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to find this extreme behaviour and not have a clue where to go from here?

(98 Posts)
NearMissAgain Fri 25-Jan-13 04:32:52

I honestly don't know if this is within the realms of normal. My DS is 9 and I am at the end of my tether with his behaviour regarding school work. His behaviour in general has always been very, very difficult to handle but we have made huge progress and although he is still not easy, the consistent approach we have used has paid off and he mostly sticks to boundaries now.

There are still a few areas causing problems and the main one is school work. He goes to school but that's where his involvement in learning ends. He is not keeping up with the curriculum and needs a lot of support from the teacher - fortunately for him the class is small so this has been possible. He doesn't resist too much at school, it's more zoning out. At home he refuses to do homework, we have a homework routine and I make him sit at the table. He will cry and whine and say he can't do it, and at other times just stares into space. He can sit for 3 hours without writing anything down. He is kept in at play time to do the homework every day but still doesn't finish.

He has had several assessments but everything seems to be within normal limits. He is a bit dreamy but not enough to be diagnosed with ADD, spelling and maths not great but not too bad etc. He did co-operate (mostly) with the assessments and was able to do everything as well as they expected from his age. His ability seems to be about average, on paper. I personally think he is above average, and his teacher agrees, if only he would actually do something to show that.

This is not a new problem. but is obviously becoming a bigger problem as he gets older. What can we do? I have tried ignoring him and not making it into a battle, sitting with him, taking away tv/computer, and nothing has made any difference.

OneLieIn Sat 26-Jan-13 14:30:11

Why did he think he was being tested?

NearMissAgain Sat 26-Jan-13 14:38:20

We just told him we wanted to check how he was doing. The last time was almost a year ago now. He was ok about it and didn't seem to mind. You just never know with him. He is definitely aware that hs is not keeping up though because he has to read his reports from school and sign a copy to send back.

ProphetOfDoom Sat 26-Jan-13 14:48:30

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

OneLieIn Sat 26-Jan-13 14:54:15

With my ds, it was a case of couldn't do his homework, did it badly or not at all, got into trouble, knew he was going to get into trouble, therefore did not do his homework, knew he was going to get into trouble, therefore didn't listen when I asked him, he got into trouble, knew he was going to get into more trouble....and so on. We had him tested, we said it was because he might need a different way of learning, he thought it was because he was stupid, because he thought he was stupid and couldn't do his homework, he believed he was stupid and got into trouble. He got into trouble at school, at home, he was isolated and difficult.

It is a vicious cycle.

You need to break it.

revolvenotevolve Sat 26-Jan-13 15:04:49

I think your son sounds a bit fabulous actually. He's got quite clear interests is determined (even in the face of considerable nagging) he knows what he wants and can excel to get there (winning the sweets). I was the opposite to your son - loved school work and was brilliant at it. However I lack the determination drive and specific interests to actually succeed in a field.
Just because this very traditional education doesn't do it for him it doesn't mean the end of the world. I would try and find avenues to get him spending time learning what he wants to do preferably with someone he can look up to (Im thinking helping out on a community farm or in some stables). Also 45 mins of homework every night sounds like a total drag and too much.

amicissimma England Sat 26-Jan-13 15:04:56

I think there are quite a lot of people who aren't really suited to school. Most of them get through as best they can and then start their 'proper' lives.

Two friends have children who just fought, struggled and resisted all the way through. One is in a very successful band, touring the world, the other stayed on at uni for a second degree!

It's a pity for such people, but a certain level of academic achievement makes adulthood much easier. Have you discussed the long-term picture with your DS, not just threats of employment problems, but from the angle of what he needs to be able to do and how he thinks he can develop these skills? It is, after all, his life, although he needs to draw on your greater experience for guidance.

Meanwhile, he is not alone!

NearMissAgain Sat 26-Jan-13 15:21:02

Good to hear the positive stories and love that link to Churchill etc - you do tend to hear this kind of background with the ultimate high-achievers! He is rather fabulous actually just bloody frustrating at times. The 45 minutes is just reading, they have to do maths and some kind of writing on top of that!

