Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Malika, Sep 7, 2011.

  1. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    We have been back in France three days and already there are difficulties in J's world. He has started saying he does not want to go to school (I was dreading this happening) or to the childminder because they punish him all the time, which I believe is true. He seems to be a child who has a really strong sense of what he needs and wants and protests loudly about mistreatment - which is probably a healthy instinct. I was like that too as a child. I feel rather discouraged about the teacher at his school. I had lent her a book about ADHD for her to read over the summer - this she has done but seems to have picked out all the parts that relate to academic performance. For me, what I was hoping she would take away from it was the realisation that he has some problem with impulse control that is not volitional and that constant punishment is futile and counter-productive. I have asked to speak to her after school tomorrow to try to set some of this out. I can see that it's all going to be a battle for understanding and recognition - perhaps that sounds familiar to some people here? :) She has said to me that she is sceptical that J has ADHD - but he fits the profile, tending more towards hyperactivity than attention deficit. She wants to get his IQ tested - is this really relevant??
    I just hope we can last out the year that I have said we will stay here in the village...
  2. TeDo

    TeDo Guest

    I feel for you, and for J. IQ testing is not necessary. I would ask teacher when you meet with her why she feels the need to do it. As for the discipline, that is not uncommon. I am still fighting that. I wish every teacher was required to read The Explosive Child and Lost at School. What works for neurotypical kids does NOT work for our difficult child's and by insisting on continuing "the insanity", they are actually causing emotional damage to our difficult child's and to us parents.

    {{{{(((HUGS)))}}}} to you and J.
  3. keista

    keista New Member

    IQ testing can be a slippery slope. Why does she want the testing? If he tests average or high, then what? Does his academic performance match that score? At his young age, the ADHD may not impact academics, but what will happen as he gets older?

    OK, so she agrees that he's more hyperactive than deficit in attention. Well, DUH henceforth ADHD. Regardless, she doesn't think he is. Well, OK what does she think his deficits are, and how does she plan on addressing them? Few months down the road, if her plan is working, then fine, but what if it's not? What is her plan B?
  4. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    First, he's too young for that yet, really.
    But... in some ways she does have a point - as in, any chance part of his behavior at school is due to boredom?
    My bro was like that... he was so much smarter than the teachers that they didn't even catch a fraction of his antics.
    But he was always in trouble - because he simply "would not conform".
    Ummm... the problem with that is...??? (they don't get it)

    If the teacher is looking for reasons to "enrich" and therefore "engage" him more... they can do that without the IQ test - just try enriching and see what happens.
  5. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    I'd love to think that the teacher is hoping to engage and enrich him more but to be honest the thinking isn't really like that in a conventional French school. I think I am fair in saying that. It's more about getting the child to tread the accepted path in the accepted way... For me, J's "problems" at school are to do with behaviour, not (at this stage) academic performance. I don't know that he acts up because he is really bright (he is bright, but I don't believe he is at the level of gifted) but partly it's just because he's a boy and an active boy who wants to do boyish things. The funny thing with him is that if you treat him the right way, he is really "good" - co-operative and quite mature. If you try to be the unquestioned, punishing authority, he becomes a devil... I fear that the teacher is not going to be able to see all this because it is too far out of her norms but I don't know until I have tried talking to her again. She doesn't accept that he has ADHD whereas I feel it's probably what is going on. This in itself is something of a drawback, of course. The battle for understanding is also with the childminder, who is similarly punitive. I have also to try to talk to her, to explain something, maybe give her some material to read. Punishment is an absolute waste of time with J and makes him angry and depressed, I think.
  6. Liahona

    Liahona Guest

    That is something they can agree on: the current way of doing things isn't working. Then you could point out this is how we handle this at home and this is the results from j at home. good luck its never easy to try to change some else's point of view.
  7. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    You say "probably". Do you actually have a diagnosis for him? If not, then you are basically wasting your time and theirs because you cant really expect them to handle him as an identified special needs child if he doesnt actually have a diagnosis because it could all be a coddling mother who just wants her precious son to be spoiled. Not saying that is what you are doing but I am sure that many parents have done that especially when their little ones first hit school.

    My middle son was diagnosed ADHD at 4 years old as was my youngest son so yes it can be done. And yes they can be medicated at that age. I believe this year is your sons Kindergarten year because last year he was in pre-k. Is he 5 now? Im assuming childminder is some sort of daycare.

