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Work Avoidance/Refusal to do school work
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Work Avoidance/Refusal to do school work

I have a 6 year old who started having severe behavior problems at school. He is in 1st grade. He started doing things I would have never thought he'd be capable of. Most of his problems seem to stem from work avoidance and refusal to comply. When asked to begin working he will refuse, deflect and avoid by crawling undrer his desk, running around the room and such. He was diagnosed with ADHD in November and currently takes medication. Things got better but not completely. He started destroying his classroom and kicking, screaming, hitting the administration that comes to help get him out of the classroom. He now takes a mood stablizer and we've been going up on dosages a little at a time. Still, even today he tried to avoid writing and then his teacher starts a Behavior Intervention Plan which ends up with time outs, and an office referral. The assistant principal comes to the room to help and sometimes he is willing to go with her and some times not. He tries to throw things and she tries to stop him. Today he hit at her, kicked her and screamed at the top of his lungs "help me" "get off me". Did I mention that I'm a teacher at this school and my classroom is right across the hall??? His teacher is wonderful, the administration is wonderful and care for him but are fustrated with him, as well. For the most part, at home he's a happy kid. He is loving, playful, sweet and caring. He says he likes school and is sorry for his behavior. He is an average reading student and is great at math. Writing is difficult for him. He can do it... his work is readable. I am absoultely overwhelmed with the situation and don't know where to turn. I trust our doctor and I know there is no easy way to diagnose a mood disorder and I also know it takes time with medication.
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My friend's grandson was diagnosed with ODD - Oppositional Defiant Disorder when he was in Grade 2.  His behaviour was similar to that which you described.  He was removed from the school and taxied to an alternate school for one year.  One year later he returned to the original school where things were a bit better.  However, at that time he was diagnosed with severe social phobia and not ODD.  My point - are you sure the ADHD is the correct diagnosis?  The medication is not working that well.  As a retired teacher, I know that most work non-compliances are the result of the child "not being able" to do the work rather than "not wanting" to do the work.  I am wondering if you just haven't found the correct issue or problem (or perhaps two or more problems).  And you are correct - it does take time for the medication to work - in anxiety issues (which I have a lot of knowledge) it can several years before the "full" effect is seen.  I feel for you as I have "been there".
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Avatar_n_tn
My son, a 4th grader, who was diagnosed just prior to 1st grade with "specific learning disability" is now struggling in 4th grade.  The greatest problem it seems is also his "refusal" to do work - even when the work is something the teachers feel certain he is capable of.  Other than refusing to do work, he is well behaved and doing well socially. He also hates to write with a passion.  The school is going to re-evaluate him for clues to his behavior and are awaiting his first visit to a neurologist in April and hope to find out more after that exam.  

So, I unfortunately, have no answers for you, but I have a lot of understanding and empathy.  There are lots of us out here experiencing similar problems, you are not alone, nor is your son.  My husband is also a teacher, teacher's kids are just as vulnerable to problems as anyone elses.  
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If your child has a problem with the motor component of writing, I know kids who've done better with using keyboards, learning to type and other classroom modifications, such as submitting oral reports on a tape recorder. Just in case that's a component of the issue, I thought I'd mention it.
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Avatar_f_tn
Im having issues with our nine year old daughter that while not to the extreem of physically struggling with her,,, its been a struggle none the less because she always 'forgets' to bring things to school, looses things, or just doesnt complete them. I frankly think school work is just too 'one size fits all' and these kids are falling behind in part because their brains just dont work the way the schools and teaching is set up. Im seriousely thinking about home schooling our daughter,, but my husband is terrified she wont have enough social interaction though,, so I guess only time will tell if this improves or not. My sympathy and understanding to everyone sharing in this thread...

