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adhd for child with asd(39 Posts)
So DS is 14 (Y10) and at high-achieving mainstream private school. He has ASD diagnosis since age 7. Left prep school after Y8, the prep was very organised - all homework done at school.
At new school he would forget things and struggle with organisation and would do things like defer working on long-term projects till the last minute and what not, but at start of Y10 things were much worse as he basically didn't do his homework at all. He also skipped sports practice on lunch time (because he couldn't be bothered) without telling us even though we were driving him on weekends to the same thing.
School got quite concerned about this as he was not doing any of his homework.
He is literally only motivated by games/internet, he does other things (if told to) but it's quite perfunctory - 15 minutes playing guitar and 5 hours playing games (if allowed), for example. Sometimes he plays games on his computer and then while it's loading will play games on his phone as well. He doesn't try to fix things. Like the video card on his computer wasn't working, so he couldn't play most of his games, but he didn't work through from start to finish to try and fix it, he preferred to have it sitting broken for literally months.
He also tries to put things off 'I've got two days to do that', he says on Monday. Me : 'Really, when is it due?' He: 'Wednesday'. Me: 'Well that's not two days is it, it's one.'
Anyway, we have been more rigid with having him do homework and what not, and set firm rules with him about IT (his ipad and phone go in our bedroom at bedtime, so he can't play with it in the night). But the school have still asked to see us. They asked for any psychological reports, etc. It did make me wonder about ADHD, I have just been reading about it (and as it's 3:30am yeah hmm, me too, perhaps), just wondering if I should seek a diagnosis (is it useful in education, or can we just use the strategies without it - I mean ultimately an ASD diagnosis didn't really change anything it's not 'oh, he has ASD, let's treat and cure that' (although he does get extra time in exams)) and if there is an expeditious way to do so: we dealt with NHS before bit of a waste of valuable time if you can afford to avoid it?
But he can maintain concentration appropriately sometimes?
Has the possibility of ADHD been a concern in the past?
I'm wondering if considering it as an issue with organisation rather than 'focus' would make sense?
I don't think any concern was expressed in the past, I think previously perhaps it helped that he was relatively more compliant and didn't have mobile phone etc. Also I don't know if he did have ADHD whether some of the ASD-related strategies would have been relevant, e.g., when he was preparing for his exams in Y8, I made a very rigid timetable with times and days of the weeks and activities. And when he was doing relatively poorly in French he used an app (Duolingo) which resulted in massive improvements.
I don't know how you define maintaining concentration appropriately. In a structured setting like a lesson, I think he does. But otherwise not so much.
For example I told him today to play his guitar. He started at 7:30pm, and around 7:45pm we said dinner, except it wasn't actually ready we were still microwaving things and what not, and I said to let him continue playing until the moment it was ready. When it was actually ready I went to call him and he had stopped playing guitar and he was doing some chatting on his computer. I said 'why have you not played half an hour'. 'Yes I have'. 'No, it was 15 minutes'. Then he said he stopped because we said it was dinner time. Sso why didn't you come? either you continue playing till it's ready, or you come and eat, you didn't come here at all.'
So he has that sort of thought process whereby he very easily can justify doing the small set of (entirely computer/phone-based) activities indefinitely. 'Why are you not doing your homework? ' 'I'm too tired, I'm listening to music and browsing the internet instead'. 'I can do it later.'
In a structured setting like a lesson, I think he does. But otherwise not so much.
I'd look at organisational difficulties, maybe the dyspraxia and see if you think that might fit.
The issue with organisation of own books, work etc suddenly becoming apparent at the point of switching up from primary or prep sounds typical of that area of difficulty. Also procrastination etc.
(Whereas a child with ADHD typically struggles to be compliant and attentive in structured sessions like lessons and you'd probably have been made aware of that long ago.)
There has been a change in his behaviour in that he where he did a few years ago have other things he would focus on, albeit rather structured - educational French app, printed books (about maths, facts, other subjects), guitar game, Kindle (not the tablet, the e-book reader), he now basically devotes ALL of his time, except insofar as it is forcably allocated by us other subjects, to phone + games.
But I don't know to what extent that was because we were more austere - no phone, no tablet, no laptop - I deliberately got him the Kindle because it doesn't have games, multimedia internet, just books. Perhaps he would have been the same then if he had the same cornucopia of overstimulating digital doo-dahs.
Well you also have the issue that the combined effect of adolescence and ASC can amount to them realising how hard it is for anyone to actually STOP them from just focussing on the current obsession.
A couple of summers ago I became seriously concerned that DD might drop out of education to gain more time to take watches apart. She didn't but September felt hairy that year.
