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5 yr old DS not concentrating in school. ADHD? Autism?

(21 Posts)
magicmeaway Sun 14-Dec-14 21:33:42

DS's teacher says his concentration is very poor. I am able to teach him his phonics at home myself and so far he is keeping up with the class - but I'm worried I won't be able to keep him up with the class as the years go by

Does anyone else have experience of this?

We are on a waiting list to get him assessed as I am worried about possible ADHD or mild autism. I feel very worried about him

toomuchicecream Sun 14-Dec-14 21:56:05

Year 1 or Year R? How is his maturity in general? I have a couple of year 1 boys who can't sustain concentration for the same length of time as the other children in the year group. However, they are both young for their age and generally less mature than others the same age, so I'm not worrying about them yet - we give additional support to help them.

Does he manage to concentrate well on anything at home ie Lego models, a game, TV programme?

How long can he concentrate in school? Is there anything he is better at concentrating on than other things? What is the teacher doing to help him? Are there things you do at home that would help at school? Or things that school do which would help at home?

RiversideMum Sun 14-Dec-14 22:06:31

Ice cream is right - can he concentrate on anything? There's a difference between poor concentration and lack of engagement in what's going on, however frustrating the latter is for a teacher.

Wozald1989 Sun 14-Dec-14 22:15:51

My little one in year 1, is currently being assessed for ADHD, she has problems still with sitting on the carpet, assembly, needs constant supervision to stay on task.
She really struggles to have a conversation, she stands up to watch TV/eat ect. She struggles to get to sleep at night can take 2-3 hours. Has zero social skills. No impulse control (steals, touches hot things)
What other symptoms does your child have other than the concentration issues?
It's a long process and can take months for appointments, have you spoken to his teacher about your concerns?

magicmeaway Sun 14-Dec-14 22:57:39

Thanks for your replies - I really appreciate it.

We are in the equivalent of Reception year (we are not in the Uk). He started at 4 years and 11 months - which would be the average for his class.

He can concentrate for ages if something interests him - he could disappear quietly into his room playing Lego or doing a jigsaw - or doing arts & crafts. He would be totally focused on it - but a bit too focused - like he is lost in it. His brain totally switches off if it's something that doesn't captivate him. He zones out.

Do you think if I work with him can I stop him from falling too far behind? I have gone ahead of the class with the Jolly phonics and have started the tricky words. But he only seems to learn if I make him sit in his chair and focus. At home he squirms a lot in the chair but for some reason he accepts he has to sit in his desk at school

If I didn't help him I wouldn't think he'd know many letters at all.

He had a Physio appointment and we were told he has a weak core and low muscle tone

His social interaction is poor. It is like he is on the edge of the group - or parallel playing.

Maybe he is just immature but I'm worried it's something more serious.

nonicknameseemsavailable Sun 14-Dec-14 23:14:51

I don't think it sounds like ADHD or autism, well not to me anyway but I am not an expert on it.

If he has a weak core and low muscle tone I would think it was more likely his fidgeting and squirming around is more likely to be something like proprioception related issues/sensory stuff?

I have a 7 year old and a 5 yr old. neither sit still when at home but do at school apparently. the elder one in particular always does a half sitting half standing thing, that is the closest we can get to sitting generally. She has excellent core strength and muscle tone but a lot of dyspraxic type tendancies. She has poor proprioception (is hypermobile but due to her good muscle tone etc they won't actually diagnose it for some reason) apparently and they told us she probably feels the need to have her feet on the floor. Is his chair and table a good height for him? does he need a foot rest? does he need something to lean his elbows on? is he better if he sits on a cushion or a wobble cushion or something I think they are called. I think it means they can wiggle around on it and get more comfortable and less distracted.

social interaction can indicate a problem but it can equally just be maturity related or even just confidence.

It also isn't unusual for a child that age to get so engrossed in something that they ignore everything else, lots of children forget to go to the loo because they are busy playing/drawing etc and end up wetting themselves. It is again a maturity thing which is why it is hard to identify problems in young children.

