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My 10th grader is really struggling in Shormann Algebra 2/Geometry this year and has to do most lessons twice and still says he doesn't really understand.  I am thinking about switching him to Teaching Textbooks, CTC, or MathHelp.   I am also 99% sure he has ADD and am in the process of having an evaluation done.  Advice, please.

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My dd's math scores went up dramatically when she got meds. I think get those started, see where you're at. And instead of TT, consider MUS. It has the strong point of helping them learn to *monitor their comprehension* during the lessons. If they don't understand, rewind! Dd realized that lesson stood her well for a lot of other things as well.

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The issue with the math isn't necessarily just the math. When she gets his evals, she'll see he probably has low processing speed relative to IQ and poor working memory. He may have more, but those are likely to be there. So with low processing speed, they get fatigued. Calculators are a terrific support at this stage, because they can decrease some of that strain. Poor working memory impedes getting things into long term memory. The meds will help both.

Some kids also have issues with visual processing and developmental vision. So then they might not be visualizing the math well. The low working memory can make it hard to hold the steps in their head. The EF delays make them just run a little young (30%, basically 3 years), so they aren't necessarily on their game for thinking through things logically with multi step problems. 

The psych can suggest supports, like writing out steps, giving them visual prompts, making the steps clear, using a scribe (yes!!), etc. He may need to go back and repeat some math. He might not have really understood it. I think my dd ended up going through Algebra 1 three times or something, lol. As she went on she realized there were things she didn't understand. I think it was just that immaturity. And geometry is especially hard with ADHD, because it requires SO much working memory and processing to do proofs! I got my dd through them; the BJU Geometry was the last math we did together, sniff. But it was hard for her because of the ADHD and she was just always at the edge.

Fwiw, the MUS geometry I think skips proofs in favor of what will be on testing. I think that's fine. Proofs are great and I'm all for them. I'm just saying sometimes cut your losses, move on. I was having to do a LOT of support with my dd to get her through it. Like we did it all together. We used a 16X20 whiteboard and I would write. We would go through and put keywords for each step and then go back to fill it in. She just really required extra support. Me, I flew through geometry, easiest thing ever. But for her it was pretty challenging because of those ADHD related executive function disabilities. If op reads about "executive function" it will make more sense. It could also be an SLD, sure. My ds has SLD math. But the ADHD can be ugly on math too.

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2 hours ago, Not_a_Number said:

Any idea what he's confused about? I don't have any program experience, but I could troubleshoot with you. 

He is highly distractable and has a terrible time paying attention to things he finds difficult or boring.  He does well with the geometry portions, but is struggling with the algebra.  I had him take  TT placement tests for Geometry and 2 today and he couldn't figure out or remember how to do the algebra problems, but did well in geometry.

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3 minutes ago, RubyPenn said:

He is highly distractable and has a terrible time paying attention to things he finds difficult or boring.  He does well with the geometry portions, but is struggling with the algebra.  I had him take  TT placement tests for Geometry and 2 today and he couldn't figure out or remember how to do the algebra problems, but did well in geometry.

It's not shocking. That's what happened with my dd and she just repeated portions of the algebra 1 more quickly. Part of what you want to see at this age is him taking over as a learner, monitoring his comprehension. 

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5 minutes ago, RubyPenn said:

He is highly distractable and has a terrible time paying attention to things he finds difficult or boring.  He does well with the geometry portions, but is struggling with the algebra.  I had him take  TT placement tests for Geometry and 2 today and he couldn't figure out or remember how to do the algebra problems, but did well in geometry.

If he can't remember how to do any algebra, I'd have him do it again, and I'm make sure he gets hands-on teaching. Algebraic concepts are pretty hard and require good understanding to use fluently. 

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8 minutes ago, RubyPenn said:

but did well in geometry.

