Can anyone tell me if my DS might have a particular condition/learning difficulty?

(29 Posts)
MGMidget Wed 03-Feb-16 11:23:59

I am starting to suspect that my DS (aged 8) might have a learning difficulty or a particular condition. Having tried googling some of his symptoms a number of possibilities pop up but he doesn't fit neatly into a particular box. I'm not sure yet if I should be trying to take this further and don't want to create a problem if there isn't one so advice from mumsnetters would be appreciated. I wondered if I list some of the symptoms whether anyone more knowledgeable than me would have any suggestions or can tell me if my DS is just a normal boy?

He is inconsistent in his focus in class. Called a 'dreamer' by some teachers. Also, a common message is that 'when focused' he produces really good work. Problem is he often loses focus. His latest form teacher has said he seems to have problems with multiple instructions. She has also given him a 'fiddle toy' to help him focus in class. He is the only child in the class with a 'fiddle toy'. At home I have to keep repeating instructions to get him to do things and he is a big fidgeter.

He has found writing difficult and has needed to be taken out of the class for extra writing lessons. However, his reading seems to be good for his age. The main problem is his letter formation which is sloppy, plus he has to be constantly reminded of the basics of sentence construction (i.e. capital letters and full stops) and to keep his letters evenly sized/spaced, put spaces between words etc. He tends to write as little as possible - if they provide a sheet of A4 to answer a question, he'll try and get away with three lines or so of an answer. On the positive side he has improved a lot in the past few weeks after having extra lessons so is capable of improvement.

He is quite clumsy, often tripping up. Not very well coordinated in sport (relative to his peers of the same age).

He has an amazing memory for facts. Knows all sorts of trivia and detail about subjects he is really interested in. Hence his factual knowledge of the relevant subjects he now covers at school (science, history etc) is considered as pretty exceptional by his teachers.

He doesn't seem to have an social behaviour problems. Teachers note he is kind, gets on with everyone etc. He has often been regarded as one of the quieter ones in class however and had to be drawn out of himself. He is improving in this now though and speaks up, asks more questions etc. However, his current form teacher said when he gets enthusiastic he can't help sharing his knowledge all the time and needs to learn to find the right time to speak up rather than interrupting the lesson.

Does anyone have any idea if my son might have a particular condition or is he a normal 8 year old? Thanks!

BishopBrennansArse Wed 03-Feb-16 11:26:07

It's hard to say as none of us are professionals.
There are elements there that might suggest some kind of disorder, perhaps Developmental Co-Ordination Disorder or some kind of sensory processing disorder.

The only way you will know is by getting a referral to your local child development centre - not sure if school nurse can refer but your GP should be able to.

Pipistrella Wed 03-Feb-16 11:40:38

It sounds as though concentration and processing of information are something he might struggle with.

My own son is quite similar - socially just fits in, gets on with everyone, can't do something I ask him to do unless it's repeated several times, forgets what he is doing, can't focus in class or at home.

His IQ is 120-130 range and was higher at 7 (over 140) so he isn't daft.

His writing is also atrocious.

We had him assessed for dyslexia at 10, and he was found to be mildly dyslexic having overcome a lot of his issues with coping strategies - and also borderline dyspraxic. He found it hard to learn to ride a bike and is always falling over his own feet.

Primary school didn't want to know, and of course he didn't pass his 11 plus (nearly but not quite) and he is now at a super school which allows him to be a bit slow, while having a good attitude and so on - he's well liked by teachers and kids. That's all that matters to him though he is doing well in his subjects too.

It's very frustrating when you know your child is clever, and they just struggle to get the information in and out.

With ds, once it's in, it's properly in. it's just getting it in - it seems to swirl round and round his head before entering his brain smile It's also like he is slow to process his OWN signals - like he doesn't recognise when he's hungry, or when he's over tired.

Not sure what advice to offer, we were quite lost with it too, but don't give up hope, often these children seem to catch up later on and become at least as successful as their more organised peers.

Pipistrella Wed 03-Feb-16 11:42:59

Oh and the secondary school suggested he use a laptop for large amounts of writing. He uses it in English, History, RE and Geog. and for homework topics.

He produces some fantastic work on it. I still can't read his handwriting though smile but having the laptop now means he will get to use it for his GCSEs, as it's his 'usual way of working'. I think it's possibly the difference between him passing and failing tbh.

Avebury Wed 03-Feb-16 11:44:45

I could have written this post. Nothing constructive to offer though I'm afraid. School are in the process of referring to an educational psychologist but because DS isn't a 'problem' or disruptive in class it has been quite hard to get the ball rolling.

