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DS Yr7 not coping - wonder whether he's got special needs

(20 Posts)
Katsinhats Mon 19-Sep-16 14:33:48

Two weeks into Yr 7 and DS is struggling. HIs teacher called me because she's very worried about him. He just can't organise himself and seems completely overwhelmed. She said he looks completely lost. He's already had one detention caused by his forgetfulness.

When he started infant school, he had the best attention span in the class. He worked incredibly hard up until the end of Yr2 and his teacher said he was like a sponge for knowledge. He even did extra work at home making powerpoints about planets etc. That all changed in Yr3 when he had an NQT who was truly awful and the whole class suffered. I don't know whether that year switched him off learning or whether there is something else going on. Since then, DS has had very poor concentration, problems listening (he often interrupts in conversations and goes on and on without realising that he's boring people), chats incenssantly, fidgets a lot, takes about an hour to do a task that he could do in 5 mins, is over-sensitive and a bit paranoid about germs. He is very sensitive to certain smells (which means he can never use the loo at school) and materials and is a fussy eater (he can't mix different foods in his mouth and has a certain order for eating things). His handwriting is appalling, he cannot follow instructions, for some things his memory is terrible, he is unbeliveably easily distracted and he has problems going to sleep at night. Homework is always a total battle and refuses to anything beyond the bare minimum. However, he's very bright, a voracious reader, extremely articulate, emotionally mature, shows a great deal of empathy and kindness and has a brilliant memory for random facts!

Another problem is that he says that he was bullied in primary school and it seems that the name-calling, jostling and general unpleasantness is just getting worse and he's finding it very upsetting. The worst thing for him is that his so-called best friend never defends him (his friend is friendly with the 'bullies'). He's spent much of the last few days in Yr7 crying. He's frightened that if he doesn't hang out with these boys that he'll have no friends.

Needless to say, in primary school his teachers were driven mad by his behaviour and he was generally regarded as lazy and disruptive. I said that I thought maybe there was more to it as he doesn't seem to be defiant but they said there was nothing 'wrong' and seemed to imply that I only wanted him 'labelled' (not so...I want strategies). His Yr7 teacher has been fantastic and for the first time I felt that someone understood.

Do you think that maybe he has ADD or something else? Any suggestions as to how I can help him to improve his concentration, listening and organisational skills. I'm at my wits end tbh. Hope the above makes sense, I hardly slept last night with worry. TIA.

LIZS Mon 19-Sep-16 14:49:17

He sounds very unhappy but it is unlikely one Individual year has triggered it. It is possible he has some form of Sen which has become more apparent with age. Poor concentration/distractibility, lack of self organisation, sensitivity to smell and perhaps the general disorder of secondary school, social difficulties etc could point to various specific learning difficulties. I wouldn't preempt a diagnosis but do ask for a referral, either through school or gp. Once you know where his difficulties lie, he is in a better place to be supported.

LIZS Mon 19-Sep-16 14:53:56

And many of the traits you describe such as handwriting, sensory issues, poor working memory could apply to our Ds who is dyspraxic. The Dyspraxia Foundation website lists some of the common difficulties and has some ideas how to address them. Even if your Ds turned out to have an alternative disorder or none, it might be somewhere for you to start helping him.

gandalf456 Mon 19-Sep-16 14:55:46

Could be anxiety. Don't underestimate the impact of the change. My dd has struggled all through year seven and still is in year 8 but is slowly showing signs of getting it. Do talk to the teachers and go to rule anything out but try not to panic yet

LooseAtTheSeams Mon 19-Sep-16 15:02:20

I think you really need to tackle the bullying - he has symptoms of other things but I agree it sounds like anxiety as well. And you clearly have an instinct about the bullying. If he is upset about his so-called friend and the bullies, he can't sleep and without sleep we all struggle.
The Y7 teacher sounds lovely - get them on board about the bullying first, maybe the head of year as well, and then move on to the other issues.
Do go through his planner with him every evening and again in the morning so he can start to get used to the way things are done at secondary school as well.

TeenAndTween Mon 19-Sep-16 15:02:54

I second looking at the Dyspraxia Foundation website to see if their checklists ring any bells.

Dustpan Mon 19-Sep-16 15:08:16

Sorry to hear you are so worried.

Some of the traits you mention could fit pattern for dyspraxia - I echo the pp who advised to look at dyspraxia foundation website.

Dyspraxia and other conditions often co exist with other things like ADHD or sensory processing disorders. The issue with smell of school loo sounds sensory issue possibly.

A book you might read is The Out of Sync Child to see if that resonates.

You are clearly as u say looking for strategies not labels. You're being a great mum by looking for what could be causing your DC unhappiness - all power to you and keep going until your mother instinct tells you you have found the root cause. Because then you will also discover the right support. Maybe the root won't be dyspraxia or sensory issue but it can't hurt to read up more about it to see.

