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Thursday, November 09, 2006

Beyond frustrated

J-man has ADHD. He was diagnosed in kindergarten and did really well with it until third grade. Since then he has been in a steady decline and we do NOT know what to do to help him. The frustration that comes along with this issue is staggering.

We’ve tried bribes, restriction, taking the TV and computer away, offering to buy him toys and baseball cards, threatening to not let him play baseball or soccer… nothing works. NOTHING.

He is a smart kid. Sometimes I think he is too smart. He tells us what he thinks we want to hear. He lies to us about school work even though we tell him over and over and over that we WILL find out the truth. Doesn’t phase him.

He brought home his mid-term report card a few weeks back. His math grade? Let’s just say we were lucky it was in double digits. We rode his s$$ for weeks and he brought it up to a 54 at the end of the term.

Yesterday he brought home another mid-term… same story. He has an 18 in Math, folks. An 18! And this is after we rode him again. We watched him and HELPED him do his homework! I sent a message to his math teacher asking how he could have gotten such a grade. Her response? “Zeros on homework - 5 zeros last week in math and 4 in science zeros on classwork/homework. 69 on weather test and 25 on math quiz. This is why.”

WTF?

When did teachers stop calling parents and telling them their kids are FAILING! Can you teachers out there give me some advice on how to handle this? I asked one of his teachers if he would sign J-man’s agenda. He said “No, I don’t like to do that. I write their assignments on the board and they are held responsible for writing it down.” Fine. That is why my son has an effin 54 in your class, moron! I realize teachers are crazy with all they have to do. I can sympathize with that. But when you have a parent reaching out for help and asking you to partner with them, why can’t you help. I am one of those parents that actually gives a shit about my kid and his education. Why can’t you HELP ME?!

I finally told J-man yesterday that I was done. Legally, all I have to do is make sure he is in school every day. What he does when he walks in that building is ultimately up to him. I will continue to email his teachers asking what his homework is, but, in the end, it is up to him as to whether or not he passes, goes to summer school, or repeats the sixth grade. I’m tired of fighting him,

I guess in a few years I’ll have a drop out living on my couch, watching TV with his hands down his pants. At the moment I don’t see a bright future for him and it makes me want to cry. Again.

21 comments:

Life, or Something Like It said...

I had THE SAME issues with KK. She got an acedemic award this year, and an A on her 1st english assignment. DO NOT give up! I told KK awhile back that I am giving up, too. I did, for awhile.
The teachers sign the agenda's here, and some kids have special homework books that is a communication tool for the teachers and parents. This was one of the keys to KK's success. I als had 2 teachers that phoned me every couple of days. I know her V.P. like an old friend!
Talk to this teacher again, and explain your frustrations. Tell him that you are willing to work with him to do whatever it takes to help Jarrett. I swear, I cried over this problem SO many days/nights...I also threatened to walk KK INTO the school, and wait outside every class, and to eat lunch with her. I told her that I would get a job at the school if I had to.
I truly think that you need the teacher to be on board with this. If you can't appeal to him, try going above his head. I took a complaint right to the school board once.
I have no doubt that Jarrett is a smart kid. If he weren't he wouldn't have been able to hide this from you the way that he did!!
Please don't give up! try speaking to the teacher again. Do it in person, so that he HAS to deal with you, it's easy to be 'too busy ' when someone calls on the phone.
Good luck, and keep us posted.

Marni said...

Carl is calling the principle today to have a meeting with him and his teachers. We need some help from the SCHOOL. We are doing all we can and nothing is working.

I have had a couple of panic attacks in the past week or so and I truly think this is one of the causes. I am so frustrated, anxious and exhausted!

Beth said...

I guess I can udnerstand the teacher not wanting to sign his agenda. In middle school, the J-man should be responsible for keeping up with his assignments. That being said, a teacher should recognize when a kid isn't living up to his potential and do something.

Is J-man on meds? Maybe he needs a new dosage.

Call me if you need to vent.

Marni said...