That's good! Does he have visual spatial strengths or excel at things with his hands? The Eides have this whole theory on what they call dyslexic advantages. Personally I've found it worthless with my ds who is diagnosed dyslexic but they fit my dd (who is not) very well. https://www.amazon.com/Dyslexic-Advantage-Unlocking-Hidden-Potential/dp/0452297923/ref=sr_1_1?crid=26MF1HTAVBN4A&dchild=1&keywords=dyslexic+advantage&qid=1611196811&sprefix=dyslexic+ad%2Caps%2C268&sr=8-1  You could see if your library has this book for you to read. It's really good to balance the dissection and what doesn't work process with the strengths side.

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1 minute ago, PeterPan said:

That's good! Does he have visual spatial strengths or excel at things with his hands? The Eides have this whole theory on what they call dyslexic advantages. Personally I've found it worthless with my ds who is diagnosed dyslexia but they fit my dd (who is not) very well. https://www.amazon.com/Dyslexic-Advantage-Unlocking-Hidden-Potential/dp/0452297923/ref=sr_1_1?crid=26MF1HTAVBN4A&dchild=1&keywords=dyslexic+advantage&qid=1611196811&sprefix=dyslexic+ad%2Caps%2C268&sr=8-1  You could see if your library has this book for you to read. It's really good to balance the dissection and what doesn't work process with the strengths side.

He is a very gifted musician and can pick up any instrument and learn it quickly, but doesn't go far because he loses interest and wants to move to another one.  He also transcribes music by ear and composes in spurts.  Last year he transcribed ACDC and Led Zeppelin songs just from listening to them, so he pays attention to those details, but not details in school.  He has trouble  answering questions that have multiple parts, and of course, math.  We cannot get him to clean or organize his room for anything and he admitted to me that he feels scattered and stressed about school.

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10 minutes ago, Not_a_Number said:

If he can't remember how to do any algebra, I'd have him do it again, and I'm make sure he gets hands-on teaching. Algebraic concepts are pretty hard and require good understanding to use fluently. 

The problem is that I am no good in math and my husband is too busy to help regularly.

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Have you thought about doing any cognitive therapies? I'm not saying do a ton or blow your budget, but a *little*, carefully targeted, can get you some bumps. The issues with the ADHD involve the frontal lobes of the brain. That's where the EF=executive function portions are. So geometry can target them, yes. There are $$ systems, like CogMed. Some people get durable improvement from this because you're stimulating that front portion of the brain.

There's also Interactive Metronome, which uses bilateral (midline cross) activities set to a specific metronome beat (54 bpm) to target that portion of the brain. You can pay for the therapy, but you can also do a hack version yourself for free! Heathermomster here posted instructions and you can google search to find the thread. Once he can do the basic activities she lists, then you can make more complicated tasks to improve things you want to improve. I wanted my dd to be able to 1) hold her thoughts, 2) while motor planning, 3) in the presence of distractions. So after she could do the basic movements I used a workbook of digit spans for building working memory (you can buy them or make them) while she was doing the metronome movements while her brother was running around or the tv was on.

And that all sounds crazy, but it WORKED! She actually improved in her functional ability to sit down at the computer, hold her thoughts, motor plan to type, and get them out. And it cost me nothing because I was using a free metronome app on the ipad and those free instructions.

EF is a whole area of study. I've gone to workshops like https://www.amazon.com/FLIPP-Switch-Strengthen-Executive-Function/dp/1942197012/ref=sr_1_1?crid=24SB7F9653JUE&dchild=1&keywords=flip+the+switch+-+strengthen+executive+function+skills&qid=1611197298&sprefix=flip+executive+function%2Caps%2C171&sr=8-1  but there are also books like https://www.amazon.com/That-Crumpled-Paper-Last-Week/dp/0399535594/ref=sr_1_1?crid=2RZPR38OP8QFB&dchild=1&keywords=that+crumpled+paper+was+due+last+week&qid=1611197333&sprefix=that+crumpled%2Caps%2C171&sr=8-1  So it's the same part of the brain, but just finding your dc's starting point and where you can step in and get him going forward.

