Have a diagnosis (almost)

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Malika, Jan 18, 2012.

  1. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    After seeing the second child psychiatrist a second time, he confirms that J is "very probably" ADHD. He read me the report of the "psychomotricien" - J is sociable, confident, mature for his age, spontaneous, intelligent. On the down side, his attention is scattered and got worse during the interview although when he was interested in a task, he concentrated well (the doctor explained that this is typical of ADHD children, which I have often read) and he was constantly moving about restlessly. His motor skills seemed normal although he had some difficulty in holding a pen with complete ease. The psychiatrist also spoke about J's oppositionality although for him this is due to psychological reasons - the fact that he is a small boy with a particular temperament being raised alone by a woman... a question of debate. We have agreed that J will have weekly sessions with the psychomotricien to try to channel his constant movement and a monthly meeting with the psychiatrist, although the latter said that he wasn't all that hopeful of what he could achieve with him. Honest, at any rate. :)

    Meantime my main point of questioning at the moment is about school. J has a teacher who is very academically oriented. She prizes herself on the standard that she gets the children to and is very perfectionist. She gives a mark (grade) to each piece of "work" which at this age seems rather redundant but there you are. I have seen the exercises that J does as they get sent home regularly - copying out individual letters again and again, for example. This must be quite boring but as a result J has really made a lot of progress in his "writing" (he doesn't write properly yet, of course, as he doesn't read - in France, they just learn the individual letters first, very slowly, and actually I think this is more in tune with a child's natural development). From having been wild and unformed, he now writes his name quite fluidly and neatly, for example. Because the class size is so small, she has the time to give him a lot of individual attention. All to the good, probably but... just recently J has for the first time started saying he does not like school, that they have to work all the time, that he does not like the work, etc. If he got to the point of really hating school and refusing to go, it would be rather nightmarish as I know what he is like when he does not want to do something... I just suspect that this is going to get harder and harder for him. The teacher really does not appreciate, I think, just how hard it is for him to do what he does - a hyperactive kid who manages to sit still for extended periods, not misbehaving, concentrating on detailed and not very "fun" tasks.
    So I am really split. Do I keep him in the village school at least until he has learnt to read and write, even though it is hard for him and he doesn't like it, or do I take him out now and put him in a Waldorf school (if I can find a place, with all the upheaval of moving) where he is not going to be stressed and constantly pushed out of his comfort zone? I wonder whether he should not learn to read and write first, get that down, and then go to a more conducive environment - or perhaps it does not work quite like that...
  2. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Hi. Don't they have any help for ADHD kids in France? That is hard if they do not.

    Also...yes, I am risking sounding dumb :)...what is a Waldorf School?

    Congrats...at least now you know :)
  3. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    No, not dumb - I don't think Waldorf-Steiner schools are very widely known (though there are quite a few in the States) - here's a link.
    Waldorf education - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    There is help for ADHD children here but I think a lot of parents of ADHD kids have a hard time getting it understood and accepted by teachers. Certainly J's teacher seems quite dismissive of it, although she did read a book I lent her about it. I have tried to get her to accept that being positive and encouraging with J gets better results than being critical and punitive - she said to me she has found that being positive with him gets the best out of him, but I think a leopard cannot change its spots :) But if I went to her with a confirmed diagnosis, I know she would take it seriously (she has to, under the system) and they would call a team meeting involving psychiatrist, therapist, etc. We were going to do this and then she said there was no point as J was doing so well and making good progress... Fine, if that is the case. Realistically, we would only start really taking things seriously if he starts struggling at school - which would happen, if it is going to happen, in the first year of formal school (the equivalent of your grade 1).
  4. buddy

    buddy New Member

    I could totally see a Waldorf school being a great choice for J. He is imaginative and creative and I have no doubt he will learn to read and write in any setting as it seems he does not really have a learning disability in those areas.

    My concern would be if he ends up hating school (and lets face it, by this time of year lots of kids do not like school and get bored etc... so your quest is to find out if this is going to be a devastating kind of "hate school" thing or a typical sick of school thing I guess.

    Even at a Waldorf school, I would make sure that the particular staff/school understands ADHD. There, they may at least look at the positives of ADHD and use them for his growth.

