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11 year old with poor focus / absent-minded

(35 Posts)
LisaLux Tue 24-Oct-17 07:48:56

I live abroad at the moment (for the last 2 years) and my 11 year old has just started secondary school here. In all of her schools, in London, then when we lived somewhere else, then again same old school in London and now here, teachers say she doesn't concentrate and is absent minded.

I witness the same with her at home. Her younger sister is very different - can get on with things quickly and with focus.

It's so tough for me as everything with my eldest takes so long, and she never puts her whole head onto one task.

I thought she might grow out of it but she hasn't and she doesn't even want to listen to me, or what the teachers say.

I really don't know what to do to help her anymore. If she could focus her work would get done so much more quickly and neatly,.

I cannot get her to put her mind onto any task and I feel exhausted by it (and other aspects of life!)

Thank you so much!


TeenTimesTwo Tue 24-Oct-17 12:56:48

It might just be her.
It might be dyspraxia:
- appearing not to listen (forgetting the instructions / not taking them in)
- appearing to day dream (can't work out how to get started)
- getting up and wandering around (poor core stability makes sitting at a desk tiring)
- untidy (poor motor skills and not 'seeing' that things aren't lined up neatly)

LisaLux Tue 24-Oct-17 13:12:00

Thank you so much @TeenTimesTwo. This is exactly her... she does all of this!!

Bashstreetmum Tue 24-Oct-17 14:04:17

Does she tire easily even yawn when reading. Or when you show her something close up or present her with a full page of text does she move her head quickly backwards and open her eyes wide . You may have to try this

TeenTimesTwo Tue 24-Oct-17 14:14:03

Other things associated with dyspraxia
- poor body awareness (my DD frequently knocks her arms whilst walking through doorways)
- poor gross motor skills (PE, cycling, swimming)
- sensitivity to taste / texture (very fussy on food, not liking fur/lace/buttons/seams on clothes)
- lack of sensitivity to heat / cold (wants to wear shorts when there is snow on the ground)
Other things can overlap with autism, especially inference & reading social situations.

Not all traits appear on all children/adults.

If you do suspect dyspraxia find an online checklist and tick it off. The go to school / GP and ask for an assessment. (At least that would be the system in England). Schools can put steps in place to mitigate some effects, others you have to learn to work around, others just to live with.

LIZS Tue 24-Oct-17 14:14:13

Agree, have a look at the Dyspraxia Foundation website which breaks down typical traits by age group. There can be overlaps between various conditions including dyspraxia, dyslexia, dyscalculia, auditory processing disorder etc. Could you access an assessment by an Ed Psych or Occupational therapist , perhaps via your paediatrician or school, to at least eliminate some or all Specific Learning Difficulties.

OnlyTeaForMe Tue 24-Oct-17 14:21:57

Yes, I was going to add that some of the 'lack of focus' and 'unable to get started' could be a specific learning difficulty like dyslexia.

DS was like this all through primary and early secondary. Because he was performing fine and could read we kept being fobbed off with 'he's fine' whenever I questioned the difficulties we saw him having with homework etc. Finally, when he was in Year 10 (!) I decided we were going to go ahead privately and get an EdPsych report and lo and behold he has dyslexia and auditory processing issues/short term memory recall. It was all being masked by a high underlying ability which he was using to cope and compensate.

Fadingmemory Tue 24-Oct-17 14:27:59

Just wondering if you have excluded the possibilities of problems with hearing/sight. She may have perfect sight and hearing but it is as well to be certain before further investigation.

LisaLux Tue 24-Oct-17 14:41:15

Thank you so much... Yes she does have mild hypermobility and it links with so much above. Just hard when you have to fit the 'normal' school mold. My DD is a voracious reader but can't hold a pen well, not great at sport but does a lot of music, yet finds it hard to get the 'positions' right. So def gross and fine motor problems. It's the attention / focus bit that's the hardest to 'put in a box'. Any advice on how to help this?!!

TeenTimesTwo Tue 24-Oct-17 14:56:28

Well, what helped my DD was having a 'label' (which we only got when she was 15). So we could all acknowledge that she was trying and found it harder than others.

These are based on my DD only:
- realise she may take more time than others to realise you are talking and to process instructions, so get attention, then one instruction at a time, and repeat back
- don't expect verbal instructions to be remembered, give one at a time
- try to learn to tick off written instructions as you go
- checklists in general
- don't aim to sit down to do 30mins homework. Aim for 5 minutes to start with, then get up and stretch and do 5 mins more
- some exercises help with core stability
- active learning, so pen in hand writing better than losing focus over a book
- or dictating to Mum to free up the brain from writing as well as thinking
- DD1 found learning to touch type very helpful
- school gave out printed notes for her to annotate
- if homework is open ended (pick a historical figure and find out 10 facts) then DD just couldn't do it. But if I said find out A...J about Christopher Columbus then she could.
- much, much more scaffolding than average for age for everything

LIZS Tue 24-Oct-17 14:57:23

A good ot would be able to give her strategies and work on things like posture, core strength and grip which would be affecting her ability to sit still and focus. She may also have other issues such as reading from a board if visual tracking and processing are problematic, and poor short term and working memory will make remembering verbal instructions tricky. The teachers may need to break tasks down , step by step, remind her where she is and what is next, and give her a handout so she has her own written prompt to refer to. Gradually she will learn how to do more of this for herself. In UK she might qualify for extra time in tests or be allowed to use a laptop.

