Son needs help in school — The Bump
School-Aged Children

Son needs help in school

My son has been struggling in school since first grade and is now currently in second grade. He has a hard time focusing and staying on task and as a result he's behind in math and writing. He also doesn't retain information for very long so anything he learns has to be repeated over and over to him. By the next day however he forgets. Surprisingly, he's an excellent reader because it's something he has always taken an interest in. He does talk a lot and interrupts but he's not impulsive (other than for little things such as talking) or aggressive towards others. He's a pretty good kid and a joy to be around. As you have probably guessed by now he does likely have ADHD.

My problem isn't that my son has ADHD but that his school isn't giving him the extra help that he needs. He's had the same teacher for two years in a row and so she has known that my son has been struggling quite badly in school. She has voiced her concerns and took the initial steps to get him extra assiantance. However, I was told that it would take 6 weeks before the school would evaluate him and consider him for special ed services. After 6 weeks, they then told me that it would take months before they'd consider him for Special Ed unless there was a diagnosis such as ADHD. So, I made an appointement and presented the doctor with the questionaire that his teacher and I filled out about my son's behavior and he was diagnosed ADHD. I have told both the school and the doctor that I do not and will not put my son on medication. Both the doctor and I agree, I think, that the school was pushing a diagnosis in hopes of getting him medicated. I basically told him that I was there not because I was shopping around for a diagnosis but because the school basically told me I needed to take my son to the doctor for an evaluation in hopes of speeding up the process of getting him extra assistance. He felt that there was a high probability he has ADHD but that it would be a good idea to come back the following school semester with at least 2 more questionaire's filled out by 2 different educators other than his 2nd grade teacher to definitely confirm he has ADHD. So, medication wasn't discussed.

Basically, what I am confused about is why it's taking so long for the school to test my son to see if he qualifies for Special Ed Services. The Special Ed Committee recently reviewed my son's referral from his teacher for extra assistance and kicked it back because they want a behavioral plan implemented in the classroom. His teacher has had a behavioral chart in the classroom documenting my son's behavior. He brings it home everyday and I intial it. If he meets the expectations he gets a plus, if he doesn't he gets a minus. He usually meets the weekly goal of whatever points she wants him to meet. Now they want something along the same lines but that challenges him more. So, I have to wait another month before they'll reconsider the referral from his teacher to get extra assistance. When I met with his teacher, school psychologist, and another woman they felt that medicating could help him. However, I won't put him on meds and I have told them this before so it was a little upsetting medication was even brought up. They said it's my choice and nobody is pushing me to put him on meds but that in their opinion and experience I should give it a try. I'm sorry but I refuse to do so. If he was aggressive, impuslive, and disruptive I would consider it. I'm not completely convinced he has ADHD and I think he probably has a learning disability. However, how can I know if the school won't evaluate him? Is it normal for a school to require a medical diagnosis before they act on getting a child evaluated for Special Ed Services? Without the medical diagnosis I know for a fact that the referral wouldn't even have reached the Special Ed committee. I'm at my witts end on what to do. It''ll be halfway through the school year before he finally gets evaluated (if they even accept the referral). Also, I don't understand why they can't have someone help him in school. At his other school he didn't need a diagnosis or to be placed in special ed for extra assistance in math. They simply had a special ed teacher pull a group of kids out of class for 45 min to focus on math or reading. We live in Germany and he's attending a DOD school. I'm not sure if that makes a difference. Does anyone have any advise?

Re: Son needs help in school

  • It can be a LOOOOOOONG process to get into SPED services.  Having a diagnosis helps.  In our schools, just because you have ADD/ADHD doesn't necessarily mean you will get SPED services--sometimes it can be managed in the classroom (inclusion).   Most kids are required to go through a tiers system now (barring any MAJOR diagnosis- Down Syndrome, Autism, Brian Injury, etc)...generally those children are caught first by a birth to 3 (EI) program.   So in order to be tiered (and their are 3 tiers before SPED), the teacher has to bring the child case before a committee (usually called SST).  The teacher explains the case, where the child is failing any modifications they have done in the class room, etc.  IF the team agrees, kid goes to tier 2--more often than not they make suggestion to try (kickbacks) before making it to tier 2.  Tier 2 to has an RTI teacher (inclusion or pull out), they get differential instruction in math and/or reading (maybe a different genre of reading, a step back in math, or what have you).  They are watched closer and mentioned every SST.   Well, if they don't get any better (maybe after more kickbacks), then they go to tier 3 (content mastery), a little bit more interventions are introduced maybe multiplication cards, easier stories...).  These can either be pull out or inclusion also.   Our school does a little of both (but we are an inclusion school--what most schools are moving too).  If the child that moved through tiers 2&3 continue to fail then FINALLY they are either dyslexia or SPED tested (or both). If they are found to have a SPED case, then they will be assisted by the SPED teacher (also have been called resource teacher).    And that is a general breakdown of how it works at our school...there can be a lot of kick backs (a BP is usually one of them)...try this, try that...IMO some of it is to save the school $ and others is to make the child more accountable for his own work/have the child work up to the regular class rather than pulling a child down to where the SPED class may be.   I don't know the set up of your school, do they have an RTI program, a content mastery program, (or heck a Tiers program?!?) etc.  What you may have called a SPED teacher at the old school may have been RTI which isn't necessarily SPED.  

