Revisiting DS 12's situation...

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Registered: 01-22-2004
Revisiting DS 12's situation...
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Sun, 07-19-2009 - 7:38pm

Hi again, I hope everyone is enjoying summer. (Er, that is everyone who lives somewhere that's having summer right now. Anybody out there enjoying a different season?)

I know I've posted about not being sure of my son's diagnoses...

Let's assume for today that he's correctly diagnosed. Here's how I'm feeling today about our nightmare of a life...I posted earlier on another board (attachment parenting - a few years ago I posted a few times on it but mostly lurked - that was before things went completely south). I was reminded that a big part of good parenting is making sure that what you ask of the child is reasonable, appropriate etc. I started writing back and realized that since most of my reply related to how the ADHD rules our lives, I should probably cut and paste it here to see any BTDT responses from you all.

<<<<<

He's very intelligent (IQ wise) and labeled gifted in math and science but he also has a learning disability and severe ADHD. His ADHD is the combined type and he has all 18 symptoms as well as a bunch of executive function and sensory integration issues. Meds don't help much at all, though we keep trying. Plus, most specialists say that kids with ADHD, no matter how smart, are often emotionally immature by anywhere from 3-6 years compared to their chronological age. With my DS I see that in 'meltdowns' brought on by frustration, anger or physiological issues. Only, I usually can't get to the root cause until after he's put himself and everyone else through the meltdown! So, he's smart and loves information but he has so much trouble planning, doing tasks to completion, and writing things out that he now hates school and literally every aspect of life is a complete struggle: from normal chores, practicing the instrument he's chosen, homework, to even how he treats his brother and I. If he can turn a situation into a struggle he does and purposely or not it's a major problem. (Unless of course I wanted to not parent him and let him completely do or not do whatever he wants every minute every day, but I don't think that's an option.)

I feel like his planning and follow through problems combined with the temperamental extremes make every minute of every day like a bomb waiting to go off. He's a pile of contradictions and is all over the map. When a day or even a task has gone somewhat well, I try to duplicate it but usually it doesn't work. I feel crazy because what works one day in a situation won't work the next in the same situation. To top it off he's often hateful and mean to me if anything is required of him, no matter how I do or don't do things, but usually he's at least nice to others - though not any more inclined to follow through for them either. He's just less mean toward them. - Probably because it's not their job to ensure that he does what he's supposed to, takes his medicine and generally functions. Honestly, I think that over time, I've picked up his way of treating me and now I mirror it back at him and everything is a vicious cycle that somehow I have to put the breaks on.

Does anyone else here successfully navigate anything like this?

Lissa

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iVillage Member
Registered: 10-09-2004
Mon, 07-20-2009 - 9:55am
I'm sorry, I don't have any advice, but what you wrote about your DS could have been written about
iVillage Member
Registered: 01-22-2004
Mon, 07-20-2009 - 12:48pm

Thanks for your reply. I'm sorry we're in the same boat! Thanks though for letting me know I'm not alone.

Lissa

Avatar for mommy2monsters
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2003
Tue, 07-21-2009 - 9:28am

yeah, you're not alone. Sounds very much like my 12.5 yr old and my relationship with him. He has severe ADHD combined type and

Cindy, mom to

Chris, 12/96, ADHD and sensory issues

Ryan, 10/99

and Meagan, 10/02

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-25-2003
Tue, 07-21-2009 - 10:01am

And the problem with this age is that they really *want* to be independent, but...

What I'd say is, my kid starts walking down roads like that one & we try our best to stop him--especially the rude/mean behavior stuff. We will call him on things like voice tone & stuff like that. At younger ages, we'd make him repeat stuff so he'd get the point. With MY kid, a) he doesn't always even realize the effect he's having, and b) he's not good enough at reading my/our body language (or voice!) to necessarily "get" that he's making us mad. Sure *SUPER* mad, he can see, but lesser stuff--that my non-ADHDer can see--not so much. He was also getting really mad when things weren't "fair"--especially at school. We read a book on anger aimed at middle school/teens that really seemed to work for him, he internalized some of the techniques & things got better.

