Intro and a cry for help

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by CarrieM, Jan 23, 2008.

  1. CarrieM

    CarrieM New Member

    Hi all!
    I just joined, and wanted to introduce myself and my family. I'm Carrie, mom to 2 difficult child's and stepmom to one spoiled easy child. (or so her mom claims - wants to change the kid's name to Mary Poppins 'Practically Perfect in Every Way' - yes, that's a direct quote). But all those rants are for another board.
    My oldest is DS15, currently diagnosed (misdiagnosed?) as ADHD and Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)-not otherwise specified. He is profoundly daughter. I strongly suspect a diagnosis of Angelman's Syndrome, but due to insurance and miscellaneous issues, I haven't been able to get that confirmed. He is non-verbal, with global delays. But a sweet, loving disposition, according to all his teachers and therapists, he works hard in school, and delights in making people proud of him. His receptive communication skills are close to age-appropriate, his expressive communication comes from a mix of an augmentative device, some ASL and some sign approximations, natural gesture, some verbal approximations, and a healthy mix of charades. His only medication currently is Ritalin, 25mg a day broken into 3 daily doses. He had been on Clonodine for sleep, however seems to have outgrown his need for that.
    My youngest is DD10, diagnosed with ADHD, even though the neurologist agrees that the only 'H' part of her is her mouth! She is the one I'm really having problems with right now. She is reasonably bright, tests about average on the standardized testing, but I believe she is a bit better than that. (of course, I'm mom, so I may be biased.). She is currently flunking ALL of her academics. She has test scores ranging from mid 90's down to last week's science test of 42. She seems to think that homework is beneath her. We have always struggled with school, focus and homework issues, but it became extreme over the past few weeks. She is on Focalin XR, I don't think it is the right drug for her, but because she did show some improvement, the neurologist is refusing to change.
    Last week we set up a new system of punishments and rewards for homework and tests. She is grounded during the week from all electronics... The computer/internet, the nintendo DS, tv, dvd's, etc. She is not permitted to go outside to play. Allowance has been suspended until grades improve. Every missing homework assignment will be costing her $1.00, and every test score below a 75 will cost her .10 per point. Her teacher is reviewing her homework jounal every afternoon to confirm all homework is written down, and I review it every night to confirm that all homework is completed.
    Her teacher will be emailing me weekly to let me know if all homework was handed in, and if all tests were passed. If she achieves that, then her grounding is lifted over the weekend. If she excels (B's or better on all work) then she is rewarded over the weekend. Possible rewards include a movie or DVD rental, a trip to the ice skating rink, a couple hours of 'girl time' just her and I.
    In the first two days that this system was in place, she forgot to bring her homework material home, both days. Today is day 3. So obviously my methods are not working. I need to scream now.
  2. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Sounds like you have your hands very full. I am not sure what Angelman's Syndrome is, but the developmental delays can be hard to handle. Your 10 yr old sounds like a handful all by her self! I would maybe have a treat she could earn each day, like 30 mins of TV, or a special snack, or being able to go outside for 30 mins, whatever motivates her. We had horrible homework struggles, even physical violence from my son until we had to force him out of our home at age 14. It was so hard. I know what the homework battles can be. stick to your guns, sounds like your teachers are working with you, this is a good but rare thing.

    Have either kids seen a psychiatrist for evaluation? Had neuropsychologist testing? Many on here highly recommend seeing a neuropsychologist and having their testing done - it can take many hours (one person said about 12 hours?) but it is broken up into several days. We had wonderful luck with our developmental pediatrician, he did a LOT of testing with many differnt professionals included, and helped a lot.

    Sending hugs,

  3. Jena

    Jena New Member


    i just wanted to welcome you. alot of great and understanding ears in here. you came to the right place. sounds like you have your hands full. i'm not familiar with the syndrome you had mentioned.

    its great though sounds like the school is working with you which sometimes can be half the battle.

    good luck and welcome again
  4. 'Chelle

    'Chelle Active Member

    Just wanting to add my Hi and welcome. Don't know as I have any advice for you, as my difficult child at 14 still starts every day off by growling at me "I don't want to go to school". He is quite smart, but homework is a struggle still. His math tests are averaging 95%, but his overall mark right now is low 70's because of incomplete/not done homework. A woman I know who is a high school teacher told me yesterday "don't feel you're alone, almost none of them study". LOL I was hoping she had some advice for me on how to get him to do it. I too take away the electronics, as that is my difficult child's "currency", what he values most. Sometimes it takes a day or two, but it does work for us in the end, when it gets too painful for him to go without.

    Oh, and go ahead and scream, it's always a release for me when I go to my room, close the door, and do it. Seems to make the kids better for the day if they are home when I do it and hear it. I think they know that mom has totally reached her limit when I do.

