How can I help my son?

Vickie - posted on 07/06/2010 ( 10 moms have responded )

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My son is almost 11, and will start 6th grade. Our middle school starts with 6th grade, so he will be going to a new (and bigger) school. My son has ADHD, and has never done well in school. I have tried everything I can think of to help him. He practices his reading and math at home. I buy him books that he tells me he's interested in, so he will read them. The math is harder, but I have been having him do basic things, like count change and measurments.

The elementary school he was in was not the most helpful. He would have failing grades all year, but at the end of the school year, he would pass with a D. I can't afford to send him to a tutoring place like Sylvan. I want him to succeed and do well in school, and I am terrified that he is only going through the motions until he can legally drop out. He has told me before that he would drop out if he could. Does anyone have any suggestions?

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Carla - posted on 08/03/2010

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I sound like a broken record, but Supernanny had an ADHD child on her program. His frustration was evident. They made him a quiet spot in the house to do his homework, away from TV, music, other kids, etc. And, this is going to be hard, but a parent be close to help re-direct to the task at hand. If he is having a problem with, say math, sit down with him and help him come up with a solution. Don't do the work for him, don't yell or get frustrated (I know, easier said than done), but help him work through the process. I had a mind block when it came to math. The teacher would explain it, I would get it, but somewhere between school and the kitchen table, I lost it. Dad would explain, and I would get it, but, again, somewhere between home and school, I lost it again! Once I finally got it, it was there! but until then, my teacher and parents were ready to jump off the bridge. So, I understand what your son is feeling. Just keep explaining and explaining, patiently, calmly. If you need to walk away for a minute, excuse yourself and take a potty break and put a cool washcloth on your forehead, then go back and finish.

Anything you can buy him, do for him, organization-wise, will help you in the long run. Have a specific place for homework, backpack, school shoes, etc., and always have them there. Repetition makes a habit.

Good luck, honey, God bless!

Lastly, encourage him, praise him, tell him how much you love him, how proud you are of him.

Elizabeth - posted on 08/03/2010

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I don't have ADD or ADHD nor do my children. But, a couple of my siblings do. I know when they were in school, it was really a focus on teaching them how to focus on the job at hand in small amounts, how to plan, making lists, taking things in small bites instead of as a whole. When they learned these life skills (and are still learning them) the rest of school kind of came along. Sometimes it's not that they can't grasp a subject as much as it is they don't know how to grasp the subject. In other words, teach them how to learn in spite of their difficulties. That is a skill that will carry him throughout his life. And, support groups would certainly have better ideas of how to do that than I do.

Tee - posted on 08/03/2010

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Do you have an IEP (Individual Educational Plan) for your son? It could be that he is processing the informations differently and different teaching methods would be helpful in teaching him. Do they have special ed teachers that would work with your son. It is hard work when there is some sort of physical or mental disorder but it can be done. My son is ADHD and will be graduating at the end of this school year so I know you pain, trials and tribulations.

Cindy - posted on 07/25/2010

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Sometimes in middle schools there is a peer tutoring program, which may help him with both the academic part and making friends. The best thing that you can do, it sounds like you are already doing, and that is staying involved! Another suggestion may be to take him around to some workplaces that would allow him to look around, to try to get him interested in a career path.

Melissa - posted on 07/09/2010

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Can you get him evaluated by the Child Study Team? Also I would highly recommend the book Emotions and Advocacy: how to advocate for your special needs child. It goes into so much and how to get it. Good luck to you.

