Need your honest I an enabler to my difficult child

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by tryinghard, Mar 5, 2008.

  1. tryinghard

    tryinghard New Member


    My difficult child (a boy) is 12. He was diagnosis'd at 6 with ADHD. He currently takes 30 mg of medate. We have tried all the other medicines and they do not work. Medate seems to really help most of the symptoms but he still daydreams in school and can get distracted. We tried to up the dosage but he got very moody. He has learning disabilities and has been on an IEP since first grade. He is now is 6th grade. His IEP qualification is that he does not perform to potential but they have not identified a learning disability.

    My difficult child is very immature of his age. I read somewhere that there is sometimes a lag of three years in ADHD kiddos. So what I have is a sixth grade body and a third grade mind!

    My difficult child does not like school. He goes and makes the best of it, but does not like it. He is mainstreamed and is in two classes with an aide that assits him and other IEP students in class.

    My difficult child forgets to write down homework 50% of the time. He forgets to turn it in 10%. He gets better each year, but needs me to constantly be on top of him. I do this a couple ways. First, he is suppose to write in his planner. If he does not, I make him log onto the school website and find his assingments. I try to have him do the homework by himself with me near by (doing dishes\reading) in case he needs help. Sometimes he stays on task, sometimes I have to focus him. Homework can take 2-3 hours a night. I send teachers emails clarifying homework, or question missing homework maybe one or at most twice a week. I really only have to email two of his five teachers. I usually email the teacher myself (verus difficult child) because it is honestly just easier and I want the teachers to know I am involved.

    The Special Education teacher and principal told me that the teachers feel I am enabling my difficult child. That I need to let him figure the homework\missing assginments\projects\due dates on his own. They said he is in sixth grade and needs to take responsiblity. If he fails, so be it. I explained that I do not want to control\enable difficult child but if I left him to sink or swim he would sink. I told them that every year he has improved, and I have let go as he is able to do it on his own. I told them that I would much rather let go, but as a mother it is my job to make sure difficult child learns. If that means I have to spend the time I will do it.

    This conversation happened about a month ago and every day I think about it. Am I the problem? Should I be doing something different? Am I enabling him. If I let go completely, would he be forced to step up to the plate?

    I have tried to get difficult child to be more independent. I no longer go get things for him like a drink, his shoes...which I use to do because it was just easier than fighting with him because he took forever to do it! He has gotten a lot better over the last six months of doing things for himself. He has household chores that he does without much fuss most of the time. We do have to remind him sometimes of what chores need to still be completed.

    What do you think? Please be honest...

    Me-Normal I think. Brother with severe learning disabilities. Family issues with depression and other mental illness.
    husband-Nomal he thinks! Family history of severe ADHD.
    easy child - 17 year old girl. Some ADHD traits but is wonderful and able to deal and overcome any issues. Makes me realize I am a good parent and can raise a healthy and adjusted child!
  2. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    I'm a big fan of natural consequences, however, if a child isn't capable of doing something yet, consequences aren't going to help much.
    Are you comfortable with the ADHD diagnosis? Are you overwhelmed by your level of interaction on difficult child's behalf with school?
    You say he's making progress and does progressively more on his own. That suggests to me that he's not using you to avoid being responsible. You also say you've made him step up at home, and he is, which is another good thing.
    Perhaps you can attempt to scale back a little more and see how it goes. However, my theory is, if its not broke, don't fix it. I fyou beleive the diagnosis is correct, who in their right mind would expect a 3rd grader to operate at a 5th grade level without some help. And it doesn't sound like you're having to do a lot to help.
    Just my 2 cents and I apologize for the brain's scatterish today.
  3. maryellen19440