Fwiw, there are also EF coaches. They'll go by different names, but this is a good age to be doing stuff like that. You've got someone who in a few years is going to need to problem solve for themselves, so learning how to monitor their comprehension, how to ask for help, who can give them that help, these are big deals! I said my dd's scores went up with meds. Her ACT scores went up 30%. They literally were suddenly top of the line, getting her top scholarships! So then we went from a dc who looked dumb and failing to a dc who was suddenly doing 300 level classes as a freshman with top scholarships. AND SHE USED HER SCHOOL'S DISABILITY SERVICES.

All that junk with processing speed, time, etc.? All those accommodations allowed her to do college and show who she was. Now everyone's starting point in this is different and not everyone needs all that. But it's there and the process is sort of the same. Understand your brain, see your strenghts as well as your weaknesses, bring in the supports, learn to self monitor.

Check out 360 Thinking. 

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3 minutes ago, RubyPenn said:

He is a very gifted musician and can pick up any instrument and learn it quickly, but doesn't go far because he loses interest and wants to move to another one.

This is such a common thing for parents of ADHD kids to say. 

3 minutes ago, RubyPenn said:

He has trouble  answering questions that have multiple parts, and of course, math.  We cannot get him to clean or organize his room for anything and he admitted to me that he feels scattered and stressed about school.

That's the EF portion of the disability. You want a laugh? You wouldn't BELIEVE how many people say their kids get vision therapy (which typically includes activities that hit that front portion of the brain) and their kids suddenly start CLEANING THEIR ROOMS!! Seriously. You can target that portion of the brain with software, with therapy, and it will get it to mature a bit and get more wiring so those things can happen. Meds however will play a BIG PART. Are they on the table? You want BOTH. You want meds AND cognitive strategies.

If you want him to blow your mind, find a phd psych who counsels ADHD. Or find what they call an educational therapist or EF coach. If you want HIM to take over and drive the process and problem solve, you need to connect HIM with the people so he CAN. It's one of the things we did well with my dd and I think you'll find it with other posters too. You'll like the results if you connect him with professionals who can talk with him about his thinking and help him grow. They will challenge him and give him the tools at the same time.

7 minutes ago, RubyPenn said:

multiple parts,

Building working memory will help that. If you've got the money to burn, Cogmed would be your easiest way to get there. Otherwise, find someone like an educational therapist or do it yourself.

7 minutes ago, RubyPenn said:

He is a very gifted musician

Are you beginning to talk careers? My dd was crazy good at sewing. She could look at a person, design a garment, drape the fabric on them, and make it. Seriously. But ironically, when she did her Strongs career testing (and lots of other testing), she wasn't really testing high for "tech" which meant doing with your hands! So some things are a hobby. It can result in kids who are launching but not sure where they fit in the world. 

So not that you asked, but as a btdt, I think just be very realistic. A job is a job. Let him figure out what is hobby and what is career. I would just get him working at ANYTHING. Target, yardwork, anything. 

The EF delays also go with sort of a "late bloomer" kind of thing, so don't be shocked. 

Well you're doing the right thing getting evals. Our culture gives this impression that ADHD is all "behavioral" and about being wiggly or bad, but it's got some pretty serious stuff that packs with it. Stay positive, work together, keep asking for help. There's a LOT of help out there, stuff that's within the last 10 years even. That 360 Thinking for instance. On things like "won't" clean his room, try to change it to can't. Getting the steps, lowering the anxiety, breaking it into tasks, getting the meds to bring it in reach.

Oh, I've been pretty astonishing with that stuff myself over the years, haha. I think the psych threw in a bonus ADHD on me when I went in for my evals a few years ago. I have to be really careful to talk to myself straight to get stuff done. You said your ds is overwhelmed. Tech can help with some of that. I use tech as external RAM for my brain, haha. I really like that Crumped Paper book. I got a strategy from there about notebooks I still use. I write EVERYTHING, so now I write in spiral notebooks!! That way I don't have loose paper everywhere, whew. 

