How to demonstrate the confusion in your difficult child's head to the Educators

This is a very simple exercise that I do the beginning of each semester when I call a meeting of my son's teacher's. I bring half-sheets of paper, one for each teacher, the resource specialist, counselors, etc. I bring a sharpened pencil for each of them as well.

I then explain the following:

They are to write the Pledge of Allegiance and they have 90 seconds to do that. However, during this time they have to scratch off or erase every third word and rewrite the word and then every three seconds they must tap the top of the paper with their pinkie finger three times. I assure them that I will let them know every three seconds so they don't have to be concerned about the time.

There is absolutely NO WAY anyone is able to complete this task. You will find that only then does the Educator get any sort of idea of what is going on in your child's mind. The noise and confusion in the classroom, trying to do the best, trying to write neatly, etc.

I have a hard core rule about this and any teacher who will not perform the exercise is removed from teaching my son because that shows me that they are not willing to learn and understand. You will be amazed at how they listen to you after this.

I hope this is helpful in tackling the SCHOOL SYSTEMS.

Julie - 41 yo, Tourette's diagnosed when the kids were in 1994. Taking Zoloft. difficult child - F 18yo, Tourette's, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), ADD, Oppositional Defiant Behavior, of course Tics - was treated with Catapress patches, Dextrostat and Effexor. Stopped all medications when she reached 18 - unbeknownst to me.
difficult child M 15 - Tourette's with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Rages, ADD, Depression and Tons of Tics. Treated with Catapress patches, Clonidine, Haldol, Moban, Dextrostat and Zoloft. As long as he is compliant with medications he is the easy child.
DEx Tourette's not treated and refuses to do so - basically he is in the dark.
husband wants to make everything better, but he is learning that he can't and he is to just love me. Super Guy - What a Gem.


I like your test! Teachers are often given the test for Learning Disability (LD)'s, but this is the first I've seen for tourettes.

I watch my son trying to complete his homework (a worksheet), and he does the tapping 3 times about periodically. He has such a hard time completing his tasks at school, and he feels sad that he doesn't get done early enough to go to the Book Center.

He is not diagnosis tourettes, but he is experiencing tics or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) like behaviors...I sort of feel it may be tourettes, but no professional has bothered to be concerned about his tics.

Your post caught my eye because I have seen him do this tapping while trying to do his work, and he is easily distracted. Hopefully, we will be getting some answers so the teachers will better understand him...right now they feel his behavior is learned in many ways.

Thanks so much for sharing!!!!



New Member
i'm curious, how do the teachers react after taking this little test? i know i wouldn't be able to do all the things you said since i could not follow them while reading it LOL. very clever demonstration of what ADHD and many of these other disorders do to our kiddles.

me-48 at home mom with diabetes, retinopathy, severe peripheral neuropathy, early stage diabetic kidney disease, hypertension
husband - apparently sober alcoholic and difficult child himself when drinking
difficult child in recovery - 14yo male,origonal diagnosis depression, separation anxiety, school phobia, adjustment disorder. currently off medications. started year in ED classes but was discharged from them 1/01. d/c from therapy 1/01 as well. has mainstreamed into some *gifted* some *regular* classes. so proud of him i could bust!!
easy child - 11 my beautiful ballerina tried *gifted* (i hate that term!) program and hated it, back in advanced placement and much happier!
currently residing in the Orlando area and loving it!!

watch out for the light at the end of the tunnel, it's probably an oncoming train!!!

sometimes you're the pigeon and sometimes you're the statue!

I don't mean for anyone to get upset, this is only to enlighten ( I am principal's secretary) and I am just muttering out some thoughts, so forgive me if I step on any toes. I work for the school system and I am the first one the parents see before anyone else - if they call for the principal, they go through me first. I have been cussed out, hung up on and threatened by parents time after time because they can't talk to the principal or teachers right away. Of course, most of those parents are unlike you - the parents I just discussed wait until the child is failing or really gets in trouble and ready to get expelled before showing their face in school for a conference. You guys have been there since day one...I do the same thing. I meet with the teachers before school even starts. I go to every open house, every conference night, etc. I see parents coming in and throwing up their arms and yelling "I can't do anything with him or her" so don't call me, call the police. I have seen and heard it all. In defense of some teachers (mind you, I realize that there are good teachers and bad teachers and it takes an act of God to get rid of the bad teachers once they are in the system), these teachers have a curriculum to teach and in a certain amount of time. They have much paperwork and are stressed to make sure students pass an FCAT test because the school gets a grade on how well students at their school perform on that one week's worth of test (in FL) (I strongly disagree). Most have major behavior problems of students in their classroom that keep them from teaching others and have to go through many interventions before any action is taken. The classrooms are overcrowded and rooms are cramped. I have seen excellent teachers and administrators that have bent over backwards to help and I have seen teachers working in the system just going with the flow and as one child put it " They can make a good kid go bad" because the teacher just doesn't care. I have experienced this with my own difficult child and have seen this attitude by working in the system. Thankfully, most of the teachers and all of our administrators genuinely care for kids, but it just takes one teacher or counselor to "upset the applecart" so to speak. I just know that I would not want to be a teacher in the public school system. It is a tough and thankless job. There are so many uncaring parents out there and it is very discouraging to school staff. As you so well do and know, it takes both parents and teachers to stay in communication and most teachers are elated when they have kids in their classrooms with parents that back them and care....and some just don't care. What you presented to the teachers in the conference was an excellent approach to get the attention of the teachers. We have a film that an ESE teacher presented to the school for teachers in the regular and gifted classes that have ESE kids mainstreamed in their classes to watch to try to enlighten them on just what is going on inside the head of a student with learning problems especially when given multiple tasks. It is an awesome tool. Just some thoughts..........

