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ADHD at School

Getting Zero Work Done In Class

My 7yr old son is diagnosed ADD w/anxiety.  He takes zoloft for the anxiety and this has helped a lot.  He is capable of doing grade level work when working with me one on one at home or in the classroom and requires little to no instruction - just my sitting next to him reminding him to “write it down, go to the next item”.  Otherwise, he does not complete any classwork during the school day.  Zero.  No pencil to paper.  He is not disruptive and does not outright “refuse” to do the work.  The teacher can walk by several times during a task and ask him to pick up his pencil and join the class and he will get his pencil and sit up in his seat, but as soon as she walks away he’s back to putting his head on his desk, picking apart his eraser, resting his head on the back of his chair, picking at his clothing, etc.  Has anyone else experienced this?  We continue to search for a med to help with concentration/focus but we just started our 5th med about a week ago and again I’m seeing no change.  He is currently at risk of retention because although he’s bringing all his unfinished work home and we’re doing it after school, he’s not completing any of his tests and isn’t proving his ability against grade level benchmarks.  We are going into our 2nd IEP meeting this week and although we have a very cooperative school, I’m not sure what to even recommend be put in his IEP to help him succeed…


Would it be possible to home school?

Posted by adhdmom2000 on Nov 21, 2013 at 10:19am

I’m not sure what medications you have tried, but my daughter was having the same problem. Couldn’t stay focused and was distracted by everything in the classroom. She is on focalin xr now and I only occasionally have issues with homework because is the medicine wearing off.

Posted by pretty_eyes on Nov 21, 2013 at 10:30am

Your next IEP should include a quiet place out of the classroom to do tests. Most children with ADHD can not focus alone in the classroom. Maybe there should be a time for resource where he can work one on one with an education assistant or is there one in his classroom? Can he where headphones and listen to music during class? This helps some kids to focus on their work. Have a cue between the teacher and your son to “get to work ” maybe a reward to work towards each day. You could supply a pile of Pokemon cards or used books, pencils or erasers. Some pencil grips or fidget cushions might help.

Posted by JulieBmotherof3 on Nov 21, 2013 at 6:20pm

My son is having the exact same issues.  Right down the part about picking apart the eraser (and picking his nails) rather than working. We have also tried numerous meds, and nothing touches his focus the way I’d hoped it would.  My son is also in a school where the kids have to work independently, and they frown on having to remind students to stay on task, so it’s not going well.

I would definitely ask about a quiet place for testing, and extra time on testing and other assignments.  When he’s working alone, you could also try noise-cancelling headphones. 

I give my son a reward each day that he does all of his required assignments.  The bonus and follow-up assignments will have to be tackled later, but I’m just trying to get him to do the required components, and he’s getting something every day that he does that.  It still doesn’t happen every day though.

I’m going to be moving my son next year to a school that is better equipped to handle these difficulties.  He will probably be in a mix of regular classes with some remedial class time with the special ed teacher to give him a boost.

I’m finding that he just can’t do it without constant reminders.  He’s fine at home, but that’s because, like you, I’m prompting him for next steps and keeping him on track.  They can’t do that at school, and he is suffering.  The right environment is key, and I know I have to find the right learning environment for him so that he doesn’t start to fall behind.  So, that’s my plan. 

Have you talked to the school about having an aide or special ed teacher help out?

Best of luck to you.

Posted by JAMurphy on Nov 21, 2013 at 7:15pm

Going thru the same exact scenario.  Our son was recently diagnosed and neither the paediatrician nor neurologist felt he was a good candidate for medications because of how much anxiety he suffers from.  I am just looking for a support group.  It is so frustrating to see how he was doing pretty good in 1st grade and now in 2nd struggling so much.  We are working closely with the school and teachers to find what works for him.  As you, I can get him to do the work at home, but in school it doesn’t really happen.  I’ve been considering home schooling him, but I have mixed emotions still.  I don’t want to medicate him, so I was kinda glad neither doctor felt it was a good fit for him.  Like your son…he will break pencils, erasers, etc… Hope we can all find what works best for our children.  It has been difficult to see how he really can’t control himself:(.

Posted by Boky2 on Nov 22, 2013 at 7:54am

I just wanted to post an update on this because my son has had sort of a “breakthrough,” at least a temporary one, anyway, and hopefully permanent.