    Again welcome, and hope you can find the support you need here.
  5. LittleDudesMom

    LittleDudesMom Well-Known Member Staff Member


    I'm going to be brutally honest with you. I hope that is what you wanted. If you just needed to rant and vent with those of us that understand, please forgive me.

    Before I got to the end of your post my head was spinning with all the rules you have given your daughter, and I'm not 10. The fact that you put all this in place and she still did not bring her homework in the first and second day indicates a lot. It indicates that she may not be capable, at this point, of meeting the stringent guidelines you have set forth for her. For some kids, it's not enough that the teacher signs off that she wrote down her homework assignment, some kids need to be reminded what to bring home. My son was one of those. Fortunately, we had a really understanding teacher in 3rd grade that would take the time make sure he had all he needed to complete his assignments.

    We also began using a "five star" for school. Each subject had a divider with a pocket folder, spiral notebook and looseleaf paper in their respective sections. Every single piece of paper he got during the day was to be placed in that binder. That way, there was never a question that I did'nt see his classwork or he didn't have papers to review for a test. Additionally, his 504 called for him to have an extra set of textbooks at home (before he qualified for an IEP). He was to bring that binder home every single day. It took a couple weeks, but eventually it became a habit (which takes about three weeks for the average person, difficult child or not). Now he's in 6th grade and we still utilize this system. Some of his teachers want seperate notebooks and we accomplish this by having two backpacks. One for his even day classes and one for his odd day classes. He does not use his locker. Everything he needs stays in that backpack throughout the day and it comes home with him.

    I truly believe that you need to define the why before you define the "what ifs" with your daughter. Why is she loosing ground academically? Is she experiencing some frustration that could be an Learning Disability (LD) in disguise? Why is she fighting homework so much? Why do you say she thinks homework is beneath her? How is she doing socially at school? Does she have any new friends lately?

    I think it's wonderful the teacher is willing to work with you. But I think you have set forth so many rules and restrictions, and punishments, that she must be totally overwhelmed. I know I would be. Can she even see the light at the end of the tunnel? What about small daily rewards for making efforts or not complaining.

    There have been many parents on this board who have chosen not to fight the homework battle. They have spoken with the school about the priority of having a calm home vs a battle every night to do homework. I, for one, believe homework is important but I don't have a child that battles me. I may feel totally different if I were having to arm myself nightly.

    Bottom line for me on this - find the source of the problem before attempting to punish for the problem. If you feel 100% certain that she is in total and full control in this siutation, then my point is mute. But I feel there is more to this situation than simple defiance or forgettfullness (although disorganization is a huge adhd component).

    Carrie, these are just my thoughts and observations and are in no way meant to be judgemental. I am just giving you another perspective. Wishing you luck with your full plate :erm:. Glad you found your way here.

  6. daralex

    daralex Clinging onto my sanity

    Glad you're here! I just wanted to say after reading the replies that I have been there done that with the punishments I understand why they are in place - but I do feel that she needs something to motivate as well as punish - for them it's like not having a light at the end of the tunnel. I agree with sharon that if she does her homework that day and all is well, let her out for 30 minutes or whatever would work - she needs to be rewarded for the good she is doing instead of just escaping punishment for that day - it will help in motivating. we all need to handle things however they work best for each individul so please don not misunderstand what I am saying - just giving a suggestion (I know I can always use some lol!!!) 504 plan saying texts have to be supplied for home is great too! My daughter has a diroder that mimicks short term memory loss - she would do the homework and then lose it EVERY time! I understand the frustration!!! Hang in there!!
  7. slsh

    slsh member since 1999

    Hi Carrie and welcome!

    Sometime we must chat about what aug. com. system your son is using and how you like it - and I feel like we've been reinventing the doggone aug com wheel for the past 15 years for my oldest and still don't have anything really functional. Anyhooo...

    I think Sharon makes a good point about getting to the "why's" first. If it's flat out defiance then your plan sounds intricate but reasonable, though I wonder if you might have a bit more success if you could offer her a carrot during the week as well - maybe a half hour of TV or whatever, and then put a picture of the carrot on her book bag so she has a visual cue before she walks out of the building without her homework? Younger kids have to have pretty instant gratification (I'm recalling sticker charts out the ears in K and first grade, with the possibility of 6 or 8 stickers during the course of a day and a prize at the end of the day for X# of stickers). At 10, she should be able to keep her eye on the prize for a longer period of time but also, throwing in ADHD, maybe not a full week? Baby steps first and as you get positive results, *then* you stretch the time frame out.

    Also, *any* plan you put into place is going to take more than 3 days to have an impact.