    maryellen19440 New Member

    hi, You are not alone, I too have a difficult child Step daughter, 12 Yo and she is the same way. At some point we have got to let them try and figure it out. We get lots of support from her teacher, I e-mail her regularly to get updates on child. I understand what you are saying about doing it yourself; It is much easier. My difficult child is on Focalin ER, and it does work; she is also on Depakote, risperal. The focalin works as a focusing type of medication I think. I have noticed when she misses her pills she is not with it?? I have to tell my kids constantly to get things done; most of the time it goes in one ear and out the other. (thats the world I now live in)
    I think we are all doing the best we can for our difficult child kids. Enabling? No, I don't think so! Good Luck:D
  4. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    First of all, are you comfortable that your son's diagnosis is correct?
    If so, do you feel he is capable of doing the "natural consequences" bit on his own or does he need his aide to help him learn how to do it? And does he need YOU to help him?
    My son is on the high functioning autism spectrum, no LDs, but definitely needs help. If anyone suggested I "enabled" him by helping him, I'd have had a big problem with that. He needed help--that's what making my son become more independent. He does not learn things on his own--he has to be spoonfed. This year he has developed good skills about bringing home homework, bringing it back, not forgetting, etc. It took a lot of time and hard work and I "enabled" him plenty, but he's learned at his own pace. Not all kids are ready to do everything themselves by age twelve. Some aren't ready by seventeen. Depends on the kid.
  5. tryinghard

    tryinghard New Member

    Thank you all for your feedback,

    Interesting that you have all asked if I am comfortable with his diagnosis. Honestly, NO. I have a friend whose son is austic. I have always been shocked at how similar my son is to hers in some ways. I personally have always believed that ADHD is on the spectrum of Autism. I am in the process of getting a NeuroPhysic (not sure if I spelled this right) because I think there is more going on. He was diagnosis'd by a developmental pediatrician with his ADHD. BUT after reading so many comments on this post, I do not think she was open to other options and was only focused on ADHD.

    My difficult child does not learn very well by natural consequences, especially school. When he has missing homework and it brings it grade down (recently his A in Science went to an F because he completed a project wrong) he just looked stunned and confused. He was so happy about his A he didn't understand how it happened. When I explained to him how the project counted toward "more" of his grade he just sat there. So I asked him, what do you think you can do now. He said, i don't know what to do. I told him that he could talk to the teacher to see if he could do the project over. I explained that even if she counted it as late, or gave him half credit, it could\would bring his grade up. Again, if I do not work with him, he doesn't have logic skills or drive like other kids his age.

    The one thing I do that I probably need to stop is laying out his clothes in the morning. I do it because he is so slow in the morning, and if we are running late, it is easier for me to pull them out while he is in the shower and have them ready for him versus having him do it and 15 minutes later he has on a mismatch outfit:sweating:. My husband says that my doing this is ridiculous for a 12 year old and I need to stop. So, this will be the next thing I have my difficult child start doing for himself.

    As I mentioned, I have a 17 year old easy child. In sixth grade I had her take on all school as her responsiblity not mine. She knew I was their to help/support in any way. She stumbled, and I had to step back in to guide her. In seventh grade, she had the maturity, connection and drive to do it all herself. She is graduating this year and has been accepted to all the colleges she applied for. She is extremely responsible and mature. I know in grade school teachers gave me the same "this is her responsbility. not yours" speech but my mommy gut told me that she was not capable of doing it. When we tried, she would sink.

    I just do not want to enable my son. My mommy gut tells me he can't do it all right now..that I need to take small steps and make sure he is ready and he feels sucessful not defeated.

    Thank you. I read this site at least two times a day. I find some great advice and it is first time I have not felt alone. Feeling alone, while all my friends kids can do it on their own, and wondering my child cannot was heartbreaking. I realize now that my child is not alone, and neither am I. And you know what...unless you walk in our shoes you do not understand. Doctors do not understand, schoold does not understand, daycare does not understand, relatives do not understand...I could go on and on but I know I am preaching to the choir...BECAUSE YOU UNDERSTAND:D
  6. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Hon, did your son have any speech or other delays? Trouble with eye contact? Trouble socializing?
    I would take him to a neuropsychologist. I think ADHD may be on the spectrum too. I think ADHD, if severe enough, is often something many dxs. mimic each other.
    Don't feel bad about helping your son if you KNOW he needs it. You have "Mommy Gut." Nothing beats that. Our kids tend to grow up later than "typical" kids. My son was so He started to "come to" at around twelve and is doing really well, even on the autism spectrum. He's medication free too.
    Do what YOU feel is best for your son. He's still young. You are trying to teach him. And see what that neuropsychologist says. Those are intensive evaluations. If you do find that your son is on the spectrum, well, my son dresses himself, but I do have to make sure that his clothes (((Hugs)))
  7. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    I HATE it when schools use this. We had this aimed at us about our Jess. She was NOT ADHD, she has epilepsy that looks like it. I would go in and make her clean out her desk after school or before school. She just didn't understand how to do it. The teachers made this accusation. I threw back that THEY certainly were not helping her, so I had to.