Homework: this one really changed this last year. The previous years, he was fine with us reminding him to get each part done. There weren't *that* many parts. THIS year--6th grade--there were so many different parts (middle school!), and there were more long assignments, that when we kept reminding on each thing (which changed from day to day), he was clearly feeling like he had NO free time. What worked for him was making a separate list, each day when he got home from school, of ALL the things he needed to do--homework, music practice, chores, even stuff like throwing the baseball if he wanted to practice that particularly. He didn't just work top-to-bottom, he'd take breaks (with a timer!). But it gave him a better sense of when he'd be done & what he had to do. But--and it's a big one!--he's self-motivated to do well in school. For the big projects, we've also worked on *him* making the list of what should be done each day or two to break it down into manageable chunks. Him making the list was a very very different thing than US making it, even if the exact same things end up on the list (and yeah, we checked to be sure everything was there, for awhile at least!)

The parenting trick I'll remind you of is to pick certain behaviors & work on them, don't try to go for the whole thing all at once. He's also old enough--or my kid is, at least--to be part of the conversation about what the problem is & how to encourage the solution, be it removing electronics time or offering bonuses or whatever works for him and you. Oh, and what is really really true for my ADHD kid is there are all SORTS of things we've had to teach him explicitly that most kids just pick up. Such is life!

Megan
Megan
Avatar for sabrtooth
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Registered: 12-03-1999
Wed, 07-22-2009 - 1:17am

OK, time to stop looking for causes and deal with what is. Don't try to figure out what he SHOULD be able to do; look at what he CAN do. First thing, if he is not taking a mood stabilizer, he needs one NOW. If he is on one, it isn't working and he needs a new one, NOW. Tell your dr he is physically and verbally abusive toward you and your other children, and you need help NOW. Stop thinking you "should" be able to control him. Stop thinking he "should" be able to control himself. Stop telling yourself, well, it isn't THAT bad. Tell the dr it IS that bad, so you get some results. If the dr has tried mood stabilizers before and they haven't worked, tell them you want to try anti-psychotics. DEMAND to have a psychopharmacologist work with your son on finding drugs that work.
http://www.tourettesyndrome.net/rage_treatment.htm

Meltdowns... stop trying to get to the "root cause" of the meltdowns. Treat the behavior. Start as tho he is still a much younger child, and work your way back up. SLOWLY
http://www.tourettesyndrome.net/rage_responsibility.htm
http://www.johnswank.com/johnswankcom/Explosive.htm
http://www.pediatricneurology.com/anger.htm
http://jamesdauntchandler.tripod.com/ODD_CD/oddcdpamphlet.htm#_Toc179711710
http://www.johnswank.com/johnswankcom/13%20Ways%20Parents%20can%20Change.htm
http://www.helpforadd.com/add-behavioral-treatment/
http://www1.dshs.wa.gov/ca/fosterparents/training/natlog/nat01.htm
http://www.thinkkids.org/
You will find that many of these articles sing a similiar tune.
Try to avoid or remove situations that cause meltdowns. If he doesn't practice his musical instrument, instead of arguing about it, get rid of it. Hello, magic. Nothing to fight about. If he doesn't want to make his bed, remove the top sheet and blanket. Leave only a washable comforter that can be thrown over the bed with one swing. Period. Toys all over the floor? Get rids of all except two or three, Period. Get a big basket, throw remaining toys in the basket & put basket in closet. Room is clean. He doesn't put the bike away? Get rid of the bike. The IMPORTANT thing here is: DO NOT make the removal of toys, bikes, instruments a PUNISHMENT. Simply say, "This was *MY* fault. You are not ready to be responsible for these things." And leave it at that. Minimize the things you argue about.

He hates school. Rather than fight over why the IEP isn't working, have him held back. Just tell the school, this grade is too difficult. I want him held back. It won't kill your son. He will have been exposed to the work once already, so it MAY be easier for him to succeed. He needs a few successes.