    Just my thoughts - so glad you found us!
  8. CarrieM

    CarrieM New Member

    Hi again, and thanks to all of you for your support and advice.

    LittleDudesMom, I do appreciate your frankness. I'm not one to offend easily, and I know that sometimes I need to have a bit of reality slap me in the face.

    I know I tend to go overboard wiith the rules, conditions, etc. And I get frustrated when I start laying out consequences to her, and it doesn't seem to faze her at all, so I start adding, and adding, and adding until it seems to make a dent.

    There doesn't seem to be any root reason or cause to the homework aversion, just seems like for the past several weeks, she has no interest in whether homework gets done at all. Disorganization is a major issue for her, and I've suggested many different ideas to help her combat that. I LOVE the idea of an extra set of textbooks to be kept at home, and will have to discuss that with the teacher.

    We did have a bit of success tonite though. She brought all of her work and books home, did every bit of homework, and got only one question wrong on her reading test today. So she and I went out this evening, spent an hour chatting while we grocery shopped, and she got a pint of her favorite flavor of ice cream (mint, which no one else in the house will go near.)

    So we are doing daily rewards to celebrate successes. I praised her for bringing everything home, and commented on how she seems so much more relaxed and cheerful than she has in quite a while, I think because she's not sitting on the powderkeg of a secret she had been. So I'm hoping she's turned the corner, and things will start to get better.

    Oh, and slsh.... my son uses the Dynavox. He started years ago with the 3100, and now uses the MT4.

    Thanks all!!!
  9. LittleDudesMom

    LittleDudesMom Well-Known Member Staff Member


    It would be really helpful if you could do a profile signature like you see at the botton of our posts. It really helps us know the answers to questions we may ask before offering suggestions or advice, and it helps us remember poster's situations.

    Glad your daughter had a good night last night and was rewarded. She saw how easy it was and how happy you were.

  10. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Carrie, rewards do generally work much better than punishments. I also think that because of her poor organisation skills, she may be less in control of bringing the work home, than you are aware. I went through this with difficult child 1 - a seemingly very bright lad, but who couldn't organise a chook raffle in a pub. Couldn't navigate his way out of a wet paper bag.

    You are lucky - teacher is working with you. We didn't have that, it was a disaster. When they finally (belatedly) decided to help with his organisation skills, the school STILL didn't get it, except for one teacher. When I pulled him out of mainstream into a state-based correspondence school (where all the work was in writing and posted to our home) he got all his work done, easily.

    I also think the punishment-reward system you have set up is too complex. You may need to have it based purely on positive reinforcement, not have any punishments in it until you are SAURE she is capable of organising things well enough to be responsible for herself. Don't base this on age, because for difficult children it's age-independent.

    Having a study buddy helps - some other student who also has a copy of the same homework, that she can telephone and get the details over the phone. Or getting the teacher to fax a copy home, or email a copy.

    There are too many aims here -

    1) to teach her how to organise herself and her time

    2) To learn to be responsible for herself and her academic output

    3) To learn how to work independently; and

    4) To learn the curriculum material.

    Frankly, she should only be dealing with (4), with the problems you describe. The rest of it - throw it out. Find ways to bypass it for now. Pick it up later on. If she manages to bring home her own copies of the work assigned, reward her. If she doesn't and you have to rely on faxed copies, do not punish but just move on.

    And as Sharon said, find out why this is a problem. There is more to this than meets the eye.

  11. nvts

    nvts Active Member

    Hi! Have you taken a look at "The Explosive Child" by Ross Greene? It can give you a little insight as to how things "appear" to her. It's very "user-friendly" and not full of techno-speak. It really has some funny stuff when it comes to "parallels" in your life!

    We had the whole homework thing going on here for years. What I started doing was giving about 15-20 mins. to "decompress" when they got home from school. All 3 travel min. an hour each way to school, so by the time they get home in the pm, it's about 4:15 and we're JUST STARTING HOMEWORK!

    If it's nice, we shoot some hoop in the driveway for about 10 mins., go in quick snack (milk & a cookie, apple "dippers", sometimes I'll be motivated and make banana choc.chip mini muffins) and we go over the "stuff in the dreaded backpacks" moooooohahaha! (you DON'T want to hear the story about the "forgotten" banana - the little buggers were in stitches!). But basically, we "disarm" the beast before it got out of hand. We instituted "the kindness chart" and if they do h-work without a problem, the get a sticker on the chart. Each sticker is worth 5 mins of computer time. The best part of THAT chart is that if they help each other, they actually get to award stickers for each other. And before you ask - of COURSE it was taken advantage of at first - but after the 1st week or so it lost the notoriety and they started getting a little more selective about what they'd reward for.

    Welcome to the group!