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Six year old - lacks concentration, struggling at school, imaginary world

(29 Posts)
Boardrider Mon 05-Jan-09 12:04:49

DS1 is 6 and school report says he is capable but lacks focus and can't complete work on time, is easily distracted, very bad handwriting, etc. DH and I have noticed that he also has a lack of awareness of others' feelings at times and doesn't realise when he is annoying his friends and sometimes just doesn't think, eg. he headbutted his aunt this weekend when they were playing (roughly admittedly) and really hurt her. He never does anything when you tell him to, it takes many attempts to get him to brush his teeth, get dressed, etc. We have found out that he may need grommets but this is more than just a hearing problem, I think.

He has a very good memory, can concentrate on computer games or TV for hours if we let him but really struggles to sit and write or read anything. He spends more time arguing as to why he shouldn't do it than actually doing it. When he interacts with friends, he often makes things up from his imagination. (He used to have imaginary friends when he was younger). He doesn't tell lies, but will talk to them about movies or video games but when I listen I realise he is making up the plot lines! I can see that already this makes some of his friends uncomfortable because they don't know what he's talking about. I'm probably being paranoid but I'm desperate for him not to be thought of as "that weird kid". He does have some friends but when I say to him that he should go along with what others want to do sometimes, he says he doesn't care if he has friends and he's happy on his own. I know that a couple of the kids in his class are rough with him sometimes but he tells me he doesn't mind. That breaks my heart. Am I worrying unduly? Sorry for the long post. This is my first one. Also, am newly pregnant with baby no. 3 so probably over-emotional! Any advice/thoughts appreciated...

resolutions Mon 05-Jan-09 12:08:36

is he reading and writing to average level at school?

Boardrider Mon 05-Jan-09 12:16:54

We haven't been told exactly where he sits in his class, but I can see that he is one of the less able just by seeing the other kids' written work on the walls, etc. Also, he has an "easy" spelling test with some others, whereas most of the class have more difficult words to spell each week.

poshwellies Mon 05-Jan-09 12:23:57

Have you discussed your concerns with his teacher?

Boardrider Mon 05-Jan-09 12:28:40

I have put in a call to the teacher asking for an appointment. To be honest, she is quite abrupt and told us that he is a "quirky" boy and even took the mickey out of him a little (he used to wash his hands all the time in reception class, which she commented on). She has said before that he worries about things (we know this is true) and is very risk averse. I think we need to speak to her again and find out if he might need extra help. I'm concerned about the imagination thing. I don't want to surpress it but I want him to have friends too!

claw3 Mon 05-Jan-09 12:32:58

My ds 4.5 years old, is very much a loner, but he is also very happy to be so, a lot of the time preferring to be so.

He has lots of imaginary friends and is considered a bit of an 'odd ball'.

My son has modulation disorder, have you spoken to anyone about your son?

Boardrider Mon 05-Jan-09 12:39:16

Hi claw3 - what is modulation disorder?

I haven't spoken to anyone about his behaviour since I saw a psychologist when he was just 2 and had to have surgery for his tongue-tie which was delaying his speech.

resolutions Mon 05-Jan-09 12:43:59

does his concentration last if you are reading long story to him? does he play with lego etc?
How does he get onwith his school reading book with you at home?
I don't think not wanting to write is unusual at this age,small bitsof writing of interest to him like shopping list etc might get him motivated.
making up extra storylines for films sounds good to me unless you are worried by his memory.
If you think he can't remember the plot of stories, read him a simple story and joke with him you've forgotten it to get him to retell it.
I know my ds goes off at a tangent into tv characters having a conversation etc and speaks total nonsense[i think he gets it]to an onlooker!!he also speaks a lot in say "chinese" or in sign language for fun!
Think is good,if i have worried he's snapped out of it .Also has tendency to daydream!

claw3 Mon 05-Jan-09 12:46:55

Hi ya, Modulation disorder is a sensory disorder, he is tactile defensive and a whole host of other signs. It doesnt sound like your son has it.