    Has your son had a sleep deprived EEG done by a pediatric neurologist? It used to be that before a child could get medications for ADHD they got this test done. It shows brain function. Even the neuro didn't expect to see anything with my daughter - but I did. And she has a form of epilepsy that is often diagnosed as inattentive type adhd.

    The school does not live with your child, nor see how he struggles. You do. You have mommy instincts for a reason. It is good to be open to new ideas, but it is not a good idea to ignore your instincts.

    I think that doing what is working is probably a good plan until AFTER the neuropsychologist evaluation. It sounds like you think there is more going on. Don't let the school tell you not to follow up. Your child is in SIXTH grade, halfway through, NOT ready to be as independent as many schools expect.

    Do you feel the IEP is being followed? If not, or if you think it needs more modification, then pop over to the Sp Ed forum for help in getting what your child needs.

    It sounds like you gave the school a good response. I don't know if the lag in development is 3 years across the board. I believe the rule of thumb is that they are about 2/3 the maturity as their chronological age.

    Sending hugs,

  8. tryinghard

    tryinghard New Member

    Thank you so much for your input and questions.

    I do not believe his IEP is adequate or working. The problem is they do not appear to want to help him at all. Their attitude is he is in sixth grade and he needs to figure it out and take responsiblity. Until I found this site, I did not understand different options he\I have. I did post on the Special Education site and have followed their advice of hiring an advocate and getting a NP evaluation. I am in the process of setting up the NP and then will ask for another IEP meeting with the advocate.

    As for delays, he did not speaking until age three. He never had problems with eye contact or affection. He was never an overly affectionate kid, but would hug and kiss and would let you do the same to him. He was just very hyper and implusive and talked late. He would NEVER sit in circle time at preschool. He would get up and wander the room. One preschool teacher told me that he was a very angry kid. He would get in a lot of physical altercation with kids and adults. He has been able to control his temper as he is getting older.

    He does have friends. He has poor social skills though and tends to get in arguments with his friends alot. He tends to blame others for things he did or things that just happen in life and are no ones fault.

    I have tried to read up all the the possible diagnosis's he could have. They are SO confusing becaue they tend to have a lot of the same symptoms associated.
  9. tryinghard

    tryinghard New Member


    I have not have the sleep evaluated. Do you know if they do that as part of the NP or do I need to go to a different doctor to have this done?

    It amazes me how symptoms could mimic ADHD and acually be a seizure. How did you know to test for this??
  10. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator

    Hi Tryinghard, you have gotten some great advice. A pediatric neurologist (with the MD) is the medical professional who evaluates for seizures and orders the sleep-deprived EEG. But you should still see the neuropsychologist in addition for a thorough evaluation.
  11. tryinghard

    tryinghard New Member


    Yes I sure have received great advice and so much support.
    This site is wonderful.

    Thank you!
  12. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    WoW!! We have the same IEP team! Are you in Virginia? My difficult child has the same homework/planner problem- his is intermittent though. Anyway, I heard the same thing last year and now that he is in 7th grade, I'm hearing "well, the 8th grade teachers will never go along with this"- his IEP says the teachers are to initial his planner to verify correct homework assignment was written down. That attitude, plus seeing the difference in him in the classes where they follow the IEP as compared to how he does in the classes where they don't, proves to me that it is necessary.