Did the physio give any other help? exercises, ideas, info, other comments which might indicate a problem? how is he coordination wise? dyspraxia is a very wide ranging problem. very hard to get diagnosed in our experience unless you tick certain boxes out of their list but the tips and techniques for dealing with it can also apply to lots of people who don't have dyspraxia but have bits of the problems.

I would start trying to build his muscle strength and core stability to be honest, don't worry too much about the school work. it is the holidays shortly (well assuming you get a break over Christmas, depends what country you are in I suppose). We use Wii balance games with a balance board, we also have a musical wobble/balance board, hula hoops, simple yoga, ballet/swimming/football are good too. the physio should be able to give ideas of exercises.

Ohmygrood Mon 15-Dec-14 08:48:31

There's some good ADHD info on a site called ADHD together.

sugarman Mon 15-Dec-14 08:58:18

My ds is easily distracted by noise and light. He has SPD (sensory processing disorder), can concentrate v well in an optimum environment but a cluttered, busy place like school is challenging for him.

We saw a behavioural optometrist and he now has glasses which help calm his world down (visual perception rather than acuity) and he is doing sensory integration therapy. Working v well.

Booked for an auditory processing assessment, too.

So my advice would be either to seek out a good educational psychologist for a full assessment or to start chipping away at things by checking visual processing, audio processing and sensory processing. Once you know where the weaknesses are you can target them.

He sounds like a clever boy and you a devoted parent so I think that is a very strong start.

Good luck.

sugarman Mon 15-Dec-14 08:59:39

Oh and also I was told that some of these things are often misdiagnosed as ADHD.

MrsTruper Mon 15-Dec-14 10:03:38

Don't forget the basics, sounds silly but these can help a lot, and they won't do any harm:

plenty of sleep, lots of physical activity, cod liver oil, and something specific to fidget with (fidget to focus) which can then help concentration partner has adult add! ...also exploring if dd is affected...

Cloud2 Mon 15-Dec-14 13:06:04

Is his hearing all right? My DS was like that, so absorbed into lego etc while he was little, but can't concentrate at school. later we found out he has hearing lose, so he can't cope noisy classroom.

LL12 Mon 15-Dec-14 20:04:52

What makes you think autism?
My DD has autism but from what you have written your son sounds like many 4 year olds.

Ruggles Mon 15-Dec-14 20:16:00

Hello. Can recommend 'Is That My Child?' book by Robin Pauc and / or The Tinsley House thread. My DS used to be quite similar, but has been helped enormously by this. Support thread on Special Needs children page too. There is lots you can do to help. PM me if you'd like. Good luck

magicmeaway Mon 15-Dec-14 23:06:36

I'm am thinking it is autism as his cousin was diagnosed with Aspergers - maybe I'm wrong and it's something else - but there is something not quite right with him. A physiotherapist recently suggested he may have dyspraxia. We're due to see a pyschologist in January.

These things make me think it's autism

- very poor eye contact

- social interaction is very poor at times (but can be quite good at times with adults or his brother). He seems to parallel play with other children. Sometimes he takes no notice of the other children - appears indifferent to them. I don't think he's timid or shy but seems not to 'connect'. At a friend's house recently he played with toys the entire 2 hours there - hardly engaged with the other boy but got annoyed when the other boy ran by and knocked his toy.

- zones out frequently - Starring into the distance as if deep in thought - not 'connected' to those around him.

- if other children start being boisterous he wakes up and joins in.
He can go too far with boisterous play and hurt others

- behaviour that looks like stimming to me - throwing himself on the ground - hoping along on his hands

- if he's not zoned out he is often running about - jumping on the furniture. I have make him sit to do phonics as he is constantly squirming and trying to get away.

- he seems to switch off if something is not of interest to him and wakes up if there is something of interest. Like when we visit my parents he walks into the house and blanks them - I have to force him to say hello - and he'll say a robotic hello not even looking at them even though he likes them. But if my brother arrives and he knows he'll play with him - he is enthusiastic but only because he is getting something he wants

- poor concentration in school.

- tantrums. These have improved. Often seems negative and grumpy. Talks to people in a rude way despite all our efforts to encourage him to talk more nicely. When we are out I can tell at times that something is going to set him off and I feel on edge as no other children his age act that way.