Reading your story and the fact that YOU actually think it might be a bit more than just a hearing problem made me think that perhaps you should talk to someone.

My son also has speech problems, hearing problems etc.

poshwellies Mon 05-Jan-09 12:48:20

I can feel for you as we have had the same amount of 'support' with our ds's teacher.I was told 'he needs to chill out more,he worries about too much at his age' hmm

He is very sensitive and finds it tough to concentrate etc, he keeps telling me he hates it,he's not really mixing with the other boys in his class,I'm getting quite concerned now too.He's 6 also.

Ds also had speech delay (diagnosed global development delay).

girlywhirly Mon 05-Jan-09 12:56:25

Oh Boardrider, I feel for you. Mine was much the same at 6, although they could tell he had very good reading and speaking skills, he was hopeless at writing. His typical output was less than 20% of his classmates written work, and needed constant reminders to stay on task, because he daydreamed and lost track of time and what he was doing. In the end, a school psych. reported that he just didn't feel the need to commit his knowledge to paper (extremely frustrating for parents and teachers both! as this is the traditional form of assessing progress). He explained that some children don't do well in a traditional school set-up, which is organised to benefit the majority of children.

You are right to examine external factors such as hearing and eyesight, but you could consider one to one tutoring in the future in addition to school if DS is in danger of falling too far behind. Do consult the school and spur them into action if you feel DS would benefit from an assessment.

The ed psych did say that sometimes there is a family history of daydreaming/imaginary world/difficulty with conventional schooling, but I have to say that sometimes it's as though a switch is flipped in a lot of cases, often at secondary school age, and they pick up dramatically. And it has nothing to do with intelligence, because my DS dad was like this and he got a degree and is a member of MENSA!

Boardrider Mon 05-Jan-09 13:16:51

resolutions - to answer your question, yes, he can concentrate for very long periods with lego or a long story and can re-count stories and movie plotlines very precisely. With lego, he will build the thing once as per the instructions, then we never see that shape again. He makes new ones and they have made-up names and backgrounds, etc. It's like he has a whole other world going on inside his head.

DS is a massive daydreamer. I suppose I am worried because he is in a boys' school where there is a lot of competition and that whilst at times he seems happy, it is not the best place for him. At other times he will tell me he doesn't like it, has no friends and wants to stay at home and have me home-school him! (Not going to happen).

Thanks for everyone's advice, I definitely want to speak to the school. If his class teacher is not more helpful next time, I will speak to the head.

girlywhirly - I had problems in school myself. Interesting what you say about family history. I didn't enjoy school at all until I was around 14. It all worked out okay in the end though!

LittleMoosh Mon 05-Jan-09 13:34:59

Boardrider this sounds like my 6.9 year old.
He has an on/off hearing problem. He had grommits when he was 3 but has still had problems since. The audiologist puts his behaviour down to hearing problem but I think it's more than this.

Lately, he's been getting worse (possibly contributed to by boredom over the school holidays).
He doesn't listen/takes no notice of what is being said to him, run's around like a lunatic, finds it hard to concentrate. I have to put him in a corner/in his room and really shout at him before he listens to reason. However, he's also very loving and caring.

The teacher who taught him in year 1 said she thinks he's on another planet.

However, he remembers everything he sees/hears (even when you think he's not listening), is a very neat writer (when he can be bothered to actually do the writing), is always telling me of things he's learnt either at school or through TV.

I'm sure he's a lot brighter than I was at this age, but don't know why he has this crazy behaviour.

Surely, can't be because of hearing problem. He wasn't recently given the all clear again when he saw the doctor for this latest hearing test.

Anyone any ideas on this kind of behaviour?

resolutions Mon 05-Jan-09 14:02:10

I think his imagination sounds fantastic~and his intelligence!
The lack of focus you mention could be becos his mind is wandering down several different avenues at once,or he is thinking of his fave things.
If he"lives a lot in his head" that could explain why he isn't concentrating on the other children etc and i'm sure this will be less so at 7.
The mix of boys in his school may not be at his level or on his wavelength in some way is there a boy in the yr above he likes?
Also his schoolwork might not be catching his imagination.
Check his spelling and reading abilities in case of dyslexia but otherwise all sounds very normal to me!!