    Don't let them convince you to blame yourself-
  13. tryinghard

    tryinghard New Member


    You gave me a good chuckle! No, I live in California. But, I hate to say it, I think what we have experienced is the push back most parents get. In fairness to the teachers, before I had a difficult child I looked down my nose at people who "could not control\parent" their children. I sometimes believe god gave me my wonderful difficult child to humble me a bit....LOL I believe these educators think that if I just parented correctly this behaviors would correct themselves and I am makin excuses for my son. They just do not understand. The only teacher my difficult child has had that understood was his first grade teacher. She adopted her son and he had severe behavior and learning disabilites. She told me that no matter how hard she worked, nor how much she tried, it didn't help. She was the only one who helped me and supported me and I believe that is because she understood.

    i have given up trying to get them to confirm he has written in his planner and bringing the correct work home. They just refuse to do it even if in the IEP. That is one of the reasons I have hired an advocate. I am lucky I have the financial resources. The said part is I did not even know about an advocate until I found this site a few months ago.

    Thank you for taking the time to post to my question. I wish you luck~
  14. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    I'm debating the advocate road- actually, I've tried to look into it and can't quite get it right yet. The only real opportunity I found would have been another parent. Not that I mind that- I'd take any experienced parents from this board in a second :). But, I am not sure it would carry a lot of weight in the school district I'm in and with the particular people I'm dealing with. Is your's an attny or therapist or parent?

    Well, I was really about to give up on the IEP implementation- until a couple of teachers really started implementing it and helping difficult child in other ways this year. Boy, that sure has made the others look bad!! And, it fired me up good because like I posted before, the difference in difficult child in these classes now proves that these accommodations were needed and that they really aren't being done in the other classes. HMMM! Sounds like it might not have been my fault after all!

    Hang in there! I'll be interested in your future posts to see how it is going-
  15. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    One of the best ways to figure out what is going on is to have a multidisciplinary evaluation done. This means a variety of different professionals evaluate and test your child.

    Our developmental pediatrician coordinated this. neuropsychologist testing, psychologists of different varieties, the pediatric neurologist, the developmental pediatrician (not sure if all are qualified the way ours was - he was certified as a child/adolescent psychiatrist then did another residency to be qualified as a developmental pediatrician).

    Often this is done at a major hospital like a Children's Hospital. It can take time to figure everything out.

    Sending hugs, and I would go to the Special Education forum for some help on this.


  16. pepperidge

    pepperidge New Member

    my take is that if it helps him be successful and feel good about himself and school--keep doing it. life is hard enough for these kiddos. Some teachers have so little understanding of mental disabilities it is shocking. he will likely mature over time. Natural consequences only work if the child is capable. Otherwise they just contribute to failure. Would you let a two year take the natural consequences of failure to hold mother's hand when crossing the street? No becuase they are not developmentally ready.

    you sound like a great mom, and frankly I envy you the fact that you can actually get your child to do his homework!
  17. Big Bad Kitty

    Big Bad Kitty lolcat

    Hi and welcome!

    I agree with the others that an additional evaluation is probably a good idea.

    As far as enabling goes, there is such a fine line. We want our kids to succeed, but yet we want them to learn how the real world works. So, ducks in a row. Get your evaluation, find out exactly what you are dealing with, then you will have a better idea as to how far to push the child. You may have to try different things even after the evaluation. Some kids learn better with the sink or swim method. There is so much trial and error with our kids...

    Again welcome. You found a soft place to land!
  18. flutterbee

    flutterbee Guest

    I haven't read all of the other posts.

    But, my daughter is 13 and in the 7th grade and I have to help her every step of the way. She has Executive Function Disorders - planning, organizing, setting and maintaining goals, short term memory (among other things) are all things she struggles with. She also has no concept of time and really shouldn't walk out the door without a GPS.

    Like you said, she gets better every year, but she is not yet anywhere near the place where I could just 'leave her to it.' Like you, I have an older child and was able to step back at a much younger age.

    There is a thread in the Archives on ADHD and Executive Function. You might want to look that up.

