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AIBU about DS's inability to concentrate?

(40 Posts)
footballmum Thu 22-Sep-16 08:16:30

DS2 will be 10 in two weeks. Just started Year 5. We're two weeks into the new school year and he has lost his trainers, two school coats, two jumpers and a lunch bag. This isn't a new thing. He seems totally unable to focus on what he needs to do or his surroundings. When walking to school he skips along in a world of his own, completely unaware of roads or the people walking in front of him. His teachers report the same thing. He's a bright boy but is always distracted or goes off on a tangent.

I am so frustrated with him this morning he's had a massive bollocking and I'm on the verge of tears (and so is he). I know this isn't the answer but I swear my head is going to explode!!

In the interests of full disclosure, he is a complete tech addict. He's always on his iPad or PS4. We do limit his tech time to two hours a school night but outside that we don't really restrict it. I'm beginning to wonder whether this is part of the problem but it doesn't explain why he's like it at school?

Does anyone have children like this and if so are there any techniques you've found have worked? Will he just outgrow it because at the moment I cannot see how I can trust him to walk to school on his own!!

tornandhurt Thu 22-Sep-16 08:59:29

My DS is quite a bit younger at 5 and is very much the same in terms of being distracted. Whilst he does have some other indicators too, he's being assessed for ADD amongst other things. Have you thought about taking him to the docs and asking for a referral??

I sympathise as its incredibly frustrating as a parent when they appear so disorganised, but there could be more to it.

As a side, and please don't take this the wrong way, but 2 hours a night on iPad or PS4 seems an awful lot to me!

footballmum Thu 22-Sep-16 09:08:30

You know it has crossed my mind but I thought I was a bit paranoid because I have a nephew who is severely autistic and I spent the DSs early years in a state of high alert waiting for them to regress. If he is ASD he's very high functioning because he is academically very bright and he doesn't struggle with friendships or relationships.

Is 2 hours a long time? I thought we were quite strict! All of his friends seem to be on it from the minute they get home from school until they go to bed confused

imnotreally Thu 22-Sep-16 09:36:07

Sounds like ADHD. Not autism. Have school raised concerns?

violetbunny Thu 22-Sep-16 09:43:25

Sounds like it could be ADHD. My partner has been diagnosed with it. He doesn't struggle to concentrate when he is highly engaged but when it's something that doesn't interest him much he will lose focus very quickly. He has been prescribed medication though which seems to be helping a lot with his concentration and forgetfulness.

lilydaisyrose Thu 22-Sep-16 09:45:12

I think 2 hours on a school night is really excessive, sorry. My kids don't even get that at a weekend! I'm amazed you manage to fit in 2 hours on a school night tbh, by the time we are home, after school activities, tidying, tea, homework and music practice it's 7 or 7.30pm and time for showers and bed.

Mine don't go on their tablets every day, just when they ask. Maybe once every 3 or 4 days - one evening a week for 30 mins or so then a wee while at the weekends.

tornandhurt Thu 22-Sep-16 09:48:42

It might be worth exploring. Until we went down this route I didn't really see the signs. Admittedly our DS does struggle with reading and writing a bit, but in all other areas, maths in particular he excels. If nothing else it rules it out!

I might be too far the other way, mine are lucky to get 30 mins (including my almost 10 year old DD). When I was young it was playing outside digging in the garden, or with lego or with my barbies - kids eh!!

BlindAssassin1 Thu 22-Sep-16 09:50:34

My DS is a bit younger than yours but similar 'off in a world of his own', though is social and like you we had the concern about autism (family link). There is no way I can trust him near a road to walk along sensibly without drifting into on-coming traffic! Hand holding at all times.

I have to limit screen time considerably or he's even worse.

However, if he's given practical, hands-on activities or chores he responds very well. Laying the table, tidying up a book shelf etc. I don't want to kill his imagination but ground him in reality.

Like you it drives me nuts but I have to accept him how he is. Its tough.

imnotreally Thu 22-Sep-16 09:54:20

I have two with autism and ADHD. I always thought I was incredibly scatty and disorganised but now recognise signs of ADHD in myself. It doesn't always come with the hyperactivity.

acasualobserver Thu 22-Sep-16 09:58:51


In it there is a space-ship
and a project
for doing away with piano lessons.

And there is
Noah’s ark,
which shall be first.

And there is
an entirely new bird,
an entirely new hare,
an entirely new bumble-bee.