    They work so much on this that can help his motor skills too.... if that pencil holding thing is a symptom that has not fully been explored...the types of activities and learning they do may just work through that in some ways. HMMMM, I admit I like that choice for J but wish there was one in your town. LOL... of course no answer is that easy.

    I am glad he confirmed it for you but I have to say the old fashioned thinking about his emotions being the driving source of the oppositionality kind of makes me think that though he thinks he may have adhd, he does not fully appreciate the impact on J's life (plus your instinct that there are some milder attachment issues and you already have shown that when you work on those it pays off.... I suspect that if J lived with a single dad, give his disruptions in life, he would still have those behavior issues because most are probably due to life things that have happened to him plus the adhd). Just MHO.

    ps. I have gone to waldorf schools a couple of times for their open houses and information nights, talked to students and WOW. If I had a typically developing (intellectually) child with any social issues that are more mild in nature (like kids who just are different thinkers but still able to be social pretty well) I would pick their school. I think the parents were super interesting at the school I went to...kind of granola types and probably mostly middle to higher socio economic levels but very diverse otherwise. the ART!!!! unbelievable. the analytic thinking skills...holy cow, even at a young age... I can see that being YOUR thing. I loved it. It was very cool and the kids were really cool.
  5. buddy

    buddy New Member

  6. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Thanks Buddy. I guess the thing is that I am not at all sure that J will have no difficulty reading and writing. There are all the dys things - dyslexia, dyspraxia, etc - which may be waiting to pop out of the woodwork :) The teacher says that he is slower to learn than the other children (which given that he is of normal IQ is in itself quite surprising) but because it is such a privileged environment where she has lots of time to give him one to one help, he is at the "normal level". Perhaps I fear that in another environment, he would not learn to read and write well... and this is such a fundamental skill, obviously.
    As for the hating school - take your point about all kids not being keen, but for me it is really aberrant for a child of five to be saying this... the time when a child has so much natural curiosity and wonder about the world. I loved primary school, really loved it - just an ordinary state (public) village school in Britain, but this was in the days when learning was allowed to be creative and fun :)
  7. HaoZi

    HaoZi Guest

    Children pick up language easily (as you well know since he knows what? three?). I don't see why written language should be taken any slower, seems that would slow down their entire language progression to me.
  8. buddy

    buddy New Member

    yes, just my point..... if he was not in such a rigid kind of environment ... I think lots of kids his age would not be too happy about the rote work. I certainly dont think his being taught in a different way means not learning reading and writing. If he learns to appreciate what reading and writing bring to the world, and it becomes relevant he is going to be more motivated to push through the challenges perhaps???? Just throwing ideas out there.

    I would hate for him to view "school" in general as a boring place, a place he hates, etc...and then any school in future will be colored with those feelings...individual attention or not. He may not appreciate that much extra effort as much as we parents do, lol.

    A 4-5 year old not knowing how to fully form letters... that absolutely IS within normal limits. If he truly has a dys.... is this school actually prepared to treat this well or will they treat it as behavior and do drill work? If all of the teachers are like she is and give caring gentle support to those challenges then you are right, this could be a great place for him to stay.

    by the way... this teacher is comparing J to a full class of GIRLS.
  9. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Lol. She IS "all the teachers" - that's it, just her! She has the 2 year olds to 6 year olds, about 20 of them, all in the same class with one assistant (who looks after the smaller ones). Alas, she is not gentle and caring - bit of a frightening battleaxe, really - but she does get J to do what she wants and she also is a very devoted teacher in the academic sense...
    HaoZi, I really don't know about this. You could be right. And some kids really want and need to learn to read and write early. I just have the feeling that it is not something that needs to be pushed and forced, and that it can happen slowly and naturally.
  10. buddy

    buddy New Member

    I knew you said she was the early childhood teacher, I was thinking of as the years go on.... elementary school. Is there one teacher for all of elementary too? If so, there is your answer.... find out what kind of teacher he/she is and if it would be a good fit maybe that will help you figure this out???
  11. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Darn Wikepedia :)

    Good luck, Malika. A lot of little kids don't even want to go to preschool. We have kids at our daycare who don't even want to get on the bus and they are 3-5.
  12. Ktllc

