provide the structure for him to plan but we don’t plan for him. We don’t swoop in and drive him things he forgets either.

 

I check his planner every.single.day. Rather than look myself, I have him read it to me and I let him talk himself through any needed updates. Once a week he gives me “a tour†of his backpack and binder and as part of that is learning what he can toss and what he needs to keep. When he has an issue, rather than me emailing his teacher, he emails them and copies me in on the email.

 

The goal is that we can take away the scaffolding bit by bit over the 4 years so that he’s ready organizationally for his goal of engineering school.

Edited by LucyStoner
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Siri, I have an appointment with Mrs. Jones at 4. Siri, I have a math test December 4. Remind me the week before. Siri, mom told me to clean my room. Remind me tomorrow. Siri, remind me every night at 8 to pack my book bag. Siri, who is my mom? Siri, send Dad a text. I need money.

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*Listening in- ds is starting school next year for 8th*

 

I've read "Smart but Scattered" and am working my way through "That Crumpled Paper that Was Due Last Week".

 

I'm so nervous for my son. He wants to do well but things fall out of his brain!

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Thanks everyone!  Smart But Scattered has been ordered. 

 

DS and I have talked several times about his lack of a "system" in keeping himself organized and on track.  I have given several ideas including a mini composition notebook to write assignments, Siri reminders, a paper planner, etc and he isn't interested in any of the ideas so far.  I told him he doesn't have to love my ideas, but he does need a system.  

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Thanks everyone!  Smart But Scattered has been ordered. 

 

DS and I have talked several times about his lack of a "system" in keeping himself organized and on track.  I have given several ideas including a mini composition notebook to write assignments, Siri reminders, a paper planner, etc and he isn't interested in any of the ideas so far.  I told him he doesn't have to love my ideas, but he does need a system.  

 

Only one of my sons picked up my ADD. He has always fought me on the planner systems. I finally had to force him to pick from one of three options ... that he didn't have to love it, but he had to use SOMETHING until he could figure out his OWN system. It was kind of like copy work before writing on your own, or the whole classical writing approach thing. It was a hill I had to die on, and I damn near did die LOL. 

 

He now has a system that makes no sense to me, but that has been working successfully for him. It's a hodgepodge of ideas and it made me nervous initially because it relied so much on electronic help (e.g., Siri) but we've seen such an improvement in his ability to stay on track and get things done. My son has enlisted in the military. He definitely needed a job that has built in scaffolding! LOL 

 

Hopefully your son figures out what works for him :) I've never read that book, but I see it recommended all of the time. I always mean to see if my library has it. I should write it down ....  :lol:

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