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Just about two months ago, Alex was "diagnosed" with ADHD. I use the term "diagnose" loosely because the conclusion was mainly based on a discussion between his doctor and me, as well as a couple of surveys filled out by both myself and his teacher. However, I do think the description was an accurate one.
I have recently been doing a lot of reading about his condition, and I firmly believe that his attention and hyperactivity levels are different from those of other children. I have no doubt that he has trouble actually controlling himself at school, home, and extracurriculars, though he may want to do the right things. I am learning that his sloppy handwriting, fibbing, emotional outbursts, high energy level, lack of apparent concentration on schoolwork and Scout lessons, moodiness, and intensity are directly related to the differences in his brain that are referred to as ADD or ADHD.
As a treatment, Alex is currently taking Ritalin SR. His dosage will increase tomorrow because the medication seems to be wearing off by the end of the school day. While the pills have altered his behavior enough to begin seeing improvement in his Citizenship grades, as well as enabling him to stay in Spanish class, they appear to be ineffective in the afternoon hours, during chess, homework, and Scouting activities. This continues to frustrate me, but I'm hoping we will find the right dosage and combination of pills to allow my son to perform to the best of his abilities.
I am also concerned about Alex's school performance. Though he his excelling in History and Science, I worry about the basics that must be learned through rote memory. The math, language skills, Spanish vocabulary, and handwriting are still at a low point. Though Alex isn't performing up to the standards of a typical fourth grader in his basic subjects (Reading Comprehension, Writing, and Math), he continues to make high marks on his report card.
Alex has always been on the A/B Honor Roll. He has always brought home very high marks. This says something about the lowered standards of the Roanoke City School System. How can a fourth grader who refuses to learn long division and has not yet memorized his times tables receive A's on his report card? Why is he being passed along, with NO remediation? At one point will he be so far in over his head, having never learned the basic skills as a youngster, that he begins to fail the more advanced classes he will undoubtedly take in middle and high school? At one point will he be so frustrated with his lack of basic knowledge and reading comprehension abilities that he shuts down and chooses to take lesser courses out of fear of failing? Or, will he attempt to drop out altogether, as do approximately 37% of Roanoke City students.
ADHD does not have to be a sentence to failure. However, if I don't quickly find the right way to help my child enjoy learning, and excel at the troublesome subjects, he will surely be set up for a lifetime of underachievement. I know there is a way he can learn this material. I just need to find it. And, I need to find the support for doing so.
As an aside, I must admit that the teacher Alex has right now has been the best teacher he has had at his school by far, but it still isn't enough. He's not getting it. And, because of his continued high grades, I fear he is slipping through the cracks.