    Ktllc New Member

    Malika, I can't help noticing some conflicts in your logic:
    reading and writing should not be pushed and come naturally. I think that is a very valid opinion and Waldorf should fit that philosophy.
    But yet, you seem to believe that his current school will help him learn reading and writing skills better. And as we both know, the classical french education has nothing to do with slow and natural! His current teacher seems to be proof of it.
    Correct me if I misunderstood.
    To be honest, J seems to be progressing pretty well in his current class. Don't scare yourself with "what if". It is hard, but take one problem at a time.
    on the other hand, if you believe that some real educational issues are being ignored, then I agree: some needs to change and you know his teacher will not change.
    I suppose, it is a matter of seperating current issues and potential issues.
    You can only deal with the current ones. No one knows how the future will unfold. It would be nice to prevent any problems fro ever happening but you will drive yourself banana trying to do that.
  13. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    If J has dyspraxia/Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD)/(whatever other label... there are several)... then two things make a LOT of sense...
    1) the approach being taken to teach writing, is likely going to succeed - sounds like in France, they still know how to teach writing skills
    2) J is getting tired... in a neuromotor sense of the word. Learning to write is NEVER going to come naturally to him, and he is putting in at least 10x the effort of the other kids, on THIS task (that is, on writing plus other fine motor tasks)

    Given that half the kids with ADHD also have Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD)... chances are good that this is part of the picture.

    The OTHER possibility is Auditory Processing Disorders (APD), in particular things like auditory figure ground. School in France is going to be more quiet and orderly, I suspect, than here - but there will still be some background noise, especially with that range of ages, and an aide. He may be fighting to "hear". He's a bit young yet for testing on this - our audiologist suggested age 7 or 8 being about when they usually catch this one. But, be on the lookout for it. Watch how he responds to what you say, in noisy environments and in really quiet environments - not just "at home" but at home with no TV, radio etc. competing for your voice... Just something to toss in the back of your brain and watch for...
  14. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    Another factor is that very bright children often think "outside the box". At his age it probably is too early to actually know what's going on. on the other hand, from your overall posts it seems that school is not the problem. It seems as though his "issues" are when he is at home or in the community. Sigh. DDD
  15. HMBgal

    HMBgal Active Member

    My granddaughter is in a Waldorf school. Completely typical kid. She's in first grade now and will have the same teacher until the 8th grade. I used to get frustrated with their "rules:" no TV, computer, plastic toys, no character dolls, etc. As time as gone on, though, I see the benefit. My grandson is in a typical kindergarten (welll...25 kids, half in first grade, and only half speak English). He taught himself to read before kindergarten, is a demon on any computing device, and can write a coherent paragraph, can add up to 30, etc. The Waldorf first grader can't read or do math because she is learning to knit, finger weave, draw, lots of walks. She is aquiring reading by celebrating one letter at a time through movement and art. I think that both kids will be in about the same place academically by the third grade or so. The Waldorf granddaughter has quite a little attitude about her school that her mommies are trying to dispel, but since they have it, too, I'm not sure how that's going. It seems like a rather insular community to me, although we have been welcomed warmly at their fundraisers and various (seems semi-Wiccan) celebrations.

    That being said, I think my grandson difficult child would probably thrive there because of the smaller group, more individual attention, time to talk through issues, etc. Due to the cost, though, it won't happen. Also, No IEPs or extra services from people like speech, OTs, adapted PE.
  16. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    The apparent conflict is in the fact that J is not "neurotypical". If he were, I'd have no hesitation about Waldorf or other alternative systems at this point. But I fear that with the nature of ADHD - the need for structure, for routine, the difficulty in being a "self starter" when it comes to certain tasks - the kind of environment he is now in may actually serve him best in terms of him learning reading and writing. I guess I fear that if he is in too "free" a system, he would not learn these kinds of things very well... I do know of a couple of people here who put their ADHD children in Montessori schools and it just didn't work for them; they said the children couldn't use the freedom properly, needed more structure.
    My other fear is that J will get to hate school and start refusing to go.
    The problem, I guess, to put it in a nutshell, is that the choice here in France is between the public sector which has a very dry, to me boring curriculum that I would frankly hate to have to undergo myself - just French grammar and maths - and the very alternative sector. There is nothing like a British primary school, which is somewhere in between the two.
  17. Ktllc