    If you really think he is ADHD and you cant get him medicated you could try your own experiment to see if this helps any. If he likes mountain dew, then have him drink a can of it before school every day for a week but dont tell the teachers and see if they give you any different feedback, especially about his behavior in the mornings. The caffeine in the soda should calm him down enough to listen and work until it wears off. And contrary to what people will tell you, sugar does not cause hyperactivity. It has been studied and put to rest.
  8. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Janet -

    Malika is in France. They are not very supportive of the whole ADHD diagnosis over there to begin with.
    She's already tried the caffeine thing - and it backfired. Looks like basic stims are not the answer.
    And it doesn't sound like J's problem is focus so much as executive functions - which stims don't help anyway.

    Her biggest battle is culture. US and Canada and Aus., etc., are poly-cultural. We expect differences. And we expect conditions like ADHD to exist. France is a mono-culture. And they shipped most of their ADHD people overseas like 500 years ago - so, there isn't as much of it active in France (colonies like Quebec, on the other hand, are loaded with ADHD!). This means that the cultural norms don't work for exceptional children - and there aren't enough exceptional children to change the system (or at least, they don't "recognize" enough exceptional children to even challenge the system).

    Kid is not behaving like all the other kids? Then the problem is that the parents are not making their kid behave like all the other kids. SIMPLE. (NOT)

    And it does NOT help being in an "ancient" village where a large portion of the people have been "local" for countless generations. AND it does not help being any culture but French - immigrants are barely tolerated in many parts of France.

    It would be easier in any of the X-british colonies: Canada, Aus., NZ, etc. (including the rebel ones like the US!)
    But that is not where she is. She is in France.
    And I'm not noticing very many people from France participating on this board... part of that may be a language issue, but it means there isn't an additional culturally-sensitive perspective. Like we Canadians have - X might work in the US, but in Canada, we have to do Y...

    Malika... I don't have any easy answers for you. I don't even have a good book (still looking) that really covers the executive functions and things that help with those issues... because its not like the standard ADHD focus-management issue. But you can start searching too... Executive functions: initiate, shift, inhibit, plan, organize, etc.

    Something to think about: research what all the executive functions are. Then look at the situations where J tends to get into trouble, and see if you pick ONE executive function that is causing significant problems. THEN bring that to the board, and we can brainstorm... things that help Inhibit are different than things that help Shift. In fact, Shift is easier to put accommodations in place for - advance warning, consistent schedule, and the flexibility to understand that once in a while, you gain more (as a teacher) by allowing extra time if the class is really on a roll in a particular subject.
  9. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Do you really believe that in France they have never met another child like your son? I have a hard time believeing that he is the first child they have ever had who behaves like him. Don't they have any provisions for children with special needs? Do they not have people involved in the school who can do an assessment? How do they handle kids who act out MORE then your son, like kids who throw chairs in the classroom (no, I don't believe it has never happened).

    Gets me very upset when teachers think everything is being naughty and from lack of good parenting. Are they so far behind there in chidhood disorders that they have not heard of any of them? Don't they have to learn about them in college? Jeeeeeeeeeez.
  10. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Thanks for your supportive post, Insane (and for remembering what I have posted so well!). Much of what you say is spot on... does make it seem a rather odd choice of mine that I should have chosen to be living in an ancient village in rural, mono-cultural France :) Choices based on my desire for J to speak French and to attend a small, village school...
    Janet, I understand the point you make. I also wonder how to get my point across credibly without seeming like an overly permissive mother who can't bear the thought of her child being punished. Two things are relevant here. One is that in Europe ADHD is not diagnosed until at least age six - except in really exceptional circumstances where the child is so aggressive and out of order that all normal life is impossible. The other is that J does not actually have real problems concentrating or focusing in class so, as Insane says, stimulant medication would not actually be of any relevance. The teacher finds J difficult in the break times above all, not so much in the class room... I have told her what the child psychiatrist has said, that she is "virtually certain" that J has ADHD - that is as firm a diagnosis that we can get at this stage. Funnily enough, people I know in the village whose daughter is dyslexic removed her from the village school after battling to get the teacher to recognise and understand that she was dyslexic; apparently the teacher refused to consider such a possibility and insisted the child just was being lazy (their version of the story, naturally). They eventually involved the local school administration and there was some question of the teacher losing her post over it. I think this is why the teacher is now being very careful to try to accept and understand this new thing called ADHD that she had never heard of by reading the book I gave her and taking notes :)
    The point for me, though, is that punishment just does not work with J. It makes him naughtier and more aggressive. So why continue with it??
  11. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Issues with break times... which means, probably, issues with any part of the day that is not "structured". Typical problems with executive functions issues!
    SO... how can the school provide more structure during breaks? Any way to try this, as in "test drive", do it for 2 weeks and see what happens...??
  12. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Hi MWM. In big cities, they will have heard of ADHD (some people anyway) and have some experience of it. In this village school, I swear to you, they have never heard of it and would say they have never had anyone with it. The teacher has told me that she has had children who were more turbulent and worse behaved than J - I said to her that maybe she has had some undiagnosed ADHD students (she looked sceptical). The child psychiatrist gives me the impression she has had quite a large experience of ADHD children and it would, I presume, be helpful for her to talk to the school. The teacher wants to put off such a meeting until his IQ has been tested, I am not quite sure why. She did ask me during our brief conversation on Monday whether I knew anything about J's birth mother or the pregnancy history because she thinks his hyperactivity could be due to maternal depression, for example, and not ADHD (?)
    No one involved with the school has heard of ADHD or has any experience of it. This does make things rather interesting... :)
  13. keista