There is a river
that flows upwards.

There is a multiplication table.

There is anti-matter.

And it just cannot be trimmed.

I believe
that only what cannot be trimmed
is a head.

There is much promise
in the circumstance
that so many people have heads.

~ Miroslav Holub (1923-1998), Czech poet

FinallyHere Thu 22-Sep-16 09:59:14

Could you use the iPad calendar to help him remember things. I'm cough, cough fifty years older and would lose everything, and forget everything left to my own devices. I use the calendar to organise my life, you can set a warning for meeting, so i have a regular , recurring meeting with myself to get my self out of the door. It reminds me my go out checklist (keys, glasses, phone, ipad, fitbit, credit cards)

I avoid carrying a handbag, and minimise the 'stuff' i carry around so i am less likely to be parted from it.

If you have a phone, too, you could be invited to the meetings, too. So you see the same reminder. I find the 'neutral' phone reminder very different to a person nagging, but the impact is the same. Hope you find what works for you, pm me if you are not sure how to do any of this. Its very simple, once you have done it.

user1471421772 Thu 22-Sep-16 10:32:39

My first thought was dyspraxia - typically characterised by poor organisational skills and difficulty remembering things that require a sequence of actions (although no difficulty remembering facts etc). Does he have coordination problems/take longer than others to learn to ride a bike? Lists help - laminate one and put it inside his bag to refer to - my son uses a whiteboard pen to tick items off - it has made such a difference. We have a similar list for what he needs to get ready for school.
I doubt the tech has anything to do with it, but 2 hours is quite a lot.

footballmum Thu 22-Sep-16 11:05:17

Thanks everyone. All of that feedback is really amazing. I'd never considered ADHD but will look into it in more detail. He is a bit clumsy but he's also left handed which doesn't help. He's such a lovely boy in so many respects. He's really affable and doesn't have a competitive bone in his body and is really popular because he's such a sweetie. It's all very adorable when they're little but the closer he gets towards starting high school the more I'm actually starting to worry about him.

Again, thank you for not flaming me. The level of my frustration this morning must have been so high I was rave enough to post in AIBU!!

user1471421772 Thu 22-Sep-16 11:12:08

If he's clumsy then that really makes me think dyspraxia - look it up and see what you think. It helped me not feel so frustrated with my son - lists have made such a difference.

footballmum Thu 22-Sep-16 11:35:10

Hmmm. Just had a bit of a google and at first glance he seems to be a bit of both! He displays none of the aggression or moodiness that's associated with ADHD but all of the other symptoms fit (he's a dreadful fidgeter) and he is physically awkward in some respects but not all, for example he mastered riding a bike really quickly!

I only mentioned one of my nephews in my OP but I have another who is dyspraxic and one who I think is undiagnosed ADHD. Not looking great is it?

I'll need to get DH on board with this as I think his first reaction will be that he's fine and we shouldn't "label" him but I'm coming more from the angle that this is only going to get worse as he gets older and if we can understand it we can help him put in place techniques that will help him manage the condition. I have to say I'd be really reluctant to medicate him but I'm very interested in the dietary impact on the condition.

I'm definitely going for the lists thing as I think that might help him focus on his daily routine. I might get him a notebook to take to school so I can write in there what he needs to remember at school.

JennieLee Thu 22-Sep-16 11:43:02

I don't think the information is enough to arrive at any clear conclusions.

But it does remind me a little of my stepson - who almost certainly has high-functioning autism.. At that age he became very interested in computers - there weren't iPads, mobile etc around. He was bright and chatty and cheerful. But would only concentrate if something interested him. He was careless and hapless.

The organisational problems became a lot more marked at secondary school. The term is, I think, 'weak executive coherence'. Getting cross never made a blind bit of difference. In my stepson's case it's a wiring thing.

I think in some ways people with high-functioning autism - though bright - need longer to master certain skills. (Things aren't instinctive. They get there in the end but by different routes. The B-roads, rather than the motorways.) So it can help to think of them as late developers.

WhiteDraig Thu 22-Sep-16 11:53:21

I have dyspraxia - as well as dyslexia it's often co-morbid with other things.

I think my Mum spent a lot of time teaching me how to be/get organised. We have the same problems with our DC.

We have a chalk board near the door - with notes on for that day. We have check lists of thing that have to be done ever week day - they can tick of every morning. There are lots of verbal reminders - and getting organised in plenty of time - night before.