I still maintain that the right environment and the right teacher(s) are key, but some things are working for us as of this week.

I’m giving him rewards on the days he gets all of his required work done at school.  Daily rewards.  I don’t know about your son, but token systems and delayed rewards do NOT work for my son. It has to be more immediate than that.

So, he gets a reward on the days he completes his requirements. At his school, they also have bonus work and follow-ups, but I’m not concerned with those now.  I’ll add those incrementally later.

His school is such that they can’t really send home unfinished work because the resources are in the classroom.  So, I got a couple of web sites from the teachers that teach the same material they’re teaching, and I have my son do the same number of assignments at night as what he missed during the day.

So, if he only did 2 out of 5 assignments during the day, I have him do 3 additional assignments at night.  This is in addition to whatever regular homework he might have.  It makes for a lousy evening for both of us, but after doing this for a few nights, I think he realized that it’s FAR better to get the work done during the day than at night.

Also, since he gets no TV or video game time on those nights, it was really a drag for him.

It appears that sending unfinished work home, or, in my case, assigning additional work to make up for the losses during the day, are doing the trick.  He said he now realizes that it’s NOT that hard to get the work done during school hours, and he feels better about himself for getting it done. 

Just wanted to share that.

Posted by JAMurphy on Nov 22, 2013 at 6:31pm

Yes, that used to be me when I was growing up in the 1970’s. Back then my teachers would tell my mother that I had dyslexia and I just needed to apply myself more. In one case my 2nd grade teacher explained to my mother that I must have an attitude problem, since I would talk in class after being told to stop. In reality I heard and understood what he said, however within seconds my mind went somewhere else. He might as well not have said anything at all because I completely forgot at that point or possibly there was something that was so compelling that I felt it had to come out. Over the years I have struggled with the curse of being highly intelligent but so unorganized that completing homework or a project in a set time frame seemed overwhelming and it simply did not get done. Ultimately, I ended up dropping out in tenth grade and taking some tech courses. I never went to college until now at 42 years old. It took years of working though tech-related jobs and eventually finding my niche in IT, but now I have a good career in Cybersecurity and am happily married to my wife who is far more organized than I, lol. I also suffer with
depression and anxiety, so I understand how these only serve to exacerbate the situation. In fact, it was very difficult dealing with people on a social level and never understanding why kids in school had bullied me. I always thought I was simply defective. If only they had the medications available then that have helped me in so many ways today, I think school might have been a much better experience. I wish your son the best of luck. If he is as stubborn as I am, understand that is not a bad thing. It is what pushed me through all the hard times, helping me get where I am today. Just be a support system for him and if you do try medications, just don’t give up if the first try is the the right mix. It sometimes can take awhile to find the right balance, but it is worth it in the long run.

Posted by loknar28 on Nov 22, 2013 at 7:08pm

My son, now turning 11 in a couple weeks, has been on Concerta, Vyvanse and now Daytrana.  No matter the medication, his “motivation” to do/ finish work in class (or at home) without CONSTANT redirection was never improved.  A rewards program only worked depending on the work involved and what was at stake.  Until he went to 5th grade this year, this was an issue in his IEP and plan each year and no one could seem to help us get him motivated to do the work.  What is odd is that now that he is in 5th grade, the students move from class to class each period (similar to middle/ high school) and believe it or not, this SOLVED THE PROBLEM!  What my son is attributing it to is that he has a change of scene - the teachers are attributing this to him maturing.  Kids with ADHD run 2 years behind their peers with their executive function AND ADHD in anyone makes them chemically disposed to be “unmotivated”.  I kept hearing from parents of kids with ADHD that they will get better as they age about taking responsibility for themselves and they were right.  This has been the best year ever - the teachers went from dreading my son being in class to actually enjoying him - he got nominated by his Science teacher to be a Student of the Month.  My son has picked up on all the positive reinforcement coming his way now and that in itself has help motivate him.  So while it seems hopeless now, if you can stick with what you are doing (getting him to complete the work at home or even over the weekends so he can stay “caught up”, I believe you will see a change as he ages.  Hope this helps!