Jennifer
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If you are worried about socialization while home-schooling.  There are some other options.  In our town we have a charter school.  Where kids go for classes 3 days a week from 9:00 - 1:00, and then we do our own work on monday and friday.  There are book clubs and other classes like art and dance etc. through your community recreation department that you can do in and around the community.  Find a home-school group in your town and find out what they have to offer.  they often are wanting to make sure there children are having opportunities to socialize as well.My son has a great community of friends through our charter school.
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Recently, I had to take my son out of the charter school I had him in.  He loved it there, but was refusing to do his school work at home.  He fell behind about 3 months in 1st grade work.  I was worried about this pattern, and put him in a small public school.  I thought he was refusing to do work and follow the rules because I wasn't structured enough, wasn't presenting the right work, or maybe just because I am his mom.  Well, after a week of public school he has increased in his reading and writing skills, but is not finishing work at school, and when I give him homework he refuses to do it. I know he can do the work he just doesn't want to. Today we tried for two hours to get home work done and he only read 4 sentences.  This included fighting, scratching at me, hitting, and running away to hide under the table.  I have taken away all privileges until he tries to do the work, or will talk with me about what he is feeling and the problems he is having. This is so hard.  What do you do next.  Is this just a transition problem or what?  His teacher has said that she will give him another couple weeks to adjust to the schedule and then if he doesn't complete work she will take away computer time, recess etc...
My son had been getting along fine with other people.  He is very likable, but since starting at public school he has come home every day with complaints about how he hates it and the kids make fun of him, and that the kids our rude to each other.  It is really bothering him.  When the out breaks of anger our over and he finally talks He says he feels alone and betrayed.  Like we sent him somewhere where he hates it and we won't let him go back to the charter.  We have tried to explain why we had to change and if he gets caught up on his work and shows effort he can go to  the charter again. It helps for a little while and then he act out again. Is this just a battle of wills?
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Avatar_n_tn
My 6 year old son is having so much trouble getting any kind of work done. He doesn't want to write or color. It takes us hours to do a few little kindergarten papers. I am so tired of sitting at the kitchen table for hours (I have an 11 month old also and my husband works nights). I have tried taking  the computer, tv, playing with friends, and all other "fun things" but nothing works. I know he can do it he just doesn't want to. He makes crazy noises and faces at me, walks around the room, plays with his paper and pencil. It drives me crazy. I have considered asking my mother in law to come help him do his homework because I am losing my patience. I just don't understand why he wants to waste so much time and lose all the "fun stuff"!!
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Avatar_n_tn
Heres a thought, try to not pay attention to the negitive behaviour, and praise there good behavior, use positive reinforcement, I have a son who has alot of the same characteristics as your children, i know all to well the frustration, helplessness, and the emotional ups and downs that come with trying to deal with your child that seems sometimes to be very difficult to manage. i have spent the last 3 years of school in and out of the office in meetings with teachers, trying to come up with a plan to help my son, as you all have said my child also refused to do his work, we have tryed many different things to try to get him to do his work, our new one is when he refuses to do his work in school during school hours he then has to stay after school till his work is done, i dont come to pick him up till he phones himself after completing his work, and it is working, my son of course the first time this happened was very upset and didn't want to do the work but the teacher just told him again that mom will come and pick you up when you finish your work. but not until the work is done, well he went back into the class room and got all his work finished which actually didn't take him very long to do, he phoned me proud and happy that he got his work done, said ok i am very happy that you have finished your work i will come and pick you up now. This has only happened like 2 in the last 2 weeks, so this is big progress for him as most days now he does his work and they give little reminders to him that he needs to finish his work in class so he will not have to stay after school to do it.. this is a big improvement, and this may or may not work for your children, believe me we have tryed everything i think the worst thing was when we where taking his privilages and fun stuff away , just seems  to make children more angry, and more negitive behaviour results from it, we have also tryed at home to get his work done sometimes if he is refusing we give him a few minutes to calm himself, then say ok how can we still have some fun and get the work done .. we do a work/ play work /play idea we ask the child how many minutes of play he would like to do, he sets his own minutes but we always make sure that he knows that he has to do that many minutes in work as well, so he usually picks 10 minutes of play so he has to do 10 minutes of work, now during the 10 minutes of work if the child is getting restless or is not wanting to do it after a few minutes, take a break, and try again, at first things seem to maybe not work the first few times you try it, but if you keep at it, your child will start to respond to it, i have done so many different things over the years to try to get my son's behaviour in order, sometimes, these children have medical conditions, like ADD/ADHD, ODD(oppositional defient disorder), sensory intergration disorders or also called sensory perception disorders, some may have a learning disability, some may just be very strong willed, some may have anxiety disorders, bipolor, so many different things , but the one thing you know is this isn't normal behaviour of children the same age as your child. My suggestion is try to get referred to a behavioral management team, usually consisting of occupational theripists, pediatric dr, speech and language, phscology assessments, these people are professionals who deal with children who have behavioural difficulties at home as well as at school.. Hope this helps, as it has helped my son and he has now more positive days at school , he only has the odd day once in every few weeks where he may try to push the limits again, but i don't let that bother me, he had a bad day, tomorrow is another day, and he can make different choices at school to turn it into a positive... believe me positive attitudes at school and home will help your child succeed..
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Avatar_m_tn
I'd hold him back a year-and examine possible sensory issues with an Occupational Therapist.  Sometimes that extra year makes a huge difference in their emotional development, etc. esp. if they have ADHD or another diagnosis that delays development.  

