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Thursday, February 10, 2011

where we are

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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.


  1. Hugs mama! I have no doubt you will figure out a way to help him. Math was really tough for me growing up, mainly memorizing my times tables. They had a computer game where the equations "fell" from the top and you had to answer it by the time it got to the bottom of the screen. I am sure they have something much more updated? Just a thought.

  2. The best thing that you can do is advocate for him. Challenge the school. What do teachers say when you tell them he should be marked lower?

    I remember when we moved to MN from FL my brother had speech problems. He truly couldn't say certain sounds and should have had a speech therapist through the school. So when my mom said something they told her he didn't have a speech problem, but that he "talked black". Um, yeah. So my mom struggled. Thankfully, we moved to a new city and he got the help he needed but yeah. Definitely frustrating.

  3. ((hugs)) I am right there with you. behavior modification helps but not always. It's so hard to get Taylor to focus and do what he needs to do but he is getting better. It's mostly about him being able to control his emotions/outbursts, and getting the work done at school and home. School can be so challenging for these kids and it's wonderful that you are doing all you can to help him get better.
    Did you look into Strattera? It's a non stimulant and what our pedi is recommending.

  4. Sara, they say that he is doing well, but his behavior needs improvement. The school's standards are set by the state's Standards of Learning, and if he shows mastery in those particular areas, then it is all well and good. For example, Alex can do multiplication using various tricks and tips that his teachers have taught him along the way. Therefore, he does quite well on a non-timed math test. However, he is counting fingers, toes, buttons, and the like. He isn't actually retaining the information needed to succeed in higher math courses.

    Christy, we have not looked into Strattera, but if there isn't a generic version, I highly doubt we would be able to get it on our insurance plan.


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