It's not easy, either to pick it apart and analyse, or to handle it.
That made it sound purely defiant. I don't think it is.
I think if you are 15 and aspie and utterly absorbed in an interest and are struggling with motivation and organisation and finding school hard, putting X down and tackling everything else probably feels way too hard alone.
That's why the detailed timetables and similar approaches do help if you can get cooperation with that kind of approach. They are helpful structure and a breaking down of tasks.
adhdoh, you could be describing my ds! He is yr 11 and we are just going through the process of possible diagnosis. Applying for a prompt/extra time during exams and looking at colleges for yr 12 would definitely have been easier had we got diagnosis and support in place already. What does your ds think are his main difficulties? Is he able to articulate how he feels? If you have a gut feeling that there is more to this than ASD I would pursue it.
Not much advice but I understand what you are coping with .
Stepping back ought to work in theory, but having tried this on several occasions, ds struggles with a lack of structure, does not learn from previous experiences, or see consequences coming so after weeks of detentions, being called into school, late every day, ban on technology etc. we end up going back to micromanaging him.
So he went to do his rowing training yesterday morning. After lunch we said 'let's go for a walk it's nice and sunny'. He whined about being tired and said he was going to for a run tomorrow as if that meant we couldn't go for a family walk today. [real reason: he wants to play computer games all day]
Today he woke up and played games all morning and then we went to Burger King. I said 'have you done your run'. 'No I was planning to do it after lunch' After that he was talking about playing his game and clearly didn't really intend to do anything.
So we got home and said 'you better go and do your run now'. We'd already discussed this and we had established that a run around the block is 700m and he needs to run (he says) 4km, so he should do two laps.
He came back after 10 minutes, making a massive show of being winded.
I said 'how many laps have you done' 'I don't know, about four', he said. [I think he did two] He said 'I over shot my energy' Me: 'So run a bit slower, walk, whatever' He then said 'I don't think burger king is the best fuel for running' Me: 'I don't think it's that bad, you are only doing 20 minutes, not a marathon'
Anyway after making a massive show of how tired he was from 10 minutes jogging, he's gone off to his bedroom. He's undoubtedly playing some game on his phone or ipad, I can't be bothered to go and see.
Oh and I forgot to mention, after he skipped the entire term of running practice last term because he couldn't be bothered, he also missed Friday's session because on Thursday he was supposed to bring his laptop to school for English but the battery was flat, apparently because it wasn't plugged in properly overnight but he didn't check in the morning because he woke up late. So instead of doing the English on Thursday he did it on Friday and missed his running session, so he disappoints both the rowing coach and the English teacher.
sorry I should have said he was supposed to do six laps, not two.
"Does he actually want to do running, rowing and going for walks? "
We don't go for a walk all that often tbh (not if it's raining or whatever) and I don't think it's an unreasonable thing to go out on a sunny day together.
The running is part of his rowing training, it's not a separate thing. It's been explained to him that if he wants to do rowing then it's a lot of work. He used to do climbing indoors once a week outside of school, but basically he ended up doing that for several years but not getting the certificates or whatever because he wasn't organised.
When he started at the current school he had a choice between ball games (not his thing), rowing (he tried it and decided he liked it), and climbing.
He did mention previously that he might switch to climbing but he decided he wanted to continue rowing. He knows what's involved, because he's done it for 4 terms now, so there's no illusions, all we've said is that we don't to spend time and money picking him up (and dropping him off on Saturday) three times a week if he can't be bothered to turn up to his lunch time running practice. Same thing applies with his guitar lessons, he needs to practice otherwise we are wasting our money.
The school also said if he wasn't going to do his homework then he should stop rowing. He said no, he wanted to continue with rowing.
It's really tough to know how to support and encourage. I know from trying and often failing with my teens.
If he has ASD then these are all part of the territory:
organisational and planning issues
trouble switching activities
finding school exhausting because of the enforced social contact and demands all day
Needing loads of downtime to recharge or distraction to calm
Plus he is a teenager and demands at school in terms of managing work will have shot up. If he is high functioning, which he must be, it is easy to overestimate ability to manage as he is bright and can be logical and sensible.
Sorry to sound harsh but I don't think it makes sense to stop him doing something he likes (rowing) because he is struggling. It's likely to make him feel more stressed. Of course if he doesn't like rowing then let him stop.
The school also said if he wasn't going to do his homework then he should stop rowing. He said no, he wanted to continue with rowing.
Probably because if he gave up rowing he'd have fewer excuses not to do his homework
DD is very similar in that she can procrastinate for Britain but is very academically able, so can get by with less effort than many, leave projects to the last minute and pull something half decent together.
