I need some help. Some advice. Some opinions. Anything. I know a few of you are teachers...maybe you teachers and other parents have had experience with this with your own kids and can point me into the direction of some information or resources. Cuz I just don't know what to do. My little boy is struggling and it's breaking my heart.
My little dimple faced sweet and adorable son is having some problems. These are problems that have been going on since toddler-hood and seem to be coming to a head this year.
Dreamy Smurf has been given that pseudo name for a reason. He's quite dreamy.....spacey, if you will.
Dreamy's teacher and I have been communicating daily in response to a growing problem with his focusing and losing homework and being easily distracted at school. We are trying to use positive reinforcement to improve his organizational skills (among other things) in the classroom. This is a method that Dreamy has responded well to in previous grades (as this problem goes back to 1st grade). But it just doesn't seem to be working so far this year.
Here is a portion of an email from his teacher:
I am really working with (Dreamy) in class to help him stay organized too. On a daily basis I am going up to him, to make sure he is following directions, and at the end of each day we go over everything together. I also repeat directions for him when needed.
In class, he has been having difficulty following whole group directions. I'm also not sure if he's really remembering where things are, or if he is just panicking when I ask for things... It seems that focusing is an issue, was it last year too? What are your thoughts? I feel that I am doing everything I can to help.... and am willing to continue. (Dreamy) is a smart kid and I feel he does need to be held accountable for following directions etc. I am looking forward to hearing back from you, and appreciate you communicating with me.
Here's a portion of the email I sent back:
The focusing issues have been a noticeable problem since 1st grade. They have been a problem not only at school but at home and gymnastics as well. I do believe that he has ADD tendencies but have resisted taking him to be evaluated for fear of labeling him. And the thought of putting him on medication long term is very difficult for me as I'm sure you can understand. He has been doing very well in school and has been nearly an all A student thus far. I know this must be difficult for you teachers and I'm sure makes your job more frustrating and difficult.... but .....since the focusing "issues" have not affected his grades or his ability to learn I thought that maybe he could get by without taking my concerns any further (ie. taking him to be evaluated).
My concern has grown, however, after seeing a paper in his Friday folder with a 63% on it. He's never received that low of a grade before. I know it's only one paper. His other test scores and papers seem to be good. Maybe I'm overreacting on this?
I'd like to give you a little background on (Dreamy Smurf). I honestly don't know if this is relevant to the focusing problems he's having today but I'll share it with you anyway. When Dreamy was a toddler I had him in the MIPPS program for delayed speech and sensory integration problems. At the age of 2 he still wasn't talking....at all....not even babbling...not even "mama". When I brought him in to be evaluated they explained to me that delayed speech goes hand in hand with sensory integration problems. (Dreamy) wouldn't eat foods with certain textures or tastes...still won't, he wouldn't touch things with certain textures, and would freak out when in a crowd or when music was being played loud...etc. He became very overwhelmed very easily and would just....freak out (forgive my inability to come up with a better way of describing it).
They explained to me that he would never be "cured" from this but that these children will instead learn to cope with it in a functional way. He was kicked out of the program after 18 months because his speech came along quickly and he was deemed age appropriate and they couldn't keep him in the program any longer based on just the sensory problems alone. I sometimes wonder if Dreamy's way of "coping" with it is to just tune out. I wonder if when he gets overstimulated and overwhelmed he just tunes out and enters his own little "happy land" (as we in this family call it).
I honestly don't know where to go from here. I don't know if I should just continue to help him with his organizational skills through reinforcement and hope that his easy distractibility and difficulty focusing will correct itself with time and maturity or if I need to take this further. And if I DO decide to take it further I don't have the slightest idea of where to start or who to go to.
Any and all suggestions and opinions would be welcome and appreciated.
Here's the teacher's response and where it has been left:
Thank you for giving me some background information about (Dreamy). You could be right, (Dreamy) may be tuning out in order to cope with the overwhelming demands of school. I notice transitions seem to be challenging. If he is involved in doing something and I ask the class to stop and go to something else, that is when he gets a little lost.
Some things I am going to try in class- I will move his desk closer to me, so I can get his attention by making contact with him, etc. I will also start to give him a verbal warning before we are going to move to the next task. I will continue to re-direct him to be sure things are put in the right place in his desk.
As far as where/who to go to for outside help if you decide to, I would turn to your pediatrician to start with. Maybe he/she can give you some more input on the sensory issues/side effects. There may be resources out there that I can get a hold of for you as well. Next week, I will look into that too. I think we are already off to a good start by communicating daily. It seems like you really have a good routine at home and (Dreamy) is remembering to come up to me each day. The positive reinforcement seems to be helping. Another thought- next time he comes to tell me that he forgot something, or can't find something, I am going to have him take a deep breath, count to ten, and try to refocus. Let's give these things a try, see if we notice any improvement, please continue to keep me posted.
Anyone out there have similar problems? Anyone out there with advice? Anyone out there that can help me sort out the pros and cons of having him officially evaluated? What about medication? How do you all feel about medicating these problems? I honestly don't even know if this is what "ADD" looks like. I could go on and on about the issues this child has had with focusing. But since I've already written a book I'll spare you.
He's such a smart boy. And he's really trying hard to get it together. But it just does not come easily for him and I worry that if I don't nip this in the bud it will snowball into a larger problem.