    Medication should never be forced but should be looked at as a tool.  Your son may need a lot of tools in his toolbox to perform math & LA.  If they told you your kid needed glasses to succeed, you'd run out and get them right?  Glasses are a tool--medicine is a tool.  Don't jump into and don't discount it off the bat. You & the school are on your son's team.  Play like you are pulling for the team, not against it.  


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  • Thank you! That was very informative. We all have our own opinions towards ADHD drugs and I believe that they aren't always necessary. Sometimes they may be but in my son's case I don't think they are. Yes, if my son needed glasses I would get them for him immediately. However, glasses can't harm my son and don't have negative side effects nor will they have the possibility of causing him any harm or make him psychotic. I have done my research on medications and read the opinions of experienced professionals who don't believe medicating children with ADHD is necessary. I have read stories of children dying from heart failure because of the medicines they were on. In fact, there's a strong belief that ADHD drugs can cause more harm than good. I wouldn't want my son to loose his appetite, have a racing heart beat, high blood pressure, hallucinate, become violent, or possibly even die. There's always a risk of negative side effects when on these drugs and I am just not willing to take that risk. If he's terrible in math and writing, I'm sure a pill isn't going to fix that. But thank you for the insight. I didn't know the entire process.
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  • imageJulienC:
    Thank you! That was very informative. We all have our own opinions towards ADHD drugs and I believe that they aren't always necessary. Sometimes they may be but in my son's case I don't think they are. Yes, if my son needed glasses I would get them for him immediately. However, glasses can't harm my son and don't have negative side effects nor will they have the possibility of causing him any harm or make him psychotic. I have done my research on medications and read the opinions of experienced professionals who don't believe medicating children with ADHD is necessary. I have read stories of children dying from heart failure because of the medicines they were on. In fact, there's a strong belief that ADHD drugs can cause more harm than good. I wouldn't want my son to loose his appetite, have a racing heart beat, high blood pressure, hallucinate, become violent, or possibly even die. There's always a risk of negative side effects when on these drugs and I am just not willing to take that risk. If he's terrible in math and writing, I'm sure a pill isn't going to fix that. But thank you for the insight. I didn't know the entire process.

    I believe that they are not always necessary either.  I was asking you to take a more global approach.  Don't let it be your first tool used but don't discount medication, yet. Explain to the team, "I am not ready to try medication yet.  I believe there are other intervention that can assist my son."  Be prepared to name those interventions.  They need YOUR help too. You are as vital to his education as the teacher herself.   The medication will not improve his writing & math skills but it will improve his FOCUS and ATTENTION to perform said skills.  Right know it sounds like you are going gung-ho against the board of education. Instead of fighting against the school, fight WITH the school.   Advocate for your child, be there for every SST (if possible) or requested parent meeting.  Monitor & observe your child in school--see how much of the teacher's attention he is needing.   Find out what the school has to offer, how they do their SPED process (I just told you my school).   Be proactive, read more than one- sided studies on ADHD.  Good luck!  


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  • You might consider asking for a referral to a specialist who can run a full psycho-ed workup on your son.

    I have some experience teaching and tutoring kids with mild learning disabilities, and your son does seem to have SOME of the characteristics of ADD/ADHD.  But there are many different things that can cause the difficulties your son is having, not just ADHD. 

    It sounds like your doctor just signed off on the ADHD diagnosis after reading over some parent and teacher questionnaires because you said the school needed a diagnosis in order to unlock special services.  It doesn't seem like your doctor actually did any psycho-ed testing on your son.