If he's in Y10 I would be thinking about what I really wanted him to get out of these two years and prioritising that. If it's a brace of good GCSEs you'll need to put all your efforts into helping him with the organisational and learning skills he needs to get them.
Schools are often not great at supporting very academically able DC with poor executive function, because it just looks like they're lazy and not trying, rather than struggling with something they find very difficult. But this is the area to invest the time and energy in, rather than on getting him to do extra curriculars that he's not very motivated by.
Thanks for posting this I can see these issues in our future! (My DS is only 8).
Our DS is already very avoidant (he's defo used all the excuses you listed!) and the computer is a huge lure. We limit access and insist all homework is done (or sections completed) before he gets access. I explain like going to work - I have to work for a month before I get pay/reward - so it's just like the rest of the world. His list of tasks is very small but I feel like I have to put in lots of effort to get things done.... DH and I think we need to add in some light chores and are wondering how to do this so I will be following for tips....
A friend of ours with a PDA son devised a check sheet for his 12yo DS. It had days of the week and lists of tasks to be done before school and after. Some basic tasks had to be done to get his basic computer access. Other bonus tasks if completed earned him extra time. All tasks had to be completed without exceeding 1 or 2? Reminders. The dad switches the router access on/off for his DS' devices so he can't "help himself" to unearned time. Although this sounds difficult to administer the DS loves this structure and delights in ticking off the tasks and earning bonus time. Their lives have all improved massively as the DS is now self motivated. They also have an app on his phone that reminds him what to do - when his parents used to do it he would fly into a rage/argue back/negotiate - now he accepts the neutral guidance from the phone!!
I can't see anything in your posts to suggest ADHD. Another friend had this suggested to her for her ASD/aspie DS. She wasted a year with CAMHS on the process and it was not diagnosed. She said in hindsight the teacher couldn't cope with her DS as the school didn't have the right supports in place. She says she wishes that she had spent more time looking into Executive Function and Central Coherence supports to suggest to the school. As they get older ASD kids who are academic will be expected to do more independent things and as they are otherwise bright people don't understand why they are struggling - it looks like uncooperativeness/avoidance/disobedience. Now I recognise the signs of distress in my DS when this comes up I've started to put on my detective hat and work out if there is a common theme? A particular lesson or teacher?
For example I've been told for 2 years my DS had "handwriting" problems as he refused to do work in English. It took ages as I wasn't observing classes but I realised he was refusing to write in creative writing sessions. That is a classic area of crossover difficulties for aspies: imagination, theory of mind, central coherence, motor planning, fine motor control and attention to someone else's topic. Last term was hideous with him refusing and getting into trouble. The teacher organised TA time to help plan out his work and visual supports; I'd helped at home with cursive script. Nothing worked. Bad behaviour continued all last term. Then the teacher went on an ASD training day and decided to let him write about his special interest.... not only has he been well behaved this term but he is writing stories which are a page and a half long. Now he is motivated - no one needs to nag him or remind him to do it.
Sorry this is all rambling on but what I'm saying is that it sounds like you need to sit down with school and work out what he is struggling with (probably not obvious) then put in a support that helps him be self motivated. There may be a training requirement at school - an ASD friendly environment is THE biggest support our kids can have.
I've been toying with doing the Asperger Experts online course called Infuence Circles. It talks exactly about this and how to get AS kids out of "defence mode" and off their computers! might be worth a look. Good luck and sorry for the long post
Don't know if it helps but I have a child diagnosed with asd, aspergers. A few years ago he showed a lot of ADHD characteristics but the ed psych told us/school that his ADHD characteristics were because his asd wasn't being supported appropriately at school. Once things were better supported things did indeed settle.
Asperger Experts seems dodgy to me tbh. (Google it)
Anyway, just had a chat with him, he was supposed to be doing homework but was chatting. 'What homework did you have to day'. 'Biology and English'. 'Have you done your English?' 'Yes' 'What did you have to do? ''A past paper, I've got several homeworks to do it in'
I rolled my eyes at this point as I knew he hadn't done anything on it. He got angry and said 'Why are you doing that?'
I said 'I haven't said a word.'
Then I asked him to show me it.
He opened it up in MS Word and it showed he had done 30 words and hadn't done anything since Thursday.
We asked if he knew how to approach it, and he said 'yes, break it down into parts and do a bit each time'
He said he would do it tomorrow. 'But you come home late tomorrow, and you'll say you're too tired - it's better to do it today' Eventually when asked he said it was boring and that's why he didn't want to do it. 'But it will still be boring tomorrow' I pointed out, you still have to do it.
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