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Red Oak Lane
11-08-2010, 12:54 PM
My older daughter, who is 11 will focus on her work and get it done, if I sit with her. If I wander away to do something else, when I come back she gets nothing done. I hear her in there humming and fidgeting around. She gets really frustrated when I try to talk to her about it. Any ideas?

InstinctiveMom
11-08-2010, 01:12 PM
Oh, mama. Right. There. With. You.
:)
{munching popcorn to see what others have to say on this...}
~h

archibael
11-08-2010, 02:08 PM
Totally same here.

This was a recognized issue with my daughter which came out in IQ testing, so we weren't exactly puzzled by the behavior... just by what to do about it.

Getting her a space to study which was relatively immune to distractions (other sisters watching TV in an adjacent room) was, of course, key, but not the whole story.

We got her some neurofeedback therapy, and that helped a bit; there have been regressions, but a year post-therapy she'd improved from taking 4 hours to do 1 hour of work independently --> about 1.5 to 2 hours to do 1 hour of work. She seems to have regressed a bit now that she's homeschooling (probably due to a bad environment issue which we're trying to correct soon). I might have more useful to say in a couple of months.

Miguels mommy
11-08-2010, 04:41 PM
We chose to try cognitive training through learningRX (http://www.learningrx.com/) it's expensive and we've only been doing it for a week so I have no idea how this is going to work. This is our last stop before we get him officially diagnosed and start those treatment options. We spend about 4-6 hours a day on cognitive training, they suggest an hour a day but it takes 2-3 hours to get through all this weeks exercises. He usually does it once with me and once with his dad. we originally wanted to do it 3x a day but he's not a morning person.

He's only eight but it was affecting a lot more then just his school work. Didn't have the attention span to find out why his friends where upset. He'd pace around because he didn't have the attention span to actually play anything. He sometimes has accidents because he forgot he had to use the bathroom until it was to late. He picked at his skin and had me ready to throw the towel in and send him to PS many times over. We joke about how he can get distracted by his fingers. My family had extreme difficult time caring for him when they wanted to take him for 2 weeks.

So far we have seen changes. However usually he makes drastic changes the first couple of days something new is happening but by the end of the second week he's back to normal.

Other things we've tried:
Game type curriculum

Game type curriculum
5 min. lessons
time4learning
lap books
racing the clock
reward charts
karate
quiet rooms
sitting next to him
unschooling
rigid scheduled
night school


and other things I can't remember right now.

farrarwilliams
11-08-2010, 08:05 PM
When I taught, I worked with a number of ADHD kids (and some others) who had this same issue. I feel like the times when I saw them get some success in beginning to overcome it there were a couple key factors - first, they found ways to feel confident about what they were doing and second, they themselves recognized their issue, accepted that it made life difficult but that it was up to them to try to push past it instead of just succumbing to it. This is not to say that those two things turned any kid around overnight, just that when I saw kids go from a place where they couldn't focus at all to where they sometimes could, those two factors seemed to be present. I know you say she doesn't want to talk about it, but I would guess that until she can face up to the fact that she has trouble focusing, she won't be able to get past it.

A few things I've tried that worked with kids I taught in the past:
* timers - big ones ticking down that they can see - set to smallish intervals during which you'll be checking in - so she knows when you're coming
* telling them how long something should take (I think sometimes we're hesitant to do this - and with good reason - some kids can fly though a page of math problems, others need more time - both are normal - but kids who are off in their own heads and can't focus need to know how long a task will take because otherwise a ten minute task can seem like it will go on forever so why bother even starting - a lot of kids need to know when the end will be in sight for a task if they actually put their best focus to it)
* not letting things go - I think when kids put off difficult tasks often enough, they can get dropped. If you think a task it worth doing and that your kid can do it (even if she needs extra support) then don't let go of it until you're satisfied.
* breaking things down into the smallest of small steps - I know that at age 11, we want kids to show some executive functioning, but for kids who don't have that wired in them, things that seem obvious to the rest of the world can put them at sea. If you model it enough by explicitly stating it aloud and breaking down each and every little step, it can help some kids.
* making a work space that is not just distraction free, but also setting them up at the start with the things they need - a pencil, the paper, an eraser, etc. - it sounds minor, but check every time
* chewing gum or eating tic tacs can help. Having a proper fidget toy can help if there's thinking involved - if she's a hair chewer, you could look at this thing called "tween bling" that's for chewing on to help focus. Also, music isn't necessarily a distraction - sometimes kids do focus better with music... but it depends on the kid and the music and letting them do it on their mp3 player can be a big issue since they're so easily distracted by the choices there

