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Ds is getting told off because he can't concentrate

(50 Posts)
GloriaVanderbilt Sat 17-Sep-11 12:38:50

Ds1 is 8, and I'm not sure if he has some kind of processing issue, but that aside (as it will take a long time to diagnose/resolve, I suspect) I feel concerned at how this is being handled in school.

He just began yr4 and obviously there is more written work, it's harder, etc.

He's not dim, he has a really high IQ but he is very slow. He came to me and said he is really worried because he keeps getting told off. I said what for, and he said it's when he's got to answer written questions - they aren't particularly hard as such but he looks at them, and can't make his brain work.

So he pulls a face, squirms around in his seat, puts his hands up to his head in frustration...he got told off for this. No one helped.
The supply teacher they have on Fridays did offer, apparently, to let him sit at the front or in a corner where it's quieter.

I don't know what this means, why he is finding it hard to process this stuff (I know the feeling - it took me about a year to read secret seven adventure when I was his age, because every paragraph I read, I couldn't take it in so I had to go back over it again and again...I still don't really read books, but somehow I managed to achieve highly in school)

or mainly, what the school or I can do to help him. He's the same at home, if you ask him to put on his shoes, he will have to walk round in circles, kick a chair repeatedly, swing between the sofas five times, turn round again, find some Pokemon cards and get completely distracted before I ask him to do it again. This can go on for an hour.


GloriaVanderbilt Sat 17-Sep-11 12:40:28

Oh and I asked if he managed to get the questions finished at school - he said no, he couldn't do it.

He has regularly failed timed maths quizzes and spellings things because he takes too long. He gets like half of it done, and most of them right, but it tales too long so he's failing it all. Can they give him some help, extra time? hould I get him a laptop, or something? Anything!

MmeLindor. Sat 17-Sep-11 12:43:17

What is the school saying about this?

Tbh, until I read your last paragraph, I thought he sounded like a normal 8yo, easily distracted and a bit of a dither.

But it shouldn't take him an hour to put on his shoes. That would worry me and I would be pushing school to advise on this.

GloriaVanderbilt Sat 17-Sep-11 12:48:59

Thankyou, well I will have a talk with his teacher. I suspect she will say he's just normal - that's what they tend to say at school.

He's getting told off though and obviously that means there is a problem. He tries really hard and is very keen to please, he's not messing around, he just looks at the page and it won't go in iyswim

RedPenny Sat 17-Sep-11 12:55:45

I have a dyslexic son and have taught in private, state and special schools. Some of these traits could indicate a learning disorder but could also be laziness. He's bright but too lazy to do the work. You could get him assessed by an educational psychologist - you may have to pay for this yourself. We did and found it well worth it just to get to the bottom of behaviour/performance issues. In the meantime remain calm but firm - refuse to do things for him which he is capable of doing for himself (eg shoes).

MmeLindor. Sat 17-Sep-11 12:56:34

Yes, they should not be just scolding him without finding out why he is not working.

Has he told them that he has difficulty in deciphering what he is given to do?

LIZS Sat 17-Sep-11 13:08:05

It is possible he has a processing issue. Strategies such as very methodical routines to the likes of putting shoes on, maybe with a visual prompt, and removing distractions by having a fixed place for them (ie bottom of stairs). Having a "race" to get things done or rewards.

ds struggled with written questions due to a poor working memory and dyspraxia. Try to help him break it down rather than see it as one thing which is difficult ot assimilate. Read the whole thing through first then note down each given fact before trying to work it out step by step. Worth speaking to teacher/SENCO too as to how they can give him a more methodical breakdown of a task, such as a handout with each sentence spaced out, verbal reminders of what step is next and consider getting him assessed. Also ask if the amount he is asked to do could be differentiated so that he feels he "finishes" what he is being asked to do and gains confidence. Probably too soon to consider a laptop but if diagnosed or at least put on School Action he may qualify for extra time in tests.

GloriaVanderbilt Sat 17-Sep-11 18:52:04

Thankyou very much for all your replies.

Redpenny, I don't think it's laziness. I really don't. He tries really hard to do these things but cannot, I mean physically cannot focus properly. It really upsets him.

I would never do his shoes (unless it's the laces - which he tries, even though finding it really hard work) because he always does it himself in the end, and CAN do it but he just struggles to put the instructions into action - not through want of trying. He never asks me to do it for him. Ever.

I might try and get an EP to assess him but tbh he was assessed in yr2 by a specialist in dyslexia and she found him possibly dyslexic/possibly just immature. She said his IQ was over 140, no mention of almost made me laugh when you said that, because it's just not him at all.

Mme, no, I don't think he's managed to articulate it to the teachers at all - he finds it all so difficult that he is scared to keep asking each step of the way. For example, the class was given homework by two different teachers.
The first one was the supply teacher, they were given something to use, he lost his immediately - I didn't ever catch sight of it, though he told me in a panicky manner about the homework, rather muddled up, he hadn't written it down.

The second piece of homework was also not written down. He has a homework diary, it just isn't in there...he said he tried to write it down but didn't have time and they were told to pack up. I said well you need to ask for it again and copy it down.
He went in, later told me he had asked and she had said yes, write it down during reading time. But he had forgotten his diary so he didn't. Didn't think to ask her for another piece of paper, he was too embarrassed, afraid of being told off again. He just didn't do it.

