Odd homework

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by kelly5494, Aug 28, 2009.

  1. kelly5494

    kelly5494 Kelly

    I am new to this forum and hopefully will provide enough information to get some really helpful feedback.

    My son is 5 and just started Kindergarten. When he was in pre-school, at the request of the school, I had him tested by a panel of Psychologists because they suspected that he may be autistic. The panel determined that he was in fact not autistic and at 4 was testing at a fifth grade level in some areas. They said that being so advanced was probably making him bored at pre-school but they also told me that due to the tantrums he had been having at school and at home the best conclusion that they could come up with was that he possibly had O.D.D. They were hesitant to diagnose him with anything definitative though as he was so young. All they could tell me was that he didn't qualify for special education because he didn't have any learning disabilities.

    I then, in my best effort to help him, went out and purchased everything I could to research O.D.D. I, along with a lot of other parents I have read posts from here, got the impression that the books were geared toward older children. I still try to use the techniques I read about in the books with my son but at 4 it was very hard for him to express his feelings and we had a lot of difficulty performing the back and forth dialogue. Plus a lot of his triggers he has grown out of within the last two years and it seems like it isn't working very well.

    Now it seems his biggest struggle (since he has only been in school for one week) is conforming to the teacher's requirements and actually doing all of the school work that is expected of him in class. He only wants to do what he is interested in. He yells, distracts the class and tells her that it is all "boring for him" when it comes to doing certain things he doesn't want to do.

    He seems to have issue with things involving dexterity. He can cut and write his name and has been able to do these things for a long time. Now however, when confronted with having to do these things in class he will say it is too hard for him and that he can't do it. He actually went as far today as to throw something at his teacher as he was refusing to cut out an elephant because his previous efforts at a tantrum weren't working.

    Now I know these are things that he can do. Is it just that he feels above them and really is bored? Is there something else neurological going on that is making this difficult all of the sudden? Is it just a battle of the wills between O.D.D. and the public school system?

    His teacher seems very patient with him and is in the process of getting all of his pre-school records. I'm sure the end result will be him getting tested again. What I would like to know is...does anyone else have a child with these issues? Am I the only parent who has a wonderful loving sweet son that is like someone else when he is asked to do things he doesn't want to do? Does anyone elses child with O.D.D. have problems conforming to things involving dexterity?
  2. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Hi there.
    Was he tested by the school? If it were me, since I had horrible luck getting good diagnosis. from schools, I'd take him to a private neuropsychologist. I'm not a big fan of the diagnosis. of ODD...many of us aren't. It doesn't tell you much or explain anything and it is usually caused by a bigger disorder.

    My son is on the autism spectrum, and I brought it up over and over again, but couldn't get a diagnosis. until he was eleven, even though it was obvious. I do recommend a neuropsychologist evaluation that has nothing to do with the school. I personally don't think your son is being "bad." I think perhaps he gets rattled with so many kids around or can't perform up to his ability in a crowded classroom. I could be wrong, that's why I recommend the private neuropsychologist. Have you ever read up on Asperger's Syndrome?

    Welcome to the board!
  3. kelly5494

    kelly5494 Kelly

    I will definately try that route. I have another neurologist appointment on Sept 10. This guy is impossible to reach and I have to make appointments two weeks out.

    In the mean time his teacher has resorted to sending his homework home so that he can try and complete it one his own terms with me or dad. It took me over an hour last night to get him to cut out a few simple shapes because he said he is afraid that it will be hard for him. He said homework makes him feel funny inside and he is afraid he can't do it. I am still dumbfounded by the fact that it is something I have seen him do so many times before. I don't know why all of the sudden there is this fear (maybe shame?) surrounding these simple tasks?

    I keep trying to encourage him and be really positive but it isn't working. Dad and I even tried cheering when he did manage to cut one of them out telling him what a wonderful job he had done but all that did is make him run in the corner and cry??? It is as if the positive reinforcement isn't what he wants to hear, like he wants to be told he is doing as badley as he feels he is doing???
  4. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    Hi Kelly,

    Sorry I'm just getting to this now--I had half a reply to you this morning and then got interrupted.

    I had the same question as MidwestMom in wanting to know more about the panel of specialists. With a child this age showing these kinds of issues we generally suggest an overall evaluation with a developmental pediatrician or pediatric neuropsychologist (different than a neurologist), plus evaluations in occupational therapy, audiology and speech/language. If you have reputable specialists this often gives good enough data to at least get a feel for what might be going on.