Homework is too much trouble. As part of IEP, say you want only 3 sample problems for each concept instead of 9. Say you want him to have afterschool homework resource, so he can do some of his homework THERE, away from distractions, and with someone OTHER THAN YOU tutoring him. Whatever he brings home, say-- "Do 3 problems, or write three lines, and then you have a five minute break to eat a cookie." Get a timer. Then do the next three. Get rid of the TV and the computer. They only get turned on AFTER homework, dinner and kitchen cleaning. PS: give him FEWER chores than the other kids. Stand there till EVERYTHING is done.

He has planning and follow thru problems? Remove his need to plan. Get a BIG dry erase board & write down the FEW chores he has to do. Tell him when he has finished each part, check it off. Contact the school and tell them as part of his IEP, you want all projects broken into components that he will get interim grades on. For example, he has a paper to write on volcanoes. Instead of leaving the planning and follow thru to him, and giving him just a completion date, say: List of resources due X/X/09-and get a grade for that. One note card with major thought for each paragraph--grade for that. Outline--grade for that. Rough draft--grade for that. And so on. And have ONLY one or two days for each part. Nothing too far out.

Trouble getting dressed in the morning? Shower at night. Give him a choice of two outfits for the next day. Put chosen outfit at foot of bed. Wear clean underwear to bed. Get up when mom pulls you out of bed by your foot. Put clothes on. Go to school.

Fights over breakfast? Get a bunch of Ensure shakes or Instant Breakfast in cans and Nutrigrain bars. Give him an Ensure and a Nutrigrain to eat while you are transporting him to school.

If after all of this he STILL has a meltdown, put him in his room and WALK AWAY. If you are out somewhere when it happens, leave and take him home. Put him in his room and WALK AWAY. After it is over, the only thought is: Who do I apologize too? What do I need to fix? Don't talk to him about what "caused" it. Talk about what he needs to do now--how to fix things.

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Registered: 01-22-2004
Sat, 07-25-2009 - 12:36pm

Thanks so much for your post.

It's funny, my DS doesn't say the words "It's not fair" or even complain out loud about that. BUT in the last year of so, I see him worry about the possibility that he might not get something that others do or that he'll get edged out somehow. One example is whenever I get food or a treat for my DS 6 before I get it for DS 12. I'm fixing two plates, bowls of ice cream etc but if DS 12 only sees one or sees me hand DS 6 his w/out another one right there, he asks about it. I have to fight it, but it hurts my feelings because I have never done anything to deserve for him to think that I'd leave him out or in any way not take care of him. I've explained over and over that he has nothing to worry about, I told him to not do it anymore. So, now I see it on his face even though he tries not to say anything. He still worries and it makes me sad for him (and me at the same time).

Lissa

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Registered: 01-22-2004
Sat, 07-25-2009 - 12:55pm

LOL yep, he doesn't register subtleties very well at all AND he has what one doc called an 'extremely quick recovery rate'. So, he pushes stuff til people crack and then he's over it while we're still upset. Even when he's the one who gets upset, or emotionally hurt, he has a pretty quick recovery rate - so in that case it could be a blessing I guess as long as he doesn't get taken advantage of.

We just had a mother/son chat (in pieces of course to keep his focus) and the plan is to use the timer for 20/10 on homework/break. We'll adjust the times if 20 is too long. We also really discussed the fact that whatever he does during his break MUST be something he can drop when the timer goes off. (I'm sure I'll have to monitor that and see if it works.) We've had similar plans before but we'll try again.

HIM making the list of broken down tasks is a good direction to move to. It'll be interesting because when the teachers give out big projects they often don't give any roadmap for how to get it done (he's in gifted math and science classes and they see that as part of the project). He usually does fine but it's a painful process to watch.

Working on one thing at a time, even picking one positive habit to encourage or one negative to discourage, is a real problem for me. I have this 'must fix it now' compulsion (in all areas of my life) and I end up getting overwhelmed. I'm working on it.

Thanks again,
Lissa

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Registered: 01-22-2004
Sat, 07-25-2009 - 2:35pm

You post some really good ideas. I'm working through the links. Thanks.

