2nd Grader - 'Lack of focus' following directions
My wife and I were recently informed by my son's 2nd grade teacher that he is having an extremely difficult time focusing and following directions. Seemingly simple tasks are causing him great frustration, and he's having great difficulty completing his in-class work. His teacher has stated her belief that this is neither a behavior issue nor a 'learning disability' - and that she can tell that he is trying very hard to do what's expected of him. He's an excellent reader, and the work he is doing in math, spelling, etc. is of high quality - in other words, he seems to have a grasp of the concepts he's being taught. He is not disruptive in class - and his teacher has indicated that there are times when even his 2nd grade classmates will prompt him on to 'get out his book', or 'finish that up - we're starting something new..' She really seems to have my son's best interest at heart, and she has opened up our eyes to this potential problem being more of an issue than we have suspected .
My son has certainly always been a daydreamer - I call it 'getting lost in his own mind'. We have delt with his getting 'side-tracked' since I can remember. He is very creative, and has a knack for drawing - and excels in art in general. My wife says that if she wants to get something accomplished - she gives my son one task to complete at a time. There are times when I have felt that my son has simply ignored my direction. A common situation would be - every night at 8:30 pm we instruct Ryan to go upstairs, put on his pajamas, brush his teeth, and go to the bathroom. Many times - not always - but many times she or I will find him 10-15 minutes later on the floor of his bedroom - either playing with an action figure, or thumbing through a book. This scenario (and others similar) has occured often enough that he knows he will be scolded. Many times he takes our scolding pretty hard - he'll fight back tears, or look ashamed - and can without fail repeat our instructions to him verbatim after the fact. I get the feeling that he lacks a conception of time - that it means absolutely nothing to him.
This was presented to us last year as more of a behavior issue. His 1st grade teacher indicated several times during the course of the year that he was goofing off, or acting "silly" at inappropriate times - when he should have been completing an in-class assignment, for example. I recall that after my several get on the ball/straighten up and fly right speaches to him, he would reply - "what if I forget?", or "what if I can't?" I couldn't seem to get him to understand that HE can control how he behaves - or that HE could determine his actions. It was as if some outside force was sending him into these daydreams..
As is the case now, he received great marks on all his 1st grade report cards - which just confuses the heck out of us!
Any insight or suggestions you may have in getting my son the help he needs would be greatly appreciated.
It is quite possible, but thorough evaluation would be required to say with certainty, that your son displays Inattentive-type Atention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, a neurointegrative condition that results in the very symptoms you describe. To some extent, depending on the degree of severity of the condition, a child can improve their attention, focus and follow through through some systematic methods. For example, issuing single directions, monitoring the completion of the task, prompting. However, if the condition is sever enough, such common-sense environmental measures may not be sufficient and pharmacological treatment can be quite useful. Please, though, do not rush into such a diagnosis. Rather, arrange an evaluation by a child psychologist and let the results speak for themselves.
This is probably not the problem but something to think about. My daughter is also in second grade and has alot of the same issues. Not staying focused, day dreaming, etc. We had her tested for ADD but was told diffently not. Then her doctor decided to send her for an EEG (just to cover all bases). The results were a complete shock for all of us (I think also her doctor). It turns out the my daughter was and is having petit mal seizures (also know as absence seizures). You cannot tell when they are having them and they can have 100's a day. It makes it hard for them to focus and appears as if they are day dreaming. She is on medication to help with the seizures and it seems to be making a big difference. An EEG is a fairly simple test for your child (not at all painful). It might be worth looking into.
wow!!! If I didn't know better I would have thought that my husband wrote this question regarding my son(8yrs old) I have been discussing this with his teacher and trying various behavorial modifications in the class room for about 5 weeks. Unfortunately without much success to this point. The comment you made regarding giving directions at bedtime I have said and used as an example in our house!! Could you please email me back with things you have tried and or found out about your son. We would appreciate it. We are off to the pediatrician office next week to start our process medically. Good luck to you and your family.
I'm not sure this will get to you - since I can't seem to find a personal message feature on the site, and I don't know your e-mail address.
My wife and I are in the process of having my son evaluated by a few professionals - psychologist, allergist (sp) - We're reading a whole lot about the subject, and are experimenting with a few techniques to help him with multiple directions and time limits. He seems to be making some progress with completing homework in timed 'pieces'. We've read some material mentioning allergies/environmental sensitivities, and have noticed that Ryan commonly has dark circles around his eyes (we call them raccoon eyes, and this is listed as a possible symptom of allergies in some of the reading materials) - We want to at least make sure that he's not ingesting something, or is in frequent contact with something that causes him concentration or sleep problems.
I'll let you know (if you even see this..) what works for us - And wish you the best of luck in helping your child!
Thanks for the reply. Our son also has the "racoon eyes" thing going on. I appreciate your reply and will write back here if there are any interesting findings or ideas that have worked for us. We are off to the pediatricians next week.
I on my way to speak to my sons 2nd grade teacher about this very same problem. I watched him in class today just sit and not focus at all on the work he was to be doing. He has developed an eye blinking thing as of late, but the pediatrician said it has to be ongoing for 6 months to be considered a tick. I thought maybe it could be allergies. Your comments have been helpful encouraging. I will definitely pursue the medical side of this issue further.
I too thought my husband had written the scenario involving your son. Our son (Ryan, also) exhibits all of the behaviors you have mentioned, and somehow manages to maintain A's and B's. We have seen the psychologist who diagnosed him with an Inattentive Attention Deficit Disorder. We have opted to use behavioral therapy rather than pharmacological therapy at this time. Each day presents it's own sets of challenges, but we are determined to equip our son with the necessary tools so that he might succeed during these school years without a tarnished self esteem.
Thanks, Kim. We're going the route you've gone, and we've learned a great deal already. Just being 'aware' seems to have had an impact. So far he's really showing a lot of pride in his accomplishments - and has even shown some initiative in completion of tasks (homework or otherwise) un-prompted. Sometimes I wish that time meant as little to me as it does to him! :D
Wishing you (and everyone above) the best, as well.
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