    The specialists were absolutely incorrect in saying that students who didn't have learning disabilities wouldn't qualify for special services. I had a child who entered kindergarten reading at a 5th grade level who got support services.

    A couple of thoughts for you:
    Of course we don't know what's going on with your child but I can tell you if there are some Autistic Spectrum traits you might want to have specialists in that specific area take another look. Often kids who are borderline Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are really hard to nail down because they compensate pretty well until they hit a brick wall (usually school and/or social issues).

    It sounds to me like your little guy is overwhelmed in the classroom and you're going to have to listen carefully to what he is telling you to dig it out the reasons why and hopefully with the input of specialists you'll be able to piece it together. It's not unusual for a child with some issues to reach a point where they can no longer compensate and start refusing or protesting. For instance, I had a child who could write sentences and paragraphs at age 3 but who in first grade started balking at the large number of worksheets required. What I discovered is that is took a lot more effort to write as the teachers required (on the lines with a specific font, etc.) and it was causing a good deal of stress.

    I also think it would be wise to get the ball rolling for a school evaluation. If he qualifies for services he can get modifications on things like homework that are causing challenges. Has he ever had an occupational therapy evaluation for motor skills?
  5. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    Also, I forgot to mention, check out our thread at the top of this board about adapting The Explosive Child for young children.
  6. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I have a little more .02 :tongue:
    If he has sensory issues (sensitivity to noise, touch, light, certain foods...it can include one or all of those things) the cheering may have hurt his ears.

    Another thing is that our kids rarely follow the rules. If he does happen to be on the high end of the autism spectrum, as in Aspergers, he will not respond to "normal" parenting. You'd need an autism expert to help you learn how he needs to process things, and he'd need help in school with interventions as well.

    And a neuropsychologist is NOT a neurologist. Neurologists are good at testing for things like epilepsy, but not so good at sitting down with the child and looking at possible disoders that may be making your little guy have a hard time conforming. Aspergers, if he has it, can be hard to spot in a younger child and can be misdiagnosed as ODD, ADHD, and a host of other things.

    Good luck!
  7. tictoc

    tictoc New Member

    That sounds so much like my son--"Bug"-- who is now in first grade. He is very bright and articulate and performs well above grade level in all academic areas. He can cut and color, etc., just fine, but it takes him longer than other kids and he finds this very frustrating. These issues weren't a problem until kindergarten...in preschool he simply focused on other activities or chose coloring/cutting activities that were "free form." When he got to kindergarten and had to sit at a table with four other kids and color and cut out the same items, he started having major tantrums. The teacher handled it well, but the parent volunteers did not take kindly to Bug's outburts...

    Has your son been evaluated by an occupational therapist? He might have some coordination problems and/or sensory issues that could be affecting him in the classroom. My son receives Occupational Therapist (OT) services at school and privately, which has helped, though he still had an outburst today when he saw that he had to color a page for homework.

    Good luck!
  8. tictoc

    tictoc New Member

    Forgot to add...your son does not need to have academic difficulties to receive an IEP. My son performs very well academically and has an IEP. He has a one-on-one aide (to help with self-regulation and social situations) and receives social skills therapy, Occupational Therapist (OT), and adaptive PE. His fine motor problems became more apparent as kindergarten progressed and are now more pronounced in first grade, since he is expected to do more writing. This is the third week of school here and Bug's school Occupational Therapist (OT) just started having him use "Handwriting Without Tears" in the classroom (we have been doing this for a while with our private Occupational Therapist (OT)).
  9. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    First off, many hugs to you and your husband and son. It is SO HARD to have to deal with all of this. Those of us here on the board truly do "get it" even when no parent or teacher you know really does. This is the place to come to for support, help, advice, a shoulder to cry on and/or a kick in the pants if needed. (We all seem to need that kick in the pants on rare occasions. No one here would do it unless the situation is extreme. I promise!)

    I think the ODD diagnosis is a waste of your time. ALL it tells you is that the people testing your son don't have a clue. It doesn't tell you WHY your son is this way and it doesn't tell you how to help him. It just says he is a difficult child.

    You already KNEW that!

    I agree that it is time for private testing. Schools do test. Their tests are geared to figuring out what is causing problems at school. Period. Schools do care about kids but they are invested in finding that nothing is wrong. If they identify a problem then they have to spend money and time and effort accommodating and supporting the child.

    Wthe economy you can guess how much they want another problem to fix and another child to provide supports to.

