Wednesday, October 6, 2010


These past few weeks, my thoughts have been consumed with Murphy and his struggles in first grade.  His teacher and I have spoken numerous times - in person, over the phone and through e-mail.  And last week Tom and I had a conference with her.

I want to stress that he's not a bad kid.  He's not acting up, being disruptive or disrespectful.  He just can't seem to pay attention or listen enough to be able to keep up with the class.  And as his teacher says, he's just "some place else" a lot of the times.  And while he might know how to spell all the words studied that week, if he doesn't hear her call them out come test time, he doesn't write them down.  So she can't see that he knows how to spell them, and clearly, his grades will be affected.  

We've put some things into place to help.  Whatever work he doesn't complete in class, she sends home so I can make him do it before he can play.  She has 5th grade aides that come in to assist the students as needed.  She moved his seat to be right next to her so she could keep an eye on him and help him along as much as possible.  And Tom has started to walk him into his class so he can help Murphy with the "check-in procedure."  Getting off on the right start seems to help Murphy for the rest of the day.  I think the numerous steps in the check-in process just overwhelm him and leave him beginning the day already feeling behind.  What a horrible way for a six-year old to feel!!!

We've also made some changes at home.  We started a point system with goals that focus on staying on task (without being reminded 10 times), following daily/nightly routines without being prompted and
successfully completing several-step instructions (without being reminded).  I'm not so sure a point system will work for him.  A friend told me about a similar system she has in her house, but she makes it more visual than points on a piece of paper.  So, I might have to try that route soon.  I just don't think he gets that excited about tally marks.

Anyway, after many conversations with numerous people, we completed some paperwork to see if he has Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD).  I am not linking ADD to any website because I have - purposefully - not read up on it.  (I learned that tip over four years ago.)  We - just Tom and I - have an appointment with Murphy's pediatrician tomorrow to go over the results.  Then on Friday we have a Child Study meeting at his school.  Here is a definition of Child Study Meeting that I found:

The purpose of the child study meeting is to identify barriers to the learning process, to target specific issues, identify base-line data needed and to then propose strategies which will be attempted as interventions.

I don't know exactly how accurate that definition is, but it sounds close enough to me.  There will be a lot of different people in the meeting, each providing their information and thoughts.  And then the group decides on what, if anything, needs to be done.

So, we'll see what the next couple of days brings.  This has been weighing so heavy on our minds in the Holton household.  I just hate to think of how "lost" he feels during the day.  And the chain reaction of isolation that it has already started to cause.  That is so not our son.  And I can't stand to see him go down this road.  So, hopefully this meeting will be good.  Maybe they can offer some plan to help him.  IF he's ADD, he's certainly not the only one in school.  So, I'm sure they have some things in place to help.

Anyone want to share any ADD experiences?  Got any advice/tips for me?



Tanya said...

I know you are not reading up yet but *please* make sure that they don't just do a Connors. Please make sure they do a BRIEF. A BRIEF will help them tease apart executive function issues from purely attentional issues. Our son is almost 12 and we've been going round and round with ADD vs EFD for years. (vs giftedness... another thing that complicates teasing apart exactly why a child seems to be 'somewhere else' when the rest of the class is learning). I found the BRIEF a very useful tool.

Know the point system you are using? I remember doing something so so similar when my son was in preschool. He got tokens (tactile, visual, he LOVED them). They said 'I got caught being good' and he could trade them for stuff. One of our first goals was - 'stay at the table for 20' without getting up to go to the kitchen or the bathroom'. Ironically (or not), it was constant trips to the bathroom that most drove his 2nd grade teacher nuts. (Another thing to know - some teachers see NO problem with his attention. Others see BIG problems. Still others don't quite know what to make of his attention. IMO, lots of factors other than his 'innate' ability to pay attention play into his ability to pay stay on task.)

Susan said...

It sounds like you're doing what you can and I hope things turn around for Murphy.

I did want to tell you that I'm doing a new reward system. I am giving the kids "Poke Points" for positive behavior and deeds well done. Poke as in Pokemon. When they earn 10 points/tokens they can turn it in for a Pokemon card. They are psyched and it's working well so far. I bought several sets of cards and the kids looked through them and already know which ones they want to earn first. I keep the points and cards in a case in my purse so I always have it with me. I take away a point for bad behavior. For the first time in their lives I am seeing them listen to me (with reminders of course). I picked up a Pokemon game at the Goodwill to use for the tokens which have pictures of Pokemon on them. The kids really love getting those since it's something tangible they can hold and look at. Feel free to steal my idea if you like it.

paige said...

I so know how you feel. Hunter has ADHD. You know me Im wide open so please feel free to call on me for help. HUGS.

Jennifer and Elizabeth said...

I know the feeling all too well!!! we have been going through this same thing the last couple of weeks with Elizabeth in kindergarten. That is one reason they have moved up her re-evalutaion at the feeding clinic. Her teachers at school also keep saying she has too short of an attention for an almost 6 yr old. We are going through the process as well and I feel completely overwhelmed as well. I actually did do some reading and it was scarily accurate as to how right on the symptoms were to how Elizabeth was acting. So no advice for you, but an empathatic (((((((hug))))) Let us know how everything turns out.

Christamae said...

I am thinking of you during this difficult time...

People with ADD just have brains that interpret information differently. There are many medications available or therapy programs or the great interventions you have already implemented. Just make sure that the school accommodates him and gives him what he needs.

Take care,
Ones Who Care