TeenTimesTwo Tue 24-Oct-17 15:01:23

We had a great list from the OT too.

Roomba Tue 24-Oct-17 15:13:22

DS1 has dyspraxia and exhibits all the traits mentioned in your OP and elsewhere on the thread (except the yawning when reading, he's always been a good and avid reader). You wouldn't necessarily notice that he had any additional needs as he always had a wide vocabulary and learned things fast. But his inability to sit still and concentrate, his untidiness, his clumsiness (so many bizarre accidents) and his handwriting would give it away eventually.

When he was younger it was very hard to see though, as most kids show these traits in nursery, reception and beyond. It was when he got to 9/10 his teachers became concerned. He was diagnosed at your DD's age. He's doing really well now we've implemented strategies similar to those above. He dreams of being able to ride a bike with his 5yo brother one day, bless him!

Bashstreetmum Tue 24-Oct-17 15:39:58

It's ok. I work in this area and many people are mostly concerned and head towards the D or A possibilities. Often children do fit a diagnosis but there are less well known and understood areas which include many of the traits listed above. I asked my questions to rule something else out. It doesn't quite fit with being an avid reader and musician. However it does fit with so many of the other areas like poor handwriting, ball skills, attention/focus, clumsiness etc. As you are abroad depending on where you are I hope you are able to find assistance. Most of these issues are interrelated so could be whatever it is is more like a mix of issues specific to your child. So don't be put off about not fitting wholly into a category as in the focus issue it may be just an addition to an eventual diagnosis or not. Best of luck

LisaLux Tue 24-Oct-17 21:10:01

Amazing advice! Thank you so much. Yes I agree with the clear need for scAffolding which I sometimes find draining. Lists - must keep reminding myself to help her more and more! And good idea to keep stretching between homework which can be so exhausting! I also need to find time to do more sport with her.... thank you again!

LisaLux Tue 24-Oct-17 21:12:19

yes, to add, I think you’re right in that she doesn’t nearly fit any category and I’m sure it’s a blend of many things, plus circumstances... moving country here and there plus now separated and divorce 😌

WildCherryBlossom Tue 24-Oct-17 21:35:57

My daughter is very similar but doesn’t quite fit the dyspraxia descriptions (excellent gross motor skills - riding a bike at 4 etc) I strongly suspect my daughter has ADHD which often presents itself differently in girls: less fidgety, more daydreamy)

Ttbb Tue 24-Oct-17 21:38:11

Is it possible that she is just bored? Is she capable of giving things that she enjoys 100% of her attention and it's just schoolwork/other things that don't interest her that is like this? Or is she always like that!

LisaLux Wed 25-Oct-17 03:15:11

@wildcherryblossom yes it’s the daydreamy thing which is over riding, but she definitely also has some muscle issues- hypermobility, soft ligaments etc! I’m sure she doesn’t fit one box too which makes it so hard!

LisaLux Wed 25-Oct-17 03:17:28

@bashstreetmum so much great advice and I think deep down it’s not a simple case but like you say a mixture of different things and so I guess it will be up to me mostly to figure it out, so your advice is gold dust!

LisaLux Wed 25-Oct-17 03:19:30

@Ttbb sadly she’s often daydreamy. It’s books which can totally absorb her. She can read with complete focus I think. Books of her own choosing that is, not a text book! Other than that I can’t think of anything that would absorb her but I guess art has a way of calming our minds and keeping our focus present. Maybe I should ‘find time’ to do more of that!!

westcoastnortherneragain Wed 25-Oct-17 03:25:18

It could be any thing, get a psyc ed report done, she may have dysgraphia, adhd, dyspraxia any of these

westcoastnortherneragain Wed 25-Oct-17 03:28:03

Foobarjar Wed 25-Oct-17 03:32:10

Might not be dysbraxia, might be ADHD.

I have hyper mobility and poor co-ordination for EDS, but at nearly 40 I think I have ADHD, and self prescriptive meds have changed my life !

LisaLux Wed 25-Oct-17 08:39:37

Yes I'm looking at symptoms of ADHD and perhaps it's that too. Now I'm blaming myself for drinking a little bit of watered down wine when pregnant :-( . Always feel like it's my fault somehow!!

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