Keeptrudging Wed 03-Feb-16 11:46:59

Have a look at dyspraxia - he sounds a lot like my son. How is he with sports/throwing and catching/judging speed and distance etc?

starry0ne Wed 03-Feb-16 11:51:40

Look up Dysgraphia...

My Ds has this ..When diagnosed his teacher had never heard of it... I know a few teachers who haven't either so doesn't seem to be something people look for like dyslexia or dyspraxia

cedricsneer Wed 03-Feb-16 11:55:11

He sounds exactly like my ds (9) who has a diagnosis of DCD with a little ADHD (inattentive type).

Could you get an OT referral from your GP - that was our route to diagnosis. My ds also gets very anxious and has a few sensory problems (eg big crowds/noise/spacial awareness in big crowds). This was what led to us having him diagnosed at 7 - he is doing brilliantly at 9.

He also doesn't really have social issues other than shyness and anxiety.

Borninthe60s Wed 03-Feb-16 12:17:46

Dyslexic dyspraxia both spring to mind. Ask school or GP to have him checked out.

MGMidget Wed 03-Feb-16 12:29:21

Thank you everyone for the suggestions so far! Some of your comments struck a chord:

DS is slow to process his own signals (just as you mentioned about your DS Pipistrella). In our case we had trouble getting him dry at night and he still wets the bed occasionally. During the day I often see him skipping about and ask if he needs the toilet only to get an emphatic 'no' response. A few minutes later he's running to the loo! And sometimes he doesn't make it in time.

Keeptrudging: Re: throwing and catching etc. We've worked on it with him a bit but he's not very good. Not totally hopeless though. He is reasonably good at hitting a ball as he's had tennis lessons, done some cricket etc. Overarm bowling in cricket definitely needs work and cricket coach suggested he practice wearing a shin guard on his arm to get used to bowling straight-armed.

Cedricsneer and Keeptrudging: He seems a bit distracted in sport where he needs to keep an eye on the ball but not necessarily act immediately - so when fielding in cricket or playing football he'll 'hang back' and not be in the thick of the action and the ball will fly past him without him making much of an attempt to do anything about it. I'm not sure if this is lack or concentration or nervousness. He has told me he is worried about getting hurt in football and cricket for example which might account for the 'hanging back' and letting the ball go past him.

MGMidget Wed 03-Feb-16 12:32:13

Oh, and I forgot to say that he is also quite disorganised. Frequently forgets what he needs to bring home from school (e.g. coat in winter, dirty sports kit, homework etc). I now have to do a check at pick up time to see if homework is in his bag, check all items are in his sports bag on relevant day etc. On many days we have to go back to the classroom for something he has forgotten. He's forever losing things at school as well.

MGMidget Wed 03-Feb-16 12:38:25

And thanks, it sounds like I should be getting him checked out!

Keeptrudging Wed 03-Feb-16 12:51:51

Yes, DS also has ADHD and this was picked up (informally) in nursery as he was a very visible/audible child (putting it mildly grin). School put everything down to that, his dyspraxia wasn't diagnosed until end of primary, had it been spotted sooner he could have had OT etc. He was allowed to use a laptop in secondary/extra time & quiet space for exams. He played football for a wee while, he would get distracted by spectators, or not be able to judge when the ball was nearing him - it was painful to watch! He would go to pick up a glass and it would just slip through his fingers as he has grip issues. Shoe laces/buttons/leg, all problematic. Very disorganised/forgetful, yet he's also high IQ (tested by hospital). Definitely worth getting checked out - the school doctor can be a good support sometimes.

GXmummy Sat 06-Feb-16 19:38:35

This sounds like Dyspraxia/DCD

Soapmaker34 Sat 06-Feb-16 19:45:01

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

t1mum Sat 06-Feb-16 19:49:13

My DS is similar. School suggested dyspraxia (DCD). He's not dyspraxic but has a very slow processing speed in comparison to his IQ (88 percentile differences). An OT diagnosed some issues with strength and proprioception (understanding where you are space). He now gets extra time in tests, has some support for maths, has some exercises from the OT, uses a fiddle toy and a "feedback wedge" to sit on as well as a writing slope. He will do a typing course and use a laptop from year 5, although writing with a fountain pen has helped a bit. The teachers understanding that he's not being "naughty" or "frustrating" has helped immensely. I'm not sure he'll fully fulfill his potential in a school environment but confident that our knowledge can help him make the right career choices and that he can be successful if he continues to grow his confidence.