Boardrider Mon 05-Jan-09 14:13:46

resolutions - Interestingly, he really likes older boys to play with (ever since he was tiny) and loves to play with our neighbour's boy who is in the year above him. He likes talking to my grown-up male friends too!

Maybe I am worrying too much. You just never know if you're getting it right...

claw3 Mon 05-Jan-09 14:18:24

Boardrider - Could just be that you have a very bright boy and he is acting up out of boredom?

AmIOdetteOrOdile Mon 05-Jan-09 14:30:38

Don't worry about worrying too much Boardrider - we're mums, that's what we do grin.

I was going to say that it sounded like pretty typical 6yo behaviour but not sure that's what you want to hear. Hopefully you're had some comfort from some of the posters here.

BTW Welcome to MN and congrats on your pregnancy.

Boardrider Mon 05-Jan-09 14:30:45

claw3 - I have no idea! He seems bright but the poor reading and writing made me think otherwise. Also, the playing up and talking over his friends/interrupting adults made me think he is not picking up social signs properly.

How do I go about finding out whether he is just bright but bored? (I have just remembered that I was "tested" at 12 years old after being sent to a child psychologist for playing up and being difficult and the diagnosis was "bright but bored" - makes me think there might be something in this) Should the school assess him? Do I need to find an educational psychologist to test him or something?

Have the other mums on this thread had your children assessed by a professional?

claw3 Mon 05-Jan-09 14:36:46

I think the starting point would be your GP and ask to be referred. Also if the school think there is a problem, they usually recommend a referral.

Boardrider Mon 05-Jan-09 14:41:39

AmIOdetteOrOdile - Thanks! Very early with this pregnancy still. Possibly the hormones which are making me worry more than usual!

JaneLumley Tue 06-Jan-09 08:17:21

Hey, boardrider - I had one like this, and I'll tell you what helped. My ds is now 14 and at a school on a top scholarship, but when he was 7 the teacher was in despair. he's bright and he was bored, but it wasn't only that.

Thsi will be unpopular with some, and I don't mean it as any kind of judgement on someone else's kids who may be utterly different from my ds, but it REALLY worked to reduce his screen time.

You say he can concentrate for hours on games - this might actually be part of the problem for him?

We cut ds back to 30 mins a day and then he gave up gaming completely - ditto tv down to no more than 7 hours per week. We introduced lots of other stuff - boardgames, family activities, wordgames, storytelling, reading. The house got much grimier shock but his manners improved, and so did everything else.

mummyofboys Tue 06-Jan-09 09:17:50

Janelumley I also did this with my ds due to comments being made by teacher about concentration etc. It takes effort, a bit of planning and your time, but the investment has been worth it. He can now concentrate and complete tasks on time in the classroom. A kind of 'brain training', I think. smile

Boardrider Tue 06-Jan-09 13:28:04

Thanks. I say he "can" concentrate on games for hours but I should point out that he isn't allowed to do so unless we are on a long plane journey or similar. We have constant battles about screen time - have done since he was a toddler. Strange because ds2 (2) has never been at all interested in the TV.

On average ds1 will have no more than 1.5 hours of screen time per day (either TV or gaming). Suspect you're right and this should be cut back more. I'll break the bad news to him later today!

JaneLumley Tue 06-Jan-09 16:01:49

Good luck, Boardrider! I found it helped if I didn't make screens a big thing - didn't use them eg as rewards or punishments. I tried to deal with it by offering alternative stuff to do, stuff I knew he liked. It was really timeconsuming, but it seems worth it in hindsight - also led to spending more and better time with him. a win win, though not I fea for the carpets... sad

ilovehugs Wed 23-Feb-11 23:42:05

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