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Does DS2 have trouble processing information and instructions?

(23 Posts)
Romanarama Wed 21-Oct-09 20:39:32

He's nearly 5, and second youngest in his year 1-equivalent class here. He's reached all development milestones normally, and everything has been fine, though he's very touchy and quite insecure.

He finds school 'work' really hard. They're not formally learning reading yet, but they have worksheets, and he is becoming terribly worried about getting it wrong. It's things like drawing the right kind of person figure with the right number of balloons, or connecting the right picture on the left to the right picture on the right, and he can rarely manage alone. The teacher says he doesn't often ask for help and she's on occasion found him weeping over his worksheet because he doesn't know what he's supposed to do. I think that intellectually he understands these concepts but somehow he can't process the instruction from the teacher.

When I ask him to do something he can do it in the end but often needs quite a long time with no interruption to get a handle on what he's supposed to be doing. In the same way he sometimes struggles to find a word, and then gets furious and cries with frustration if his brothers jump in with it before him. I wonder if the pressure of having to do something in a group to a timetable is terribly stressful for him.

By way of background, home languages are English and Italian, and school is bilingual French/English (though more French really). Community language is French. He speaks all 3, but makes more errors in syntax and vocab than you might expect. I'm not sure whether the language issue is a problem as he speaks the right language spontaneously in the right situation and doesn't mix them up. I suspect the errors are symptomatic of some other slight delay in processing information.

He's the middle of 3 brothers.

I have "How to talk so children will listen....." and have found it's made a step change in getting him to tell me about school and what's happening there.

I'd be really grateful for any insight in how to help him. I'm worried he's going to start hating school when it gets more formal.

Romanarama Wed 21-Oct-09 21:17:18


cornsilk Wed 21-Oct-09 21:19:58

Bless! Sounds like he may have difficulty with auditory instructions but he's still very young. Can the teacher make things more visual for him and see if it makes a difference?

Romanarama Wed 21-Oct-09 21:28:56

I'll talk to the teacher about it in more detail after 1/2 term. I've held off a bit, because there are 25 kids in the class, and the teachers have 2 classes because of the bilingual system, so I have to be realistic about how well she knows him.

I'm wondering whether it's just normal - he's very different from his brothers in this regard, but that might not mean much really. I just want him to be happy, the idea of him weeping over his balloon picture makes my heart break.

francaghostohollywood Wed 21-Oct-09 21:35:20

Oh poor little ds.
I feel (and this is just a feeling based on our experience and that of a trilingual family we know) that having different languages to juggle might cause some confusion in processing info etc.

henryhuggins Wed 21-Oct-09 21:35:51

yes it does sound like he has some processing problems. (am spec needs teacher) good idea to speak to teacher and see if a)she has picked up on it b)what strategies she'll put in place. common ones are break down instructions and visual cues. it's not normal - but it isn't unusual either, iyswim?

francaghostohollywood Wed 21-Oct-09 21:37:10

What is his strongest language, is it english?

Romanarama Wed 21-Oct-09 21:41:52

Franca it's English, and it's new that he has 1/2 his school days in English, which I'm pleased about.

Henry, are processing problems something that you grow out of, or do you learn techniques to deal that you use throughout life (in the same way that people with no sense of direction (dh), hopeless with lists and calendars (me) have to learn to manage)? Is there any reading matter/website on the subject that you could recommend? I really want to understand how his mind works.

francaghostohollywood Wed 21-Oct-09 21:45:00

Do teachers notice any differences between his works during the english bit and the french bit?

chegirlknowswhereyoulive Wed 21-Oct-09 21:53:46

Its possible he has problems with processing. Children are not assessed until they are at least 6 in the UK.

Until he is old enough to be formally assessed it may be useful to look up Auditory Processing Disorder and follow some of the tips given for managing it.

My son has just been diagnosed and tbh I am not really sure what to do next.

Romanarama Wed 21-Oct-09 21:54:23

I'm not sure Franca, I've only spoken to the French teacher about it so far. The style is quite different because he's one of only 2 children in the class to be really competent in English.

francaghostohollywood Wed 21-Oct-09 22:02:52

Sorry I keep bombarding you with questions smile. Do you think French is his weakest language? I'd rule out that his problems are linked to the language first thing iyswim.