(I wish I had trusted my gut with this when my kid was younger-we're paying for it now over several years as he is steadily behind emotionally, etc with school work, maturity, responsibility compared to other kids his age)  
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Avatar_m_tn
Have you tried using a timer? My 7 year old has had a lot of problems finishing homework in the past and one day I set the kitchen timer because I was just completely frustrated. I told her "You will get this done in such and such amount of time." Guess what?! She did it. Ever since then she asks me to set the timer to see if she can beat it. She calls it a race and if she beats the timer and gets the majority of the answers correct, I have to add a quarter to her jar. If she does not beat the timer, she has to add a quarter to mine.

I have also found that watching different foods you give your child can help. I took her off of yellow food dye for about 3 weeks just to see if there would be any difference. She was a lot calmer.

Regarding not finishing classwork...I really have no answers. I went to Catholic schools my entire life, but my child goes to a public school. I was actually appalled at the way the classrooms run in public schools in my state. Not to mention it seems as if they are trying to shove too much into their brains at once these days. Whatever happened to learning the basics? We used to have math drills in class just so it would become second nature to us...now they don't want to "hurt their self-esteem". Are you kidding me? Their self-esteem is more injured in my opinion because they fall behind due to lack of understanding. We just keep lowering the bar instead of encouraging them to actually try.

Apologies for the slight rant. I do hope the beginning of this message helped a little, though.
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Avatar_m_tn
Did you ever research what is in the drug that is given to your child? Did you read the side effects? You can actually read the full report from the drug company that makes it. My grandson was prescribed Vyvanse because the school referred him to see a doctor. He wasn't a behavioral problem but he just didn't fit into a classroom setting. I home schooled him through K12. I can't tell you what to do but you should check out K12. Thomas Edison was considered a Behavioral Problem. At age seven - after spending 12 weeks in a noisy one-room schoolhouse with 38 other students of all ages - Tom's overworked and short tempered teacher finally lost his patience with the child's persistent questioning and seemingly self centered behavior.  Noting that Tom's forehead was unusually broad and his head was considerably larger than average, he made no secret of his belief that the hyperactive youngster's brains were "addled" or scrambled.
If modern psychology had existed back then, Tom would have probably been deemed a victim of ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) and proscribed a hefty dose of the "miracle drug" Ritalin. Instead, when his beloved mother - whom he recalled "was the making of me...  [because] she was always so true and so sure of me...  And always made me feel I had someone to live for and must not disappoint." - became aware of the situation, she promptly withdrew him from school and began to "home-teach" him.  Not surprisingly, she was convinced her son's slightly unusual demeanor and physical appearance were merely outward signs of his remarkable intelligence. Your child doesn't sound like a behavioral problem; he sounds very intelligent and probably bored in his classroom.
thomasedison.com
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Avatar_m_tn
I know it is probably not convenient to home school your son but I feel you should read this. I'm sharing this with you because I know you are searching for the best solution. Also, when you follow the instructions of your doctor and you still do not see the results you are looking for.
http://www.alternativementalhealth.com/articles/chiro.htm

http://www.medhelp.org/add-adhd/articles/5-Mistakes-Doctors-Make-in-Diagnosing-ADD/6