    keista New Member

    MWM, it's not that they haven't encountered it, it's just EXTREMELY rare. Insane is right. France shipped most of their difficult children out centuries ago. Any new ones that cropped up over the years more than likely died during the war or move out ASAP and don't breed IN France. Since there is a strong genetic component to many difficult child dxes, the gene pool IN France is pretty 'clean'.

    My Aunt is of the opinion that the French are going to make themselves extinct. They shun and don't intermarry with the immigrants, and in her opinion "couldn't be bothered with having and raising children". Consequently, immigrant population is growing, and the "pure French" population is shrinking. However, currently, it is still France.
  14. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Don't be distracted from the real issue, by the fight over labels.
    It does NOT matter what the cause of the problem is.
    What matters is appropriate accommodations that work. Period.
    J does not have a formal diagnosis of ADHD. You do have FORMAL confirmation that there is something going on, and that accommodations are necessary.

    Just a couple of years ago, you couldn't get fm hearing systems in the school here unless you had a diagnosis of Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD).
    Now... you can get it no matter what the diagnosis, as long as "senior-level medical professionals" have indicated on their report that it is needed.
    (i.e. the Speech Language Pathologist (SLP) can't order it, but can recommend advanced audiology testing... and THAT person can recommend)

    THAT is the level of support you need.
    Now... how to get it!
  15. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    I think your post is skirting with the tongue in cheek, Keista, but to take it at face value, I think in all fairness we cannot say that ADHD is extremely rare in France. There is quite a bit of literature on it in French now and a quick look on the net gave statistics of between 2 to 5 per cent. of all French children being affected (I have often seen the figure of 5 per cent. in relation to the UK and the US). Part of the phenomenon here also is that J is in a VILLAGE school. This means that children here are and always have been from a very small community in which everyone knows everyone else and the way of life is completely homogenous. This is probably a big socialising factor in itself. That said, the real world enters even here... the teacher told me before the summer that "we are even going to have a black child here in the autumn!" and on the first day of school I met her parents - a black woman and white (very nice) man, both French, who have come to live in the village.
    It's easy to caricature French life and village life as being hopelessly insular and retrograde, but as always the truth is more complex. Since people here basically have never had immigrants living among them, they are regarded more as interesting curiosities than unwelcome threats. I have never felt anyone but my immediate neighbours harbours any kind of racist thoughts towards J. here. My being English is probably more problematic :)
    I agree, Insane, that labels are something of a distraction. Unfortunately, I think it is right that until I have some rubber-stamped official diagnosis of ADHD, J is going to be seen more as a turbulent little boy who is somehow naturally naughty and in need of discipline (despite the fact that it never "works") I think the teacher has had the success she has had with J basically because she has been affectionate towards him, despite her severity.
  16. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Malika -
    2-5%??? that's NOTHING.
    In Canada, its generally accepted that somewhere between 7 & 15% of the kids are ADHD. That difference, it has been commented on, can almost be tracked by province/territory.
    Even conservative school boards here who want to limit the number of cases by playing with numbers... still agree its something like 10%.

    See what I mean about the ADHD being drained out of places like France?

    (sometimes we joke here in Canada that 50% of Quebec is ADHD - to the point that it isn't even recognized as a "problem"... and maybe higher for the northlands!)

    You will be more likely to see ADHD in France, in the larger centres - for a variety of reasons. So, you can get therapist/psychiatrist support for ADHD.
    But schools are usually way behind the medical curve. Even here. So... if the school hasn't seen many cases - and especially because J. isn't a complete trouble-maker all of the time - they can't quite wrap their brains around it.
  17. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    I don't ahve anything to add to the info about how adhd is handled in France, but I do have some suggestions. The time the kids are not in class is when your son is having problems the most, as I understand it. What to kids normally do at that time? Just run and play in a field? Climb on playsets? Play games like kickball or soccer or whatever is normal there?