In the meantime I would say to offer your DC whatever route of comfort and reassurance he receives best from you - loads of hugs / extra 1:1 time, trips to park or swimming - whatever his 'love language' is - keep refilling him with comfort and reassurance whilst you work through what the root issues are. All best

user1471537877 Mon 19-Sep-16 17:18:00


Some of the things you are describing could be indicators of a group of conditions including ASD Dyspraxia ADD etc

Often high functioning children with these conditions can be missed and dismissed in Primary and get picked up on transition to secondary education when for a number of reasons they can no longer hold it all together

Our DD fell apart on transition spectacularly so I do feel your pain and worry

I would suggest you talk to the school SENCO who can put some initial support in place while assessing where the problem lies and if you need referral to other areas

If you hop over to the special needs group there are plenty of folk who can give you practical help and supportflowers

TeenAndTween Mon 19-Sep-16 17:28:28

Whatever the cause, you need to do more scaffolding with him.
So pack his bag with him in the evenings.
Make sure he writes stuff in his planner.
You look at his planner to see what homeworks.
Make sure he has pencil case for school and a separate one for home so it can't get forgotten etc.

irvineoneohone Mon 19-Sep-16 18:23:49

My ds is younger than yours, but there are so much similarity!
I think I really need to keep an eye.

thedevilinside Mon 19-Sep-16 18:37:52

Sounds similar to my DD, she had some bullying issues in primary, has just started secondary. In two weeks she has lost her monthly bus ticket, missed her bus, forgotten PE kit etc, narrowly missing out on detention. She also has the germ phobia, insect phobia and various sensory issues. Her brother has autism and ADHD, so I think she is somewhere on the spectrum, She is on the waiting list for CAMHS but it's a two year wait. In spite of this she loves school.

Katsinhats Mon 19-Sep-16 20:07:14

Thanks so much for your responses. Three years ago, one of the mums at Ds's swimming class said that she thought he had Dyspraxia. She said his swimming style was very similar to her Ds when he was that age and he was diagnosed with Dyspraxia. She suggested getting him tested privately if we could afford the £500 or so cost (we couldn't). So I mentioned it to his class teacher at primary school and they got one of the TAs to do some tests with him. They were mostly physical, balancing etc. TA said he was absolutely fine.

I've just been looking at the Dyspraxia foundation website and he ticks almost every single box, including things that I'd never even considered like nightmares, feeling sick, headaches, taking forever to get dressed, inability to tie his shoelaces, finding it hard to use a knife and fork and constant hand flapping. However, I wouldn't say he is clumsy but I expect his co-ordination has been much improved because of the activities he did when he was younger (running, gymnastics, violin). I always thought that Dyspraxia was more to do with these physical things.

So I wonder where to go from here. Would there be any point in getting a diagnosis or should I just research coping strategies? Would the school SENCO be able to offer any advice?

He's had another terrible day at school btw. The bullies have been mean to him again (verbally and physically). His class teacher said she had spoken to the Head of Yr 7 about this and he would be dealing with it, but I've heard he doesn't do much to help.

dublingirl48653 Mon 19-Sep-16 20:11:42

ah gosh so sorry to hear this
get on to the phone to the senco tomorrow and ask for an appointment asap

they may not be able to get an OT involved
it is worth a try
what if they can get their educational psychologist to observe him??
worth asking

he sounds like a lovely boy
things will get better
anxiety and the huge transition will make things so much harder right now

TeenAndTween Mon 19-Sep-16 20:17:03

With DD (in year 11) I went to the GP with a dyspraxia checklist all ticked.
I was asked to get SENCO to write to GP too, and they referred to OT.
In your situation given it has already been flagged by the school, I would ask for a meeting with SENCO.

But in the meantime you need to do more scaffolding.

Stuff what he 'should' be able to do by himself, or what others can manage. Put as many strategies in place as possible to get him through the organisation side of school. You can do a lot from home.

And be a pain with the school until the bullying is sorted.

SparklesandBangs Mon 19-Sep-16 20:22:55

Yes to contacting the SENCO depending on the outcome he may be given extra time and other support, this becomes very important when it gets to exams.

For instance my DC gets longer and a break in exams to cope with slowness in writing and anxiety.

user1471537877 Mon 19-Sep-16 20:52:07


because our DD had such an awful transition I did put a lot of extra work into supporting DS when he transitioned a year ago

He is dyspraxic and has very poor organanisation skills which cause a lot of anxiety

Daft things we found that work for us include

Seperate pencil case and calculator for school and home so his school ones stay in his bag and don't get forgotten

P.e kits outdoor and indoor In separate bags so he ONLY takes what is needed for that session and doesn't end up losing bits when swapping them over

Timetable on fridge so I know what day is which and can help him prep and plan

We got him learning to do laces for 6 months before he moved to secondary school so he was nearly up to speed and could change quickly in pe lessons

I also talked to some of his teachers to remind them that he had this problem as he is also a leftie which made it worse when writing in exercise books

Verbena37 Mon 19-Sep-16 20:58:09

Hi OP,
You could be writing about my DS. Very similar in most areas, especially eating and food and smell sensitivity.
He was diagnosed last yr with high functioning autism and from how you describe your DS, perhaps an assessment would be helpful.

Katsinhats Mon 19-Sep-16 21:34:27

Thanks so much to all of you. It's such a relief to 'talk' to people who understand. I'll call the school and try to arrange a meeting with the Senco.

The suggestions for providing practical support are really helpful.

It's heartbreaking really, he's finding the whole transition difficult enough without the bullying on top.

Guilders15 Tue 20-Sep-16 07:46:33

Hi, lots of things you have said remind me of my Ds - now yr 11, we spent most of primary trying to get support from the school, being told by the senco she was confident there were no underlying issues, he was just bright & shy.....secondary advised us straight away to go and get a referral to Camhs, which we did and came out with a diagnosis of high functioning ASD. DS was really relived to get the diagnosis, realised there was not something wrong with him (which is what he had felt before), just that his mind works differently. Got to go but good luck with it all and I hope things get better soon

Soozikinzi Tue 20-Sep-16 07:53:07

It does sound like he has special needs I am a Sen teacher.Also tell the form teacher about the bullying and ask her to help him to stand up to them or it will carry on .

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