I'm close to giving up trying to support and help my DS(22 Posts)
.... because what I am doing is obviously not helping him. He is 11 yo. He hates homework to the point that it has made him depressed and school is hardly giving him any to see if it helps. He seems to go to school quite happy (although I am not sure if he really is) as long as he doesn't have to do any work. He has no motivation and anything to do with school he shuts down on. He is very intelligent but has dyslexia, the school has now made allowances - adjusting his marks to account for the dyslexia etc. - we are also paying a ridiculous amount for him to have therapy. I ask him everyday about his homework, offer help and any support I can give him with it and learning for tests but he just shuts down on me. He got into trouble for not doing the meagre amount of homework he had and was given extra work as punishment - he blamed me for not signing to say he hadn't done it. I am worried about how the hell he is going to develop in the future when he has no motivation to work at anything. I understand that he has really suffered with his dyslexia but I don't think it is really an excuse for his zero effort at school. Should I just leave him to it and let him fail?
*"*^*adjusting his marks to account for the dyslexia etc.*^*"* How is that helping him? It's hiding his problems behind false data
If he's 11, is he year 6 or 7? Thinking whether new start at secondary might need a bit of settling in.
You have my sympathy - DS is very similar. We paid for him to go to dyslexia lessons but he would not engage. He was always happy to go to school and he was usually very engaged in his lessons and loved learning but then found it very difficult to put pen to paper or finger to keyboard. I think it was very frustrating for him to know that he was as bright, if not brighter that the others but not be able to show it in his written work. I still don't know where the boundary lies between can't be arsed/dyslexic struggle. I am sure there are lots of hidden issues like not wanting to fail, so not trying in the first place, hiding spelling by writing illegibly, can't be bothered, etc. I have found it impossible to stand back and watch him fail - he's just finished his GCSEs and I pushed, kicked, carried and dragged him screaming over the line. He did no revision but, was happy to do tutor sessions with various teacher friends. He used a laptop in his exams and his results were OK but not exceptional. He's now started A Levels and is really enjoying the learning side but his notes are in a terrible mess and he's more interested in gaming in his spare time. I am now trying to take a step back with A Levels - he clearly needs to take the reigns himself. Whether or not he will or can is at present an unknown.
Does your DS have something that he is really good at that you could focus on?
mrz - it's a bit complicated. They are letting him do tests verbally where possible and trying not to mark him on spelling so that he is marked on what he knows not what he can write. It is about trying to give him the feeling of success to try to motivate him. he has tested with very high scores on IQ tests for some skills so letting him fail is hiding what he can do rather and his potential.
Fourmatent - thanks for sharing. Well done for gettting him so far, I can imagine its a big achievement to get him through to do A'levels. Any tips of how to get him to do stuff without putting on too much pressure so that he shuts down? What did he do with Tutors?
I can understand why raising his self worth is important but how are they helping him to learn?
mrz - he has dyslexia, learning itself isn't a problem (when he bothers) he learns very easily. His dyslexia is related to a problem with processing visual symbols. he can read very well now but writing is a huge problem. His motivation is a bigger problem. His lack of motivation means that everyone is putting more and more pressure on him to try to kick his butt into doing some work and he has ended up depressed and has completely shut down and won't do anything. The school are trying to take the pressure off to try to raise his motivation and mood but so far it isn't better. We are not in the UK and in the system we have here he will be streamed next year into one of 3 schools. I don't know if I should just leave him and let him get on with doing nothing (with the risk of ending up in the bottom stream with restricted opportunities later) or if I should carry on trying to motivate him. At the moment I am exhausted with him and it is destroying out relationship. Any tips on how to motivate him would be really helpful.
Is there anything he can really shine at? For DS it was drama, public speaking, debate, etc. Try a Google on Twice Exceptional or 2E and you will find information about bright children with SENs.
He may qualify to use a scribe in his tests and exams in which case, he should be able to do well. Is he in the right classes? If he's very bright but in bottom sets then that will be awful for him. An Ed Psych came in to observe DS because he wasn't engaging at all at Junior School and this was because he was on the bottom table but was probably one of the brightest kids in the class.
You could also try him on a laptop or with speech recognition software. Try audio books. There's loads of educational stuff on You Tube. Get him to dictate stuff to you.