    First you need to go to the Special Education 101 forum and get help writing a letter asking for a full and complete evaluation. It MUST be MAILED to the school via certified mail return receipt requested. This puts into place timelines for the school to evaluate him. It also puts vital protections into place for him. It is a federal law so the school cannot get around this. Many try and many parents end up fighting. But many school systems also are truly helpful.

    Either way, the request MUST be in writing and mailed that way. Verbal requests are almost worth the paper they are printed on.

    Then you need to check your insurance and book appts with a developmental pediatrician, a neuropsychologist who specializes in children, a private occupational therapist who treats sensory integration disorder, an audiologist and a speech pathologist. You may have to go see the pediatrician and get referrals. have a list of the problems, what you have done, what does and does not work. Be firm that you have spent 2 years on this and it is NOT a parenting issue. You may have to be forceful and direct but insist on these appointments anyway.

    The school Occupational Therapist (OT) first said my Tyler had no problems. A private Occupational Therapist (OT) said he had sensory itnegration disorder and problems with every single type of sensory input. Then the school Occupational Therapist (OT) "saw the light" and said of course he did, she knew that, she just meant that he didn't have any problems OTHER than those. It was a total lie and everyone at the meeting knew it. She didn't meet my eyes for an entire YEAR after that.

    I strongly recommend you start putting together a Parent Report. A long time ago some of the moms here came up with a format to help organize all the info that applies to our difficult children. This lets us have all the info at our fingertips so we can fill in those annoying forms at teh doctor's office and school and it lets us be able to communicate with all the docs in a consistent way. Once it is done you can give the people working with you to help your son copies of all or part of the info as they need it. I do NOT recommend giving all the info to school. Too many times they twist it around and/or use it against you or the child. Many school personnel also will not understand it and then they end up with the wrong ideas.

    You can find this outline in the FAQ/Board Help section. It is in the thread titled "Multidisciplinary Evaluation/Parent Input". Don't try to do it all at once. It is just too much. Work on it a section at a time or for an hour or 2 at a time. Also it is a good idea to put a photo of your child at the beginning and at the start of each section. This helps the docs remember which child they are reading about. You can take a school photo and place it on the original report and then just have the xeroxes of it instead of an original on the copy you give to others.

    I really think that new evaluations may come up with an Asperger's diagnosis. And sensory integration disorder. His actions/words are so much like my son's at that age.

    Also read up on gifted children. usually they are bored. Bored little boys cause trouble. They just get so bored they want to liven things up. They also perform poorly on tasks that are too simple. I used to have my child just do the last 5 or 6 problems on a worksheet. usually the hardest problems are at the end of the page. If he could do those with no problem then I didn't make him do all of them. I am sure I drove the teachers crazy but they drove me batty also. They refused to do anything to challenge him in kdg, first and second grades. They constantly told him he was stupid and bad and a failure. It drove him to try to commit suicide at age 7. THAT is how I found out what they were telling him when I wasn't there.

    They even told him that I told them those things. That I thought of him that way.

    We homeschooled him for a few years after that.

    Your son is so bright. But he may have some learning disabilities and other problems that will mean he needs help and support. Testing now will help you help him. There IS a light at the end of the tunnel. It may be a long time coming but it IS there. My aspie is almost 18. He graduated high school in May of 2009 and is taking a vocational course to be a machinist. It started last year and is tuition free. He will graduate in May from that. Then he wants to work as a machinist to put himself through college.

    He is no longer violent and mean. He is a total sweetie and a wonderful big bro and son. This is especially amazing because we had to have the sheriff remove him from our home at 14 because he was beating me. He lives with my parents and somehow they have helped us help him turn his life around.

    So our kids DO have real opportunities and chances. It is a tough road but the rewards can be incredible. For now, maybe ease up on the homework. If he can do the hardest problems then let school worry about the rest. Until you work iwth an Occupational Therapist (OT) maybe skip the cutting. Many of us have found that homework is NOT worth the battle.

    It can eat all of your family time if you insist he do it all at home. Maybe set a time limit of 20 or 30 minutes. If he doesn't do it then his grade suffers or he has a consequence at school. don't let school battles poison your home life with him. I truly wish I had learned that earlier.

    PLEASE be sure they do not EVER take recess away from him. If they simply MUST give him a recess punishment have them make him walk around the playground in a big circle. Or run the circle a time or two. Make sure he has at least half the recess time to just be himself, to not have to do what is expected otehr than not hurting himself or others. Taking the time he can blow off steam and get the wiggles out away will not make his work better. It will just take all that steam and all those wiggles and turn it all into a major uproar.

    Lots of hugs. I know it is overwhelming. But you can and will figure out how to help your child. We will help.