schwartzkari
11-08-2010, 08:12 PM
My older daughter, who is 11 will focus on her work and get it done, if I sit with her. If I wander away to do something else, when I come back she gets nothing done. I hear her in there humming and fidgeting around. She gets really frustrated when I try to talk to her about it. Any ideas?

My daughter is 6 and has the same type of behavior. She hums, fidgets, tips her chair back and forth, drops her pencil on the floor (ALL THE TIME) and I frequently find myself telling her to "focus." For us, I have found that she fidgets less if I explain her daily lessons in depth and tell her what I expect from her. I also cannot leave her alone. The only time I let her work alone is when she's drawing, crafting or doing her copy work. Otherwise, I do have to sit right there with her and remind her to focus. Because she's 6, I have found myself saying "Hocus pocus, it's time to focus!" all the time, lol. Also, I make sure the tv is turned off and I play classical music very quietly as background noise.

allisonsracquet
11-08-2010, 09:36 PM
My son suffers from the same thing (he is 12)...and it is a major part of why we took him out of public school. He would not complete tasks at the same rate as others and would get very distracted (same as others have mentioned, picking at cuts, tipping back in the chair, dropping pencils and needing to sharpen them, etc). It was really hard for a teacher to do the things she needed and keep him on task.
I decided to start homeschooling him this year because he needed someone to make him responsible for getting things done. He knows (now) that we will not stop until we are finished and if we don't finish our work during the week we will have to catch up on the weekend (we have not had to do this yet). It is not a punishment, just reality. I agree that it is crucial to have tasks during the day they can be very successful with! And definitely break up the more challenging things (I let him do "My Word Coach" on the Wii for 30 minutes everyday and count that as some of his school work, he also has coloring time for a mythology project and handwriting that are pretty easy). I try to complement him anytime he gets a task done in a reasonable amount of time and praise him when he is being focused...but yes, I do prompt him throughout the day to "stay focused." I also put several journal prompts in during the week about being positive and staying focused and on task that I ask him to reflect on (and of course we talk about). We keep a plastic box full of sharpened pencils, pens, whiteout, red pens, glue, scissors, a calculator, etc. right on the table so he doesn't have that excuse. He also enjoys seeing what is in my planner, and checking tasks off. It motives him if there are many things that need to get done and we are falling behind and I let him know if he took a particularly long time on a task.
BUT, I also realize that some of this is developmental...some kids just don't have the capacity to concentrate at such a high level and some kids just need more time. I try to be patient and we take "baby steps". He has already come a LONG way! Everyone's comments and suggestions have been very intersting and helpful! I wish you nothing but the best, hang in there!

Dutchbabiesx2
11-08-2010, 11:14 PM
Here is a good way to get kids mentally and hands physically ready for writing tasks:
http://www.sensoryflow.com/2010/09/zoom/

and while we are rather new at HS, our sons are allowed to jump on a tramp, sit upsided-down or rock in chairs (we have swings on our school room, so that is allowed too) while I do reading, ask spelling words, have them list off math facts or explain a topic. the same Occupational Therapist says for some kids no more than 8 min, and a little older no more than 15 minutes seated work without a physical break.
also here is a little article about drinking through a straw, so let your kids gets hydration through a straw:
http://www.sensoryflow.com/2010/09/drinking-through-a-straw/

hope it helps . . .

archibael
11-08-2010, 11:19 PM
Also, forgot to mention we got a book recently which my wife is enamored of by I haven't read yet: Smart but Scattered by Peg Dawson and Richard Guare.

InstinctiveMom
11-09-2010, 01:42 AM
Speaking of executive function...
our local ADDA branch meeting a couple of months ago was talking about how kids with attention disorders don't have internal monologue to help them work through basic tasks. One thing that I HAVE found that helps is to help LBB establish some - remind him to say the steps out loud (now we're working on whispering, then will work on silently and internally) as he's doing them.