I agree that they should be responsible, but when the child isn't doing it and is in trouble, someone needs to step in and help him out. I know they can't do it with everyone, but I am positive that not every parent is asking for help either.

Yes, he is on meds and we just changed them last week. We upped his dosage somewhat... we may have to make another adjustment.

I may take you up on the venting session. :)

barista brat said...

i know this is unsolicited advice, but i don't think you should take him out of sports.
physical activity and working on a team helps tremendously with discipline and focus. if he needs punishment, don't let him participate in the actual games (if he's in little league), just make him go to practice but don't give him the thrill of competing.

the reason i say this is because brat beau works with a lot of kids - many who were diagnosed with adhd and learning disorders. after a few weeks with him parents are thanking him for the change in their kids and teachers are sending notes home saying "amazing improvement!". when they chuck their responsabilities in school or at home he doesn't allow them to compete in tournaments. they pick up the slack right away after that.

like i said, i know you didn't ask for my opinion. i feel for you because it's clear you're bending over backwards to help him and it seems as if he just doesn't care.

Marni said...

Brat: any and ALL advice is appreciated and I can totally see where you are coming from. I don't want to take him out of sports...

I guess I'll have to rethink that option. I just don't want to "rewared" his for bad behavior, either. Of course, his behavior really isn't bad... we just don't know what is going through his head.

I am honestly at my wits end with this whole situation. I want to just ignore it and hope it will go away but I know it won't - and I know I will continue to fret and pitch fits until he gets it together... God only knows when that will be!

Heidi the Hick said...

Oh Marni! I know exactly the deal, only without the capital H. Our girl lives in a wonderful little world in which school is just an irritant.

You've got some good advice.
-Biddie says do not give up. Read what she said again about three times, okay? You must make the school know that you are serious. You and Carl have to be a pain in the butt for them until they do something for you. I hate it but it's true.

-Brat says keep him is sports. ABSOLUTELY. He needs that pysical stimulation becasue his brain is going off in all directions at once. His physical activity has to match his brain activity.

-Beth says he should be responsible for his own stuff and he should. But we parents have to rattle the school's cage so they know that they can't let this kid fall through the cracks.

My experience- diagnosis for her in Grade 3, she's in 7 now. After my little breakdown two years ago I backed right off because I had to. I used to be right on it with the homework but now I'm doing good to get them fed every eve. So I told the teachers, Look, YOU are the teachers. I am the parent. I feed her and love her and I send her to bed. I encourage her and I make her take care of her teeth and do laundry. I send her to school, You teach her. I'm not taking any s**t from them anymore. And they friggin well know it. They've got a filefolder three inches thick from us.

Marni, give him space. He won't be a total burnout. I don't think he's getting that example from you.

Also, if you can afford it, get him in music lessons. Piano is an excellent way to sneak math into him while he gets a boost from learning to make music.

finally, it should not be called Attention Deficit, it should be called Attention Overload. Remember that. Now go take a deep breath and tell yourself you're a good mother and give that kid a hug.

xo

Marni said...

Heidi - thank you. I'm sitting here at work blubbering like an idiot. I appreciate everything you have said.

J-man wants to take guitar lessons so I am going to enroll him as soon as possible. He is interested in band, but didn't get us the signup sheets in time. I'll focus on that.

I'll take that deep breath and then dig in. I'm working really hard to be nice to the teachers, but it isn't working. I'm going to switch gears.

I'll give him his space. Even if that means he fails every class and has to do it again. That makes me sick to think about, but he has to learn, right?

I'm also trying to get us into some counseling to help me deal with all of this and for tools to help him.

Thank you again! I feel better now that I've vented. I'm going to have Carl read all of this, too. It will help.

KLee said...

Marni -- First of all, DO NOT feel bad. You did not fail your son. Your son is not broken, and he's not going to end up as a bum, panhandling on the streets. You are a good parent. You and his father are supportive, and you love him. Breathe.