Do you know what it feels like for a 6 year old to be taking the medication he is taking? (Whether you do this or not, maybe you can try it one day and see how it affects you, and maybe you can understand why he is going under the tables, kicking, yelling and hitting.)
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Avatar_f_tn
What was the outcome for your son? This describes my son to every detail and we are trying everything. I know your post is 5 yrs. old, but I would like to know what worked for your son to help my son.
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Avatar_m_tn
I had attended some workshops dealing with anxiety not long ago.  Of course the presenter went through the signs and symptoms of anxiety and how to deal with young people with anxiety disorders in a class room.  

In the end, he mentioned that the classroom is very unnatural to us as human beings.  The very structure in itself has not changed since pre- industrial age despite all of the studies out there.  That being said, he stated the school structure in itself is a major cause of anxiety.

That being said, I had the opportunity to sit in on some Montessori schools.  It is very hands-on, experiential learning where the child directs his learning while the instructor guides it. The philosophy of the education is that the purpose isn't so much about creating child geniuses. Its focus is on meeting the wholistic needs of each one.

In this classroom, I had the opportunity to observe these children and i was absolutely amazed!!!  They were the most content students I have ever seen.  I later found out that three children were labelled as 'unteachable' in the public system.  These children did have disorders such as severe autism, ADHD and another disorder (I don't recall what it was). She had described their behaviours and they sounded a lot like what all of you are describing.

I would NEVER have guessed that these children were dealing with these issues.  

I spoke to their teacher about it. She said in her 20+ years of teaching she has never turned a student away or sent them home.  She said when children come to her she spends the first while just getting to know the child and peeling away the layers until she finds the true child.  She said that all behaviors are a result of a need not being met.  Whether that need is intellectual, emotional, spiritual, social, physical... it was her job to figure it out.  During this first while, her focus is on learning about the individual needs of her students, and giving the children an opportunity to acclimate to the expectations of this new environment....  not on the delivery of the curriculum.

Despite this, their academic performance was beyond our curriculum.  Amazing.

Honestly, I would never have believed it if I hadn't experienced it myself.


Another thing to think about is this.

More and more people are being diagnosed with emotional disorders.  The medical community is always discovering a new one.  

In this society, we are staying indoors more, we are less active, eating more processed foods with artificial products in them and playing more video games/ watching TV. These all play a significant role on our emotional state.