We have used a timer, sometimes with good effect, sometimes not. He does tend to prefer things in groups of 10 - 10 math problems, 10 words to write, ect. More than that and he tends to get overwhelmed, and the mental block there is monumental. When he does get blocked up, I find that if I read or let him narrate, he does much better.
~h

dbmamaz
11-09-2010, 01:25 PM
My problem is that i'm just as scatterbrained as my specail needs son is. I just had such a high IQ that I could do every really fast and make up for most of what i missed. I was terribly slow in school if i had to do repeated problems, because i would day-dream. I actually spent most of my trig class totally ignoring class, not doing any homework, and reading the text the night before the test and passing. I never learned to be structured and it just doesnt come easy to me. So i'm really lost as to how to help my crazy kid

What i'm doing now is just a very small amount of school, because it seems to be all I can handle. 14 yo does 15-30 minutes of LA and math every day (depending on how busy we are), usually 30 minutes of reading history or science, often a video done joinly w younger brother about history or science, younger one does T4L, 15 minutes or as long as he wants past that (often pretty long). If we have time and I can keep on top of them, older one also does 30 minutes of free reading or french. Younger one .. . occasionally I read to him? And then i swear its 2:30 and I'm beat and i let them off the hook (ok, older goes at least 30 minutes longer than the other) and as soon as school is over . . . . video games.

I sometimes feel like i shouldnt be homeschooling because _I_ dont have any decent executive skills! But back to concentration . . . my son seems to just vary, some days he can and some days he cant and most often I just get frustrated and come back and make him do it tomorrow when we are both in a better space. I think this is the double-edged sword of homeschooling. I wont give him major punishments for having bad days (like they did at school), but i'm never sure I'm doing enough, or rather, always sure i'm NOT doing enough. Sigh.

archibael
11-09-2010, 02:36 PM
Cara,

You're describing my situation to a T (including my childhood). Luckily I have a wife who possesses actual executive skills, so hopefully she will be able to train my eldest. I didn't need them for grades K-12, but when I got to college I sure missed them.

Pefa
11-09-2010, 06:05 PM
The nice thing is you're in good company.

I think that one thing to keep in mind is that you aren't just teaching these children academics, you're teaching them the skills they need to learn the academics. To say nothing of the skills they'll need to pay their bills on time, keep the larder stocked, show up for work and not drive their friends batty because they're always late.
Assume nothing. We think kids "should" know how to do a lot of things when they might not. Make sure your dd knows how to break things down into littler steps. Ask her how long she thinks it will take her to do the problems and reward the effort. If she can't come up with a realistic estimate then give her your estimate (B1 takes college classes for fun but can't break things into smaller steps or estimate time worth beans. Go figure. He may end up going to more real time classes - as opposed to the online classes he's been taking-because the group norm helps him stay focused. I just hope there's funding for paleoecology when he's old enough to drive because if ever there was a person who thrived on extended periods of solitude and fieldwork, it's B1) Have her write down or video or record the steps she'll need to follow to get things done. B1 needed to write down, "turn on computer", so don't worry if it seems like she's writing down what seems obvious to you. Cooking - especially if she's following a recipe- is actually a great way to learn how to follow directions and stay on task.
I like Smart but Scattered but mostly whatever I do I just have to commit to it and stay consistent over time. Which is hard because ADD definitely has a genetic component ;)

dbmamaz
11-09-2010, 08:19 PM
Yeah, I have all my bills on auto-pay . . .

laundrycrisis
11-09-2010, 09:35 PM
Our 7.5 yo is like this. It's exhausting. The only thing I have found that helps is frequently switching activities, and two supplements from Kirkman. One is Super Nu Thera and the other is Amino Support.

allisonsracquet
11-10-2010, 08:33 AM
"Cooking- especially if she's following a recipe- is actually a great way to learn how to follow directions and stay on task."