DS really struggled with Maths so I had a friend's sixth form son come and do maths with him (£10 per hour) and then a maths teacher friend gave him some lessons running up to his GCSEs. DS has a really really good memory which helped. He made sure he got all the easy questions at the start of the paper correct and then bagged a few of the easiest B grade questions and in the end he got his C which was a brilliant achievement. DS really enjoyed having the sixth former come around - he never protested.
The national curriculum, exam technique, etc can be very constricting and it's been a battle to try and get DS to conform to what is required. Square peg - round hole! You just have to do your best. Hopefully at some point, he will be able to fly. Hopefully this will be true for your DS too and it may be at something outside the curriculum. Don't give up on him.
"His dyslexia is related to a problem with processing visual symbols. " how was his dyslexia diagnosed but it is now accepted that "dyslexia" isn't a visual problem?
I do sort of agree with where mrz is going with this. I am not convinced they are doing him any favours. My son was incredibly difficult and unmotivated in school until it clicked with him he needed enough to go to uni and study fine art. He just didn't see the point- particularly with the written side of art nor did he care.
It comes to a point that you can only do so much and so can the school. I would do the utmost to preserve his mental health without indulging him which is a fine line. I wouldn't keep asking about his homework after all it is his homework and let him suffer the consequences of not doing it.
mrz- he has been diagnosed 4 times by 4 different people:- Dyslexia and speech therapist at the school, speech/language specialist (doctor with neurology background), psychologist doing his therapy and another educational/child psychologist for another opinion on the therapy. It is not a visual problem (we hoped it was and thought it could be at the beginning), it is a visual processing problem - a cognitive (neurological) problem with perceiving, processing and retrieving visual symbols (i.e. letters and numbers), his cognitive processing of auditory symbols seems to be ok.
Fourmantent - thanks for the info and ideas. What you are telling me about your ds seems quite similar - should be near the top but closer to the bottom of the class. Mine also does drama, which he loves. He has also started doing programming (he is computer mad), but that is new - I am not sure how it is going. School has said that he can use a laptop and can autocorrect his spelling - but he needs to learn to type first.....! Speech recognition software is a great idea and you are right, I could support him by him dictating homework for me to write. he has no official exams coming up but tests in school determine where he will go next (he is in the Swiss school system). His maths is good (enough), but he has to write down his working out very carefully - teacher is really keen on them doing maths in their head and not writing down working out. Will think about getting a teen to come and do homework with him - if I can find someone.
Thanks wannabestressfree - I am on the wrong side of the fine line at the moment - but because I worry so much about his future. How old was he when it clicked? What made it click?
Sorry for all the questions but has he been diagnosed with visual processing difficulties or dyslexia?
If it's visual processing
I'd expect the school to provide some 1-1 support (can be done informally without EHCP) things like providing large print texts and writing answers on the same page as questions and having a reader to read questions aloud for him, breaking instructions into numbered steps (colour coding might Aldo help) overlearning lots of practice. Spot the difference and books of the Where's Wally type and simple puzzles /jigsaws are ways to help at home.
Praise, praise and praise again recognising real achievement might encourage him to keep trying
It sounds like there are a lot of positives to work with. I would do as much as possible to encourage the drama and computing - you could buy him Raspberry Pi for Xmas. Take him to the theatre and get him in a drama group if he isn't already. DS loves drama. The first time I took him it was like coming home... he fitted in immediately. Now he is also doing some background stuff like lighting and stage management etc. The older members of the group have been fantastic role models.
DS did Computer Science GCSE and nearly went on to college to do Computer Game Design rather than A Levels. We are not sure yet if he made the right decision. He's very good at gaming - for better or worse - he's talking about trying to write scripts for games in the future. He's in the top 1% of some gaming thing and is going to be teaching others on line.... or something like that.
DS also uses a laptop with spellcheck for his exams. I tried to get him touch typing but he wasn't motivated. This is what I bought him: www.englishtype.com/. I have actually given up trying to get him to spell. I thought my time with him was better spent on other things.
I would have a word with school about things like working stuff out in your head rather than writing it down. Fine for the non dyslexics but there's not point in putting unnecessary obstacles in the way.