    Our schools stopped being able to take recess away (unstructured outside play time usually after lunch and maybe another time during the day depending on the age of the kids) as a punishment for ANYTHING. They could not keep kids inside during recess and even having them sit in a certain spot was not allowed. This came from our state legislature because the increasing obesity problems in children. We had a LOT of angry teachers and even more who firmly believed that now the school had NO way to punish a child.

    For several years, kids who got to school before the first bell (giving five min to get to class) would stay outside and have "walk and talk". the kids walk a big circuit around the playground talking. Once they could not take recess away from kids, some of the teachers implemented walk and talk recess. Kids who got into trouble in class would have to participate in walk and talk rather than play on the equipment or with the balls, etc...

    Every single teacher who objected to not being able to take away recess was SHOCKED. The kids ALL started behaving better. those being punished were able to move about and get the energy burned off but did have some "punishment" because walk and talk wasn't their choice. The kids who were not problems also started doing walk and talk when it suited them, and gave them another option to keep out of trouble on the playground.

    I don't know what options J has at recess, but why not work out a couple of things that he can plan on doing that won't get him into trouble? often with executive function problems it is very very hard to work out how to solve a challenge. Right now J's challenge is to learn to fit in, to play the game where he lets the adults think they are smarter than he is and he gives them what they want so they will give him what he wants. Work out a couple of activities, even if you have to buy a couple of balls or whatever for the playground, and see if ahving something planned to do at that time makes it easier on everyone, esp J.
  18. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Malika, I actually do understand what you are talking about, sadly. My older kids went to a Lutheran school and they truly felt their children were "better" than others. A friend of mine reported that she found one lice in her daughter's hair, maybe from picking up a hairbrush off the sidewalk (she was from a very clean home). The school DID NOT want to send out a lice warning to other parents. They told her, "Our kids don't have lice."
    REALLY????? Yes, they basically came from clean, involved, caring homes, but lice can happen in ANY home for a lot of reasons and my friend fought to force them to send a reluctant memo to all of the parents. This smaller, religious school would not face reality (my kids were pulled out of there after sixth grade...enough was enough).
    I also can't imagine that all the ADHD kids were farmed out to other countries. in my opinion, and I could be wrong, more likely it is hidden in this small rural village where people have decided that any "different" behavior is due to incompetent parenting. In Malika's case, of course, that is absurd...I am impressed with how hard she tries to raise a difficult child and with some very positive results. It is frustrating to me, reading this, that nobody seems to listen to her.
    Even here in the US, where disorders are accepted, it is often hard to get the schools to acknowledge these disorders even after they are diagnosed. And we also hear that it's OUR fault. It is very very frustrating no matter where it happens and I can empathize totally. There were times I just went home and cried because it all seemed so hopeless.
    I am hoping for a positive turn of events here...maybe somebody at school who WILL listen.
    Malika, keep us updated, girl. We KNOW it isn't you. We believe you.
  19. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I hope you didnt take my reply to mean that I thought YOU were saying he could do no wrong what I meant was that there are those parents who get so clingy when precious starts school that the minute the teacher tells mommy that kiddo behaves badly they throw up their hands and say "not my child!"

    However I beg to differ with his teacher, if he is having difficulties with transitions, that can be due to adhd. Just because he can learn doesnt mean he cant have adhd...sigh. Jamie walked in circles around his kindergarten room all year long. They couldnt get him to sit down for anything but when they tested him or got him to do his assignments, he got the answers right. They couldnt figure out how he learned what he was supposed to learn while he was walking around in circles...lol.
  20. keista

    keista New Member

    This is in no way, Malika's fault. I don't think any of us are even implying that. However, Malika is living in a very unique culture which is much more difficult to navigate with a difficult child. If it's not France in general, it certainly is the village in which they live.

    No, ADHD kids have not been "farmed out" to other countries, but the genes have. When anomalies crop up, they are hidden and, more than likely, dealt with inappropriately. Malika does not have this cultural mindset so is advocating as best as she can for her son. The Lutheran school and lice example was a good illustration. "lice" is NOT acceptable so will be hidden or ignored in this small subculture despite the fact that the larger culture understands that it "happens to the best of us"

    Malika, the fact that the teacher is aware of studies linking a mother's depression with a child's hyperactivity means that she is "up on things" (I had to look it up myself since I had never heard of such a thing) I'd focus my energy more on trying to figure out what strategies will actually help J as opposed to convincing her of his diagnosis