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Avatar universal

Does anybody else have/know a child who pretends to be "dumb"

My child has some unusual behaviors and I am looking for someone who has a child or knows a child who may be similar.  Every specialist he has seen doesn't know how to "label" him and doesn't really know how to help him.  He is 6 years old and started first grade this year.  He spends part of his day in the Life Skills room (what our school calls the special ed room) and part of his day in the regular ed room with an educational assistant (EA).  At first glance he seems to be way behind other children his age.  He doesn't even know his letters, numbers, how to count, etc.  At least we think he doesn't.  Sometimes he will know these things, but only if your not directly asking him to demonstrate that he knows these things.  For example, last year his EA was having him cut and past out the letter "A".  He had to cut out 10 before he could go outside.  When he reached 5 he asked if he could go outside, but she said no, he only had 5 and he needed to have 10.  His response was, "Oh, I need 5 more".  This coming from a kid who we thought couldn't even count to 10.  He did similar things with other numbers throughout the year, but never anything consistant.  He also has read things every now and again, (simple words like zoo, am, the ), but then other times he acts like he doesn't even know the letter a.  He is also unusual in that if you praise him for giving a right answer he will take it back and give a silly answer.  He also has pretty significant speech and language delays.  He has problems interacting with other kids, also, but I think that he wants to have friends he just has a difficult time because of his speech delays.  At the beginning of last year he was put on Strattera, ADHD meds even though it was ruled that he doesn't quite fit all the criteria for ADHD.  However, the meds have helped his behavior at school somewhat so we keep him on them.  Anyway, it could take me forever to explain all of his behaviors, but if this sounds familiar to anybody else I would really appreciate a response.  If anything, it would just be nice to hear ideas that have worked for others, or at least know that he is not the only child who exhibits these kinds of behaviors.   Thanks.  
9 Responses
13167 tn?1327197724
Riaya,  your post doesn't sound like you're writing this as his mother,  but rather his new teacher.  

You sound as surprised as his teachers by his behaviors.

Do you live with him and interact with him most of the day,  or does he live separately from you?
Avatar universal
That's interesting that you thought that.  Yes, he is with me for most of the day and has always been.  I am studying to be a teacher right now, so that could be why I have teacher mode on.  The other thing, however, is that it is so hard to get to know him.  I mean, he does interact with me, but the stories he tells are usually made up or completely off topic.  I can't just ask him about his day and get a direct response.  Also, before he started kindergarden last year I was under the impression that he gave silly answers to questions that I asked him because it was his way of coping with the fact that he didn't know the answer.  School kind of brought out the fact that he does know things, but for some reason he doesn't want to demonstrate that he knows things.  So I spent 5 years not pushing because I didn't want to push for something that he was incapable of doing and then make him feel bad, but now I know that he is capable but it's still hard to tell to what extent.  I guess maybe I sound like his teacher instead of his mom because he is a complete and total mystery to me.  I am a very active mom, though.  From day one I have read with him, talked with him, played with him, etc.  During his toddler and preschool years we did all sorts of activities together like gymnastics, music and movement, swimming, etc.  Now that he is in school there is less time for these things, but we are together after school, eat dinner together (our whole family- we always have), read at night, do homework, etc.  Anyway, I'm not sure why I feel the need to justify my mothering skills.  The point is, I have done the absolute best that I know how.  Of course, I havn't been perfect, but I have tried my hardest to be.  But, yes, I am as surprised as his teachers by his behaviors.  That is my whole problem because I havn't a clue what to do for him.  
Avatar universal
Yes I completely understand my 5 year old is the same way.  Acts stupid!!  It's like he doesn't want to learn.  I was doing homework with him earlier tonight and the paper was on the number 8. Top of the page a has the number line from 1-10 he has to practice writing 8 5 times make 8 tallies,  fill in 8 boxes ect...  He just sits there and says I don't know what an 8 looks like.  So I tell him to count to 8 on the number line and he just skips over the 8 and writes in a 9.  I have absolutely no patience for this as he is so inconsistent.  His teacher says he's terrible I  class he doesn't pay attention to anything,  he never follows directions,  he faces the opposite direction of the teacher.. He  doesn't recognize any of his letters ect..  He practices his name every day and still can't grasp the simple four letters of his name..  It's probably the most frustrating thing I've had to deal with yet...  Not sure what to do about it..  I've made an appointment for him to be tested but they are booked  until january.  I feel like he's just going to fall more and more behind until then.  Just know your def not alone
189897 tn?1441130118
Wow, so sad.   Is the testing being done privately or through the school system?
Avatar universal
My daughter is exactly the same way, but she is extremely creative when it comes to artsy things.  She is brilliant with building things with legos, drawing, coloring, painting, and she loves to listen to music, play music, and sing.  I really don't believe that children who behave this way have a disorder, so beware of the testing because they will probably tell you your little one has ADHD or is special ed.  Children who are very gifted with the arts tend to be easily bored with reading and math, and they consider it a waste of their time.  Perhaps your child is like this as well?  It's horribly challenging, but I've found that using my daughter's creative side can make these tasks a little easier and a lot more fun for her.  She loves to do these activities on the computer, too.  I think public school is not the best option for these types of kids because they don't fit into the box with "average" kids.  Also, my daughter hates excessive praise as well, so I give her a simple "good" when she gets it right and then move right along like it's not a big deal.  Good luck!
973741 tn?1342346373
I am quite friendly with many children who are 'gifted'---  as my son is in the gifted classroom himself at this point.  The mistake I so often see parents make of gifted children is to not help them to be 'socially' normal.  I have worked with both of my sons about how to carry on conversations, how to be part of a group, how to be flexible.  Because some gifted children go up to not be employable or have normal things like friendships and relationships because they were never guided in the social nuances of life.  We need to help our kids with things like that.  My sons early elementary friend isn't asked over to our house much because his social skills and ability to just be a normal kid with flexibility is so limited.  His parents promoted it by running with the "he's so special because he is gifted' stuff.  My son is in the same class as him for cognitively advanced children, does the same work, gets the same grades.  But I would always help my child be one of the guys.