So no one knows what the homework is, the teacher has no idea what he's playing at - I can see bad coping strategies developing.

LIZS, thankyou, i have tried all those things, but not putting them in the same place every day - I can rarely find them. He takes them off sometimes when he comes in, sometimes later, or in the garden or wherever and they are never easily traceable the next morning.
Perhaps I need to be more organised on his behalf.
It isn't just finding them though, it'd be the same if they were right in front of him as indeed they often are once I've tracked them down. He can't seem to make his brain understand.

I was thinking along the same lines as you with regard to what school might do - better breakdown of instructions etc, printed sheets, not expecting him to write or copy every little thing as it takes him so long. He does feel like he is failing all the time.

I had better talk to them asap. I doubt they have time to put these sort of measures in place though.

CountDuckula Sat 17-Sep-11 19:00:51

speak to the school. They may surprise you. My ds has similar problems. At age 11 still haven't solved them but the school are developing strategies to help. Routine helps and he has a very definate one in the morning. But the school have cut down the amount of work ds does to half. They are happy as long as they can see he can do the work. For him the occupational therapist was the best person. She gave him some exercises to help him process better. Basically if he has too much information to process he tends to shut down and stop.

Some of the things the school have done include having a buddy sitting next to him to nudge him and keep him going. Having the teacher scribe for him. Definately having the teacher scribe for him any homework - or have sheets. I'd hate to think what would happen if he had to write down all his homework.

But most of all - they should have time to put stuff in place to help him, otherwise they are failing him. Don't be fobbed off that they don't. Ds is well behaved and will sit quietly which means he can be just left to stuff. But the school have been very clear that it isn't him being naughty or just a boy of his age and have taken steps to help - even if they don't always work.

sunshinewanted Sat 17-Sep-11 19:28:35

What did the IQ report say as strengths/weaknesses? Did this not give you any clue as to possible problems? For example my son had digit span well below average despite IQ similar to your sons showing short term auditory memory weakness. It is still very frustrating but we found it helpful to understand that we needed to simplify all everyday instruction despite obvious intelligence in other areas.

I would have thought with an IQ above the top 1% your school would have to recognize him as extremely gifted and to create IEP and address these issues. I am sure without the IQ report this would all be ignored as it was in our case.

GloriaVanderbilt Sat 17-Sep-11 19:35:16

Thankyou both very much. CountDuckula, may I ask if you had any sort of formal diagnosis for your son before the school took this so seriously?

Sunshinewanted, we never actually got the report. The teacher is really overbooked and did the assessment for nothing as payback for something my mother did for her, as they are good friends. She said we would have at least a copy of the assessment if not a full writeup but it never materialised sadly.

So we've nothing to show them. CD your school sounds brilliant. I am almost certain that ours won't even consider doing anything unless they absolutely have to.

LIZS Sat 17-Sep-11 19:49:14

Doesn't sound as if that assessment would carry much weight now anyway tbh. At primary age they recommend having them updated every couple of years especially if previously inconclusive. Insist that any homework is given to him pre-written to be stuck into his diary immediately or the teacher writes it in or checks he has at the time. dc each have a plastic A4 sized folder in their bags for any worksheets, handouts, letters and so on rather than them being left loose to go astray or crumple up at the bottom of the bag

You should be told what subject homework is regularly set and then due each day to allow you to query if nothing is written down or he is unsure. I've found that whilst it can be a pita initially to anticipate problems, set up a system and enforce it, and have checklists, it has paid off in terms of dc now taking more responsibilty, self checking and getting themselves ready which is far less stressful all round. Is his school independent or state btw ?

GloriaVanderbilt Sat 17-Sep-11 19:56:27

It's state Lizs. Thanks ever so much. He already has a folder for sheets and so on, I get most letters by parentmail (email system).

I didn't know I could ask the teacher to write his homework down...that would be an immense help. I don't think she realises how much he needs this to happen. He tries to write it down off the board but can't do it fast enough, so I have no clue - and I need this stuff in writing! They've to bring (apparently) five different liquids into school at some point in the near future. I have no idea when, why or how much of each or what they're meant to be in...< imagination runs riot> grin 'DS! Please take that petrol outside at once! And why is it in a kinder egg box?!' (he would...he really would)

I will definitely try and grab the teacher this week and talk to her properly. I'm in a way relieved about the report thing...didn't fancy trying to get her to write one now. Thanks again for the excellent suggestions.

GloriaVanderbilt Sat 17-Sep-11 19:58:08

Oh...I meant to ask, as for getting him seen or assessed again - would it make sense to go to someone different (EP?) or back to this person, though it'll be a few hundred if we pay her.

LIZS Sat 17-Sep-11 20:04:27

The person you saw doesn't sound very organised tbh . I'd go for someone else , a qualified EP, perhaps SENCO can recommend a private one if they can't access one themselves. It is harder for them to refute the findings if they have invested in the decision iyswim.

mrz Sat 17-Sep-11 20:07:32

I'm afraid an assessment from a family friend would not be accepted and the fact she found him possibly dyslexic when he was in Y2 isn't significant as most Y2 children would get the same result. Many LAs don't accept private EP reports either so before spending what is a considerable amount of money it is advisable to talk to the school.