Beth Ann - posted on 07/08/2010

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As a teacher, I'd first recommend figuring out where your son struggles. You say he hasn't done well in school -- is it that his skills are behind grade level or is it that he misses information at school. Many of my students that have ADHD find school frustrating because they can't organize their responsibilities. They often forget to turn in work, don't know what the homework was, or don't know what the directions for the task were. If organization is an issue, it would be very helpful to know if your son will be switching classes next year. I teach high school freshman who move classes every period and who don't know their way around the school. If your son will have many teachers and many different classrooms, obviously you'll be preparing him for something new beyond just curriculum. Some ADD and ADHD students do well when they switch classes because it provides a break -- it's kind of like switching the channel every 50 minutes. I know my nephew who has ADHD loves moving rooms. Nevertheless, there has to be a plan to keep track of his responsibilities. First, I'd get a clear picture of what 6th grade is like -- physical layout of the building and curricular expectations. Second, brainstorm with your son on what he feels would make school "better" for him. Third, speak with your son's teachers. Often in middle school, teachers and students are arranged in teams. This has nothing to do with ability, it just means every kid on the Blue Team (for example) would have the same English teacher, Science teacher, Social Studies teacher, Math teacher, etc. They may have great ideas on organization and on expectations.

Good luck on the upcoming school year, and you and your son should know you are not alone. People all have unique needs, and in middle school is where they all seem to be so obvious. Embrace his differences, make him part of the team, and love him to pieces.

Paula - posted on 07/08/2010

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I am so sorry that your sons school were less than helpful. My daughter has none of the problems your son has , but she had a hard time settling into primary school. Her teachers and the headmaster kept me totally informed and even arranged a special teacher to come in and take her and a small group ( so she didn't feel singled out ) and the read stories about behavior and telling the truth amongst other things. This helped her greatly. Your sons school should be ashamed of themselves for not doing better by your son. Maybe a letter to your local education authority explaining the way you feel school and teachers have let you and you son down might be in order. They may also be able to advise you on where you can get additional help for your son. I wish you both well for the future.

Kellie - posted on 07/08/2010

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The internet is an information highway so I would suggest going on and googling ADHD and finding support groups, educational websites, blogs and other resources that will help you help him.

What about getting him involved in a sport like swim team, track, basketball, soccer, or something that will give him a chance to burn off some energy and help him with his confidence?

There are lots of educational software and video games out there too which may help reinforce what he is learning in school.

And I would suggest scheduling a meeting with his teacher for next year and coming up with a plan of care for him. You and his teacher should be working together to help him achieve success in his subjects and if you are feeling a pushback it might be the way you are approaching it. I realize ADHD is seen as a disability and most often treated that way, but as his mother you should be seeing it as an opportunity to stand out from the crowd. If you are wanting special privileges for him the teacher is not going to appreciate that but if you go in and ask her "advice" on how to help your son succeed in her class she will be more than willing to assist you. I am assuming that your son is not the first student with ADHD that his teacher has experience with so rely on what she knows and trust her judgment. And if it seems like she is pushing him than maybe that is exactly what he needs.

It is a mother's natural instinct to want to protect her baby so I don't blame you for that but I would like to challenge you to be careful that you are not making excuses for him or giving him the impression that because he has ADHD things are going to be much harder for him. We have all seen children overcome far worse odds and its not because of the difference in their disabilities it is because of what the parents have said and done in front of the children, the confidence they have given them and the parents belief that these children can do whatever they put their minds to.

I hope this has helped.

Jennifer - posted on 07/08/2010

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have you talked to school some have after school programs for tutoring that are free or very little cost also the library may have tutor type videos ask around maybe friends or church group -- may have teacher or retired teacher that can help

Becky - posted on 07/07/2010

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Wow, you poor thing! Him AND you. That's got to be frustrating. Even if you can't afford a place like Sylvan, can you maybe afford some lower key tutoring? You might check with local libraries, community colleges, and even highschool....you'd be surprised who has programs for that sort of thing for little to no money.

I would say just don't give up on him! And don't let him give up. When he says he would drop out of he could, ask him what he wants to do when he's grown. When he tells you, remind him that he needs to work hard now, so that he can achieve that later and make a good life for himself. Just reassure him that you will help him in any way you can, and that you support him no matter what! Good Luck.

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