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abrightmom

DS 15 ADHD, other? (ASD?) - School Failure - Writing/Thinking - Advice needed

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This is long. Thanks for considering our situation. 

 

I'll jump into his story: 

 

DS15 was homeschooled by me in K-8 except for 1 year in a private school in 7th. The school had a great community buy they used ACE Paces which were academically underwhelming. In THIS school my son was a straight A student, under challenged and bored. There were other aspects of this experience that were good for him and thankfully, the math that they did kept him moving forward.

 

In 8th grade, he came back to homeschool due to the PACES but struggled intensely with being on task, managing multiple subjects and surviving the online language arts course (Fundamentals of Expository Writing through Wilson Hill Academy). I finally got it together and decided to pursue an official ADHD diagnosis through the pediatrician. This was last spring although I've known almost his entire life that he's different. He has always compensated well and I think his strengths covered up the weaknesses that ended up growing strong, deep roots in his life. We tried a few things off and on over the years including a "test" through a non-profit organization in our area that does a "brain training" program for people with dyslexia, ADHD and some other disabilities. We opted not to do their 6-12 month "brain training" program although it's possible this would've helped him and it still might! Admittedly, we mostly wrung our hands, doubted our observations and evaluations of him, judged our son and grew angry over the issues. It was a hard few years once we hit middle school because he started to struggle in new ways, a few of which I mentioned above. 

 

I have NO doubt that my son deals with ADHD in a significant way and now I can CLEARLY see how profoundly it is affecting his life. Many of his struggles over the years can be answered by ADHD. I had NO IDEA how pervasive it can be, how many domains of life it can drastically affect and how debilitating it can be. I was totally ignorant and thought it was "just a struggle to focus or pay attention" and my husband is a self-admitted "ADHD Naysayer". Watching this presentation on You Tube was a major turning point and I am GRIEVING for my son. I had NO IDEA how seriously ADHD can affect a person's life and what I have learned about it answers almost every question I have had about my son for the past 10 years of his life!!!! I RESENT being poo-poo'd over my concerns and being "told" (by books, presenters, others) that ADHD is a junk diagnosis or is an EXCUSE for bad parenting of my "out of control", defiant, disobedient kid. Well, that is such GARBAGE and my son has had to fight for things a lot harder and so has his Mom. We have WORKED and agonized and regrouped and changed course and prayed and cried and wondered for so so so long. ADHD is a HUGE bucket and I can put almost every burden, struggle, question, and overwhelming circumstance into that bucket. 

 

HOWEVER, I have wondered for years if he is on the spectrum. Asperger's came up now and then with a grandparent (a wonderful grandparent) and he now has a wonderful teacher whose daughter is on the spectrum. She thinks he could be very high functioning and MANY of her interactions with him, which were "odd", are completely understandable IF he is ASD. I have also looked at NVLD (?). But, I also see that ADHD can answer most, if not all, of these struggles: 

 

These are some descriptors although I have an Evernote folder FULL of data:

*Has always been Extremely Inattentive;

*lacked concentration unless HE was interested;

*no sense of time (passing of it, use of it);

*unable to follow through on global tasks;

*wanders;

*VERY LOW working memory although with prompts LATER can remember what was asked of him.

*strong visual/spatial thinking and learning abilities - I'm not positive he is VSL but it's likely. 

*strong vocab.;

*robust speech and language development;

*intense and narrow focus on particular subjects or objects at times (Lego; books, now computers)

*strong auditory skills (listener, thinker, learner)

*strong speller and reader

*written expression and the act of writing are struggle areas

*strong in math (not gifted) - Geometry has been a BREEZE; Algebra was tougher.

***Socially awkward: he talks to people and doesn't avoid all eye contact but that varies; he is clearly nervous in most social settings (not as a small boy though; this has worsened over the years). He says he CANNOT make small talk or chit chat; he hates it and NEVER knows what to say. He practices and goes over it in his head 1000 times but usually experiences failure with the small talk. He does talk when talked to although I think he's awkward; is very self aware; is witty; "gets" grown up jokes.

***Social: He would play a game on the field at outdoor church service and every week we’d spend time in the car debriefing because he was SURE the kids were rejecting him, teasing him, etc. It was constantly that he was thinking he was being rejected, teased, etc in pretty much every setting. He still thinks no one likes him or they just talk to him obligatorily. He has PUSHED people away with bluntness, "logic", etc. He has never been able to be a "guy" and he is painfully aware of it. He got teased a lot for his vocabulary in 7th grade so he tried to mask it and be more like what they wanted. That backfired because he felt horrible about himself. 

*He has hyper mobile joints; complained for years that he felt 'floppy' (I asked about this a few times and was told to give him vitamins or something), didn't crawl (he had a weird "hitch" and then walked); had severe allergies as an infant; had a cyst removed from his trachea at age 10 months prior to which he experienced a lot of breathing distress (took them awhile to figure out he didn't have asthma ). 

*He has major anxiety about using public bathrooms. He won't do it. It has presented problems on a few occasions (illness; missing an event).

*He loves the screen. He isn't addicted but is at risk. We've had MAJOR conflict over screens with this DS.

*Emotional disconnect: constant belittlement of siblings or peers; over reacting to everything kept our house in a state of turmoil; ranting and negativity; no flexibility; only "logic" (very flawed and immature logic). Group time during our homeschool day was regularly disrupted by DS (the oldest!!) and some type of reaction to a sibling or situation. He had NO flexibility or tolerance or understanding and regularly interrupted, disrupted, lashed out, made faces, showed displeasure/distaste. It got to a point where his siblings wanted him gone; it was so stressful.

 

There is a lot more. I tried to cover the main areas. I'm sorry ... there is so much data.

 

Present Day:

DS is 15 and a freshman. We moved to a new community with an awesome, small private school so we immediately enrolled him. We all hoped that the structured environment would enable him to stay on task and experience school success. In many ways it has! He is doing well in many of his classes. 

 

However, he is spiraling toward failure (as in, NOT passing) English and a CS Lewis class (required by the school). Being in this environment has brought into sharp focus how drastically ADHD is impacting his ability to manage the large writing assignments and projects. He is TRULY impaired. This school gives challenging writing assignments and he CANNOT do them and without listing all of the reasons why I KNOW it is largely due to the ADHD issues (persistence, working memory, organization, sustaining attention, getting started, etc.).  The writing failure and MAJOR road block he is having with these writing projects are coloring everything about his existence. He now believes he cannot go to college, that he has to drop out of high school (he doesn't see the point of meeting someone else's idea of what high school should be and so his motivation is LOW) and this inability to manage these writing projects has defined him as a failure. He KNOWS he can't do them, we've pushed/pressed and tried to help. He has experienced major distress, sobbing, despair and overwhelm that led us to go in for counseling in order to minister to his heart. He is NOT a rebellious son.  :001_wub:

 

My son also has social anxiety and we wanted him in a small school to help with this. He has to face himself and grow! He is LONELY (and cries over it) yet he is so put off by social events. He no longer goes to youth group at the church HE GREW UP IN. He thinks that everybody thinks he is weird. He CAN be a bit awkward and we have experienced a lot of personal worry and embarrassment as parents. He has always been "different". 

 

I want him to have a neuropsych evaluation to rule things in/out. This is not easy to get around here. Nor is it affordable. Nor is it easy to deal with my insurance company. Advocating for my son is a part time job and I am working HARD to find a path through all of this. He will be evaluated eventually but I have to wrestle through some MAJOR roadblocks and I AM doing that as I write this. Wheels are turning and I am making calls, writing emails, asking questions, etc. Once I get him scheduled it will be a long time (months) before testing so IN THE MEANTIME I want to find a path forward and get some advice re: his ADHD diagnosis and SCHOOLING paradigm. 

 

There is a learning center in town that works with students like my son. I emailed the director and they are going to meet with us and they plan to start with the PACE test. Do you know anything about this? Is this a waste of time or potentially helpful? Here is what this learning center does:

 

[This learning center] is for talented students who have academic, cognitive, or behavior challenges to overcome. Sometimes students with dyslexia, dysgraphia, or auditory processing limitations have certain barriers to academic learning that can hinder the growth process. [This learning center] is committed to helping identify students' weaknesses and creating a plan that will allow students to grow and improve in confidence as well as competence.

 

[This learning center] was created as a response to a need. Teachers of [a local private School] saw some intelligent students struggling to thrive in the classroom due to learning disabilities. In response, students were referred to local specialists to receive a different approach to help these smart students who were struggling with diagnoses such as dyslexia, dysgraphia, ADD... Over the years it became apparent that there was a need for early, inexpensive convenient screening, and for interventions to be offered during the school day whenever possible. 

 

[This learning center] is for any student who is not thriving in the classroom for any reason. If a student is not performing at an academic level that is in line with their intellectual abilities, it is vital to find out the cause. With this in mind, the [learning center] offers educational therapy that works at the root of the problems using various programs and techniques depending on the individual strength and weaknesses of the student. Programs used include the PACE Program, Search Teach, National Institutes of Learning Development (NILD), The Listening Program, and Barton Spelling and Reading System. [This learning center] is a unique approach to educational therapy as programs are selected based on the most immediate need of the student and what will bring the quickest and most dramatic results. The goal of [this learning center] is not to label a child with a disability, but to identify a student's cognitive strengths and weaknesses, strengthen the weak areas, and have them thrive in the classroom.

 

His pediatrician (who diagnosed him last year) recommends neuropsych testing, has us doing two types of genetic tests (23andme and a urinary neurotransmitter profile) and also recommended a low dose of methylphenidate. He says it could help him right away. It confuses me a bit because my son manages his school day well although it EXHAUSTS him and he has little to no focus left.  We didn't take the prescription but I am very open to it. He has to do the genetic tests first. One is coming in the mail; the other will be mailed off tomorrow.