Now that that's out of the way, I will say that I have very little personal experience with ADD/ADHD. I don't have anyone in my immediate family that has it, but I do deal with it a lot in school. In fact, I have a child now that I think shows all the signs of having it. That having been said, I know you're frustrated. Jarrett is having trouble not only because he's got ADHD, but also because he's at that age where his mind is on anything BUT his schoolwork.

I think that you are right to ask the teacher to sign his homework agenda each day. I understand that it's a pain, but it's a relatively minor one, comparitively. It's not like you asked the teacher to write down the assignments -- Jarrett is still fulfilling his part of the "responsibility" segment by writing it down, and the teacher is only making sure that he takes home the right assignment. The rest, the actual work, is left up to him.

I think you should approach the teacher again, and tell him/her that all you are asking of them is to verify his assignments every day. That way, you -- the parent -- can do back and doublecheck to make sure that work is done, assignments are turned in, etc. If the teacher still refuses, ask an administrator to step in. I don't think that's too much to ask. I think it will take less than a minute, and then Jarrett will KNOW that you know what his assignments are, and will KNOW that you will see his book and make him do the work. Just tell the teachers that you are willing to do anything in your power to get Jarrett through this -- is he?

On a more personal note, do you read Crazy Cat Woman? Her daughter was just diagnosed with ADHD, and she's talking about a lot of the same issues. Maybe you two could brainstorm strategies together. You can get to her via my place, if you're interested.

her indoors said...

i feel for you i really do, i know how it feels when you want to give up, but listen to what everyone has said, and beleive me J-man will not be a waster, drop-out, he will get there he has good parents behind him x

Amy said...

My son is in 7th grade. I homeschooled him for 4th, 5th and 6th, but it had nothing to do with ADHD (although he was diagnosed with that in 1st grade).

I just put him back in public school, and it's quite a struggle already to get him to take responsibility. Hopefully it's just an adjustment with going to school now and such. It's also frustrating that his brother in 8th grade also just returned to school and is having no problems at all.

But, this isn't about me. I just wanted to let you know I feel your pain. It's sooooo frustrating when nothing seems to work and no one seems to understand or want to help.

Looks like you've got lots of advice and support around here though... that has to make you feel a little better :)

Coffeypot said...

God knows I love that little man more than life itself, and I have, too, shed tears over him. And I know the time and energy you put into helping him. My anger is with the teachers. WTF! From the beginning of J Man’s education you and Carl have told them he has ADHD. I don’t think they know how to deal with the subject or how to teach a child that is diagnosed with ADHD. The “stuff” I have read on the subject describes J Man to a tee. If a dummy like me can see it, why can’t they?

One teacher marked 50% off his grades if he didn’t put his name on the paper. He DID the work but failed because he didn’t put his name on the paper. That is Classic ADHD. The teacher should be fired.

If you tell them he has a problem and they choose to treat him like the rest of the kids, then they should not be teaching. The profession is not there just to teach the “smart kids” or those who have connections and pull. If they do not want to put in a little effort to help him improve, then let me go to the school and talk to them. You can bet your sweet ass they will understand then. Besides, I would think there would be more self-satisfaction in teaching and developing a problem student to succeed than just punching a time card everyday. There are teachers and there are TEACHERS.

The problem is not with you and Carl. The problem is not with Jarrett. He is doing the best he can – I am convinced of that. He tries too hard to please to let assignments go on purpose. He just needs the right support at school. One person who works with Sweet Tea suggested a buddy system where on kid who does not have ADHD sit and work with J Man in suggesting he copy down his assignment, put his name on his paper, etc. Help from a peer is better than an adult. It may be worth a try.

When you go to the school, “suggest” that the teachers take a course in working with ADHD kids. If you need support, call.

SkippyMom said...

Hang in there Marni - you are a great Mom and you can do it! okay?

Big Hugs to you and the little guy!

Marni said...

Thank you - EVERYONE - for your support, advice, and help. We had a major blow up at the house last night that may have been J-man's wake up call. Only time will tell.

I love that kid so much and it grieves me that we are going through this. We WILL get through it.