But anyways, for me some of the initiation difficulties with cleaning are anxiety. I use 5HTP now, and it tamps that down. So it's another thing you can talk with the psych about or just be clued in to. It's another thing that our culture describes as a sin problem, choosing to worry, whatever. That's fine, but I'm 44 and I'm not worried about diddly. I just have this body that is edgy. And I'll never forget taking 5HTP for the first time and going WOW I CAN CLEAN OFF THE TABLE WITHOUT STRESS!! And then I found another cause of my anxiety (an unusual b6 defect, so I take a form of b6 now to help) and that was even more astonishing. I had this abyss in my house, a room I had let go and pile up. It had been my dd's homeschool room, the sewing room, etc. and it was AWFUL. Do you know I FINALLY cleaned it before Christmas? I was cleaning stuff that was literally clutter and cr*p from when my ds was 2 and 3 and 4 and 5. I kid you not. I found gift cards that were unused, all sorts of stuff. It was insane. 

When you get that chemistry under control, he can use the cognitive strategies and be and show who he is inside. It's really hard if you don't.

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Thanks, Peter Pan!  I'm just beginning to research all this.  Everyone know he has so much potential, but isn't living up to it and we are at the point where his distractability is really interfering with school, so something has to be done to help him.  He's bright, but doesn't feel that way right now.

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I was going to ask you, is one (or are both) of the parents ADHD? What are their strategies? 

Sometimes the parent with ADHD compensates by swinging the other way really hard. So then there's this pressure, like oh if you'd do what I do it would work. 

6 minutes ago, RubyPenn said:

potential, but isn't living up to it

Has he started driving yet? Fwiw, I think driving safety issues should be much more on your mind than longterm outcomes. He's going to be FINE longterm, and you need to tell yourself this. Set some basic guiding parameters (take a job, any job, later is fine, people are not the Borg and do not have to all be alike and all doing things at the same time) and he'll be FINE. But if he wrecks a car or two or three from not having meds, he won't be fine. Btdt. So worry about driving and don't worry about where he'll be when he's 30. 

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8 minutes ago, RubyPenn said:

He's bright

What can you connect him with that will be positive right now? I know it's hard with covid. Just saying you're about to do a lot negative. The psych will talk positive, but put energy into it. Not guilt tripping positive (like if he would just do it then it would happen), but within reach positive. Higher support, smaller steps. Something that will actually happen. 

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No, we took that option away from him because of maturity. In my state he can get a permit at 15.  NO, no, and no.  He would like to have a job asap.

 

My husband might have adhd.  My dad, sister, and niece have all been diagnosed, though.

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Blimey, that’s a lot of family history for ADHD.

Fwiw, my oldest is brilliant in math—majoring in it in college. He is totally nonfunctional in school without meds on board. Literally. Checked out zombie, completely inattentive, NOT hyper.
 

Address the attention issue. Then see what remains. 

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There's more than ADHD  in the family history, but I'm not going to comment on that, lol.  I'm sure he's got OCD, too, a blessing I passed on to  him. 

I would say he was hyperactive when younger, but now is more inattentive.  I think meds will really help.

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1 minute ago, PeterPan said:

Meds or cognitive strategies?

https://www.socialthinking.com/Articles?name=social-thinking-social-communication-profile  You might want to read this article, just to see if there's more getting missed.

Sounds like you're doing good stuff getting the evals.

Yes, meds for me, if that is who you were asking about.  He isn't on any meds.

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Sorry, I wasn't meaning to pry. I meant for him, lol. 

It's just stuff you're going to talk through carefully, because stimulant meds can sometimes take down anxiety and can sometimes ramp it up. They can also make it more *apparent* as the dc is suddenly trying to DO more. 

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4 minutes ago, PeterPan said:

Sorry, I wasn't meaning to pry. I meant for him, lol. 

It's just stuff you're going to talk through carefully, because stimulant meds can sometimes take down anxiety and can sometimes ramp it up. They can also make it more *apparent* as the dc is suddenly trying to DO more. 

Oh, no worries.  I didn't take it as prying.

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