    Ask your school's guidance counselor if they have a list of area doctors who specialize in this type of thing.  The school may not like making referrals of that sort, but your regular pedi should have a list of names. 

    High School English teacher and mom of 2 kids:

    DD, born 9/06/00 -- 12th grade
    DS, born 8/25/04 -- 7th grade
  • I will not medicate my son. The only way I'd agree to medicate him is if  he was violent or psychotic....he isn't. I believe too many children are doped up on drugs and from what I have heard they usuallly start out with one and then switch to another and then another until they find one that works for them. I watched a video about the effects these drugs had on the children and heard the stories of how bad they made them feel from the kids themselves (teenagers). They described the withdrawal effects as well as the homicidal thoughts they were experiencing when on these drugs. If parents want to take these risks to try to fix something that they can't then that's their choice. I've heard the stories of how pharmaceutical companies are all to eager to market these drugs and make parents falsely believe that they are the "cure" to calming children down and making them focus. They are the ones profiting from these drugs, not the children. My son is struggling and will always struggle in school. I have to accept that and I have. A pill may make him conform to the school rules and allow him to focus but it isn't going to cure his ADHD or make his learning disability go away. What he needs is extra help and that's what I'm hoping the school will do....give him extra assistance. But I understand that learning will always be a struggle for my son. Hopefully, we can try different approaches that will help him succeed in school. But for me medicine isn't an option. Thank you for all the responses!

  • I won't medicate my son just so he can satisfy me by making good grades. Really, I think it's wrong of parents to ignore what their children are telling them. If the medication is making them feel bad then why force them to take it? There are tons of videos on Youtube and before you tell me the consequences of not medicating a child with ADHD you should read up on the consequences of ADHD drugs. Aslo, have you taken into consideration how many "normal" people self medicate and turn to substane abuse? From what I hear just about all teenagers experiment with drugs and alcohol (not all, but the majority). Medicating my son isn't going to stop him from experimenting although I'd like to think that he'd know better than to cross me. Did you know that most of the mass shooters in the U.S. were doped up on drugs, not street drugs but prescribed drugs? You have your own opinion about ADHD and how to treat it just like I (and others) have our doubts about the drugs. Really, in my opinion these drugs are no different than street drugs. They are highly addictive and can have serious side effects. There also isn't any evidence on what effect these drugs have on a person long term. I can't imagine putting my child on meds at 8 years old and having him take them until the day he dies just because he isn't meeting the standards that "society" wants him to conform to. I'd rather just let my child be who he is. If he struggles in school, then fine, there are ways to work around it whether it's getting him extra assistance or something else. Obviously, he was put on this earth for a reason and I don't think a poor school performance will define who he is. Not everyone is on the same path just like not everyone will excell in school.

     Here's one of the many videos about ADHD drugs that I've seen:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=26e5PqrCePk

    Sure, not everyone will believe it but can you or anyone else come up with evidence that it isn't true? If so, then you can always discredit the video by uploading something to prove them wrong.

  • I'm super confused because I clicked on this post to maybe offer insight. But all I see is I will not medicate my son. And no other real response. So I maybe be wasting my time her but her goes. My son is dyslexic and CAPD. Now he has been diagnosis as ADHD but a licensed auditory specialist and licensed psychologist but said he more than likely is not ADHD his dyslexia and CAPD makes him appear to be ADHD. Image not being about to read and sitting in class all day of course you can't sit still anybody would find something else to keep yourself entertained. I see your son is a good reader. But forgets almost daily things he just learned. Also has trouble with math. There are LD that pertain just to math, that might be worth looking into. Also some processing disorders have a correlation with forgetting learned activities. My son went to an excellent public school they pulled in a SE teacher to help him a few hours a day without being given the go ahead from all the testing being done. I felt he was just too far be hide and with all their help he wasn't getting anywhere. I put him in a tutoring program that was just for reading and after 140 hours at $70 an hour; that money wasn't easy to come back trust me. He was about where he was when he started. I made the choice to move him to a private school that specializes in dyslexia. He is 1 of 8 kids and the use a multi-sensory approach to teaching. And he is doing wonderfully!! I say all this not to diagnosis you child or say look at me but because you've got to think out of the box a bit. Research research you're son maybe a combination of different traits and looking into all options is your best way to help him.  If maybe you can get to the root the ADHD diagnosis will fall off and meds won't even be a thought. 

    Mellissa

    I'm new to the bump and haven't posted on this board before so I hope nobody minds I jumped in.  

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