I appreciate you all. It is so nice to have friends like you that I can vent to and not be judges. You guys are the best.

ziggystardust73 said...

Hi Marni,

I feel like I've come to this post after some excellent advice has already been offered, but will add my two cents worth anyway!

I used to be a teacher and know a little about ADHD - not a huge amount, but firstly - stop blaming yourself for his behaviour, it won't make anything better - all it will do is make you feel worse and that can't be good!

Secondly, sports and physical activity is really good for people with ADHD, as would music be - very calming and learning/playing the guitar is a perfect outlet.

Some friends of mine have a child with ADHD and they decided to take an alternative route here in the UK and took him to see a specialist who was a nutritionist. She changed his diet quite significantly and this really affected how he behaved, calmed his hyperactivity down considerably - extremely positive outcomes. It may be more difficult with the J-Man because it sounds as if he is slightly older than my friends' child; however, if he is up for the change - then it may work?

In the meantime, pour yourself a large drink and remember: you're a great mum! Just the fact that you're worried/thinking about him means that you are!

ziggy

GrizzBabe said...

Some very good advice here. I babysit two kids who have been diagnosed with ADHD and wondered why their mother was so adament that they be involved in sports and piano lessons when it took so much time away from school work. Now I know.

After much nagging and arguing, I have also taken the stance that the kids need to learn to be responsible for their own homework. I am not nearly as Nazi about their homework as I used to be because they need suffer the consequences (or reap the rewards) of their own actions. The other way was driving me crazy, making life unpleasant for everybody.

Heidi the Hick said...

Oh gosh, I didn't even think about diet. Cut out sugary foods- you'd be surprised how much hidden sugar there is. Check the ingredients. If glucose-fructose is second on the list, pass on it.

And you what? School isn't everything. Lots of bright people did horribly at school and succeeded despite that. I don't totallly blame the system becasue teachers have to throw the lessons at a bunch of kids at the same time. The lesson really only hits the average kids. Anybody with a Learning disability or ADD or giftedness or anything will be left out.

Music and sports. Also...and I'm not just saying this becaues I'm studying to be a riding instructor...consider riding lessons. That'll really force him to focus! It's physical and cerebral. (is your girl riding too? I can't remember.)

Everybody's given you great advice. Hugs!

Old Lady said...

I have never had children, but I did have a much younger brother and 2 nephews. Boys want attention and will do most anything to get it. Boys are eager and curious and tend to absorb themselves in what interests them. Sound familiar?

They need physcial activity and balance. I am sure your son has interests in things that are "educational". Bugs, electricity, fire, animals, building. Things he does completely on his own. Try to direct him in his areas of interest by applying what he is learning in school to what his interests are. Even sports involve mathematics, physics, biology, etc.

Another thing is he may be placed well under his perfomance level. If he understands and knows what he is being taught, he will turn off or his mind will go some place else.

The reason I am telling you this is because my baby brother and his son were/are the same way. Gene pool notwithstanding they are extremely intelligent, talented and manipulative, all in a good way. Both do no do well in a school environment. They have their own agenda and follow that. They are quiet observers and excellent logistians.

My brother never did well in school, everything he did was self-taught. He has a wonderful job making mucho money doing what he loves best, electronics engineer for a major connectivity company.

This year his son was rated below his grade and he became upset. I reminded him of his performance at that age and told him not to dispair.

If you know your son is smart and gets it, relax a little. Find what motivates him. I know it is difficult because these very special people are usually gown up inside and have a plan already. Their attention is fixed on a higher goal.

I believe all of the things you are doing are correct. I think that fixing goals and setting limits is the best. The hardest thing to do is once you have set the goals and fixed the limits, to back off and let him do it himself.

ccw said...

Oh, Marni! Sorry I missed this post. If this has already been covered, forgive me.

Can you not get an IEP for him? The school can't not help him. ADHD is considered a disability.

I completely relate to your frustration. I told Kid L the other night that I did not care if she passed or failed but that I simply could not help any more. Of course, an hour later I was apologizing and being more sympathetic but damn it is hard.