- he has low muscle tone and is often slumped on the table

- others say he complains about the light hurting his eyes. I haven't really noticed this myself.

Littlemisssunshine72 Tue 16-Dec-14 07:56:13

I remember when my son was young, I drove myself mad wondering whether it was autism or not. You are on the waiting list to be assessed which is the best thing. In the meantime, as others have mentioned, try working on his deficits (but also his strengths to build his confidence up) such as balancing issues, etc. I second the importance of physical activity- especially before you want him to focus on something. (I know not possible in school but any chance you can practise phonics while he moves-eg. Jump on trampoline for each sound, a scoot down the path, etc).
I would try not to worry too much about the level of his peers at the mo. If you can see progress in his abilities, then you should be happy. The more pressure put on him to keep up(if he falls behind) will be detrimental and damage his confidence. (Not saying this is happening but my son became very aware in reception that he found certain tasks more difficult than other children and I'm sure it affected his self confidence).
You're doing the right thing getting him assessed early- you are identifying his needs which can be worked upon. I'm sure he will come on leaps and bounds with the effort you are putting in.

NynaevesSister Tue 16-Dec-14 08:24:45

Do read up on both dyspraxia and SPD (sensory processing disorder). All the things you've mentioned fit. If it is SPD, the fidgeting and squirming can be alleviated with stress toys. Often they find their own - some will chew or pull on jumper sleeves. My friend's daughter at that age had a box in the classroom with the teacher. When it was all too much she could go and pick an item to fidget with for a few minutes. Now she is 9 and allowed to keep a water bottle in her desk and finds that a fiddle with that to release 'steam' is all she needs.

How are his fine and gross motor skills? Did he like being in a swing as a baby? Can he kick a ball or catch it? How is his balance? Can he lie on the floor on his stomach and lift his arms and legs up like he's parachuting? (Don't ask him to so it, just might be something you noticed).

The assessment should look at all this and tell you for sure. If you feel something is off then you are probably right.

Finding out about dyspraxia was like a light going on. It all made sense. More importantly it helps me know where I can push him (because he was just being lazy etc) and where he might need more help.

Ohmygrood Tue 16-Dec-14 08:53:00

SPD can look like ADHD. Definitely look into that.

Hedgehogsbuzz1 Tue 16-Dec-14 23:49:03

Have you had his eyes checked?

LL12 Wed 17-Dec-14 08:02:03

Do look at other things as well, over the years I have found that many people seem to automatically assume autism for everything as they are unaware that some signs for autism can overlap with other conditions.
Also do remember that as autism is a spectrum things such as poor eye contact, tantrums, poor concentration, hurting others are not displayed by everyone suffering from autism.
My daughter has always had good eye contact, has never hurt anyone, doesn't have tantrums and pretty good concentration yet will never live on her own and attends a special school.
I had never realised just how many conditions do overlap until my daughter started a special school.

magicmeaway Wed 17-Dec-14 16:44:40

It is so confusing with so many symptoms of similar conditions overlapping - like autism, dyspraxia, ADHD and SPD. I know the pyschologist will tell me soon enough what it is but I can't help googling it constantly.

To be honest it's the social interaction that's worrying me most. I have a vision of him never connecting with any other children in his class. The other children all seem so social and engaged whereas DS seems to be starring off in to the distance in a dreamworld. He sometimes connects for short periods but then loses interest and drifts off.

SIL's son was diagnosed with Aspergers and she's trying to reassure me telling me the early intervention will really make a difference - but I can't imagine how any intervention could bring him out of himself - what could they do that would make him interested in engaging with his friends rather than blanking them and playing with a toy. His behaviour seems so innate that I can't imagine anything could fix it. I know he'll never be the loudest most popular child but I just want him to feel happy and connected to a few friends.

poppy70 Wed 17-Dec-14 20:43:28

Early intervention will help, to help provide strategies for any child to cope in this world. However, it does not change children, they will never all of a sudden become typically socially function. ASD disorders is by nature predominately about social, emotional and language delays. They will never be overcome, interventions can be put in place to alleviate or work around these issues.

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