 

We've done a lot of self evaluation and thought experiments inspired by SWB in her AMAZING new book "Rethinking School". My son is very self aware of his strengths and weaknesses and resents being judged on what he CANNOT do. He says that something is wrong with his brain and it's hard to be him. He has a "survive life" outlook.  :crying:

 

He wants to accelerate in math and do computer programming. 

I want him to grow in his ability to write and manage projects.

He wants to drop out of high school and focus on his interests.

I want him to build a transcript and earn enough credits to keep doors open.

He wants to live alone and not interact with people. 

I want him to develop friendships and learn to work with people even if it's hard.

He wants to develop indy games and work/socialize from a computer.

I want him to get OUT of the house and do life. 

 

That is so long. I left so much out. How can I ask for help without trying to explain? PLEASE don't judge us! We have invested so much into our son, we love him so much, we are totally FOR him and this parenting journey has been so humbling. 

 

Do you think he has ADHD? What about Asperger's or NVLD?

Do the recommended treatments make sense?

What would YOU do about school? It's moving too quickly for us to manage. We can't stop the school year while trying to navigate diagnoses, treatment, and a way forward. Would you come back to HOMESCHOOL but with a radically new perspective or WAY of building a transcript for a WAY outside the box young man?

HOW DO I HOMESCHOOL a kid like this? And his THREE siblings????? He is NOT my only child but parenting him has taken as much if not more time/energy/focus than my other three combined. Is this normal? 

 

Is it normal to GRIEVE and to grieve deeply and hard? For your child? For your self? For your spouse? For the siblings? For the future?

To be ANGRY at the system (stupid age/grade nonsense and college readiness and blah blah blah)? 

To be so completely overwhelmed that you feel paralyzed and like going to bed for a month?

 

Thank-you from the bottom of my heart for reading and responding. 

 

 

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Yes, it's normal to grieve, and anger is a stage in grieving. So you're good there, normal. What you're asking for now is information. 80-90% of what you listed is ADHD. He needs to be pulled from the school as it's a poor fit. As far as diagnosis, I wouldn't necessarily go with a neuropsych. He doesn't have learning disabilities probably and unless the psych is trained on the ADOS he's using questionaires. When you do questionaires, you're HOPING that the people who have these limited spurts with him notice things. It's cockamamie and can give really screwy results. It set us back with incorrect answers and you'll be paying $$$ for the privilege.

 

So my two cents?

-put him on ADHD meds immediately

-find a therapy center doing Social Thinking and get him into groups

-consider withdrawing him from the school or alternately increasing supports dramatically. He needs supports for both EF and social, and he needs them immediately.

-get an eval with someone who specializes in gifted plus autism, possibly someone who can do the ADOS. The Hoagies Gifted list might have some names in your area.

 

Can ps be on the table? Ironically, depending on the school district, your ps might have a lot of services they could offer. If your ps district has an ADOS-trained team, that would be another way to pursue evals.

 

Socialthinking - Articles  This article may sort out your question on his diagnosis. Yes, it's possible or even highly probable he's on the spectrum. Putting him on the ADHD meds and getting him EF and social thinking supports will help you sort out what remains.

Edited by PeterPan
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Has he been checked for possible anxiety and/or depression? I agree with PP pertaining to the ADHD meds.

Reading your post made my heart hurt. My DD is 15, and we lost so many years. Yes, it's so normal to grieve deeply.  I **totally** get what you're saying.

Edited by JBJones
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What is ADOS?

 

Oh, I’d love to forego neuropsych but getting evaluated for autism spectrum requires that right?

 

I haven’t talked to our public school but I am open to it. I’m not keen on the social setting for him but maybe getting evaluations and opting for part time enrollment would work. I will call them. The websites are not giving me the info I need as I have been looking this week.

 

More later when I have my computer and not my tiny phone 😀.

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The ADOS is your gold standard test for autism. No it doesn't have to be a neuropsych. Around here neuropsychs are $250 an hour, where clinical psychs and school psychs are $140-ish. That's a huge price difference. It's more important what they're planning to do, how well they listen, how experienced they are with autism, etc. 

 

It takes time to find a good psych. Call and talk with lots of people. Try the Hoagies Gifted lists. See if there are autism schools in your state. Be willing to drive. Network and keep asking for names.

 

Some ps are really kicking butt with autism right now. It just varies with the district. There are districts that send ALL their new teachers to Social Thinking Training. They have ADOS-trained teams and they're just amazing. And then there are schools that aren't. So it varies. 

 

Try this another way. What would you change if you knew he was on the spectrum? That's a good question to start asking. Read some more on that Social Thinking site and that article I linked you. You're about to have the flip top of your brain opened up and your mind expanded on what could happen. I personally am of the more is more better camp. More social thinking intervention, more learning, more self-awareness, more growth, that's all gonna be more better.

 

Are there any autism support groups in your area? I've never gone to one, but they do exist. It would be another way to network.

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It's totally appropriate to do Social Thinking intervention even if it's not ASD. Totally appropriate and normal, done all the time. 

 

The ST site will have books and materials too. This is a different site but here's a book he might do well with. Asperkids Secret Book of Social Rules

Edited by PeterPan
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I think you should start by seeing if the prescription your son's doctor recommended would help him.  Like, right away since the doctor thought it could help him right away!

 

 

It won't be the whole answer, but if it could help to feel and do better it might be a big step. If it does not help, check back with the doctor since something else might work better for him. If it does help, try to get your son to keep with it per instructions--while also looking for other solutions to his various struggles.

 

I agree with above posts regarding evaluations and social thinking training being needed.  But it is all a lot and will take a while to get there.

 

You mention difficulty of dealing with evaluations etc. and school at same time.

 

Is your son young enough that he could start 9th again next year?

 

Is he in danger of failing any class other than English?

 

Is there any way that he can pass this English class?  Could he have permission to drop it, use its time for a study hall or PE if some movement would be a helpful break, and take 2 online Brave Writer courses over the summer to make up the credit?

 

Brave Writer may be able to give him a way to cope with writing assignments so they are not agonizing like this.

 

I would try to find a way that he can not fail the English class given the circumstances, whether by getting a drop for just that class, or if he can start 9th over next year, taking the rest of the year off to get him evaluated and on a good course of medicines, treatment, etc.  It seems like it is not just an English failure, but that that is too likely to be a more major global emotional and academic downward spiral for him.

 

Does the school have any SPED type help?

 

Do find out about the public school and whether it might actually serve him and his needs better.  Either for next year as a 9th grader, or 10th if he cannot redshirt the year, or to transfer there now.

 

A school where he can graduate would probably be better than one where he cannot even if the latter is more highly rated or a fit for your religion.  After (or concurrently as) he gets evaluated, perhaps helped with some social thinking, on a correct medicine, etc., he may do better at an easier school (or one with more options and latitude in degree of difficulty, writing demands, etc., and where he could have an IEP or what he needs to make the school more fit him and his needs) and with peers where he has not had a past history of feeling like a failure.

 

 I'm not sure what your concerns are sociallly about the public school, but it does not sound like the private school is a good fit for your son socially.  He sounds very unhappy.  Is there known violence, drugs or other major issues at the public school?

 

 

 

 

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Try the meds!!! Really. They can be life-changing. Just be prepared for his inner Eeyore to change directions if he still feels low. You might see results that he can't, or he might reflect on just how difficult it's been and get bummed. Persevere! I actually think it will just help, and he'll be fine. It can take some time to find the right meds and right dose, but that is probably why the doc is trying the genetic testing route--it helps narrow things down a bit with less experimentation.

 

Your mama gut says something is up on top of ADHD. It could be more of an anxiety thing, or it could be full-blown ASD. 2e ASD kids hide in plain sight all the time. But I think you really do need someone who knows 2e autism to do your evaluation, not just someone credentialed as a neuropsych. We used someone from Hoagies' Gifted, but you still need to ask if they are super experienced with 2e ASD. 

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:grouphug: I feel for him, and you. Poor kid. It's so heartbreaking to see our kids struggle.  I think you might want a depression screening as well as maybe anxiety. It's really common for kids with these issues to end up with anxiety and/or depression as well. I see my kid (14) in some that you wrote and he does have ADHD with autism and anxiety. He's taking medication and getting therapy for anxiety, which wasn't a major problem when he was younger. 

 

I do think I would try to get an autism (and NVLD if they can) evaluation. You do have some markers. You can have both ADHD and other things. My son does. 

 

I would try a short acting stimulant, like Ritalin, and see if it helps with the ADHD symptoms you describe. When you get the right med and the right dose (they start small), it can be life changing. He'll know if it's helping. 

 

I'm glad your doctor is trying to look into underlying issues.

 

I am homeschooling my son because I'm certain he couldn't manage in our school system, let alone thrive. I would never say homeschooling is right for another child/family though. That your son wants that (right?) and is failing in the school would sway me I think. But it does sound like it's going to be hard. If you pull him out now will it keep him from getting grades on his transcript that could negatively impact him in the future? 

 

My special needs son takes a lot of time and energy too. It has been a struggle to figure out how to homeschool him and his brother, and  I'm not trying to balance as many kids as you're trying to balance. 

 

Is it normal to GRIEVE and to grieve deeply and hard? For your child? For your self? For your spouse? For the siblings? For the future?

To be ANGRY at the system (stupid age/grade nonsense and college readiness and blah blah blah)? 

To be so completely overwhelmed that you feel paralyzed and like going to bed for a month?