We conducted the EP and OT privately which cost about £600 in total I'm afraid.

Ditsy4 Sat 06-Feb-16 20:04:52

I work in a school. I have worked with lots of children with SEN.
I think Dyspraxia is a possibility. Have a chat to the class teacher and SENCO. I have worked with two children with this condition in the past. If you don't get any support there ask your GP.

TheGonnagle Sat 06-Feb-16 20:16:28

You have just described my dd to a pin. She (and I) have ehlers danlos syndrome which is not just a joint condition. Many things you have written here resonate including:
difficulty with hand writing
inability to sit still
poor proprioception, esp. throwing and catching
slow self signalling, particularly with bladder control which can be a major issue for eds kids
inability to bowl straight armed
clumsiness and lack of coordination.

My dd is also forgetful and easily distracted but I think that's her rather than her condition!

Does your ds get tired easily? Bruise easily? Hyper mobile/double jointed? It might be worth a read on the subject before you go down the aspergers/dyspraxia route.
I should add that dd has also been assessed by ed.psych and pead. occupational health and they have lots and lots of helpful things and strategies in place for her at school now.
If I can help you further please feel free to pm me.

weebarra Sat 06-Feb-16 20:23:20

DS1 is 8 and was diagnosed with dyspraxia last year. He has a laptop now which helps for extended writing. He also has a fiddle box, writing wedge and chewellery (he chews his clothes too!). He's also started taekwondo to help with his coordination.

Cassimin Sat 06-Feb-16 20:25:37

You could also look at dysgraphia.
My little one has ADHD and they suspect somewhere on the autistic spectrum.
Neurodevelopmental problems come in all different guises.
Each child may have different symptoms.
You just have to ensure you are proactive and get all the help your child needs. If you think there is something different about them you need to research it further.

Keeptrudging Sat 06-Feb-16 23:02:12

Also so many symptoms overlap, which seems to confuse schools, who like a nice single diagnosis rather than awkward multiple ones!

Ditsy4 Sat 06-Feb-16 23:33:31

Really!
I haven't found that to be th me case! It sometimes takes a while to get a diagnosis.

MGMidget Sat 27-Feb-16 17:53:08

Thank you everyone for your comments. I had a chat with the teacher who said she could get DS assessed if we wanted to. However, normally at this stage they would adopt a 'wait and see' approach and not assess him until towards the end of year 4 if he still has some problems with losing focus in class, fidgeting, mild disruption (calling out in class instead of putting hand up) etc. She says the interventions they would use would be the same at this stage regardless of whether they had a formal diagnosis of a problem or not - they are already doing some interventions with him such as the 'fiddle toy'. I am wondering therefore, if there is a downside to asking my DS to be assessed at this stage if it won't make any difference to the interventions they would adopt at the moment? E.g. if he gets labelled with certain conditions could it mean teachers view him differently and it has a negative affect on their view of him? This would really only be an issue if there's a possibility he's going to grow out of these issues and I am wondering if that is why a 'wait and see' approach is taken in these circumstances! Views anyone??

MGMidget Sat 27-Feb-16 17:54:33

PS - my DS is currently in year 3!

Flanks Mon 29-Feb-16 08:44:37

Hi Midget

There is no problem with making sure the school realises you are concerned and that you may wish for an assessment at some point.

They are correct to state that at this point many of the responses would be the same regardless of diagnosis, not least because some difficulties may be due to developmental milestones, or inadequate teaching. These would be addressed after assessment as well.

There is something called Response to Intervention which is quite dominant in diagnosis now. When performing a diagnostic assessment, an assessor (ideally) wants to know that everything environmental has been tried. This is because then the assessor can more reasonably assume that they are looking for other things which relate to underlying difficulties.

So the Response to Intervention serves three purposes.
1) It recognises a difficulty and offers essential instruction to try and support.

2) It therefore also measures the difficulty that the child has. If a child responds to the intervention, but not as much as expected, then this is meaningful and important to know. If they respond completely, then the process has been a success before assessment takes place. If they respond not at all, or only in very limited ways, then it is particularly significant for the assessor that will visit later.

3) It rules out environmental or inadequate teaching as the cause of any difficulties which would be measured by the assessor. This is very important as the majority of learning difficulty definitions include a phrase 'unexpected difficulty in ... assuming appropriate teaching etc'.

So in short, I think you are correct to be having the discussion you are having with school. You are correct to put 'assessment' on the agenda, because that also sets a timeframe to measure your dc's response to intervention. It also sounds as if the school is doing their job and being very open with you, which is always a good sign!

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