    I really think this sounds like a no win situation. If you stepped back, he would fail and would become frustrated, disheartened and miserable and would feel horribly about himself. Then the school would be coming to you and saying he needs more help. been there done that.

    Check out that thread.
  19. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    I think you need to be on the same page as the school. Or perhaps more correctly, you need the school on the same page as you.

    Given all you've said, I do not think you are enabling. I don't think you feel you are, either.

    But the school thinks you are, and I can see why they think that - because if other parents did what you do, a lot of kids would use this as an excuse to not try, to continue to rely on being pushed and spoonfed.

    I've been through this with difficult child 1, then difficult child 3. To a lesser extent with easy child 2/difficult child 2. I had easy child as an example of someone who didn't need the same sort of help. The contrast has been amazing. Even difficult child 3 is more independent and capable tan difficult child 1 was. If I were an enabler, you would expect difficult child 3 to be more 'helpless' because I am here for him so much more, I'm at his side most of every day. But he INSISTS a lot of the time on doing things for himself.

    I do think you need to get your son more carefully evaluated. And not just through the school, either - you need someone who hasn't got a vested interest, to assess him. The school's agenda is to reduce the amount of support he needs. I went through this A LOT with both boys in mainstream - with difficult child 1, his support started very late in his schooling. His deputy principal actually announced in front of me, at a meeting, "Why are we going to so much trouble to do all of this?" [referring to help with organisation, with study skills, with life skills etc] "He is 16 and should have been doing this sort of stuff years ago! If we throw all this support at him, he will never learn to do it for himself and he just won't cope once he finishes school!"

    We had a psychologist from the Autism Association at that meeting, she said, "That is rather the point - we KNOW he won't cope once he leaves school. Not at first. But at least it will help him to leave school with more success, giving him more chances later on when he CAN do more for himself. WE will worry about him when he leaves school - for now, the school's job is to get him there and support him."

    With difficult child 3, he had support funding and a lot of strategies in his IEP. However, the officials at the district level were constantly trying to cut his support funding, and to ease back on the efforts we were putting in. They sent a message to the teachers that support should be gradually weaned off (and this included communication with me). The result was catastrophic failure and a great deal of frustration. difficult child 3 also went backwards in a lot of progress.

    Whenever someone tries to say, "He should be doing X at this age," ALWAYS remember that the age is irrelevant with ADHD and autism. They take a lot longer to get there, in some areas. In others they may be advanced, it depends on the kid. But coping skills, personal organisation, the sense of maturity - it takes a lot longer and in the meantime, they need support.

    You are doing a lot of things right, as far a I can see. If YOU think he is ready, try to wean him off and see how he goes. Belts and braces - be ready to catch him if he can't do it. For example, tell him that you will continue to try to get copies of homework and assignments, but if he brings it home first, he gets a reward. That way you race each other. When he can do it, he will be so proud of himself for winning the race with you!

    I do think he needs to be checked out for Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) in some form - and do make sure you let them know about his delayed speech. Or was it delayed language? There is a difference.

    Have a look at the Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) questionnaire on, see if you recognise anything familiar. It's not a diagnostic test, just some ideas, but you can print it out and show an expert for their opinion.

  20. daralex

    daralex Clinging onto my sanity

    If I didn't know better I would think you were me! I am also a big believer in natural consequences, but if your difficult child is not capable of doing what they need him to do than he needs help. I would also ask if your OK with the add diagnosis. Have you checked into Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD)? They often mimick each other and produce similar symptoms. I do not believe inletting our kids drown. The school should be able to see that your difficult child needs help beyond what they are providing for him. My difficult child would do the work (if she remembered to bring it home!) and 50% of the time would lose it or foget to bring it back to school. These were things she could not help. She needed some extra help in that area. Have you checked into a 504 plan? At minimum they should be letting have textbooks at home so difficult child has a set at home and does not have to worry about bringing them back and forth and losing those as well. I am sending big (( HUGS)) and just wanted you to know it's not you - it is the school. You're not enabling difficult child - your his only advocate! Keep at it and explore every avenue you need to to get difficult child the help he needs.