 

 

:grouphug:  :grouphug:  :grouphug:  Normal for sure, which doesn't make it easier.  :grouphug:  :grouphug:

Edited by sbgrace
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I think you should start by seeing if the prescription your son's doctor recommended would help him.  Like, right away since the doctor thought it could help him right away!

Done! I called this morning and the doctor will write the prescription and mail it Monday (he is away until then). The nurse handled my questions and put the request on his desk. Hopefully we'll have the prescription mid week and can get him started by Thursday or Friday of Spring Break.

 

It won't be the whole answer, but if it could help to feel and do better it might be a big step. If it does not help, check back with the doctor since something else might work better for him. If it does help, try to get your son to keep with it per instructions--while also looking for other solutions to his various struggles.

 

I agree with above posts regarding evaluations and social thinking training being needed.  But it is all a lot and will take a while to get there.

Looking for connections for Social Thinking ... I'm highly interested in this! They are coming to our area and doing a conference and it is sold out.

 

You mention difficulty of dealing with evaluations etc. and school at same time.

 

Is your son young enough that he could start 9th again next year?

He's 16 in October. He will pass most of his classes with solid As or Bs (if a B then a high B). 

 

Is he in danger of failing any class other than English?

The research paper situation (he cannot do it) is affecting English and Biology. The school is going to meet with me. They are being wonderful, supportive, and thinking outside the box with me. I'm going to ask them to allow him to get a grade without the symposium. The research paper is being facilitated by the English teacher but is on a Biology topic and will culminate in a Symposium to present their research. That is the only accommodation he needs in Biology. He's getting a strong B+/A-.

The C.S Lewis class grade is quite low due to the written expression challenges. He may be nearing a D. It's HARD reading :) and the essay exam was a nightmare. It led to a total meltdown/breakdown.  Three possible themes for an in class essay exam on The Screwtape Letters. Prepare for each theme by summarizing Screwtape's advice and then comparing that to Biblical advice. Be prepared to write a strong, well organized 5 paragraph essay in class with a strong thesis. However, the teacher won't tell you which one you have to write about until test day so prepare for all three themes. Write the essay in 45 minutes. My son almost died. This assignment caused total depression all week and then a complete breakdown Saturday night. 

​***The bigger concern is moving forward. He can't go from this messy English/classes with writing expectations situation to being a sophomore. He will move up in other classes but still be unable to handle the written expression. And when written expression is expected in other courses it jeopardizes them as well. He may have to come back home and then we outsource a few courses here ... 

 

Is there any way that he can pass this English class?  Could he have permission to drop it, use its time for a study hall or PE if some movement would be a helpful break, and take 2 online Brave Writer courses over the summer to make up the credit?

Brave writer has come up a few times in my planning and pondering. He may be able to pass if they make some accommodations for him. We're going to talk. Another possibility is to drop the last quarter of English and combine quarters 2 and 3 for a semester grade. It would be a solid B. He missed 1st quarter there (we have credit recovery plans for summer). Then, I'd work to get him the English he needs later on ... :) We'll be meeting after Spring Break on this one. 

 

Brave Writer may be able to give him a way to cope with writing assignments so they are not agonizing like this.

 

I would try to find a way that he can not fail the English class given the circumstances, whether by getting a drop for just that class, or if he can start 9th over next year, taking the rest of the year off to get him evaluated and on a good course of medicines, treatment, etc.  It seems like it is not just an English failure, but that that is too likely to be a more major global emotional and academic downward spiral for him.

 

Does the school have any SPED type help?

This private school doesn't. But, they are open and willing to work with us. They do have one student in high school with an IEP and they are helping her out. 

 

Do find out about the public school and whether it might actually serve him and his needs better.  Either for next year as a 9th grader, or 10th if he cannot redshirt the year, or to transfer there now.

I have started looking at this by researching on the website for our district. I have some reservations about our school district but I am more than willing to investigate it! I have contact info. and it will require a phone call. 

 

A school where he can graduate would probably be better than one where he cannot even if the latter is more highly rated or a fit for your religion.  After (or concurrently as) he gets evaluated, perhaps helped with some social thinking, on a correct medicine, etc., he may do better at an easier school (or one with more options and latitude in degree of difficulty, writing demands, etc., and where he could have an IEP or what he needs to make the school more fit him and his needs) and with peers where he has not had a past history of feeling like a failure.

AGREED! The other options are homeschool or public school or a combination of both.

 

 

 I'm not sure what your concerns are sociallly about the public school, but it does not sound like the private school is a good fit for your son socially.  He sounds very unhappy.  Is there known violence, drugs or other major issues at the public school?  I have heard of no major issues at our high school :). I'm worried about Common Core math and bullying and social isolation. But they do have many elective class options and community opportunities through the public school. I'm open to it. In the school he is in he isn't miserable socially. It is small (the high school has around 25 kids total; 15 of them are the freshman class!). The school has a lot of quirky kids and the teachers love that. I think my guy has a good chance of growing socially here without being swallowed up by the crowd. I'm not AGAINST public school for him but I like that he is KNOWN at the small school. His teachers are phenomenal people and digging in to his life. He can't hide. 

 

Edited by abrightmom
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Just a suggestion, but you might go to the office and pick it up. Sometimes that first week is kinda hairy. The sooner you start, the sooner you figure out how it's affecting him and how he's handling the med. Supposedly 75% of kids are fine with the first med they try, any med, but some will need to try a few before they find a good fit.

 

Also, I don't know if you asked for short-acting or XR, but for teens our ped likes an XR med, just because they're doing things so long all day. 

 

Oh wow, that's such a bummer that the ST people are coming and you can't go! Well definitely keep an eye out and try to get to the next thing they do near you. And since that means you're near a major city, that means you're going to have access to options. :D  

 

Some ps will do an IEP and provide services for students in private schools. It just depends on the district, the law, the relationship they have. Yes, definitely pursue that. There's plenty they could do if someone clued them in. Some is super simple stuff like EF (executive function) supports, and some is more like providing social skills intervention. 

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I think the meds are a good place to start. We found them to be life changing. And I'm not kidding. Not a cure all, but a huge difference.

 

DS13 has NVLD, and I don't see it in your description. Mainly because NVLD is in large part a visual spatial disability, and you say that is a strong area for your son. Also, the strength in math is not typical for NVLD; in fact, people with NVLD usually have a weakness in math, and it is extremely common for there to be a math disability.

 

There is a lot of crossover of symptoms with what was formerly called Asperger's and NVLD. You do say some things in your post which could be red flags for autism. Those same flags can be seen in NVLD if you read descriptions of the disorder online, but the visual spatial disability is one of the diagnostic criteria, so I wouldn't expect NVLD to be diagnosis that would fit your son.

 

The struggle with writing could be a Specific Learning Disability in written expression. So in addition to thinking about an autism evaluation, I think that pursuing evaluations through the school for a possible IEP could be helpful. There are many of us who have been through that process and can offer advice if you have questions about how to pursue that.

 

:grouphug:  Feeling overwhelmed and sad is common and understandable. It's hard! But it sounds like you are ready to forge ahead and find a pathway to help him. Baby steps are okay!!

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How has your son done with writing assignments up to this point?

 

My son (gifted plus ASD) shuts down with writing, and he would not be able to do those assignments either, though he is getting tutoring to slowly get his writing independent and up to speed. 

 

We found that the TONL and TOPS tests (adolescent versions) dug up some language issues that had been hidden.

 

How are his self-advocacy skills? Can he ask specific questions, or is it more like he gives a general plea for help or shuts down?

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After you get an evaluation, hopefully the school will be very accommodating about his language arts classes. It sounds as though they're already willing to work with you!

 

Even before you get evaluations, you can ask for accommodations. I would search around and make a list of accommodations to request when you meet with the school. A few that come to my mind are:

 

- Shorter writing assignments or writing assignments with more structure, for example, the teacher provides the topic sentence for each paragraph and he writes 3 details.

- Audiobooks

- Possibly shorter reading assignments

- Use of a scribe for writing assignments and in class

- Completing certain assessments orally instead of in writing

 

There are more, but those are the ones that might be most helpful for him for the rest of this year. 

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The English and English Biology assignments, in-class essays, etc. sound very high level and intense.  Good, but A LOT...  maybe as the ACE paces program was too easy for him, this is too hard.  But, it may also be that if his prescription (or some  other med with some tweaking to see what works for him) starts working for him he will be able to handle it.

 

So for the moment I'd learn about options for next year, but not cross that bridge till you see what the meds (and perhaps also other therapies, social thinking etc.) can do for him.  Could be that homeschool would also become much easier with the meds in place and maybe that would be the nice Goldilocks just right level of difficulty neither too hard nor too easy.  Or he might be able to handle the public or private school much better.  

 

If I had a son in this spot as you've described, I would try to get him a "Drop" of the final quarter of English and the credit for one semester with a B or whatever it is, and then make up credits in the summer. And to keep him moving along to 10th grade next year since his age and most class work seem to fit that best. And whatever accommodation he needs to be able to pass Biology without it depending on the English writing he cannot currently do.

 

Some of the problem may be anxiety related in addition to ADHD etc.  So he may be shutting down due to stress and anxiety in a negative spiral.

 

It is possible that if your son stays at the present school next year he will need help learning how to do enough to pass English (and other classes that depend on research and writing papers), even if it is a C-, but not to  end up in tears over the and distress over the situation.

 

 

 

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How has your son done with writing assignments up to this point?