Great point...he has made "Jiffy" muffins (cheap, few ingredients) but we branched out to a few more challenging recipes this week after I read this suggestion. Wow! Somewhat frustrating at first, but you are so right...great practice!!! Thanks for the idea!

mamatoherroo
11-22-2010, 12:58 AM
Ok, I have a daughter, 10 y/o, 5th grader, ADHD. I sit with her to do lessons. The faster her lessons come at her, the less time she has to "float", or get distracted. We use lots of computer games, and her core curriculum is also computer based. She can control the rate that the information is presented for the most part. Workbooks do not work for us, at all.
In a time when we live life at an incredible pace, accessing information from multiple sources at one time, is it hard to believe that our children are diagnosed with ADHD and treated as if the way they learn is wrong? Just consider that their education has to be at least as engaging as whatever they might have been doing with that time, computer games, Wii, xbox, texting, iPods, etc.
Linda
Homeschooling 1 child for 3+ years with Time4Learning (http://time4learning.com)

Topsy
11-22-2010, 08:20 AM
A few things I've tried that worked with kids I taught in the past:
* timers - big ones ticking down that they can see - set to smallish intervals during which you'll be checking in - so she knows when you're coming
* telling them how long something should take (I think sometimes we're hesitant to do this - and with good reason - some kids can fly though a page of math problems, others need more time - both are normal - but kids who are off in their own heads and can't focus need to know how long a task will take because otherwise a ten minute task can seem like it will go on forever so why bother even starting - a lot of kids need to know when the end will be in sight for a task if they actually put their best focus to it)
* not letting things go - I think when kids put off difficult tasks often enough, they can get dropped. If you think a task it worth doing and that your kid can do it (even if she needs extra support) then don't let go of it until you're satisfied.
* breaking things down into the smallest of small steps - I know that at age 11, we want kids to show some executive functioning, but for kids who don't have that wired in them, things that seem obvious to the rest of the world can put them at sea. If you model it enough by explicitly stating it aloud and breaking down each and every little step, it can help some kids.
* making a work space that is not just distraction free, but also setting them up at the start with the things they need - a pencil, the paper, an eraser, etc. - it sounds minor, but check every time
* chewing gum or eating tic tacs can help. Having a proper fidget toy can help if there's thinking involved - if she's a hair chewer, you could look at this thing called "tween bling" that's for chewing on to help focus. Also, music isn't necessarily a distraction - sometimes kids do focus better with music... but it depends on the kid and the music and letting them do it on their mp3 player can be a big issue since they're so easily distracted by the choices there

Wow, Farrar! What incredible suggestions!! Where were you when my son was going through this several years ago??!! ;)

Topsy
11-22-2010, 08:23 AM
All I have in response to your question is some hope. My highly distractible kiddo outgrew his terrible distractedness at about age 13-14. He now pretty much guides his own education and has more discipline and self-motivation than I EVER did at his age. Take heart.... :)

MarkInMD
12-01-2010, 10:18 AM
DS 3rd-grader is pretty distractable when it's a topic he doesn't care much about, but extremely focused when it's something he loves (usually in science). He thinks in very concrete terms and has trouble abstracting to concepts that aren't tangibly in front of him. When that happens, he starts rambling on to me about whatever's on his mind at the time. (As a matter of fact, he's doing so as I type this!) Some days are easier than others. If it gets particularly bad, I'll set an appropriate time on the clock by which he has to be finished or else the rest is marked incorrect. That usually works, but other times it results in a complete shutdown of activity. My wife, who works as a pediatric occupational therapist, has said he could be Asperger's, although we don't care to get him diagnosed because he's smart enough to use a label like that as an excuse for anything he doesn't want to do! Plus, we don't really care what he is or isn't. He's just our Hurricane, and we treat him as an individual who learns in his own way, focused or not.

sallymae
12-02-2010, 07:41 PM
We set up a spare room as a classroom in our home and Put two tables and two chairs. One for her and one for me side by side we do it together. In ps the teachers don't pass out sheets and leave. stay in there and teach you are in it too. She will probably do better because you are there to show what she knows.