Lavenderhoney Sat 26-Jan-13 19:19:08

Near miss I do think you are a great mum to your ds, and well done for sticking up for him and you with regards to stopping the testing as its going to make him feel different for all the wrong reasons.

I hope he gets his work done faster and he gets a more inspiring teacher next year. And he makes a list of stuff he wants to do and you can do it outside school and after the dreaded hwsmile
Our home projects as ideas...
Currently we are have drawn a map to track how/ when birds emigrate across the world, wind, and how they affect the plant and insect life when they get there. There are pirate ships on our seas as wellsmile Its blimin exhausting but fun toosmile

ukatlast Sat 26-Jan-13 22:36:32

If you are convinced he can read, write, add up etc and that he is unwilling and unmotivated for some reason, I am sure it would make sense to back off with the pressure.
However maybe (if he is a typical boy who likes computers) you could do all his homework on the computer and print it off (whether his teacher likes it or not)....with writing stories, may be he could dictate them to you so as not the stem his freeflow by having to think about spelling etc.

The other thing you could do is to offer to pay him an amount per day for doing his homework provided he gets on with it and doesn't make a big deal and waste time. It may be bribery but it works and let's face it as adults we work for monetary gain so it is a good preparation for the world of work. My kids pocket money is still conditional on doing HW without fuss but it is never an issue thesedays.

Mytimewillcomebutwhen Sun 27-Jan-13 01:05:35

I just wanted to agree with ukatlast about the payment. I know I know - the prevailing view is that kids should do as they're told cos they're Being Told, but I had to be bribed to do homework. I'm very academic (4 yrs of phd) but would never to something unless I could see a good reason blush so for years and years, my mum had a policy of £1 per piece of A graded homework. What can I say? I was a delight grin At the end of the day it stopped the homework battles for many years.

I know this could sit uneasy on you but ukatlast makes a very good point about work n wages. I just wanted to say it worked for me. I went on to do a second degree after temping for years cos I could never find the right job. I'm now self employed and far happier.

I think you're trying really hard to sort this out which is lovely smile I would decide what actually is important in all of this - and ask the school too.

lljkk Netherlands Sun 27-Jan-13 08:54:42

Do you have any behaviour problems other than with regard to school work? It doesn't sound like it (not beyond minor things like winding up siblings which is almost compulsory sign of being normal, anyway). Most kids are difficult about homework and plenty zone out in school and don't get much work done. The portrait all sounds so pressured and full of high expectations, jumping to Home-Ed which is usually a pretty laid-back approach to learning would be a huge shock/change for you both. Be aware that HE becomes a lifestyle.

I have similar but I think much worse issues with DS; he is difficult in lots of areas so quite different picture, I think. Now in yr4 and only in last few months does he mostly crack on with homework without major tantrums. But DS hyperfocuses in school, mostly, we haven't had zoning out. My friend's young boy zones out loads, I remember thinking he could be on ADHD spectrum.

NearMissAgain Mon 28-Jan-13 04:18:44

Really appreciate the votes of confidence - in no way do I get it right all the time with ds but trying hard!

I like the idea of paying him his pocket money related to getting homework done each day - he is like a little adult in a lot of ways so this could appeal to him. We could put it to him as "everyone has to work and sometimes there are parts of your job you don't enjoy but you have to do it anyway."

lljkk I wouldn't say we don't have any other behaviour problems but things are gradually improving. He has been much harder work to discipline than my other dcs - he had toddler tantrums which continued way beyond the age you would expect, and can be extremely oppositional and stubborn, much more than "average" I would say. At other times he is delightful. How did you help your ds?

Arcticdream Mon 28-Jan-13 04:58:17

My ds was very individual like this only interested in certain subjects or activities he watedto do and had slight dyslexia tendencies he grew out of . One teacher at primary went ballistic because he asked to be taught chemistry when e couldn't 't do his regular English ..she was really angry! He hated schoolwork and I had to spend ages over it.
However it turns out he's extremely bright and musically gifted, has a monumental memory found schoolwork very boring.he is always streets ahead and is extremely innovative. He s 21 now and tels me schoolwork was v ery dull.