I've been thinking about this a lot. I was NEVER consistent with writing instruction in a way that gave me peace. Teaching kids to write is a HUGE undertaking and I've spent the majority of my homeschool years feeling overwhelmed. But, we plod. We did a lot of Rod & Staff English including writing assignments. We did a lot of paragraph writing. We did some IEW and he would often turn the assignment into a creative piece ;). I had a hard time knowing how to handle that ... there was a checklist and he'd end up doing a re-write, embellishing it and not even looking at the checklist. He has done written narrations off and on. 

 

In 7th he went to a private school that used ACE Paces and those are terribly boring and low level. I was horrified at how underwhelming the work was; he did what was asked of him but in the end said his grades didn't count because the work was so boring, easy and stupid. The only writing they did, as far as I could tell, was paragraphs. There was no cross-curricular assignments, projects, essays, etc. NOTHING except fill in the blanks in those workbooks ... He BEGGED us not to send him back and we didn't.

 

​In 8th he came back home and my number one concern was writing. His grammar was solid and he was in a good place in math. My focus was writing and I outsourced. We ended up choosing Fundamentals of Expository Writing with Cindy Lange through Wilson Hill Academy. I talked about placement with her personally and we decided he was ready. They teach persuasive literary essays using the Jane Schaeffer method. It was visual and a slow build. In the beginning she would give the students the entire essay and leave out one part which they would write. As the year progressed they took on more and more of the work. The literature was challenging and I think that made some of the writing more difficult but he handled the literature very well. He had a more difficult time with The Canterbury Tales because he hated those and couldn't relate to the subject matter. The class was overwhelmingly difficult for him and as the year progressed I dropped more and more work so he could focus on that homework. It stressed him out.

 

**Before we moved in the fall I had to homeschool him. My decision was to work with him in Jensen's Format Writing over two years. I decided he needed a slow, steady, clear way to write with a simple format or structure. I did a lot of research and thinking about this and I still think it would help him a lot. **

 

For this year he is in 9th grade English at this private school. The teacher is excellent and her assignments are not fluffy. They are actually really hard and some of them would be super challenging for me to do. I'm not a skilled writer. Kids need to know how to do a lot of skills to meet her expectations: write a strong thesis, organize your paragraphs, spelling, grammar, sentence variety, correct "formula" for different paragraph types, etc. She also teaches the C.S. Lewis class. He says he understands The Screwtape Letters but when he has to answer weekly critical thinking questions it's a terrible struggle. We met and discussed this with his teacher. She said they should take about 20 minutes to answer; he was agonizing and stressing for 2-3 hours. We'd fight. He's terrible at working with me now. He doesn't care to please; he wants to argue his position. When it comes to the writing assignments, whether they are short critical thinking questions, essays or research papers he says or does these kinds of things:

*I can't write a thesis.

*This is illogical and pointless. I don't need to know how to do this. It is not worth all of the work and stress. I'll just get a low grade anyway. It's a waste of my time.

*I've already tried. (I disagree but I think that in his brain/world he does try. His efforts appear minimal or almost non-existent at times. I think he equates thinking about an assignment as trying. He doesn't put anything on paper or discuss. He just thinks and maybe jots a few things down. It is minimal effort.)

*With the research paper the list of what he cannot do is very long. Just trying to FIND 8 sources, developing a thesis, narrowing his topic, writing an outline, wading through all of the sources and taking notes, putting the notes in a coherent order, quoting from every source, not plagiarizing, making footnotes, etc. etc. etc. It is information overload and an executive function nightmare. 

*I have NOTHING to say on this Mom. Nothing. I don't care. Didn't C.S. Lewis mean what he said? Why do I have to have an opinion on this? If I quote a Bible verse it's like, duh, C.S. Lewis already said that. What is the point of doing this? I understand it but I don't have anything to add. 

​*If I am asked to write about something I am interested in I can write it (as long as it isn't a research paper; that is too elaborate). I can do creative writing Mom. I can't do these assignments.

*When asked why he's having so much trouble and what he thinks would help him he says: It's too much and too hard and I don't know what to do. I don't know what would help me. ********He had a short story essay to write and it was so hard for him. He wrote persuasive literary essays all last year and he commented that he should be able to do this. The short story he had to write about was The Dangerous Game; he loved the story. His teacher helped him with the thesis. He was only able to write an intro. Then she helped him decide what to put into the body paragraphs (only 2-3 needed; he wrote 2). He applied what she helped him with and it took him a LONG TIME. His conclusion was short and insufficient; he KNEW this. He was stressed about it but didn't know what to do. He kept saying that his conclusion wasn't finished but he didn't know what to write. He says that all the time. I don't have anything to say.

*His writing, if he does it, is short. He has little to say. It's hard for him to critically think on paper about anything he doesn't have an interest in. 

 

I never saw this coming. I knew there were struggles and they perplexed me but I wasn't SURE what was going on. I've pegged him as a bit lazy, not wanting to try, quitting easily, etc. He doesn't quit in math though. He isn't gifted in math but even with tough stuff he'd hang in there and could work longer than I expected. He likes to read; he's a wonderful reader and reads challenging literature. He doesn't seem to be able to discuss it though. He will say he understands it but then not be able to narrate. It started to perplex me early in 8th grade and we worked on narrations a bit but the writing/literature class took over. In HINDSIGHT I would've dropped the class and started in with something like Lost Tools of Writing. He needs to take it SLOW and steady. He needs the writing process broken apart. He needs help at each step. He needs to know how to have something to say. He needs more time with writing assignments. The overwhelm shuts him down. Even when we break it down into steps and only want him to focus on THIS step, this DOABLE step, he can't do that. He says there is still no point. :( I vacillate between sadness and anger. Sometimes he is being stubborn and it's infuriating. Other times I feel for him. 

 

My son (gifted plus ASD) shuts down with writing, and he would not be able to do those assignments either, though he is getting tutoring to slowly get his writing independent and up to speed. 

I'm looking for a writing tutor. We live in a university town but I cannot find one even with their directory. I haven't exhausted all avenues yet.

We found that the TONL and TOPS tests (adolescent versions) dug up some language issues that had been hidden.

I'm not familiar with any tests yet. I hope to be soon ;).

How are his self-advocacy skills? Can he ask specific questions, or is it more like he gives a general plea for help or shuts down?

They are terrible. I've worked with him on this all school year. Grrrrr  I send him with a script or a list on a post it. I stand over him and TELL him to email his teacher and tell him what to write. He won't. He will email her and ask what the due date is but he won't ask her what he really needs which is a life preserver. *I* have had to advocate and I've done it a lot  It's really interesting that we'll sit WITH the teacher, discuss the issues, etc. and he is a different person. At home, he folds. I can tell there is duress because he had a major meltdown on Saturday night and that doesn't characterize him. Meltdowns have never characterized him; I think he shuts down at times or needs to hide. But, not full on emotional duress culminating in severe despair that led us to meet with a pastor for counseling (it went well; DS liked it and we're going again). He's 15. It was heartbreaking for me. His dad was angry and frustrated because I came alongside DS to try to help him sort through the challenges in preparing for the CS Lewis essay exam (which I knew he couldn't do but I decided to try ... ). He was immediately hostile, unwilling to answer my questions, angry, defensive, etc. I was calm. Completely. I don't react to him (have learned). I overlook a lot so we can get to the real issue ... but his dad was not okay with how he was acting. He wanted DS to see that he wasn't even trying to answer my questions (a reasonable expectation as they were reasonable questions) and that he was unnecessarily yelling at me and aggressively defending himself to me when I was only trying to understand his situation. This entire thing is so perplexing ... he's had issues for years and I've asked about him off and on over the years. I thought things would iron out or we'd get by or he'd outgrow stuff. 

 

 

I'm concerned about this DS and after reading about giftedness I could see him being in that camp as well. I did buy a book called Different Minds by Deirdre V. Lovecky. She discusses gifted children with ADHD, Asperger's and other learning deficits. It's a long book with a lot of information. It's all so confusing!

 

I've also learned that ADHD can be misdiagnosed and easily misunderstood. Giftedness and ADHD have many overlapping symptoms but I don't think he's gifted unless it is covered up. He just happens to be so according to checklists. I don't see a specific giftedness in any area ... he's just discontent with schooling in general and thinks it is pointless to be graded on what he can't do instead of what he can. He'd do the writing if it wasn't so overwhelming for him ... he has something going on there. 

 

He was a HAPPY, joyful, connected, smart, precocious, fact filled, curious, reading-crazy, life absorbing kid. Somewhere along the way that amazing little boy got swallowed up ... and we miss him so much. 

 

He is not happy or joyful. He isn't disconnected but he prefers to be alone. He is smart but losing his desire to learn new things or read. He wants to be on a screen all the time and that is not a good thing. His outlook is to survive and not to thrive unless it is on his terms. 

 

When you get him out and about he does pretty well though. He enjoys doing other things ONCE you get him there. He's fun to play games with and he can have us all in stitches. His issues have ruled our home for a few years and everybody walks on eggshells at times. The kids are convinced if he was off screens all of the problems would go away. It's kind of just taken over; we've allowed more of it for the sake of peace. He can be so hard to deal with and I don't know what to have him do! He rant out of books to read, he doesn't want to sit and "study"; all of his interests are on a computer. He LOVES games and puzzles. Puzzle cubes are "yesterday"; too easy and under stimulating. Challenging board games require other people and people like him. He needs intellectual peers! He plays all kinds of games on his computer and does some courses on Udemy. He LOVES to read about issues and discuss them; he's interested in studying logic so he can be better at arguing. He's a master at using Logical Fallacies ;) and he's humble enough to admit that now. He has a LOT of potential!