hockeymom
12-03-2010, 03:58 AM
DS 3rd-grader is pretty distractable when it's a topic he doesn't care much about, but extremely focused when it's something he loves (usually in science). He thinks in very concrete terms and has trouble abstracting to concepts that aren't tangibly in front of him. When that happens, he starts rambling on to me about whatever's on his mind at the time. (As a matter of fact, he's doing so as I type this!) Some days are easier than others. If it gets particularly bad, I'll set an appropriate time on the clock by which he has to be finished or else the rest is marked incorrect. That usually works, but other times it results in a complete shutdown of activity. My wife, who works as a pediatric occupational therapist, has said he could be Asperger's, although we don't care to get him diagnosed because he's smart enough to use a label like that as an excuse for anything he doesn't want to do! Plus, we don't really care what he is or isn't. He's just our Hurricane, and we treat him as an individual who learns in his own way, focused or not.

Do we have the same kid?

MarkInMD
12-03-2010, 09:37 AM
Hockeymom, I think there are a lot more kids our there like ours (to greater and lesser degrees), but their parents aren't equipped to recognize their learning styles because they're not as involved in their kids' education as homeschooling parents are. I don't know that I would've recognized some of these things myself if my wife, the pediatric OT, hadn't pointed out some of those traits based on her expertise in that area. I've gone back and forth with her about what exactly constitutes an Asperger's diagnosis, not because I'm in denial, but because I don't want to be one of those parents who just says "My kid has Asperger's/ADD/ADHD/etc." simply out of frustration with behavior and not from careful consideration of what that label actually means. I think a lot of parents diagnose their own kids because they think they know what constitutes that diagnosis, but they don't have the expertise to make that call. My wife does. So I just try to get up to speed with her.

dbmamaz
12-03-2010, 10:12 AM
lol I say my kids is bipolar/autistic/tourettes becuase he's actually be DX'D BY DOCTORS for all of that lol

MarkInMD
12-03-2010, 11:07 AM
lol I say my kids is bipolar/autistic/tourettes becuase he's actually be DX'D BY DOCTORS for all of that lol

Well, if you've got an actual doctor's diagnosis, that's another thing altogether. :) I'm just talking about the parents who jump to conclusions without thought or analysis (by them or by a professional). I don't want to be one of those because I might be doing a disservice to him by doing that.

AddlepatedMonkeyMama
12-03-2010, 12:10 PM
I'm right in that boat with you, Mark. My son has a doctor's diagnosis of ADHD, but we've come to the realization that ADHD does not explain all of his behavior. We're going to have him evaluated for Asperger's or other high-functioning autism because I see many (though not all) of the characteristics--the social difficulty, the sensory issues (sounds and smells), the fixation on certain interests, the inflexibility when there's a change of plans, a disappointment, or a strong impulse to have or do something *right that second*. I'm looking forward to getting a diagnosis, whatever it turns out to be, so that I know how to help him better, not just academically as his teacher, but socially as well. And, frankly, I won't mind being able to tell other people, "Oh, he does that because he has [fill in the blank syndrome], because they tend to look at him as a terror and behavior problem because he can be so impulsive and oblivious to peoples' reactions to him. He has had limited opportunities to make friends because of this reaction by other parents. He's very, very smart and has so much potential. Right now we're in a holding pattern, as the waiting list for an evaluation at Children's Hospital in Boston is four to six months long. I know he'll need more help to be successful and I think a diagnosis will help point us in the right direction.

MarkInMD
12-03-2010, 12:37 PM
Sounds pretty likely to me, yeah. I forgot to mention a couple of things Hurricane does that you reminded me of, like the impulse to do something immediately (although that has improved as he's gotten older), and his tactile defensiveness over certain textures (he hates getting his hands messy even a little bit). If you feel the need to get the diagnosis, by all means, do so. We haven't ruled getting it checked out, but for now, we're fine with the status quo. What we're doing is working for the most part.

It's tough to watch them around other kids, isn't it? In our case, at least, he interacts just fine with others who have a common interest (like in his karate class), but get him out of his element and he's often just a fawn in the headlights. Even with simple small talk, if someone asks him, "How are you?" his usual answer is just "Good." No "thanks for asking" or "And how are you?" He provides the answer to the requested info and that's all he thinks to do. Luckily he's got a generally sunny disposition and has a ready smile so most people probably don't even notice the lack of reciprocity, but his mom and I do. We're working on it, though.