Both my DS (13 and 9) have dyslexia and the older one has dysgraphia. I have written or typed homework out for them to their dictation. Other times I will write out what they say and they will copy it into their books (more with DS2 as DS1's handwriting is poor). DS1 uses a laptop for most of his homework now (much to the teacher's relief I suspect).
In the UK there is a book company that produces books that are aimed at dyslexics called Barrington Stoke where the font and the page colour are easier to read and language is adjusted to reading age rather than chronological age. Both of mine got on well with the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books and I am sure it was partly due to the font used.
On a slightly different note:- both of mine have got frustrated and depressed at times with having to work so hard to acheive the same as others. DS2 when through a phase of refusing to work in case he made a mistake. I took a campaign of teachers and family all pointing out everytime we made a mistake for him to accept that making mistakes are normal. DS1's self esteem is fragile and he does need chivvying along at times.
I don't want to write that time will help, but it will. However, it won't kick in until your DS is ready to explode with ideas. I could have written your post a few years ago, but at 17, and now a year above his class age, DS has decided for himself that he wants to know and to succeed. He is also science-y/art-y but not noticeably talented at drawing. However, his ideas are vastly more sophisticated than his peer group's (a teacher's view, not mine). The ideas he is having and his conceptual framework are just not quite standard. It's much easier to teach in smooth lines, but it doesn't suit students who progress in bounces (one forward and some back IME). Be brave and supportive.
Do keep encouraging him, learning to touch type was one of the best things I ever did at school. I was probably one of the first to benefit from computers, but I don't think people often realise how much harder your brain has to work when you have to think about forming letters and trying to spell and write all the time. It never just comes automatically is always a thinking process. Thouch typing for me removed that one step having to think about forming letters all the time and allowed my writing to flow more easily.
Sounds like your doing a great job I know I couldn't have done as well as I did without the help from my parents. It mite be hard work but don't give up.
Are you sure your DS can do the work..My DS was diagnosed with dysgraphia last year...He had an amazing teacher who really booster his self esteem..Picked out anytime he did a lot of work ( for him) ..He is 9 but she would tell the class how DS had done an amazing amount of work...However at the same time he was given accomodations to help him.. He went from at the begining of the year for below age expected to some scraping age expeced but some above....
I put some of this down to his understanding but also given the tools to do what is needed.
Fwiw my background is in theatre where the number of dyslexics is VERY high. Most dyslexics I've worked with are incredibly creative, quick-thinking and self motivated. As school is not his thing encourage what he loves and praise him for it.
We put too much emphasis on school and exams, especially in current educational climate.
We live in a visually processed world for assessments, so brace yourself because the next few years, especially from 13-16, will be tough.
Touch-typing and a laptop may solve the writing issue blocking communication. Keep this up.
If his processing speed is slow, extra time is available. Speed is separate from perception, so if it is slow, it will be another hurdle for him.
Prismatic lenses may ease his perception processing. You need a behavioural optometrist for that. Perfect eyesight is irrelevant to visual perception processing; it is the brain that sees, the eyes only do signals.
However hard it is for you, it is nothing compared with how it is for him. He does not have the luxury of giving up the way he is made. That said, it often seems that hugs and laughter are very helpful. Brains remain plastic into adulthood, so who knows what tomorrow may bring?
he is taking you for a ride! most kids don't want to do homework-he is no different
OP it sounds like all the pressure to motivate him may be back firing?
As in as much as he maybe needs some support / different learning / writing / testing approaches it sounds like now he feels completely disconnected from learning as his thing.
Would he talk with you (or someone else) about how he feels about all of this. With everyone else caring and worrying so much to get him to work, there is no space for him to find his motivation.
I am a bit dyslexic. Sounds like less severe than your son. However, I did get into trouble especially when younger for my write work being messy. I was at school before using computers for written work became a big thing, and even so e problem lessen as I grew up as work become more about ideas than presentation. I also got better at compensating, writing several versions of a level essays in rough which I'd then edit and reorder and write out neatly.
But my parents we good at offering support and at the same time standing back and making it clear it was ultimately my responsibility. The phrase 'if you want to explain why you've not done it that,s fine with me' was a standard from my mum.
This is his life. You and others can help him. But he has to decide whether or not to do it. Could you help him explore his choices and their consequences (eg explore together what happens if he doesn't do it)
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