Posted by TeresaB on Nov 22, 2013 at 7:44pm

Thanks for the update and for the past experiences.  Means a lot to finally find a group that can help support us.  Last night, after reading some more…I again started to think that homeschooling might be a good solution.  So my project today is to find out more about it.  I’m not making the decision yet, just going to research it a little more.  Don’t want his self-esteem or school years to be negative. This school year has been rough and we just practically started.  If any of you have heard the pros or cons for ADD kids with homeschooling and would like to give some input….please do.  Thanks so much once again:)

Posted by Boky2 on Nov 22, 2013 at 7:46pm

Hi brlk13

Does your child’s school offer programs such as a 504 plan or SBRI plan? My child is part of the SBRI (scientifically based research intervention) program. Basically, the school will accommodate your child as necessary to make sure he’s getting the help he needs.

For example if he needs extra help with classwork one on one they should be able to supply him with that, they will also make classroom accommodations for him so that he can function without frustration. With this plan the teachers/staff/principal etc will meet ever 4-6wks to see how the changes are helping the child. I got a letter from my child’s neuro doctor for the school to give my daughter this type of help in order for her to succeed in the classroom setting & help manage her ADHD. The SBRI plan has 3 tiers the students can be placed in depending on their needs.

You can find additional information online to help you find out what the school can do to work with you and your child or ask your child’s doctor. I hope this helps.

Posted by Donny on Nov 22, 2013 at 9:39pm
Posted by Donny on Nov 22, 2013 at 9:39pm

I tried Vyvance for about a year and found that it did not settle my mind as well as Adderall XR.
Adderall XR is a time released version of Dextroamphetamine. I had tried the standard release and it was too up and down. They are all similar in that they are stimulants, however they work differently for every person and combinations of other medications like antidepressants ect…

Concerta(pill) and Daytrana(patch) are both Methylphenidate.
  “Vyvanse is a pro-drug that must be metabolized by the body and converted into an amphetamine, which is an active drug.
  Dextroamphetamine was coupled with lysine in Vyvanse for two reasons: to increase its duration of action and to make it difficult to abuse. The active part of this prodrug is the dextroamphetamine and it is released from the drug molecule by enzymes in the red blood cell.”

Posted by loknar28 on Nov 23, 2013 at 6:54am

My son also had a breakthrough.  A couple of years ago he went to Brain Balance got tested and found that he was deficient in some vitamins.  He got out of his daily fog because of this.  It was huge and I was grateful.  He still had trouble getting his work done in school and at home though.  I then decided to do biofeedback.  He had finished about 90 sessions at the end of this summer, and had absolutely no improvement.  I was out more than $8,000.  I started with one company who only worked on the back of his head, and at the start of the summer of 2013 I started with another company.  The second company put the electrodes on the back, sides and top of the head.  By Oct. after no improvement with only 7 sessions left, I asked them to please put the connections on the front of his head.  After these 7 sessions he seems to be able to do his work at school and at home.  He has been on Focalin XR for 3 years now, and definitely needed it.  He has not needed it for 2 weeks.  I’m not sure if the biofeedback is what helped him or if some vitamins he just started helped him.  He hasn’t taken vitamins in a while and I started giving him fish oil, magnesium (250 mg), and Probiotics( 3 billion live cultures).  The psychiatrist thinks it is the probiotics.  I’m bummed that I started the vitamins and the biofeedback on the front of the head at the same time.  I am going to take away the supplements to see if he goes back to ADD.  I just thought I’d share this in case it can help another child.  I could give a lot of details, but I can’t make this too long.  I am amazed by this, but still skeptical that this is going to last.  If this is really happening it is a miracle.

Posted by free2pink on Nov 23, 2013 at 7:19am

Boky2, just wanted to share my experience with you. My son, 8, started 50 mg of Luvox about a month ago to address his severe anxiety and it has made a huge difference in his attitude toward school, homework and life in general. He couldn’t even start his homework before without melting down, and now does his homework unprompted.

Anxiety is a very real and serious problem for many of our kids, maybe because of the stress of dealing with ADHD, ODD or their other mental health issues. My son was so irritable and touchy before that I couldn’t even talk to him. Now he is in a calmer place and he feels better about himself. He is able to succeed at school, which is helping him gain confidence as a student and human being. Just wanted to let you know about the huge boost that anti-anxiety medication made for my son.

Posted by Frogmountain on Nov 24, 2013 at 6:37am

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