The test works splendidly. Teacher's feel your child's frustrations and the distractions. It takes less than two minutes and you really don't have to say much after that. The object is though to do it in a group with the educators who are interacting with your child.

As far as the comments from the school side, I completely understand the demands of the teachers, the over crowding and the apathetic parents. I have sat on the school board, the site council, PTA President and overall have taken a very JUMP IN and work with the system instead of against it. The apathy of parents is disgusting and the attitude they have that the teachers should be raising their kids, but I strongly feel that the people in this forum are looking for working tools so that they can work with the school.

What I was trying to impress upon with this exercise is that there is very little way for the people who interact with one's child to get a true understanding of their chaos and the fact that all our children just want to fit in with the other kids. This knowledge that the teacher learns, because they are doing it versus watching it, just allows them to have compassion and thought behind what they expect from your difficult child.

Sorry I cannot remember the Mom's name who said that she has seen her son struggle and that while he hasn't officially been diagnosed with Tourettes the writing difficulties he has. You need to immediately put in place that punishing your son by not allowing him to be with the other children to do the extra stuff is wrong. Whether you get a medical diagnosis or not, you need to be proactive in allowing your child to do what the others do and not be penalized for his disabilities. There is an excellent book through Hope Press called Teaching the Tiger which gives a tremendous amount of tools for assisting in IEP's.

When my son was in 3rd grade I provided carbon paper and regular paper to the teacher. I would staple little packets of two sheets of paper with carbon in between and the teacher would give the packet to a "good" student with good penmanship, usually a girl who would take the notes or write down the assignments. She would then have her work done and the bottom paper would be given to my son. No writing, no extra work... It was wonderful.

Sounds as if you have given teachers many tools that could be beneficial to them to help students in need in the classroom. Wish there were more like you out there! The video (I mentioned in the above post) that other teachers previewed is not only a video to preview but the teachers also had to participate in activities as it was also a hands on activity for them. That is why it is such an awesome tool. I don't know the name of it at this point. I took it home and previewed the video last year and it was certainly a wake up call for me.
My difficult child could not handle regular classroom and she was failing. She did fine until middle school. When sent to the group home, she did pace work. Psychs said she had no major learning difficulties but had just enough ADD to cause her lots of problems in school. When she came back home she was placed in an IMPACT program at school and has been doing much better. She just couldn't concentrate with any disruptions. If another student tapped their foot, made sounds, tapped a pencil, etc. it would completely throw her off. She would get frustrated and then just give up. If we can keep it together 40 more days she will finally graduate. It has been a tough road but I think we are going to make it. Thanks!

This post should be archived. It's very helpful to be able to demonstrate rather than jus ttalk about how the child feels.


48 y.o. mother from Connecticut
14 y.o. difficult child boy adopted at 6 y.o (Depakote and Zoloft for bipolar, ODD, attachment disorder, PTSD, some Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) traits, some borderline personality traits. )
12 y.o. younger brother adopted at 4. Just diagnosis for bipolar, PTSD, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Just started Paxil.
Married to husband for 27 years. He is the primary care-giver for the kids, and a creative artist at keeping it all together.
I work at a residential treatment facility for kids.

As they say on the airlines when you fly: Adults must put on their OWN oxygen masks BEFORE assisting their children with theirs.

Please, please archive this article. It is wonderful for all parents. My son has numerous learning disabilities and had I done this with his teachers I think they would have understood what he was going through a heck of alot better.

Thank you so much for the advice!!!!!!!!!


difficult child: Allen 14 yr. old son diagnosis:ADHD,BiPolar (BP),Learning Disability (LD),ODD,CD medications:Depakote 1500 mg and Zyprexa 10mg Adderal 30mg. added in Aug.Put into training school Dec.8th for an indefinite amount of time.
me: 41 on Paxil
husband: military brat and perfectionist-learning to cope with all the upheaval
19 yr old easy child daughter
9 1/2 yr.old easy child daughter ADHD..difficult child wanna be Adderal 15mg
3 yr.old easy child daughter
motto: God gave special kids to special people