I get nowhere with the school on any real implementation of modifications or even just accomodations. (In Ohio they are defined as two distinctly different items.) Holding him back a grade hasn't been an option because he doesn't meet the criteria for 'failing' a grade, the school conflict centers around homework and projects not the material or testing. If I'd known how all this was going to be, I could have started him at 6yrs 3mo instead of 5.3 but everyone from his preschool and his speech therapist swore he was ready. In fact, usually the school 'officials' (as opposed to those who actually work with him) LIKE him because he brings up their overall average on the state achievement tests AND especially helps them on the category of sped students' test performance. The officials and teachers alike just really seem to believe that since his IQ is well above average and he talks and tests so well that everything else is him being lazy or bratty. (Or, as some have implied, somehow I must not be doing what I'm supposed to do to MAKE him be the way he should be.) The breakdown of his grades is usually an A/B average on all in class tests/quizzes/short assignments, C's on long assignments with lots of parts or lots of writing, and a D/F for turning in homework, keeping notebooks, doing the required minutes instrument practive at home and turning the signed log back in etc. Usually the homework or notes have been done though and he screws up the keeping track and turning it in part. We keep plugging away at organization and follow through issues. I tried to get band dropped when I realized it was going to be a problem, the first week in October, but the school said it was past the drop date and he had to finish out the school year. Supposedly next year the at home practice log won't be an issue because they'll have band everyday during the week and the log will be much less time and credit for grades. Supposedly, everyone has a better 7th grade year than 6th grade at this middle school. At least that's what all the school people keep claiming when I ask for any real plans to be made for 7th grade to be better.

I have tossed around the idea of refusing to let him go to his gifted classes, refusing to let him try band class again and refusing to let him play football after school but they are about the only thing about school that he still likes and I'm holding off on that for now. Honestly, I wish he's just go to school, come home and do his homework, chores etc and have no other activities. If he has one more lousy year I guess that will have to be the consequence. I like all the ideas you wrote about helping him with the school stuff and I'm writing them down to take in with me - I just know that it all smacks of what his school calls 'helicopter enabling parenting'. They really are nasty about ADHD.

I do have a lot of "logical/natural consequences" in place at home. They just don't seem to help. It's probably because I've gotten to the point of being so mad at him in those moments. I'll try the tips you wrote. One therapist said that our similar plans from the past haven't worked because he's not actively CHOOSING the action/behavior/inaction that's getting him to the consequence or even the rewards. Even if we try the arguement that he is somehow, someway making choices that get him there, she said he doesn't 'see' it and can't 'see' a different way to go. So, he feels just as 'blown about' and frustrated as those of us around him. So he feels doomed when he screws up and lucky when things work out instead of feeling in the drivers seat either way. (Leaves me with an "UM, thanks so now what..." feeling.)

Thankfully, I only know of two times that he's had any sort of meltdown outside of the house. One was getting teary eyed during a group project in science class that got tense and the other was when he got a detention for forgetting to go to after school homework make-up. The next day when his homeroom teacher gave him the slip, he groused and tore it up! I could have figuratively wrung his neck when I heard, but the homeroom teacher said it really wasn't a big deal and that he'd never done anything like that before. She gave him a new slip and told him he needed to find a better way to express his frustration because she knows he's better than that nonsense. Apparently, it's only me or occasionally his brother who 'sets him off'.

I've asked before if he has a mood, conduct or personality disorder etc. (It's my own private worst nightmare b/c his dad was Dx with that among other things during/after our split and unfortunately after I had two kids genetically linked to him.) I've told doctors that I wonder because of the info on nature vs nurture and the hereditary factors of all this stuff. EVERYONE has always said that doesn't seem DS's case and that I should be careful of not making my fears into a self-fulfilling prophesy. I work hard to visualize nurture over nature but lately with things here being so tense, that doesn't give me much comfort! I'll check on the specifics of a mood stabilizer but I know that one doctor was adamant that the stuff that I call 'meldowns' like DS's that are due to physiological circumstances as often as anything else are more indicative of other problems like his sensory integration stuff.