Hang in there!

princessoctober said...

I hope I can give you some advice. I have known many parents who struggle with this issue and watched children I know get lost in the cracks. Remember teachers maybe just as frusterated as you. They may not understand how to get through to him. Have they given up on him? Because if he thinks they have, it can make things worse.
What sports does he play? Have you ever looked at maybe putting him into something like marshal arts. My girlfriend got this suggestion from her Dr. as a way for her son to learn concentration and responsiblity. She found a great studio and talked to the teacher there and went through the problems with him. He thought it would do a lot of good. They tried it on a trial basis first. the teacher sat down and exlained what was expected of him ect. Punishments meant no tournaments, and having to be at class with no participation. He felt being at class with no participation was better. So, that he would see what he was missing. His grades picked up at school, yet she was still having problems.
She looked to the school for help and they did nothing. She hated it but, she moved him to another school. They were more open and very concerned about his success. They went as far as giving him an assignment book. Everyday his teachers wrote his assignments in, and signed it if he accomplished what he needed to do in that class. Also they wrote little notes in to say how his behavior was ect. With this in place in about 6 months he was a totally new kid.
Don't be afraid to look at other options if the school does not meet your standards. Chances are if they don't meet yours, they're not helping him either. If it means moving your son to another school to ensure his success with teachers and adult figures he can respect. Its worth a shot. Keep your head up. And keep going.
Do not give up. Your doing all you can but, when you aren't getting help its frustrating. Each time you throw your hands up in absoulte confusion..just remember he is probably just as confused as you.

lulu said...

I am both a teacher and someone with ADD, although not ADHD.

From a teacher's perspective--Does your son have an IEP? If modifications have been made for him, the teacher has to follow them. Without an IEP, I would not be likely to modify my expectations based on the parent's wishes, because parents will say just about anything if it means getting their kid a better grade. If he does not have an IEP, you need to hound the SPED department at the school until he is tested and evaluated; without the IEP there isn't a lot you can do. Even with an IEP, you might still have to sue the school to get services.

from an ADD perspective--Middle school was a disaster for me, and is probably the reason that I did so poorly in college the first go-round. Up until middle school, I was smart enough to coast through the work, so it didn't matter that I forgot assignments, because I got As on all of the tests.

Once I hit middle school though, it all unraveled. You need to get him help now, because it is only going to get worse, and he is going to learn really poor coping skills, like lying in order to protect himself.

Keep telling yourself that he isn't doing this on purpose. It isn't that he is a bad kid, or a lazy kid; his brain is wired differently.

You need to figure out an organizational system that makes sense *to HIM*. For instance, I can't deal with things in drawers--files, clothes, anything. If I can't see it, I can't find it. All of my clothes are on hangers so that I can see them at the same time. Things that don't hang are on shelves so that I can see everything at once. My files are in open file boxes so that I can see them without opening the drawer. it may sound silly, but until I figured it out, I couldn't keep track of anything.

Another example. It has taken me almost 40 years to figure out how to use an agenda book. I discovered that the only kind that works for me is one that has a vertical column for each day. I can't visualize the day hoizontally. It sounds like a small thing, but it either works or it doesn't.

You should encourage him to think about his thinking processes, and see if he can figure out what is happening when things are going well for him. What is he doing differently.

My parents did all of the "right things" like designating a special time and place for homework, but it did no good. The dining room table where it was quiet might have worked for them, but I don't work well in quiet, even now I have to have a distraction like music, or else I can't work.

Please Please Please do not allow him to fail in the hopes that it will teach him a lesson. If he is like the ADD and ADHD kids I know, he probably already thinks that he is stupid and hopeless. He doesn't need more proof.

Sports, music and school activites are all great for ADHD kids, because they burn off excess energy and allow the kids to be good at something. For someone who doesn't do well in class, it is really important to have something to be proud of.

Some of the smartest and most interesting students that I have had are ones with ADD/ADHD because they look at the world differently. They tend to be creative and funny, which are not traits that are always appreciated in the classroom.

You'll all get through this.