 

 Though his issues have dominated our home/family he is not heartless! He cares. Things really bother him. He will do what you ask him to do; he's a gentleman; he will help. He can step up if needed. He isn't rebellious! He told us he doesn't want to rebel and he isn't thinking that way. That is a huge blessing and something I'm thankful for. I am seeing maturity in other areas and that could be why his weaknesses and gaps are starting to show up in a huge way. 

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on the prescription, could it be called in (phone) to a pharmacy so as not to have to wait to get a mailed prescription?  

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on the prescription, could it be called in (phone) to a pharmacy so as not to have to wait to get a mailed prescription?  

 

I don't know if this is a law unique to our state but they aren't allowed to call this particular prescription in. The prescription is methylphenidate. They are legally allowed to mail it or the patient can pick it up. 

is he depressed?

 

I don't know but it is a very good question to ask. It's possible. He uses that word a lot but I think we overuse it to the point that what depression really is can be lost. I'm a little fuzzy on what to look out for so will need to research it. The doctor gave him a questionnaire which asked him some questions. Depression didn't come up so I'll have to ask my son what questions his doctor had on that form (there were a few about drugs, alcohol, and smoking; DS jokingly asked me when was the last time he smoked a cigarette.) Depression is a concern though! I do know that he is STRESSED. I have plans .... today we are going to get a membership at the aquatic/fitness center. They allow 15yos to swim alone and he LOVES to swim. He prefers lap swim :) because it is controlled and quiet. He can meet with a trainer to get the lay of the land and then work out in the fitness center alone as well. The weather will start improving here and he will ride bikes and roller blade (he loves both). He NEEDS to have things to do. Sitting around, drawing, doing NOTHING makes him feel insane. Yet, he isn't high energy or raring to go anywhere. He is a home body and wants to be quiet. In his room or at his computer even if it ins't in his bedroom (it often isn't these days). His dad and I agree that we need to lay out a SIMPLE, clear use plan for screens. He doesn't self manage and it's way too much. Thanks for asking good questions and helping me to process. 

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The research paper requirements and so on you are describing sound unusually difficult for 9th grade English (or Biology).  Some schools don't have major research papers until 11th or 12th and have had a couple of years to work on the individual skills involved with less stress.

 

Some of what you describe sounds like somewhat typical 15yo boy though as well.

 

It may be that his current school is too writing-across-the-curriculum oriented to be a good fit for him unless they will give significant accommodations. Maybe he'd do better with a school (or homeschool) where he can spend more time on science or computers or math and do less writing.  He might also do better if he could have creative writing and journalism classes to fulfill some of his  English credits.

 

That said, I still think getting him a Drop (or significant accommodation so he does not have to do the things he currently cannot do) for English las quarter, accommodation for biology, getting him onto a medication that works for him, and getting through the current year makes sense.  Then once you see where he is with the medication working figure out (with lots of input from him) what to do next year.

 

Or, if you pull him out to homeschool for the rest of the year, make sure that will not make him more depressed and worse rather than better.  Also before deciding to do that check whether he would get to count homeschool credits if he were to go to the public school next year.  It does not seem to me like it would be worth sacrificing his mostly A and B credits in these circumstances.  He will be able to make up one semester or year of English if need be.

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PS your son might appreciate C.S. Lewis's Autobiography (perhaps as audio), where a good bit of it deals with the terrible schools of Lewis's youth.  Also Lewis expresses the view that students should not have to be generalists which your son might relate to.

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The research paper requirements and so on you are describing sound unusually difficult for 9th grade English (or Biology).  Some schools don't have major research papers until 11th or 12th and have had a couple of years to work on the individual skills involved with less stress.

THANK-YOU for saying this. I think that it is quite demanding and I told my husband the same thing you are sharing here. I think that this 9th grade Biology research project with symposium is better for 11th+. I also believe that the C.S. Lewis class is tough; so does the teacher actually. She says that the school requires it in 9th but the kids struggle with it. I always second guess myself because I'm a bit of a softie and I don't know what to expect in 9th grade. I admitted to my husband that I would have a melt down over the C.S. Lewis Essay Exam. I was secretly terrified to counsel my son through it although I tried. 

Some of what you describe sounds like somewhat typical 15yo boy though as well.

​Agreed. Which is making things difficult ... picking the issues apart. He has NEVER refused to do his work though and he isn't rebellious and he isn't characterized by meltdowns. The writing is too difficult so he will probably need a different school or only a part time schedule at this one. I don't know if they can accommodate us part time but I'm going to beg. 

It may be that his current school is too writing-across-the-curriculum oriented to be a good fit for him unless they will give significant accommodations. Maybe he'd do better with a school (or homeschool) where he can spend more time on science or computers or math and do less writing.  He might also do better if he could have creative writing and journalism classes to fulfill some of his  English credits.

You are very intuitive! I agree. Somehow I need to get him with people though. Having him in the home all day every day hasn't worked. Online courses are a big no for him (the computer is his distraction). I like him to be GONE, to have to show up on time, to have the routine, to relate to others, to have a teacher (he is motivated by others more than by me). Home is too loose and the younger siblings are HUGE distractions and temptations to be irritable. :( If he was my only child or only had ONE sibling I could handle it. I'm in over my head and don't feel I can adequately school all four of them with some of the challenges we are facing. I'm not sure what we'll do but we're working on it. 

 

That said, I still think getting him a Drop (or significant accommodation so he does not have to do the things he currently cannot do) for English las quarter, accommodation for biology, getting him onto a medication that works for him, and getting through the current year makes sense.  Then once you see where he is with the medication working figure out (with lots of input from him) what to do next year.

 

Or, if you pull him out to homeschool for the rest of the year, make sure that will not make him more depressed and worse rather than better.  Also before deciding to do that check whether he would get to count homeschool credits if he were to go to the public school next year.  It does not seem to me like it would be worth sacrificing his mostly A and B credits in these circumstances.  He will be able to make up one semester or year of English if need be.

We have a couple of options that we're discussing with the school. He will be allowed to finish in some manner even if he only audits the last quarter of English.  The battle will be over Biology and allowing him to be graded without the symposium taken into account. His grade in the CS Lewis class is plummeting also; he told me he was worried he would get a D after missing the essay exam. The class won't get easier; he has another quarter in it and the first quarter of it was miserable for him. I also don't know if they will be willing to give him a semester credit for English quarters 2 and 3 but I'm hopeful. It's an unusual situation. He fits the school well in many ways and this is making me very sad. He is socially sensitive and he handles this group well even though he hasn't clicked with any one person or small group. He also likes theater at this school and as it is a private school the theater group is smaller and less intimidating. 

 

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The kind of writing you describe is hard for DD16, who does not have learning disabilities but has always been a weaker writer. She lacks things to say. Or she writes and writes but says the same thing four times with a lot of extra words that add no significant meaning. It's just hard for her. She happens to be at a private Christian school that is not what I would consider rigorous for language arts, but her teacher does give writing assignments that challenge her. Despite what I consider lower writing skills, DD gets A's in the English class, so I think compared to her peers, her writing may not be as weak as I thought. (I also think her class is what would be considered an average English class, not in any way an advanced class).

 

So Pen's point that this type of writing is just difficult for young teens really could be correct. It sounds like the classwork expected in your son's school tends to require more advanced skills. If your son is an average writer for his age but is in a class and/or school that expects advanced work, that could be the source of the struggle.

 

On the other hand, the trouble with connecting ideas together to write about them in a meaningful way can be a writing disability. Seeing connections between ideas can also be difficult for students with autism. I heard an interview on our local NPR station last fall, and the person noted the difficulty that people with autism have in detecting patterns, which affects their communication skills across the board, both in academics and in interactions.

 

Executive functioning also plays a part in understanding relationships and patterns and logical progressions.

 

So, since you kind of suspect there could be autism and know that there are EF issues, it's possible that the difficulty with writing could be related to those root issues.

 

Also, DS13 (the one with NVLD) was given SLD writing as an area of disability in his neuropsych evaluation a few years ago. But he also has strengths in writing. He can do creative writing and create personal narratives. He has notably more difficulty with expository writing and assignments that require him to do research. He has trouble answering short questions on tests where he has to explain the significance of historical events or explain why a science experiment worked, for example. Pulling thoughts together in his mind and putting them into words to answer any kind of critical thinking question is very difficult and sometimes impossible for him. He is unable to do almost any sort of literary analytical thinking (and therefore, as determined by his IEP placement, he will not be in the mainstream classroom for English when he is in high school).

 

This difficulty with connecting thoughts together definitely affects writing. Your son is not dealing with the same level of disability that my son is, but some of the same difficulty with making connections may contribute to their struggles.

 

Has your son had problems with the motor aspects of writing? Slowness, illegibility, sloppiness, difficulty copying notes, inconsistent letter sizing or atypical use of capitalization, difficulty staying on lines or writing small enough to fit his answers in the space provided?

 

Dysgraphia, or SLD written expression, can be either a motor issue or trouble getting thoughts onto paper. Or both. DS13 has both aspects of dsygraphia. I'm wondering if your son has exhibited any of the motor struggles. Sometimes an early struggle with handwriting issues can be seen as just needing more practice, but later on, if additional writing problems crop up, one can understand that the early struggles were really a red flag.

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Floppy joints, allergies, anxiety, depression, low energy are red flags for Ehlers-Danlos. It’s an inherited condition that affects your connective tissues. It’s corellated with Autism. (I have both.) There isn’t a whole lot you can do to treat it, but it can help you understand the systemic challenges your son faces. The best supports are supporting your digestive system (probiotics!), getting regular sleep, and generally taking care of yourself as your body struggles with defective collagen.

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If you believe the numbers you read online, 90+% of people with autism are under-methylators.