Arcticdream Mon 28-Jan-13 05:00:09

Try not to battle too much with him I found my ds was very sensitive but also very oppositional and angry if people were overly negative and unfair with him.

GothAnneGeddes Mon 28-Jan-13 05:12:24

O.P - while I understand why he can be quite hard work, his comments you've told us made me smile.

I would agree that school need to back off and look at the bigger picture if possible.

Hyperballad Mon 28-Jan-13 06:06:05

OP, will you update this thread in 15 years and tell us what he is up to?!

My bets are he's runn

Hyperballad Mon 28-Jan-13 06:08:39

My bets are he's running his own successful business and treats his mum to nice meals out and bunches of flowers regularly! smile

Goldmandra Mon 28-Jan-13 10:07:24

I agree with all the comments about taking the pressure off as much as possible, rewards for homework, etc but I also think you need to try to get to the bottom of why he can't concentrate in the classroom.

Has anyone looked into his sensory processing? My DD2 has AS and she cannot concentrate in rooms where the smells, lights, touches or noise are overpowering.

The smell could be of washing powder on another child's clothes or the teacher's perfume.

Noises could be from flourescent tubes, other children whispering or a fan running.

The light could simply be the sun being low in the sky and shining in through the window.

Touching could be a label in her clothes, other pupils brushing past her or someone wobbling the table.

They are all things that most children will take in their stride or perhaps find to be a minor irritation but my DD zones out completely. She literally takes herself away from the classroom in her head and becomes unaware of what is happening around her and the passage of time. It is a self defence mechanism and the solution is to remove the sensory stimuli she can't cope with. She doesn't recognise these stimuli as problematic for herself. Someone else has to notice them for her a lot of the time. It took a skilled OT and a specialist Autism teacher to spot what was happening but small adjustments have made a big difference.

She also has always had a big problem with homework. In her head school work is for school and home is for relaxing. In the end the Ed Psych recommended that the school stopped asking her to do it.

Another thing you should look into is Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA). It is an element of Autism but can be an overarching difficulty on its own. Children with this don't respond well to normal behaviour management strategies and find pressure to do things unbearable and counter-productive. Putting pressure on my DD2 to perform increases her anxiety and reduces her ability to process thought and language. She then has no hope of completing a task.

Another thing to look at is "Impaired Executive Junction". This is another element of Autism but is also present in ADD and ADHD. It can mean that a task which involves several elements can become overwhelming even though each individual element is well within the child's ability. My DD2 freezes when presented with a blank piece of paper yet she can verbally recount all the information she needs to present on the paper faultlessly. She needs a framework to work within.

One of DD2's biggiest issues when writing anything in the classroom is the overwhelming choices of words and methods she has to choose from. She went through a stage of having to do every sum using every method because she couldn't choose just one. Writing things down was nigh on impossible because she had to choose every option for every word and her sentences became lists of similes. Her solution was to zone out and write nothing until a teacher or TA was talking her through it and choosing the words for her. Again it took a lot of hard work to find out what was going on and why.

Despite all of these difficulties DD2 is very academically able and is very adept at appearing to be neurotypical and simply a bit awkward and inattentive.

There are ways that the teachers would help work out if any of these problems are the root cause of his concentration problems. They could also invite their Autism outreach team to come and observe him in the classroom.

I think you need to ask for a meeting with the class teacher and SENCo and start by asking them to give him a homework-free period. In the meantime they can look further into what might be disrupting his attention.

EllenJaneisstillnotmyname Mon 28-Jan-13 10:27:21

OP, my DS2 has SN and is similar to your DS, but much more extreme. Your DS doesn't sound like he has any SN to me. He sounds like an ordinary, if rather stroppy, boy.