Romanarama Wed 21-Oct-09 22:15:09

French is his weakest language for sure. That might be denting his confidence and causing other problems. But in English too I've noticed that he doesn't remember things in the way his brothers do. For example, when I'm reading a story that I've read a million times, he never jumps in and finishes the line, whereas his brothers often clearly know the whole thing off by heart. But, on the very rare occasions that it's just him, and he doesn't have to rush, he often does know the text, but he can never recall it fast. It's like the clogs have to whir longer to drag things up. Generally his memorising is not that great though.

But I am always comparing to my other children for obvious reasons, and they are the stars of their classes, so probably not a good basis for comparison (not to mention not very helpful for ds2's self-confidence).

It's the coping at school thing that really concerns me. I want to do all I can to help him focus and manage his work, and the social aspect. He's not hyperactive, and will sit and draw at home for 2 hours. He's possibly not good at making friends - he's not clear about who his best friends are and on arrival at school sits on his own rather than seeking out other children (though he's always in conversation with someone at pick up time, so the whole day is not like that).

I had his sight and hearing tested just in case, but everything was normal.

slimeoncrazydemon Wed 21-Oct-09 22:22:27

Message withdrawn

colditz Wed 21-Oct-09 22:25:38

He's four years old and processing English, Italian, and French. All very different languages. I'd be surprised if he WASN'T struggling.

Romanarama Wed 21-Oct-09 22:31:33

I know he's only 4. It's just that my experience with my other children, and my conversations with his (horrible) teacher last year and (lovely) teacher this year, have alerted me to possible problems. And there's no getting away from the fact that he is miserable about what he has to do in class, which is his class for children his age, even if he's at the young end. And I don't want him to be miserable, I want him to be happy and have a nice time and enjoy his schoolwork and classmates.

francaghostohollywood Wed 21-Oct-09 22:34:39

I agree with discussing your concerns with the teachers and try to understand if there is any difference between what he does in English and what he does in french in terms of "academic" work. It really all might be linked to the fact that French is not his strongest language (yet).

I agree with the others that he is also very young. Not all 5 yrs all are perfectly sociable. My ds (who used to be more or less bilingual in english and italian, italian being his strongest language) really struggled to find his own place when he started reception in the UK.
And he struggled when he started primary school in Italy, even if he is a pretty confident, very communicative boy.

How long has he been at this school?

slimeoncrazydemon Wed 21-Oct-09 22:46:38

Message withdrawn

linglette Thu 22-Oct-09 13:46:16

no time to post in detail but here is a good and not-too-expensive book

"Receptive Language Difficulties"
by Liz Baldwin

unlike other books on language it's aimed at the school-age group and things you say sound familiar...................

Romanarama Thu 22-Oct-09 17:21:59

Thanks Linglette, I will get that book and have a look. I expect he will grow out of all this with a bit of maturity, but I don't want to ignore a problem either.

mathanxiety Thu 22-Oct-09 19:22:55

He's very young. One of my DCs had a problem recognising patterns and also processing instructions. She had to hear each instruction separately, i.e. Put your paper on the table (she would then do this), pick up your pencil (ditto) -- then it got very long drawn out as I had to repeat the instructions on the worksheet for every problem. She was very sensitive to sound and was easily distracted by the slightest noise, and easily upset by sounds as a baby.

She was a very anxious child and got confused really easily, and was also inclined to second guess herself and worry about getting things wrong. She didn't trust the patterns, seemed to be expecting trick questions (at age 6 shock) and had an imagination that worked overtime. Now that she's older I notice she has a very hard time finding the relevant information in a text to answer questions, but again, it's worry rearing its ugly head, I believe. She can write a freeform paragraph about the subject matter after reading it, just gets too worked up by the pressure of answering specific questions.

Romanarama Thu 22-Oct-09 19:25:04

mathanxiety, that all sounds exactly like my ds.

mathanxiety Thu 22-Oct-09 19:49:28

Well, if it's any consolation, my DD is doing fine in school, although the anxiety remains to some degree and it sometimes drives me nuts. She hates being late, panics when she thinks she's lost anything, etc. But it took a lot of hair-pulling to figure out how to help her because she didn't fall into any sn categories, although I thought she must have come pretty close. It takes a different approach, lots of time and breaking things down into individual components, making her stick to routines about her belongings and keeping track of the time herself, and also a lot of reassuring, catching her being right and constantly pointing out patterns. I also found that listening to music, singing, reading poetry (for melody, rhythm and predictable rhyme patterns) as well as playing some herself, has helped. Her pitch is perfect, as far as I can tell, so this has been a bonus for all.

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