    Ktllc New Member

    Malika, I understand better now.
    It reminds me of a conflict I had not to long ago: breastfeed Occupational Therapist (OT) bottle feed Sweet Pea. My "crunchy" nature knew that breastfeeding was way better. Afterall, I had battle to breastfeed V despite a lot of obstacles (Partner was also breastfed but with no issues).
    I finally had to accept that my second choice (in this case bottle feeding) was the BEST choice for Sweet Pea.
    Yes: you dream of a very liberal education for J, but your instinct tells you it is not the best choice for him.
    I went through the French educational system, than University and then went on the get my elementary school teacher license (did not finish the last 2 months as I moved to the US). Is our system perfect? NO. But it is a GOOD system that teaches you how to think for yourself, how to problem solve, how to structure your arguments and analysis. I was very well prepared compared to my fellow german students (studied 3 years in Germany as part of my curriculum).
    "Regular" school has not failed J yet. Maybe have some faith that things will be fine at school.
    I don't want you to take the wrong way... I do trust your Mommy's gut. But sometimes it is hard to just stand by, watch and cross our fingers that everything will be fine.
  18. Steely

    Steely Active Member

    I would take the Waldorf School hands down. I believe J will thrive there. I wanted Matt in one so badly. There was only one school in Dallas, and they wouldn't take him because of his aggression. Had you extracted the aggression, he would have learned in that setting 10x better than in any other setting. It is the kin-esthetic learning that these ADHD kids really learn the most from - and the Waldorf schools have that. PM me if you want more input ....
  19. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Malika, the benefit to something atypical (I'm going on my own experience of Steiner schools) is that they also cope better with the atypical.

    With learning to read, especially if you are concerned that he may have some problems (although I have three ADHD kids who are also exceptional readers - okay, they're Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) as well) is to find your own way through. Never rely just on the school tyo teach - I taught difficult child 3 to read. or more correctly, I set up the home environment in such a way that he was able to teach himself. We played games in the car which revolved around reading. Car number plates, for example. Signs. We have an alphabet game that sort of invented itself around easy child to begin with, then the other kids came on board as they acquired alphabet skills. The game requires the kids to find each letter of the alphabet in success, in signs along the road. The rules vary according to skill level, the driver is a non-player but is adjudicator. For example, the first letter to find is A. "Aardvarks Anonymous" on a shop sign scores the A. Only then can the player move on to look for a sign with B in it somewhere. Older players must get their letters from shop signs and billboards only. Younger players can use street signs, advertising on moving vehicles, anything. When you get all the way to Z, you then work backwards. Some letters are really difficult, but different languages will have different letters that are a challenge to find.

    Another thing we did - I labelled the house. I typed out a list of common nouns of household items then printed it off and cut up the text into the individual words. I used Helvetica 18 pt which prints out large enough to be read but small enough to be stuck in place under a single strip of stickytape.

    Examples of things to label - DOOR, WINDOW, BENCH, FRIDGE, DRAWER, WALL, BED, FREEZER, SINK. Do multiples so you can label more than one door, for example. You can use this to put the labels in multiple languages if you want. Use different colours for this (I recommend).

    I also did a small book (made from a sheet of paper taken from the printer drawer) where I wrote a word (usually one difficult child 3 needed to know) and drew a picture of the word. We would then read through these little books and try to act out the words, or go touch something (such as a wall, for "wall") to physically reinforce the connection between the written word and the object.

    We also had lessons with numbers, games with numbers. We did maths word problems in the car. Start simple - "If I have two apples and then I buy three more, how many apples do I have?"
    From there you can move to "If I have three oranges and I eat one, how many do I have left?"
    Push the complexity up very gradually as he can handle it. Keep it fun. Get him to ask you the same sort of puzzles, so you're answering the questions too.

    Then send him to the Steiner-Waldorf mob.

    I'm glad you're finally getting some answers for him.

  20. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Goodness, you've gotten so much feedback and so many good ideas here, all I can do is wish you luck and send hugs your way.