 

As for the rest, well wouldn't you be discouraged and depressed and demotivated if you were constantly asked to do tasks that weren't working?

 

We have an autism school near us that is for higher functioning kids. In high school, they do a lot of really basic analysis, analysis and discussion that to me would be more kinda dialectic level per WTM. More supports to analyze, more time. He really might just not be getting the supports he needs to thrive.

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Storygirl, thank-you for sharing your children's strengths and weaknesses with writing. It's quite helpful! Analyzing and filtering and processing takes a lot of time! The discussion is giving shape to my thoughts about what is going on with my son in English. I think the writing expectations are STRONG in my son's school and I've wondered what they do in the middle school years to prepare them for high school. 

The kind of writing you describe is hard for DD16, who does not have learning disabilities but has always been a weaker writer. She lacks things to say. Or she writes and writes but says the same thing four times with a lot of extra words that add no significant meaning. It's just hard for her. She happens to be at a private Christian school that is not what I would consider rigorous for language arts, but her teacher does give writing assignments that challenge her. Despite what I consider lower writing skills, DD gets A's in the English class, so I think compared to her peers, her writing may not be as weak as I thought. (I also think her class is what would be considered an average English class, not in any way an advanced class).

 

So Pen's point that this type of writing is just difficult for young teens really could be correct. It sounds like the classwork expected in your son's school tends to require more advanced skills. If your son is an average writer for his age but is in a class and/or school that expects advanced work, that could be the source of the struggle.

**I do agree with Pen and I have suspected this all along. If I put that together with his executive function deficits (he's always had those and they're maddening at times) then no wonder he has come to a screeching halt and has declared he cannot do these writing assignments. I asked him how he would be doing right now if we took away the C.S. Lewis Essay Exam and the Research Project and he said things would be fine. It is all about the major writing assignments and overwhelm. 

 

On the other hand, the trouble with connecting ideas together to write about them in a meaningful way can be a writing disability. Seeing connections between ideas can also be difficult for students with autism. I heard an interview on our local NPR station last fall, and the person noted the difficulty that people with autism have in detecting patterns, which affects their communication skills across the board, both in academics and in interactions.

 

Executive functioning also plays a part in understanding relationships and patterns and logical progressions.

 

So, since you kind of suspect there could be autism and know that there are EF issues, it's possible that the difficulty with writing could be related to those root issues.

He does have trouble connecting ideas. I think he can do it but it is a weakness. He was not able to answer some of the weekly CS Lewis questions and other weeks he was able to answer them. I looked for patterns and asked him why some were more accessible. He told me that it depended on the question. Anything that asked him to compare what Screwtape said to the Bible's teaching was difficult. I found that odd since he's grown up with the Bible and has a good handle on what it has to say about major themes. His struggles with that caused more confusion for me.

 

Also, DS13 (the one with NVLD) was given SLD writing as an area of disability in his neuropsych evaluation a few years ago. But he also has strengths in writing. He can do creative writing and create personal narratives. DS is better in these areas as well. He has notably more difficulty with expository writing and assignments that require him to do research. DS also. He has trouble answering short questions on tests where he has to explain the significance of historical events or explain why a science experiment worked, for example. DS is hit/miss in this area. He would struggle with the historical significance question but probable be able to explain why a science experiment worked. I think. Pulling thoughts together in his mind and putting them into words to answer any kind of critical thinking question is very difficult and sometimes impossible for him. Lots of resistance to critical thinking with my DS. Practicing it is helping though; he's grown a little in this by having to do it. He is unable to do almost any sort of literary analytical thinking (and therefore, as determined by his IEP placement, he will not be in the mainstream classroom for English when he is in high school). I'm perplexed by my DS in this area. He loves to read. He says he understands what he's reading but *I* don't think he can do literary analytical thinking. I do think it is difficult for him. This area is uncertain for me. He resists answering questions or engaging in discussions about literature. ***Is your son's struggle related to NVLD? I believe my son does NOT have that and while he has some markers for autism I really really think he isn't on the spectrum. I think it's something else ... 

 

This difficulty with connecting thoughts together definitely affects writing. Your son is not dealing with the same level of disability that my son is, but some of the same difficulty with making connections may contribute to their struggles.

 

Has your son had problems with the motor aspects of writing? Slowness, illegibility, sloppiness, difficulty copying notes, inconsistent letter sizing or atypical use of capitalization, difficulty staying on lines or writing small enough to fit his answers in the space provided?

YES!!! He read at 3 and I don't know how he learned to do it. He just READ and read well. But, I was terrified he'd never learn to write. It was terribly difficult for him to grasp a pencil, hold onto it well, make his letters, etc. His letters were SO large and wobbly. He could only write a LITTLE bit at a time for a long time. I did worry about dysgraphia but after looking at samples of kids' writing who were diagnosed with dysgraphia I decided my guy must just be slow to develop in his fine motor skills. The physical act of writing was difficult for most of his schooling years and he has MAJOR insecurity with anything related to drawing or sketching. He had a scaling project in Geometry and was totally overwhelmed due to the hand drawing. Even using tools is difficult for him (i.e. ruler). His teacher was helpful and allowed DS to do the project with a computer program. I think this struggle contributes to frustration with a Biology Symposium presentation that has VERY significant guidelines on neatness, graphs, titles, etc. There are major motor skills involved  He scored very low on something called Visual Motor (maybe Visual Motor Planning) on a test he did a couple of times, one at age 8 and one at age 11. I don't know if that is linked to writing. He has ALWAYS disliked his handwriting but it's legible and relatively neat for a teen boy. He can't draw and has nothing but insecurity and disdain in that area. He doesn't even want to try to gain skills. I honestly think he's come a long way. He greatly prefers to type though that isn't unusual. He also seems to be able to keep up with note taking in his classes. 

Dysgraphia, or SLD written expression, can be either a motor issue or trouble getting thoughts onto paper. ​Well, the motor issues have been there but they are a lot better now with the writing. Getting thoughts on paper is a bigger deal. THAT is proving difficult. He also has gross motor struggles. He is slightly awkward and clumsy (slightly). He has an odd gait when he runs. He is better now than when he was in late elementary or middle school. Team sports don't work well for him though. He's not able to integrate well with a team in terms of athletic ability. He can shoot hoops but not play a vigorous pick up game of basketball. It's been awhile since I've observed him so it's possible he's improved in this area.  Or both. DS13 has both aspects of dsygraphia. I'm wondering if your son has exhibited any of the motor struggles. Sometimes an early struggle with handwriting issues can be seen as just needing more practice, but later on, if additional writing problems crop up, one can understand that the early struggles were really a red flag.

Thanks again for sharing all of that and helping me think through pieces of the puzzle. 

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No advice on the diagnosis, but just agreeing with some of the previous posters -- that writing is excessive and excessively hard for ninth grade.  My dd had EF issues and possibly undiagnosed Inattentive ADD (looking back at some of the signs, which she share shares 80 percent of with your son!).  She still did reasonably well in school, but only starting around 10- 11th grade. She spent most of her middle school lying on the floor sobbing over any project (always the projects, never the regular assignments, which to be honest she mostly just didn't do anyway),  She didn't have to do any extensive research project until 12th grade, AP Lit.  She would not have had the skills or the EF ability in ninth.

My daughter actually loves to write (though she was really quite terrible at essay writing until she got to college and started reading other essays and getting better guidance from the TA's).  My daughter hated math and thought she was terrible at it.  Until she got herself out of her funk (10th-11th grade) she just barely passed every year. It is really hard to do something well if you hate the subject and find it pointless.  

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The thing is, if there are EF issues and no language issues, the child can get out the writing with the addition of EF supports. EF supports are a normal, common, run of the mill thing to make happen. The teachers can do that. 

 

What you're describing is different. You're describing a child who, even with EF supports, is not able to get it out, blood from turnips and all that. That's a language issue and that's the autism.

 

You're saying he understands what he's reading but can't discuss. Social Thinking, inferencing, perspective taking, etc. are required for higher level comprehension. That's why he can't discuss, because he has these holes. 

 

Just for your trivia, go to the Social Thinking site and put in literature or reading comprehension or something and see what pops up. I haven't done that, but I've gone to so many of their workshops I'm assuming something well. This is just a super common issue. They sell these really cute thought bubble whiteboards. Imagine what would unlock in his brain if you used those for literature discussions. He may need a lot of support to understand the literature, because it's probably going to be largely fiction.

 

Alternately, you could screw the school and bring him home and let him read technical and non-fiction and whatever he's into and ditch the rest. You could bring him home and only work on social thinking for the next three years using literature, history, etc. that you choose specifically for that. For instance, I've been thinking Mythology would be great for teaching Social Thinking. So would opera, lol. 

 

There was probably a significant reason he's not home. I'm just painting a picture of why it's not working. It's not going to work and regular teachers are not trained to make it happen. 

 

You could just meet with your ps and see if they're terrible or awesome. Some really are ok. Around here, there are districts sending ALL their new teachers to ST training. They're strongly committed to it and can bring it on. Blows my mind. 

 

Alternately, see if you could get an SLP trained in Social Thinking and let the tutor him this summer. Maybe they could get enough into his brain that things could click.

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The thing is, if there are EF issues and no language issues, the child can get out the writing with the addition of EF supports. EF supports are a normal, common, run of the mill thing to make happen. The teachers can do that. 

 

What you're describing is different. You're describing a child who, even with EF supports, is not able to get it out, blood from turnips and all that. That's a language issue and that's the autism.

He hasn't had any EF support as of yet! Unless I'm not clear on what that would be. He's not being medicated and we haven't made any accommodations like shorter assignments, more time, etc. We are going to work on that. 