My other son DOES have a diagnosis of sensory and is also in the gifted program.  

Ignoring issues doesn't help a child.  

good luck
Avatar universal
My son does the same thing ! I know he's smart and knows his letters and number but he acts dumb so he can get out of it or he does it to mess with your head he's funny that way. (This is my opinion I really don't know why he does these things)But it's frustrating trying to teach him because he acts like a Moron which he isn't and I constantly tell him if u act dumb and act like you dont know things that you do know people are gonna think your stupid. So knock it off..he's also odd he'll boldly lie to your face about something "bad"  he's done(meanwhile he didn't do anything wrong) but will lie and said he did something wrong meanwhile he didn't even do it so why make up a story saying u did something bad when you didn't? This is my first kid and I'm telling you being a parent is frustrating especially when ur kid wants to "act stupid" and show no interest in learning..the teachers at school haven't made any complaints that he "acts stupid" so I'm beginning to think this is something he only does with me dad or grandma..also he'll remember all his tv shows by memory the characters the names everything that the show has to deal with but if you ask him what letter this is he can't tell you...or he plays dumb and doesn't tell you...I honestly can't tell and it's frustrating because how am I supposed to teach my child if he's acting like a dumb dumb
Humm,  he is showing some of the signs of ADD or ADHD which would explain a lot.  Check out these links on that and post if you have any questions.
   Hope this helps.
Avatar universal
The answer is simple, don't let them get away with it. The more you give them attention, the more reward they get for acting stupid. For its the attention they want. This is actually a, "symptom" if you will, of a manipulation. Children are master manipulators, if they feel it gets them what they want, and they pull one over in you in the process they win, they get the attention. The simple solution is to walk away... Simple direct instructions, keep directing back if attention wonders and don't give in to the game. I tell my son who dies this,"I know, you know this,dont even try to tell me you don't" if they insist they don't know or the water works comes in, walk away and start taking privileges away...it'll take time, but it works
Avatar universal
I was like that. I liked pretending to be dumb, so I wouldn't have the expectations, fear and stress of "growing up". I had one parent and he was distant, cold and militaristic. I honestly just wanted to be left alone by adults, and at the same time I envied those who were free to go and do as they liked. It was I was born a prisoner to this world, which was forcing to live in it, the way it wanted me to. I still wanted to be free and see my friends. I just didn't care about my studies and felt "forced" to have to learn it. One year, in third grade I hid my Adderall and got straight A's, then gave my dad the pills I hid. Then, after proving my point, I went back to being me. To be honest, I didn't really "wake up" internally until 16-18. I AP courses, then went to college and all, but I suppose what I'm saying is that if you want to help him do this, you have to make him think it was his idea or somehow get him to be really into his studies. I was lucky enough to have an older brother, who convinced me that I'm not dumb and shouldn't want to be in a remedial program. I then protested and tested into the honors program. Finding the right motivation is key. For example, if there is a kid who studies a lot and does amazing in school. I bet if your son became good friends with him, it would rub off.
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