Your school, on the other hand, sounds horrible! He's 9, so in Y4? That's an awful lot of homework they're expecting him to do. In Y4 my DSs got 10 spellings, and either a maths or literacy task once a week, that took maybe 1/2 hour. Plus reading, but at that age they could read what they liked. My DS2 only ever reads Horrible Science or Guinness book of records by choice, so I do make him read one fiction book a month, be it Jeremy Strong or something equally appealing.

I wonder if an alternative to HE would be to investigate your local schools and find one that is less pushy. It sounds like he needs to find somewhere that respects him as an individual and is more flexible around his learning style before he's put off education for life. His school sounds like a SATs factory to me. sad

NearMissAgain Tue 29-Jan-13 00:17:28

I do think he has far too much homework and I'm glad you all agree. That makes me feel not so bad if he doesn't get it all done. Today, for example, he had to do the usual 45 minutes reading and log the page numbers, write a poem, and come up with 20 interesting words in different grammatical categories then put 5 of them into interesting sentences. He didn't have any maths but sometimes he will have maths set on top of all that.

I talked to him about pocket money for homework and he was keen to try. He rattled off a poem very quickly - he has no difficulty with that kind of task as his mind is brimming with (strange) ideas. He wrote all about a person who looks different and how they felt - it was actually very good. He complained like mad about finding the words for the sentences task, and refused to even try at first. I kept gently reminding about the money. He just wanted to get it done and wrote the simplest words he could think of. I wasn't sure whether to push any more - it's so frustrating as I know he can do it. We narrowly avoided a meltdown and he eventually came up with some great ideas, but what a struggle. Because he was annoyed at me by this point his sentences were things like "I ran FRANTICALLY up the stairs to escape from my mum because she was DEMANDING more and more homework."

I have wondered about both PDA and ADHD - he ticks boxes for some SN but no diagnosis so anything there must be mild. I'm not keen to pursue any diagnosis at the moment but always interested to find out more and strategies for coping/helping. We are lucky that he has a small school/class with lots of support where it's needed.

Thanks again smile.

VicarInaTutu Tue 29-Jan-13 00:25:49

Can i just ask who did the assessments with your son that you spoke about OP?

was it the school ed psyche?
or an independent or clinical psyche? or a doctor? or someone else?

i ask simply because i am the mum to a 21 yr old with above average intelligence and academic ability, who has SEN in the form of AS, Dyspraxia and dyslexia.

all denied by the school ed psyche - admission of a SEN can cost the LEA and in this climate of money saving its not to their advantage....

DS was dx by several people back in the 90s, he saw lots of different professionals including clinical phsyce, OT, SALT, .

DD has dyslexia but was harder to spot as she is very well organised and hid most of her difficulties, she was tested at school and found to be dyslexic, not much help but she does have a reader for exams.

you need to really get to the bottom of why he switches off....what is it that he finds difficult and why.

bubbles1231 Tue 29-Jan-13 00:50:28

Give him more responsibility and he will probably thrive on it. ask if if there are any chores he might want to do. DS1 wanted to hang the washing out at 9. I had to sit on my hands watching all those crumpled clothes bunched on the line, but allowing him to do small things helped. He was also given a toolkit- a proper one not pretend. My stepdad gave him offcuts of timber and some nails & he had a great time sawing and hammering, most of it nailing odd bits of timber to a tree in the garden.Cooking may be another thing. I discovered DS1 is really good at pastry, again I had to sit on my hands at the mess but he loves making mince pies.

Goldmandra Tue 29-Jan-13 07:48:03

I have wondered about both PDA and ADHD - he ticks boxes for some SN but no diagnosis so anything there must be mild.

It doesn't follow that the difficulties are mild. Lack of diagnosis often means that an unskilled clinician has made the decision and the child is High Functioning and good at camouflaging symptoms.

As a child gets older these types of difficulty can present more and more of a problem and by High School quite a few children are unable to attend.

It's fine to say you have chosen not to pursue further assessment but please don't make this decision based on the fact that any condition couldn't have a serious effect on him.

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