DS1 (9) not understanding verbal instructions/followi
ng read aloud stories
Wondering if this is a real problem, or just lack of concentration/laziness. I'd be grateful for any other mumsnetters' experiences.
DS1 is now in Year 4 and he is getting increasingly upset/angry/depressed. He says he can't remember what his teacher is saying in class (so he can't follow instructions to the end of a task, and he can't remember stories that are read to him) and he is calling himself stupid and telling me he is no good at anything and he wants to die.
At this point, I should say that he loves a bit of attention and is the middle child!
For many years he has had a tendency to get angry if I give him complicated instructions at home. Sometimes when he asks a question (e.g. about traffic signs, or the universe, the usual stuff) he gets frustrated and angry as I answer him even tho I try to use age-appropriate language and not to go into details that I judge are unnecessary.
I read a bedtime story either to him and his older sister, or to him and his younger brother as often as I can. He is fine with DS2's books (but then DS2 is just 5, and they are picture books!). But when I read to him with his sister although he seems to follow the story well and he understands the vocabulary etc, he doesn't seem to be able to remember the story. (For instance, he doesn't carry events over from one night to the next. He forgets what happens at the beginning of the book by the time we get to the end, etc.)
His teacher has spoken to me about his work, implying (I think) that he isn't really doing justice to himself and should be working harder. Because she is very nice she has been asking if he's happy, sleeping enough etc.
He is not dyslexic (his spelling is very good) and is writing at a level 3c, apparently, so I don't think he has any real literacy problems. As I said, it just seems that he can't handle too many bits of verbal information at any one time. (He is brilliant at following IKEA flat pack instructions and those strange picture instructions that come with Lego. He can also map-read pretty well for someone of his age.)
Is it laziness? Stroppiness? Boy-not-wanting-to-be-told-ness? Hating schoolness? Is it something other mumsnetters recognise? Should I be strict with him and get him to knuckle down, or is there a real problem here?
Please do let me know if you've any similar experiences.
could he have some sort of processing problem? I don't know much about them - have seen them mentioned on here and read a little bit whilst trying to work out what is going on with my own daughter.
I'm sure it's a real problem.
I think it's sad that you have such low expectations of your boy that you could think he was just not concentrating
Could be due to:
poor working memory
poor auditory processing
poor receptive language
attention defecit disorder
ds1 is like this. teachers are meant to understand that children learn in different ways. ds is a visual learner . one year he had a teacher who gave all her instructions verbally and wrote nothing on the board and he found that difficult .
i discussed coping strategies with him and he decided to make notes as things were being explained . this has helped a lot.
MyPhoenixRose, please be reassured that I really don't have low expectations of him. His talents are legion: he can pick out any number of James Bond theme tunes on the piano by ear; his choice of colour and the boldness of his artwork is incredible for his age; he is a brilliant cartoonist; he is funny and a wide range of loyal friends; at the age of barely 5 he strode up Catbells in the Lake District when much older children were fussing, whining and complaining; he's had a number of painful operations and his physical bravery and cheerfulness throughout these was impressive. But he can be lazy, and he has never really enjoyed school. (Why would he? He is physical and visual and his school doesn't really value these two strengths, or at least it values the ability to sit still and write more.)
What I need to know is if he just needs my general support and encouragement (because he is bored, discouraged, doesn't feel like putting in the extra effort he needs to), or if it might be something that I need to discuss with the school because it ticks one of their 'learning help' boxes.
When DS1 leaves school, or even when he gets to secondary, he is going to fly … I'm just trying to make sure he doesn't clip his own wings before he gets to that point.
But to get back to your helpful list, I don't think it's ADD. There is a boy in his class with this and I am good friends with his mother. I hadn't heard of any of the other three so I will try to find out about them. It's really useful to have some technical language to try to investigate, thank you.
Steeking: good point about making notes, I think that might help because he loves to have a 'crib sheet' when preparing to write something for homework.
"this is a real problem, or just lack of concentration/laziness"
I also think this is a real problem. You sound like a brilliant mother to me and like someone who could really meet this challenge.
I've had two boys with processing problems. You have to use your own expertise on your child to help them find workarounds - the learning support people call it "scaffolding" their learning. I think the aim is for him to recognise accept and value his slightly "tilted" intellectual strengths whilst also being willing to work on the other weaker skills at the right level.
poor working memory
poor auditory processing
poor receptive language
were all things that sprang to my mind too - (my kids had the second two but not the first) for all of these, a first line of help is to make things more visual. It's telling that he enjoys the younger sibling's books. Have you considered age-appropriate cartoon books for pleasure as an alternative to text based books?
Interesting too that he picks out tunes easily. Good rhythm? If he has good fine motor skills, would you consider electric guitar lessons? (by choosing this instrument you eliminate the possibility of a teacher who insists on a reading-focussed approach). How is he with poetry? Turning things into rhymes might help (it helped a lot with one of my kids).
I think you should research all the techie stuff too but when it comes to the teachers I would "stick to the facts" and the observations. Teachers are brilliant at harnessing strengths to shore up weaknesses - you're the coach, they're your key strikers........
