Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Homework with the Boy

I'm taking a break from working on homework with the Boy, and thought I'd blog to vent my complete exasperation. I'm sure this will be a work in progress through the evening...
The Boy was recently diagnosed with ADHD. When I say 'recently', it makes it sound like a new development. It is not. This diagnosis is the result of three years of of working with various people trying to reach the point of diagnosis and an IEP. This is a landmark for us, and although it doesn't feel good to know that your child has a neurobehavioral developmental disorder, it is gratifying to move forward in a difficult process. With diagnosis will come more concrete help for my son, which is heartening. He gets help in the Special Education room once a week now specifically for spelling, which is the only subject he does poorly in. He also still gets Occupational Therapy for his pencil grip. I don't know how much that helps; he really just hates to write anything. The psychologist has said that this is typical of an ADHD child, as their mind goes so quickly, and trying to write down their quick thoughts is just tedious to them.
So now we are finally at the point in the process where we investigate medication. I took him to see our family doctor and went over all the details. The Man took the Boy for bloodwork earlier this week, so they can check liver function. He will start on Concerta this weekend. I'm nervous about doing this, but doing homework with the Boy reaffirms the decision. Here's what it's like to do homework with my ADHD son...

6:30pm - Call him in from outside, tell him that it's time to start homework. (We do it every night after dinner, and he had just finished eating.) Ask him to get out his agenda book from his school bag.
6:35pm - Realize that he has disappeared.
6:45pm - The Boy reappears on his bike, having ridden down the street for a while. Restate that he needs to go in the house, get out his agenda book and start homework.
6:50pm - MAKE him sit at the counter and get out the agenda book for him, since he has spent the last five minutes wandering around the house and making excuses. Discover that he brought home another student's math packet instead of his own. This is common for him, bringing home someone else's papers. Read notes from teacher in his agenda book. Yesterday she wrote that The Boy "had another tough day. He would not work. He ended up spending a lot of time with the guidance counselor getting his work done. (He is all caught up now.)" The note is typical of Mondays & Tuesdays for him. Weekends get him out of routine. No note for today but there is work to be done that he refused to do in school.
6:50pm to 7:05pm - Sit with the Boy and prompt him to do math work. Prompt for every. single. problem. Read every number to him to refocus him on the work. Boy complains he is cold, since he is only wearing shorts and nothing else. Tell him he may go get pajamas on.
7:10pm - Call up stairs and prompt him to get the pajamas on. (He is in the bathroom.)
7:15pm - Call up stairs and prompt him to get the pajamas on. (He is playing with toys.)
7:20pm - Call up stairs and prompt him to get the pajamas on. (He is pestering the cat.) Prompt loudly and wait at bottom of stairs until he comes down with pajama shirt on and no bottoms.
7:25pm - Guide him back to kitchen counter and sit with him to continue math work. We are still on the first page, and he has 2 pages of math, one page of spelling, 2 pages of handwriting work he refused to do in school, and 1 spelling test that he did poorly on and must make corrections on. He is also supposed to read for 15 minutes for 100 Book Challenge, which we almost never get to. Prompt him as he drums his fingers and stares into space. Prompt one problem at a time. He is exceptional at math, but isn't interested in doing the work right now. He complains of hunger repeatedly. (He already had dinner.) One more math problem. He needs a glass of water. One more math problem. He complains again of hunger. I promise him something to eat after the page is done.
7:40pm - One page of math complete. I make him something to eat and set the timer for a ten minute break.
7:50pm - Guide the Boy back to the kitchen counter. He has just eaten a piece of sausage and is now digging into a box of cheese crackers. I let him have a few and then remove the box, since he is trying to set up the crackers in patterns on the laid down box. Prompt him to start the spelling page. He fidgets. Prompt him to start with his name on the page. Prompt three more times before he does this. He writes his name very lightly, which is his passive-aggressive way of showing me he doesn't want to do it, since it can barely be read.
7:55pm - Ask him to read me the directions for the page. He fidgets and turns his back to me while leaning on his elbow on the counter. I tell him he is being rude to me and ask him to sit up. He does. I ask him to read me the directions, and he repeats leaning on elbow. I repeat what I already said. He stares into space. I ask for the directions. He finally reads them to me. Prompt him to start the work. He complains of thirst. I say if he writes the first word, I will get him a drink. He does and I do. I leave the room for five minutes so I don't go insane.
8:05pm - I return to the kitchen and he is out of his seat, headed for the bathroom.
8:10pm - He returns to his seat without being asked, hallelujah! We start the spelling page together and he is more cooperative for a few minutes. He asks what we will do after his work is done and I agree to play the Wii with him if he finishes by 8:45pm. I leave him for a while to see if he will do any work on his own while I help the Tyrant in the bathroom.
8:20pm - The Boy wrote one word while on his own. I sit with him and prompt him for each word. He has to put 2 columns of 6 words each into alphabetical order. He says he hates this kind of work. I help him to put them in order by numbering them with him, and then he has to write the words himself.
8:25pm - He needs to use the bathroom again. He's on his 3rd glass of water so who knows at this point. Back at the counter a few minutes later and now his pencil is gone. I get him a new one. I take a Bakugan toy from him. Prompt him to finish the first list, of which he only has 2 done. My stomach gurgles and he laughs and launches into a story. I stop him, and tell him he can tell me the story when he completes the first list. He writes out the remaining 4 words in a minute, then tells me a story about how his stomach had gurgled at night and made his sister laugh. (This is also typical for him, always story-telling.)
8:35pm - I feel myself coming unglued. It has been two hours of prompting and reminding and working, and he is nowhere near done. I tell him to finish the second column of words and be done. We will not finish the work tonight. The Man is at work and I am on my own and need to get the 3 year old to bed and spend more than 3 minutes with the 10 year old. I go in another room and cry for a minute. *deep breath* God graciously calms my heart.
I know it's not his fault. It's not mine either. It is what it is. And most of the time I can deal. But there are days when I just cannot do one. more. thing. to try to MAKE him do his work. And I don't know who the last two hours was harder on, him or me. It isn't like this every single night, but this is very common for him, and variations of these behaviors are always present. This week has been especially bad, although we don't know why. A friend of mine tutors him once a week, and she said he was all over the place for her too. I don't know what makes one week like this for an ADHD child, and then the next is fine. I do know that nights like this serve to reassure me that medication IS the right next step for us. I have peace about the decision, in spite of my nervousness of the unknown. I know that God will take care of us in this, as He does in everything.
9:00pm - I put the Tyrant to bed and snuggle up with the Princess while the Boy plays the Wii for a bit before we do some devotions together. I decided that he deserved some R&R even if the work didn't get done. I think we both need some at this point. *smile*
9:30pm - The Princess reads Psalm 121 out loud for us and we pray together while the Boy fidgets in my arms. I send them up to bed, knowing that I will have to put him back into bed multiple times before he finally tires out. When I go up to quiet him at one point, he hugs my neck and won't let go. My heart is full of love for my wild and precious Boy.