 

I'm also thinking that the assignments ARE especially challenging which adds to the overwhelm. They are just too advanced. 

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Alternately, see if you could get an SLP trained in Social Thinking and let the tutor him this summer. Maybe they could get enough into his brain that things could click.

What is an SLP? 

 

Social Thinking has been on my radar for awhile. I'm working on it ... I wanted to attend the conference! They are sold out. I know I already said that but I'm miffed. I really wanted to go!!! 

Edited by abrightmom

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No advice on the diagnosis, but just agreeing with some of the previous posters -- that writing is excessive and excessively hard for ninth grade.  My dd had EF issues and possibly undiagnosed Inattentive ADD (looking back at some of the signs, which she share shares 80 percent of with your son!).  She still did reasonably well in school, but only starting around 10- 11th grade. She spent most of her middle school lying on the floor sobbing over any project (always the projects, never the regular assignments, which to be honest she mostly just didn't do anyway),  She didn't have to do any extensive research project until 12th grade, AP Lit.  She would not have had the skills or the EF ability in ninth.

My daughter actually loves to write (though she was really quite terrible at essay writing until she got to college and started reading other essays and getting better guidance from the TA's).  My daughter hated math and thought she was terrible at it.  Until she got herself out of her funk (10th-11th grade) she just barely passed every year. It is really hard to do something well if you hate the subject and find it pointless.  

He has liked writing in the past. I don't want him to hate it or to think he's a failure. He now does think he can't write. It's been a huge downer.

 

What did you do with your DD in the writing area in high school? Before she was out of her funk ... How did she do in 9th if she was still really struggling? Did you work with her struggles so she could survive? 

 

Do you really think those are tough 9th grade assignments? I was thinking that but doubted myself.  They overwhelm me. I can't imagine being in school all day and then having to work on those at home. Thankfully, they don't bring home gobs of homework in this school! He almost never has math homework (2x a week maybe) and he never studies for math tests. In fact, he rarely studies for any tests. My guy just won't study. ?? He'd rather just "wing it". Sigh. He tends to do well on tests and is content with A-/B+ on tests. 

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SLP = speech language pathologist. 

 

How tacky are you? Me, I'm tacky, lol. That room is going to be filled with SLPs, OTs, school psychologists, etc., and some will be people in your area. They're wanting to network and you're wanting to find people. If you were super tacky, you could very quietly walk in, not stopping at the registration table (it won't be blocking anything, won't be an issue), walk right on into the meeting/ballroom where they're having it, skip the free tea/coffee, and go to the book table. If you get there early, people will be milling and looking at books. Then the workshops starts and everyone settles down. 

 

When you get to that book sales table, Pamela Crooke will be there, maybe behind, maybe walking around dealing with things. She's the wonder woman behind everything. Socialthinking - Speaker Detail  You'd get to look at all the books and you could turn on a sob story about how you wanted to come, but what you really, really need is a therapist to do Social Thinking with your gorgeous, brilliant, wonderful, charming ds, and could they maybe announce and find you someone. :D

 

That would be tacky, but I'm just saying logistically it would work. You didn't hear it from me. :D

 

In the less tacky but also works camp:

 

Socialthinking - Clinical Training  This is their listing of people that have done training with them. You may find someone who has trained with them who is within a sane distance of you. I drove 3 hours to see someone from this list, and she was AMAZING. Her practice was super, super cool, doing amazing stuff. These people aren't just like oh I went to a workshop and bought a book. These people actually went to one of the ST private clinics and were being taught, hands-on, non-stop, for 1-2 weeks. Serious bump in knowledge level. And they pick therapists who are in a position to EXPAND that knowledge like dandelion fuzz with their practice. The person is likely to be very good and very helpful to you.

 

PS. If you sneak in, they'll figure you out eventually because everyone else will be wearing badges. I'm not saying you SHOULD, just that in theory you COULD. And they might kick you out or I don't know. Or they might have pity on you. But the real reason for the limits is they have fire hazards (room limits) and lunch and serious snacks are served. The food is usually quite good. Yum. 

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I think the Book Chats might get you enough social thinking to help him with the lit. Right now he doesn't even have words to understand why he doesn't understand. Once you get the words, I think your creativity will figure out how to help him. You just don't realize the holes yet.

 

Like I was talking with a friend about Les Mis, and I'm like I just don't get why Javert jumps. It's totally illogical. She tried 14 ways to Sunday to help me take his perspective. I think maybe finally I understood something. Suppose I was supposed to write a paper on it? I couldn't have, at least not without difficulty, because I was having trouble seeing his perspective. Now I'm on the other side of that and I go ok, if I'm not understanding, my gap is perspective taking, so I need to make more effort on perspective taking or ask for help on it. 

 

Also, you might look into the TPH2 gene and whether he'd benefit from some 5HTP. There's some research about a high percentage of kids with ASD having tryptophan issues, enough that they wondered if it was a biomarker. If he's having depression and anxiety, maybe some 5HTP would help with that, making everything else a bit easier. If you do 23andme testing, it will run that gene.

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There is a practitioner on that list who is less than an hour from us. She is a licensed professional counselor. I don't know how that is different from a psychologist or psychiatrist. She is also an autism specialist. :) I really really don't think my son is on the spectrum. I did for awhile ... but I think there are other answers for his struggles. 

 

I can call that woman's number and ask about what she does with her Social Thinking training. 

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Also, you might look into the TPH2 gene and whether he'd benefit from some 5HTP. There's some research about a high percentage of kids with ASD having tryptophan issues, enough that they wondered if it was a biomarker. If he's having depression and anxiety, maybe some 5HTP would help with that, making everything else a bit easier. If you do 23andme testing, it will run that gene.

I ordered that for him. We're also doing a urinary neurotransmitter thing. It might help us determine if meds will help. 

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Well that sounds like it might be a STELLAR resource. And maybe let her refer you to a psych for the ADOS and let a psych help you sort it out. It matters but it doesn't matter. Severe ADHD merges into ASD, and the social thinking interventions for ASD and ADHD can be the same. The ASD kids just need a lot longer to get it to click. Some ADHD kids get a short dose and they're like oh, epiphanies. 

 

So yes, that's an awesome find! Keep us posted on what you find out! :)

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Well that sounds like it might be a STELLAR resource. And maybe let her refer you to a psych for the ADOS and let a psych help you sort it out. It matters but it doesn't matter. Severe ADHD merges into ASD, and the social thinking interventions for ASD and ADHD can be the same. The ASD kids just need a lot longer to get it to click. Some ADHD kids get a short dose and they're like oh, epiphanies. 

 

So yes, that's an awesome find! Keep us posted on what you find out! :)

Well, this encourages me to follow through. I have a few phone calls to make. They are hard for me! It's out of my comfort zone but I am learning to advocate for my family. It's been a good school for me. I will update! It's wonderful to have people to talk with. 

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Urine neurotransmitter thing? I'm all ears. I did the 23andme testing on my kids, so that's what I've been pouring through. I recently started 5HTP myself (shhh) and it is the most glorious stuff ever. I had no clue I could feel that way. And if I didn't have the genes, I'd think ok it's just a patch, you're just a whiner, blah blah. But when you look at that gene you realize anybody who is homozygous is DOOMED and it's just no wonder I felt the way I did, lol. 

 

What product did you buy and what dose? I read someone on the board here saying she's taking 600mg. That was with genetics in-hand to know there were significant issues. I'm taking 200mg time-released twice a day. I can actually feel it wear off. A 15 yo might not be self-aware enough. I'm not sure I'd want a straight dose. I'm really keen on the time-release.

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Urine neurotransmitter thing? I'm all ears. I did the 23andme testing on my kids, so that's what I've been pouring through. I recently started 5HTP myself (shhh) and it is the most glorious stuff ever. I had no clue I could feel that way. And if I didn't have the genes, I'd think ok it's just a patch, you're just a whiner, blah blah. But when you look at that gene you realize anybody who is homozygous is DOOMED and it's just no wonder I felt the way I did, lol. 

 

What product did you buy and what dose? I read someone on the board here saying she's taking 600mg. That was with genetics in-hand to know there were significant issues. I'm taking 200mg time-released twice a day. I can actually feel it wear off. A 15 yo might not be self-aware enough. I'm not sure I'd want a straight dose. I'm really keen on the time-release.

The urine neurotransmitter thing is a Neurotransmitter analysis that is done from a urine sample. It looks at Serotonin, GABA, Dopamine, Norepinephrine, Epinephrine, Glutamate, Glycine, Histamine and Phenethylamine. NO CLUE about most of those but he showed me a colorful chart and talked about the neurotransmitters that are not working right in ADHD and the ones that aren't working right in depression. He said this test can help eliminate guesswork with meds. 

 

It's $191 which isn't bad. We collect a urine sample. Prior to the sample he takes no meds or supplements and avoids certain foods (some produce, cheese, wine, nuts). It's a morning sample. You freeze it and Fed Ex picks it up after we pack it all up according to their directions. We fill out paperwork and then we'll get the test results in a few weeks. I think we get the fancy colorful chart with my son's neurotransmitter profile. I'll have the doctor help me sort it out. We did the prep today and he won't eat any of the offending foods. :) He is going to pee in the cup Sunday morning! LOL. 

 

23andme is in the mail. 

 

I don't know anything about 5HTP. 

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The thing is, if there are EF issues and no language issues, the child can get out the writing with the addition of EF supports. EF supports are a normal, common, run of the mill thing to make happen. The teachers can do that. 