This summer I thought we'd use the time to work on follow through by setting a goal and working toward it. I thought that if I had him pick something that he wanted for himself it'd help. The idea in MY head was that if he can establish, work toward and complete a goal HE creates, then we're one step closer to him being able to complete goals for school. He always maintains he wants to do well and do what he's told but just doesn't seem to know how, remember what to do, keep track of time/stuff etc. So if he already has the 'buy in' of wanting to complete the goals that go with school, he just needs to make the connection of how to establish and follow through on the details.

HOWEVER, I just can't seem to help him find or ignite any internal locus of control. For that matter, even when he can identify something he wants to work toward, ("This summer I want to teach myself to play my guitar with a book/CD from the music shop.") he 'forgets' that it matters to him in the moments that he needs to choose how to use his time. I have free time now...I'll watch tv/play video games. He's only tried his guitar twice all summer but if you ask him he REALLY wants to teach himself to play. I don't care if he plays an instrument or not! BUT the bailing on it after saying that's what he wants as his summer goal drives me nuts and I can't tell if it's because that's too lofty of a goal for him, if I should have somehow pushed it or tried to find a way to help, or he's just flaky or what.

Lissa

Avatar for sabrtooth
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Registered: 12-03-1999
Sat, 07-25-2009 - 5:25pm

First of all, he SAYS he wants to do something like play an instrument, to please YOU. And to get you off his back, but that's par for the course. He is a child of the moment. Why he's like that is immaterial at this point. You just have to deal with the fact that he IS. IF you want his disability to surface more clearly, plus save your sanity, STOP reminding him. Stop helping him. Let him fail the assignments. Let him forget the homework. If that is what you have to do to make the school SEE his disability, DO IT.

I'll give you another link, but what you AND the school need to keep in mind is that he CAN be gifted AND LD, gifted AND ADD; hell he could be gifted and BLIND, gifted and PARAPLEGIC. One has nothing to do with the other. Go see A Beautiful Mind or My Left Foot.

MANY ADDers, and other kids with disorders, are also gifted or creative. Because of this, their intelligence masks their disorder, OR they are able to shortcut or charm their way thru school UNTIL the work becomes TOO difficult, the teachers demand too much personal responsibility for projects, AND social desires and extra curriculars begin to take up way more time than before. Then it all collapses. TYPICALLY this happens in middle school or the beginning of HS. You son is right on schedule!!!

What if he had a Central Processing Disorder. What if he HEARD things, but couldn't completely remember what he heard, 5 minutes after he heard it? What if he only remembered voices he heard when it was otherwise totally silent? What if he only saw words he concentrated on? What if he read a sentence three times, and each time, his brain edited out a word? What if it was a DIFFERENT word each time? What if his short term memory was impaired, and he only remembered something after you've said it 14 times? What if he was SO distractable, that he could LITERALLY only keep one thought in mind at a time. Wouldn't it APPEAR he was being lazy? Wouldn't it APPEAR he was ignoring you? Keep in mind that these are HIGH-MAINTANENCE kids. It doesn't really matter WHY he'd the way he is, it only matters that he IS. Stop trying to make him like other kids. Stop expecting the same responsibility from him. He doesn't need the extra curriculars; he can't keep all the balls in the air. If you want to allow him ONE extra, allow him to fail one class to make up for it. Because he will. "Disc space" is limited.

EDITED to add links--bad day at black rock, what can I say...
http://www.ldonline.org/indepth/gifted
http://www.sengifted.org/articles_counseling/Webb_MisdiagnosisAndDualDiagnosisOfGiftedChildren.shtml
http://www.tourettesyndrome.net/webb_latimer.htm
(I still think he might be NVLD. Have a look at these links.)
http://www.ldonline.org/indepth/nonverbal
http://www.tourettesyndrome.net/foss.htm




Edited 7/25/2009 5:49 pm ET by sabrtooth
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Registered: 02-03-2007
Sun, 07-26-2009 - 4:39pm

Oh my gosh, LIssa, I've been reading this thread &

kids

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