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Wendy said...

Shay this sounds like our whole senario with Parker. At least you know there may be somthing out there that will help him. With Parker he will be this way forever. One thing you need to is with the IEP tell them how hard it is for him to do homework. They should be able to limit his homework, shorten it for him. Also ask them to put it in his IEP that you can scribe for him if it gets so unbarrable for him to write. Hang in there. I do know how you feel I really do. Praying for him.


BeLoVed AiMeE said...

I can relate to this on two levels..and both are different. One is Beth. And those times when I am just AT. A. LOSS. Not another inkling of intelligent thought enters my brain to get her to do her work. when we have EXHAUSTED ourselves on her behalf to help her be responsible. so's hard.
My boy..I have occasionally wondered if he was ADHD but his teachers say not at this point. He's so fidgety. He doesn't do his work at school. He gets help from his teacher or other students on Every. Thing. And his behavior when he doesn't want to do something or understand work is pretty rough. But on a whole, we and his teachers are still chalking it up to him being a young student. (late birthday..and male!)

I'm glad for you that you have a diagnosis. You can do this. It will be hard. But if it wasn't this situation it would just be something else. Keep leaning on Him! (((hugs))

Shay said...

Thank you ladies ♥ Love you both!

KateO said...

wow. I pray that it gets better.
That's exhuasting just reading it.

Carla said...

That is SO my life with MY son Roman!! We are still in the process of getting a diagnosis, but I have known since he was about 3 that this is him. I can trace it back to practically infancy. Like you said it is never a new developement ...if it is it's likely something else. Before my wonderfully unique son I didn't have a clue about ADHD and admit to almost seeing it as a phony disorder. I read a book on ADHD when my current 6 yr old was 3....I wept. I had read so many parenting books, tried so many things, and finally I read something that described my son exactly. I had tools, information...hope!
Thanks for writing about your struggles. :)

Theresa said...

Hey that's my life except the name of the child is Amanda Grace. We however start homework IMMEDIATELY. It is too hard to stop and then get her motivated again. I think a lot of people with children who have special needs end up homeschooling.

Only 24 more days of school!!!! We will have to spend some time together this summer sharing stories, tears and much laughter. Love you, sister!

Shay said...

Thank you ladies! Your support means a lot, and although I'm sorry that any of us have it in common, it's nice to not be alone!
Theresa - my daughter's middle name is also Grace. :) And bite your tongue about homeschooling! gah! I admit that it has crossed my mind at times when public school just seemed like too much for him.
Glad that school is almost OUT! Summer camp here we come! LOL

Carla said...

I just came across this post again and it sounds exactly like our homeschooling mornings this year. We opted out of public school this year for various reasons but a big factor was our sons struggle and loathing of school (and the lack of resources available to him there). It has been good..we can get his school work done in the morning instead of bringing it all home and doing it at 8pm. BUT it is SO HARD too. You are describing my battle exactly. It's so refreshing to know I'm not the only one in this trench ;)

Shay said...

Carla, I'll tell ya, the medicine & IEP has made the world of difference for us. I think we might be homeschooling by now if it weren't for those two things. And I don't know how that would be going either, lol. I do keep it in the back of my mind for the future though, as I'm very concerned about how he will do in junior high in a few years. I feel like he's in a safety net of sorts now.

wealhtheow said...

Try letting him listen to music. It seems counter-intuitive, but I am also ADD and listening to music sort of keeps the distractible part of my brain busy when I'm trying to concentrate on work. Or maybe giving him a stretchy band for his feet so he can fidget with that while working. ADHD kids often need to multitask in order to get anything done. What about setting a timer and doing 10 minutes on spelling, 10 minutes on math, 10 minutes on another subject, and cycling around until everything is done?

It's a bear, isn't it? I am dreading the school years with my sweet guy.