Walk in - we cross same points really busy road so we always use crossing. Eldest just started secondary - did lots of walked to and from teh place flagging up places to cross and place to watch out for cars - they also practise walk by themselves despite walking in with friends once school started.

At minute doing a lot of checking just before eldest leaves house - what have they got that day, do they have homework to hand in all the books they need - that on top of getting them to pack bag night before. Hopefully later on in year that will be automatic to them - a learnt behavior. I do it with primary aged kids - but move to secondary does seem to have set eldest back a bit.

Having and reinforcing places for things - so place homework goes when done - place for shoes, coats, bags so not wasting time looking and routine of picking stuff up from these places means things less likely to get forgotten.

Paying attention in class is harder - mine struggled when younger and there were lots of fun activities in maths and phonics groups stuff in busy distracting class rooms - and they need a lot of support to catch up. It's much less an issue now they are older. I think all you can do there is rule out obvious stuff like hearing and eye issues making concentration harder and ask the teacher how they plan to deal with it.

tornandhurt Thu 22-Sep-16 11:53:34

Good luck OP!

Its a very long process, but worth exploring - as someone else mentioned it does help (if there is indeed an underlying cause) to know as you're more prepared yourself in how best to support him.

I was getting so frustrated with DS as I couldn't understand why he wasn't picking things up, as I had never experienced it before. Now we're better at helping him and teaching him and find it far less frustrating.

kesstrel Thu 22-Sep-16 11:56:12

There are some excellent books on helping children with ADHD or dyspraxia to learn to be more organised. Have a look on Amazon. Even if your DH doesn't want to 'label' him at this point, just being aware of the possibility might help, and also making use of the strategies recommended in the books.

BarbarianMum Thu 22-Sep-16 12:01:19

Ds1 is very dreamy and was forever loosing/forgetting things. He does not have ADHD or ASD.

When he was 10 we stopped rescuing him when he forgot things (set up a checklist system for school etc) and started making him replace lost items out of his pocket money.

He is now turning 11 and still generally forgetful but can organise himself for school. He rarely looses anything and if he does is really good about looking for it - we label clothes so they generally do turn up again.

I wish I'd got tough years ago.

CocktailQueen Thu 22-Sep-16 12:07:03

I'd go cold turkey on all the tech and see if that helps. I know ds (9) doesn't listen, can't concentrate as well, and is generally more scatty after a lot of tech. I think it's really bad for their attention span and concentration. Much better to read a book - to focus on one thing for a longer period of time. Worth trying, anyway.

This article is interesting: - see number 3 especially for a link between ADD and symptoms like your ds's.

ItsLikeRainOnYourWeddingDay Thu 22-Sep-16 12:07:08

Why on earth does a 9 year old need that much screen time! Maybe he needs to be more active to burn of energy?

WhiteDraig Thu 22-Sep-16 12:19:58

Is 2 hours a long time? I thought we were quite strict!

I used to watch tv from 4 till 6 weekdays - as a child so I don't think it's that bad then more at weekends.

I'm not sure how much mine have - they spend time of screen doing homework for school, additional work which is often screen based - maths and languages and sometimes programming. They do watch some tv - though it's usually a bribe get though this and you can have some tv or go on mine craft. Though do clubs and sport and stuff so have less time with screens.

I can't say I've seen any effect on mine and screen time - mine you mine are usually limited to a few games - minecraft being main one- but it would be a relatively easy thing to limit or go cold turkey and see if things improve.

BarbarianMum Thu 22-Sep-16 12:27:33

Is 2 hours a long time? I thought we were quite strict!

Mine are allowed no gaming/computer Mon-Thursday and a couple of hours a day Fri-Sun. Mon-Thurs they can have an hour or so of TV once homework/music practice done.

Ds1 likes screens but likes other things too. Ds2 would live on bloody Minecraft if allowed.

footballmum Thu 22-Sep-16 12:28:29

I've just been messaging DH about all of this and he agrees that a meeting with the school to see if they have any concerns would be useful. We've also discussed screen time and agree that it needs to be reduced for all of us! We're a very techy family and have been known to all sit in a room together on our own devices! I can't believe we're the only family guilty of this but it doesn't make it right or acceptable.

To be fair we do get physical exercise. DS1 is probably the most sporty and DS2 the least but he does his swimming lessons, tennis lessons, plays on the park most days after school and he'all generally do at least one after school sports club. He's as thin as a rake so we don't have any obesity concerns

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