 

What you're describing is different. You're describing a child who, even with EF supports, is not able to get it out, blood from turnips and all that. That's a language issue and that's the autism.

 

You're saying he understands what he's reading but can't discuss. Social Thinking, inferencing, perspective taking, etc. are required for higher level comprehension. That's why he can't discuss, because he has these holes. 

 

 

This. You asked why my son has trouble comprehending and talking about literature. It's this. Yes, it's the NVLD in his case, but after years of working to figure it out, I think these are the aspects of NVLD that cause his comprehension problems. The school actually gave him SLD Reading Comprehension, but these are the reasons behind the reading comprehension issue.

 

DS can answer explicit comprehension questions. He can remember details from his reading, such as who said what. But he doesn't understand the implications or overall meaning, because he doesn't connect the details to each other. This is often called "seeing the trees but not the forest."

 

And because he can't see the forest, he can't talk or write about the meaning of the passage. DS's disability is severe, meaning that even after intensive discussion and rereading the text multiple times, he still cannot truly understand the meaning of the passage.

 

Some students with comprehension issues can use strategies, such as marking up the text, reading aloud, reading multiple times, preloading vocabulary, discussing all of the inference and figures of speech, etc. And then they can understand the passage. These are great strategies, and DS's teachers use all of them with him. And he still doesn't comprehend. Someone with a milder comprehension problem could be helped in these ways and have it work.

 

Also, in DS's case, holes in his background knowledge. He just didn't absorb a lot of information in years past that other kids kind of get by osmosis. Because they say something like 65% of communication is through nonverbals, and kids with NVLD don't register the nonverbals.

 

NVLD often/usually includes reading comprehension troubles.

 

But these things are not limited to those with NVLD. Many kids with autism have the same kind of comprehension struggles.

 

 

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He has liked writing in the past. I don't want him to hate it or to think he's a failure. He now does think he can't write. It's been a huge downer.

 

What did you do with your DD in the writing area in high school? Before she was out of her funk ... How did she do in 9th if she was still really struggling? Did you work with her struggles so she could survive? 

 

Do you really think those are tough 9th grade assignments? I was thinking that but doubted myself.  They overwhelm me. I can't imagine being in school all day and then having to work on those at home. Thankfully, they don't bring home gobs of homework in this school! He almost never has math homework (2x a week maybe) and he never studies for math tests. In fact, he rarely studies for any tests. My guy just won't study. ?? He'd rather just "wing it". Sigh. He tends to do well on tests and is content with A-/B+ on tests. 

 

My daughter struggled with the EF issues, but not the critical thinking part in school.  I asked her whether they had critical thinking questions and she says yes.... however they always had socratic discussions before so I think they covered the material ahead of time.  And the books they studied? Only three for the year (which was actually a semester since it was the block schedule).  They did Romeo and Juliet (most kids used the No Fear Shakespeare), Of Mice and Men, and To Kill a Mockingbird.  The last two are definitely a lower lexile than C.S. Lewis! She wrote at least one or two essays (usually about symbolism), and a narrative (I recall she didn't like the assignment and purposefully did it wrong and got a D, and got a B- for the whole class). 

 

I hate to say it but we gave up on her actually and she pulled herself out of the hole. Ninth grade we were actually calling the school trying to get them to give her a suspension or detention or send a truant officer out to our house, because she refused to go to school more often than not.  She hated school, she did not see the point,  and to be honest I don't know how she managed to only get two C's that first year, with the little amount of effort she put in.  She says now in college that the only thing that helped her write essays was reading lots of them.  They never read many academic essays in high school, which she always found quite silly as they were supposed to write them. 

 

My son is somewhat similar to her -- he just cried two days in a row over an essay I gave him to do even though we worked through the prompt and I helped him write the thesis and outline. He literally thought he couldn't do it.  He says he just can't concentrate and his brain shuts down when the subject is uninteresting.  He just literally couldn't care less about the prompt.  But this is a kid who works 2 or 2 1/2 hours a day on Art of Problem Solving Math 3 grade levels ahead.  

 

My kids are most likely neurotypical so please don't take our experience as reason not to seek a diagnosis. Some of the issues do sound like ASD.  and while my dd was never diagnosed ADHD,  maybe a diagnosis would have made our lives easier! She might have just compensated or outgrown the EF issues.  She's doing stellar now -- very organized and getting great grades. She has worked on her EF issues herself (she has NEVER let us help her with anything actually) and she takes great pride in her planner. 

But ninth grade almost killed us.  

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Comparing CS Lewis's writing to the Bible is going to be harder than answering questions just about Lewis, because the mind has to be connecting information from two texts. He has to not just recall details from Lewis, but he has to find in his mind the connection to what he has read in the past in the Bible. He has to recognize the patterns or similarities in the two texts. And then he has to go a step further and be able to explain those connections in his writing or discussions.

 

It's a different kind of thinking than thinking of each text separately. It seems less complex than it is, because it seems so obvious to us! We can see the connections, so it seems that they should be easy for everyone to see.

 

Comparing and contrasting is a very common skill in school, and kids practice it on a basic level from a very young age. They are expected to be able to do it by high school in analytical discussions and writing.

 

Some kids (like my daughter, I think) are just slower to develop those analytical skills. Her writing and thinking skills are better in 10th grade than they were in 9th, so they are developing.

 

Some kids, like my son, really can't do them, and it is an area of disability.

 

Many kids who struggle can be helped with scaffolding and can make progress with accommodations and intervention for schoolwork. 

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I didn't realize the CS Lewis was a separate class from the English class.  I guess you need to find a way to get that accommodated or dropped also.  What are all his classes this year?

 

My son is in 9th grade at a brick and mortar small rural public school and we know some of what other 9th graders he was in school with in past are now doing at much larger urban public schools, including one which is near the state flagship University and has most of the professor's kids.  As well,  have some idea of what the school in NYCity I graduated high school from, which is a school for gifted children does.  Putting that all together, while I don't know what the average quality of the papers that get turned in, the essays that get done at your son's school are, just in terms of the assignments, I think they sound unusually difficult, or maybe even to put it more strongly, they sound out of line for anything other than maybe an honors English in an IB program.  In fact they sound somewhat more like what I had at AP level English myself.

 

Our little public school has only one 9th grade English class and everyone does the same thing, pretty much (unless they won't be getting a regular diploma). There are 4 books read during class and discussed which have short answer written questions and sometimes presentations have to be done on these orally.  Plus I think they read some current events publication and have to do things related to that. There are short writing assignments in class, or rarely as homework (one of which required a little research and a thesis statement--but they got help with that in class as part of the process). The main required writing is that 4 books have to be read independently and a 2-3 page review/report has to be written about each book (one each quarter).  The protagonist and antagonist and main supporting characters have to be described, the setting has to be described, the plot has to be summarized. A theme has to be identified and discussed.   The first time my son had trouble with it, but the second time knowing what the written work at the end would have to be a book was chosen that leant itself to the format and it went easier.  He's now on the third time through the same sort of process and it is getting a bit easier to do now, I think.  No footnotes etc. are required.  Finally, one of the writing assignments done during the year will have to be worked on and revised and improved, student's choice which they want to spend more time on, as the last writing project of the year. 

 

At the big public school by the Uni, there are classes that can fulfill the English credit by doing creative writing, journalism, and even one that combines PE (not your son's thing I now understand but still just to illustrate a difference) with English--where they may do something like go for a hike, and write about the hike; try a rock climbing wall, and write about that, etc.  No doubt the honors English does more, but it is possible to get an English credit with far less intensely academic writing than your son is being required to do.  And I'm not even sure that the honors English for IB program does actually require that much of 9th graders.

 

 

 

 

 

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By the way, the fine and gross motor issues suggest dyspraxia to me. DS has that diagnosis as well (and many others). You could get an OT to evaluate him.

 

Did he have speech delay as a toddler?

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Also, I have another son who does not have NVLD or the other issues DS13 has.

 

DS12 has trouble with rigid thinking, though he does not have autism. When faced with something in school that is hard for him, he freezes. His mind just can't work, and he will balk and say that it is impossible or just "I don't know" when we try to talk him through it.

 

It has been a huge, huge problem, and it took us years and some private evaluations and the help of his teachers to figure out the root issues and how to handle them. He has a 504 now.

 

In his case, the root causes are EF and inattention (though not enough to get an ADHD diagnosis, in his case) and anxiety.

 

Anxiety is a big one. And I didn't realize it, and I would have done so many things differently with him when homeschooling, if I had.

 

As long as he is is a state of anxiety and is stuck, he cannot make progress on whatever he is meant to be working on. As in, he just cannot, no matter how much the teacher or we at home try to work with him or explain it. The anxiety shuts him down, and we've learned we have to wait for the anxiety to pass before trying again. I used to try to make him push through it. And do you know how many times that was successful?  Yup. Never.

 

I wonder if anxiety is playing a role in your son's feelings of failure and impossibility.

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There is a practitioner on that list who is less than an hour from us. She is a licensed professional counselor. I don't know how that is different from a psychologist or psychiatrist. She is also an autism specialist. :) I really really don't think my son is on the spectrum. I did for awhile ... but I think there are other answers for his struggles. 

 

I can call that woman's number and ask about what she does with her Social Thinking training. 

 

 

If your son is feeling lonely or having any sort of struggle socially, which it sounds like is the case, that could potentially be a big help (if she is good at it) whether or not he has ASD.

 

A psychiatrist is an M.D., generally--4 years medical school training, internship, and residency in psychiatry specialty training (perhaps could be a D.O., not sure if they ever do psychiatry).  So that is different than a psychologist or whatever she is.  You could ask her what it is exactly that she is and its training and scope of practice.

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