View Full Version : Undiagnosed ADD boy, homeschooled

05-09-13, 11:21 AM
Hi all,

I'm a homeschool tutor (learning coach) for a 9-year-old boy with undiagnosed, unmedicated ADD. I worked in a boarding school as a teacher and dorm supervisor, and I also dated a man with ADD, so I'm pretty sure that he has it.

Right now I'm working on fractions/decimals with my student. We are using K12 and he is in 5th grade math because he's pretty advanced mathematically. He completed 3rd and 4th grade math (at a bit of a rush) with his parents.

There are several problems I'm facing, but the main ones are these:

1. When my student is under pressure, he can do even the most complicated math problems correctly and quickly without argument. But when he’s given any opportunity to relax, he starts getting distracted, and he loses track of the problem by thinking of something else like snack time (this happens a lot). It takes him so much energy to focus that he actually loses track of what he’s supposed to be focusing on. In short: he does know how to do the work, but he can't focus on it long enough to complete it.

2. Because of #1, my student refuses to admit that he's wrong even when he's made a fundamental error. I think he likely makes mistakes because he gets distracted. However, he doesn't want to admit that he's been distracted (maybe fearing a punishment of some sort?) so he instead chooses to insist that he's right. He chooses not to listen to me when I explain how to correct the error or why the error is an error. This leads him to getting punished more (by his parents) for disrespecting his teacher.

It's a vicious cycle. I'm trying to figure out what to do with it, because the student is going to lose the will to learn if he hasn't already. He's a smart kid, but he's extremely stubborn and won't acknowledge that he can a)make mistakes just like everyone else and b) he gets distracted and forgets what he's doing.

Any tips? I'm at the end of my rope here.

05-09-13, 12:04 PM
Instead of arguing with him, wait until he's done, go thru them, mark an X on the wrong ones and have him correct them. You can't make the parents change their minds if they are dead set against getting him treatment, tho you might mention what you're seeing.

05-09-13, 02:00 PM
Reward him for correcting his mistakes. Let him make them, but then go back over them later.

05-09-13, 03:19 PM
How comfortable is your relationship with his parents? Any chance you can persuade them to change their methods so they don't punish him in this counterproductive way?

I know there are parents who favour punishment for certain things. I'm thinking of somehow demonstrating to them that this particular punishment is making him behave worse and worse, and learn less and less.

05-09-13, 03:37 PM
Well I think it's fine to suggest to the parents that they have their son evaluated but you really aren't qualified to diagnose him.

Many gifted children behave similarly, as do children with other conditions, or children who have never been told they're wrong.

I would start by speaking with the parents about your concerns (without saying "he has adhd") because its hard to suggest ways to help without knowing for certain what you're dealing with.

05-09-13, 03:42 PM
A couple of things you could try:
Assign a smaller number of problems at a time, perhaps with short breaks or something (academic) that he likes to do in between each block of problems...

Use a timer and tell him that he has 'x' amount of time to finish 'x' number of problems. Give him an incentive for getting them done, getting them right, and/or for finding his mistakes if he gets them wrong. (ie stacking incentives)

05-09-13, 04:06 PM
Next time when you notice his mind drifting off, ask him what he's thinking about.

Gifted people have a natural tendency to over analyze things, even their own thoughts.

Gifted people tend to have short bursts of intense effort, followed by periods of demotivation. Because they put so much effort and energy into something so quickly, they find it difficult to come to grips with the idea that they may have got it wrong, because they applied so much effort trying to get it right.