GloriaVanderbilt Sat 17-Sep-11 20:13:50

Thankyou...Mrz I'm guessing the school might not want to refer him to an EP if they need to fund it.

I will have a word though with the senco if I can track her down.

GloriaVanderbilt Sat 17-Sep-11 20:15:16

I should add she is very highly respected and takes a good few of the children from our school, during school hours or after school...she is a local hero smile and also very highly qualified. I think because we had it for free she just never found the time to do it...also possibly because it was inconclusive she knew it wouldn't be worth writing it up.

CountDuckula Sat 17-Sep-11 20:18:03

Just the opposite. He still doesn't really have a formal diagnosis, the closest anyone has come to is the OT with a sensory integration disorder. The school are gathering evidence for when he goes to secondary school for exams if necessary. There was a recognition that there was a problem even if no one could give it a definite diagnosis and that the school needed to do something to help him as far as possible.

I'm in Scotland so I'm not sure if it works slightly different to England. I know the school recognized the problem from when he started doing formal work so about age 6. One thing though - the referal to the OT came from the doctor so it may be worth going in and talking to him/her.

youarekidding Sat 17-Sep-11 20:21:39

My DS is very similar. Again very intelligent (teachers words not mine!) but can't seem to do the process from knowing to doing.

He did score low on the DEST (0.4?) which showed possible mild dyslexia and I am dyslexic. School are keeping an eye on this.

As for the shoes one I have it sussed now. Give DS the countdown, 5mins, 2, 1 etc. Then go and get him, walk to the front door where the shoes are waiting sit him down and get him to put them on while I open the front door. It's the only way I can get him to realise that we're leaving is a physical act of actually leaving. grin

We also have a timetable and faces get drawn on it, smiley for doing without fuss, straight for doing it with nagging and sad for not/ refusing to do it. He actually doesn't ever get sad faces as he never refuses. He gets rewarded with swimming at the weekend for 10 smiles. There are about 30 possible ones and I will raise the bar of/ when he improves. Also included in the smiles chart is homework. DS is learning to ask for help, take time and think about what's needed to do the work without the 'glance and give up' we have had in the past.

I have not yet worked out how to get b/d/p and q round the right way. wink

rainbowinthesky Sat 17-Sep-11 20:23:05

I'd take him to your gp and ask for advice. There are lots of things taht could be done to help but you need the school on your side and it sounds like the only way is a diagnosis.

mrz Sat 17-Sep-11 20:27:20

Schools don't fund EP referrals. They are allocated EP support by the LA which can be limited so schools have to prioritise I'm afraid but there are other services and professionals available to schools. Even if a child is diagnosed as dyslexic LAs rarely issue statements unless the child is significantly behind their peers (2 years or more).

youarekidding Sat 17-Sep-11 20:45:56

Yes mrz. That's what I was told. DS shows some signs of dyslexia and has the DEST pointing to it but he is coping at school and not behind as such.

op I find it's about finding the way your DS can learn. My reading comphrehension went from 8yrs 6 mths at 16yo to 16yrs at 17yo with help and being shown other 'techniques'. One thing I was taught was not to look at the final picture but break it down into bite sizes chunks. I have showed DS how to do this. EG if your told to write about Volcanoes. Instead of thinking I need to write xyz, write headings, then write a sentence for each. Then label the sentences in order to make sense etc etc. Sounds obvious and I know schools do a lot of story mapping - but even that was a struggle for me because I could still see the end box - so would be thinking I need to do 7 boxes. So cover six and think about what will happen first, then next etc and just work the way to the end. I was told my processing order was not being able to break up the process. confused

youarekidding Sat 17-Sep-11 20:47:06

Sorry mrz not sure why the sentence started with a random yes! Typed what I was thinking! I know you are very knowledgable and it reads back quite patronising - sorry. blush

GloriaVanderbilt Sun 18-Sep-11 08:16:30

Thankyou all. CD I think your school sounds very proactive. I wish ours would act, Ive been on at them for a few years now.

'DS shows some signs of dyslexia and has the DEST pointing to it but he is coping at school and not behind as such.'

this coupled with Mrz's assertion that unless a child is significantly behind his peers the school won't do much is kind of depressing.

DS got a good report last term and in some subjects is slightly ahead of 'expectations' or average or whatever it is, so eg 2a when he should be around 2b, or maybe 3c when he should be around 2a. Or something like that (it's a bit backwards isn't it!)

This is because he has developed coping strategies. I dont WANT him to develop these without assistance, but that's exactly what he is doing. His father's coping strategies include not answering the phone, lying and hiding bills under the sofa for a year or two. That's how wrong it can go.

GP might be a good idea, thanks Rainbow and CD.

Youarekidding, many thanks for sharing your experiences and's good to know we're not alone smile

He does write all his numbers backwards. School never mentions it hmm

His writing is terrible though his reading is consistent and very good...slow but steady.

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