I'd also consider a visit to, say, speech and language therapy, and if any kind of label that brings help is available grab it (but it will never be a substitute for the expertise you already have on this child).
good luck, I actually enjoyed helping my sons xx
don't rule out some degree of dyslexia - he could be compensating for it if he is very bright so has learned to read and write well but still has some degree of difficulty with it. Do they do any comprehension exercises in school? I remember doing them when I was about yr4ish so I am sure they do something like that. an short passage to answer questions about? and maths problems when in sentences. how does he manage things like that?
I think it would be worth your while speaking to the teacher and explaining the things you are aware of from home, or ask to speak to the SENCO for some advice. They will have more experience and can help piece together the bits of the jigsaw. If they aren't aware at the moment of the problems with listening to stories etc at home then they won't recognise any patterns.
And I agree with you - I too thought that my daughter was just being difficult, then I realised she actually had a problem but initially, before you put everything together which individually doesn't seem an issue, you wouldn't imagine it might be a condition you have no experience of or have even heard of. The main thing is that now you have started to recognise a pattern and can hopefully get some help from school and work out where to go from here.
goonIcantakeit and Periwinkle007, thank you so much for your brilliant responses, building on MyPhoenixRose's list.
DS1 was late to talk and slow to read/write. (He is left-handed and still struggles to produce neat handwriting.) So perhaps I shouldn't rule out some dyslexia. (For a long time, famously in the family, he spelt frog as 'throg' and he still confuses 'trifle' and 'rifle'. Both amuse the family but I suppose they might point towards something interesting?) They don't do comprehension yet but DD started them seriously in Year 5 so I can see that it would be good to prepare!
He loves cartoons/graphic novels. I can't get him to read a 'chapter book' but when we get home from school he will go and lie on his bed to read The Beano, Calvin and Hobbes or Alex Rider graphic novels for as long as he is allowed (by his younger brother!).
He does have good rhythm and a good musical ear. (His sister is the one doing ballet lessons but he would wipe the floor with most of the girls in her classes: he moves beautifully.) He is learning the piano and the clarinet and he seems to be handling musical notation OK at the moment. But I am sure he'd love the electric guitar. A fellow parent is a teacher: I'll have a word with him. I'll also try the poetry approach. He does love all the Julia Donaldson type rhyming stories.
Thank you all so much. My post was prompted by a rather dreadful night last night as we struggled to prepare for a Big Writing (for those of you know what that is) assignment based on what he could recall of a book the teacher was reading to them in class. I felt completely without an answer for him, as this was just the latest in a succession of similar occasions, and I didn't know where to go … but now I'm quite excited and I feel I some areas to research and some tools … thank you!
write it all down in a notebook, anything a bit different, bit puzzling, good things as well as not so good, it will help you to see patterns. I seriously believe my daughter is a compensating/stealth/hidden dyslexic but she has other problems as well and we are just beginning a process to try and find out what might help.
I tend to work on the principal that it doesn't matter WHAT the problem is if you can find what works to overcome it.
definitely worth checking with comprehension exercises, you could set your own short easy one just as an experiment, and also the maths problems - I ALWAYS struggled with them. was a whizz at maths otherwise but put it in a sentence and I couldn't do it, could read exceptionally well though but couldn't do comprehension exercises either. looking back I think I was/am a hidden dyslexic. I never quite met expectations or achieved as well as I probably should have done.
Could he be dyspraxic - google for symptoms
Don't rule out some level of dyslexia
ADD can present without the hyperactivity component - children often feel like their brain "switches off" after they have been concentrating for a second or two. You can sometimes see this happening if you sit next to them and keep watching their face as you try and explain something to them. There is almost a "double take" as the brain switches off.
Can you teach him mind-mapping for preparing for things like the Big Write?
Second the other views that it might be something to do with poor receptive language or working memory.
I'm not an expert but just wanted to give you my experience - your son sounds remarkably similar to DSS, who can only follow very simple instructions, gets confused by long explanations (you could actually see him mentally shut down half way through), etc etc. It took a lot of pushing by us but the school finally tested him in year 5 and, hey presto!, found he was dyslexic. Suddenly it all made sense, and we realised that in younger years he'd developed great coping strategies for reading (by memorising a story or working out a story from pictures rather than actually reading the words) etc but as he got older he fell further and further behind his peers. Now 14, he's caught up again amazingly well, as he's had some great support at his senior school.
you could actually see him mentally shut down half way through), etc etc
Morning - I wonder if it's like when IT people "explain" why your computer isn't working and your brain just shuts down and you'd pay any money just to make them stop....
My elder DD also has/had problems with verbal instructions.
Helped by asking them to be written up on the board.
(However she also had problems sequencing written instructions too).
Does he also have problems with mental maths? DD can't hold the numbers in her head long enough for this, so mental maths tests are more or less written off. In y6 any marks for that test were treated as bonus marks by us.
It has got better with age, but we have still needed to ask some secondary teachers to write instructions on the board.
Dd has trouble processing more than 1 instruction at a time. She is dyslexic. Apart from his reading and writing skills you are talking about my dd and she is 14. Dyslexia covers many different paths. Dd diagnosed as dyslexic and ADD.
DS doesn't do narrative, I recognise several parts of OP's descriptions & especially that. But DS has loads of problems OP's child doesn't, too.
I have a horrible feeling that "processing problems" is something I could never get anyone IRL to recognise as some kind of valid diagnosis.
Good luck in your quest, OP.
Dd's dyslexia "test" had exercises that deal with processing skills.
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