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Avatar_m_tn
    A great post!  Thank you.  As a retired teacher, the one thing I always tell the new ones is to get to know the kid.  Once I started to do that (even with 160 kids in middle school), my discipline problems faded away.
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Thank you! The school sent him on homebound. Now a teacher comes in to our home 4x per week for 2.5 hrs. per day. I'm praying he grows out of this soon. He's such a smart kid. He was diagnosed with adhd and anxiety. We fought tooth and nail about giving him meds. We objected to it wholeheartedly. When we finally did succomb, the meds didn't work or help the condition. We stopped the meds.  It seems more like a strong pervasive stubborness than a medical condition. We  just don't know what's wrong, but are trying to help him however we can. I may research the montessori school to see what they offer. Many thanks to you.
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Avatar_m_tn
     eds are only a partial answer, they can really help the younger child till they mature enough to have more control.
  But a couple of thoughts.  A child can be misdiagnosed with ADHD when they really have SPD or sensory processing disorder (or sensory integration disorder).  While they have some similar symptoms - medication is not used for SPD and thus is not useful.  SPD is treated by an occupational therapist.  Here is a link on SPD so you can see if any of it seems possible.  The link is       http://www.sensory-processing-disorder.com/index.html
      While you did not give many symptoms for your child a strong pervasive stubborness is one of the sensory problems.
    And, of course, I don't know what med you tried or for how long.  Some times it takes several attempts to get it right even if the child does have ADHD.  If you have any questiions about this please post here or here -  http://www.medhelp.org/forums/ADD---ADHD/show/175
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The post that initially started this discussion could have been written by me last year.  My son had all of those problems - the refusal of work, the attacking anyone that came near him etc. etc. It was horrendous.  He was in a private traditional school.  We paid lots of money for assessments and therapy (therapy being a waste of time unfortunately).  In the end, we took him (and my other children) out of the school and placed them in a Montessori.  Oh my word, what a difference!  I have to admit that we are still having issues with refusal of work (and we're working with an Occupational Therapist regarding this as it has a lot to do with his fine motor skills and writing), but it is like day and night with behavior.  He has been accepted and he is no longer scared.  The first few days he tried to behave the way he did in the previous school and expected to be held down and then sent home.  Instead, he was held but at the same time he was calmly talked to about how much they cared for him, that he wasn't going home because they knew that he could get past this and start again, etc. etc.  He calmed down and was able to go back to class.  We have had perhaps one other incidence like that in nearly a year, whereas before it was a daily occurrence. Home life is completely different now with none of the difficult behavior we experienced before.  My son was thought to have oppositional defiance syndrome and I'm sure if I had kept him at the previous school he would have been diagnosed with ADHD.  So grateful to have changed to Montessori.  Obviously his problems haven't disappeared - however we can now get to the root of the problem (with the OT) rather than only seeing the 'side effects' of the problem - bad behavior.  Btw, my other two children who have no behavioral problems, have blossomed at the Montessori - with confidence and academically..
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My daugther is 8 yrs old selctive muted child, but speak freely at home.  This year for some reason she stopped doing her class-work in addition that she does not speak in her classroom.  The school team and her teacher are very frustrated and reccomended transfering her to SDC class (Special Day Class) next year.  What to do???
We do not think it's OK to do.  So far she was getting services from her public school, but minimal work was completed by her.

What are other options we may consider???

Thanks you in advance on everyone tips, suggestions etc.. etc...

Shir-ley
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Avatar_m_tn
   Is English a second language for her?  What was it that qualified her for special Ed?  What grade is she in now and when is her birthday?
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I don't know whether you would receive this message as it is now 2013. However, I came across your posting and you are the only person who has ever described my son. I had to try.

I am graduating with my teaching degree and have a son who is very sweet and sociable...but refuses to work and hates writing...hates it. I am dying to find out what ever became of your situation and wondering if it will help me with mine. My son is now in the 4th grade. I am very concerned as he is not complying even with simple tasks. He is in special ed and I feel is very bright, but his refusal to do the work will not show anyone what he is truly capable of. He is also ADHD. We have truly tried everything!!
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Avatar_m_tn
   I am also the CL on the ADHD forum - http://www.medhelp.org/forums/ADD---ADHD/show/175
  He sounds pretty typical for an ADHD kid, which makes me think that you really may not be aware of the problems an ADHD kid goes through.  And thus how to help him.  Why not post to me over there and I can give you a lot more info.   And PS - really doubt that you have tried everything!
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Avatar_m_tn
   Sorry, the above post is to Joeyamg.  Not any of the other 22 posters.
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Avatar_n_tn
Hello, I realize it's been over five years since you posted this comment, but I was wondering if you ever got any answers about your son's behavior in the 4th grade?  We're experiencing the exact same problem with our son, who is a 4th grader now.  He's been a very good student up until this point, so we don't know what's happening and how to deal with it, and like your son, he does well socially and at home.  Punishment doesn't seem to be the answer because it's not working.  
Thanks.
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Avatar_m_tn
   Punishment at home for a child of this age usually doesn't work (as you have found out) simply because to change behavior the methods used have to be immediate and consistent.  Since punishment at home is never immediate and seldom consistent - it just doesn't work.
   But we really need more information about what is going on at school.  What are his teachers saying?  Is it in all subjects?   Did this start happening just after winter break?
    Whoa, just checked up on past posts.  Do you have twins?  Anyway, looks like you have a very intelligent child.  There could be several things going on here.  Could you start a separate post?  I've got a feeling it might take a few questions to pin this down.
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