View Full Version : Is high achieving public school best for teen with adhd/low motivation?
My 15 year old son spent grades 2 through 8 in small private schools that cater to children with ADHD/LD. He is athletic, highly social, popular, etc, and is now at our big public school and is about to finish 9th grade. He may have some memory and processing issues but what is most evident is that his idea of studying a lot, or adequately, is 10 to 15 minutes. He may or may not finish his assignments and his grades are C at best. This high school has a fairly high number of "low achieving" students, many of whom are not interested in school or college. My question is this: should we move to a neighboring school district where the academic interest level is much higher? On the one hand the pressure there will be greater and he will be more likely to suffer from "feeling-stupid-syndrome". On the other hand, at the current school the environment seems to lend itself to mediocrity and low achievement. He will possibly be open to moving because he says he wishes the school had more school spirit and more after school clubs, etc.
Big decision because we really don't want to move.
05-16-08, 07:15 PM
Ohhh, do I hear ya, Blandy!
My son's a LOT like yours. Also 15, and a freshman in high school. He's been in private schools up through 6th grade, and went in to the public school system (here) of mediocrity and low achievement, as you say, where there is more emphasis on getting the school itself, and the teachers themselves to "pass" the local grade, at the expense of really teaching the children not only academics, but due dates, accountability, responsibility, etc.
But, seriously consider the new school district. I had done the same thing as he was entering into 7th grade, and looked into a few very academic schools, a couple of them being charter schools. Those particular schools I felt were not the best environment for him. Really, he is not motivated, he's not a high achiever, and he's not academically inclined, though he is very bright. The schools on their parental reviews stated that the attention was given to the bright achievers while the academically-challenged ones, as well as ones with behaviour and/or learning issues were basically left to flounder, and I got that same message from the meetings and testings we went to. They didn't want the challenged children to bring the status and the stats of the school down. It was very disheartening. A public school may be different, and I suggest you get the inside scoop as much as possible. Find out how the staff is about adhering to 504s and IEPs, and you will probably need to get your son a coach or a tutor to help him keep his stuff in order with more responsibility and expectations there. As you said the pressures will be much more, and he's already struggling in the environment that your son is in. He will probably enjoy the extracurricular activities of the other district school though, and find a niche where he fits in, feels confident, and that will help his self-esteem greatly! Try to talk to parents as much as you can.
Here, check out this website. Here, you can plug in the schools you are thinking about, as well as his current school, read parent reviews, see the state grades the schools receive, all the stats. This website really helped me to make the best choice of schools for my son.
Yes I have read everything in greatschools already and it was helpful. My son didn't have a 504 or an IEP at all last year; the guidance department was horrible. His outdated psych doesn't state outright that there is an LD, only AHDH. Do you know what he should be entitled to if he only has ADHD? The counselors have been dragging their feet on this issue.
His outdated psych doesn't state outright that there is an LD, only AHDH.Is his psych an educational psychologist? A regular psychologist or psychiatrist may not be qualified to test for learning disabilities.
Do you know what he should be entitled to if he only has ADHD? The counselors have been dragging their feet on this issue.Without the required testing and documentation, a student won't be entitled to anything other than regular services. There is nothing stopping you from getting outside testing to screen for learning disabilities or other comorbid conditions.
The psych (our second) is more then three years old so now we only have doctor's notice of ADHD. At the same time I wonder how much help the school can give us that will matter; my son doesn't want to be singled out and when he does poorly in school it generally is because he has not made school work a priority. Studying is just too much work for him! This is another issue altogether: should we go through the rigors of private testing once again or not? Is it worth the trouble, the expense, and mostly the horrors of the experience itself and the depressing results? As it is the teachers can place him in the front of the class if I request it, they can give him after school tutoring, etc, but with mild to no LD what can you get from public school anyway? We got him extra time when taking the SSAT last year and it didn't matter--he scored very poorly anyway. The issue was just not knowing the answers.
when he does poorly in school it generally is because he has not made school work a priority. Studying is just too much work for him!Have you tried hiring a tutor to help your son learn how to organize his study schedule? I sure wish someone had taught me how to study more efficiently in high school. Often it is not how much you study, but how well you review work on a daily basis.
05-17-08, 09:34 PM
Blandy, my son has been working with a tutor most of the year, and it's been a good thing. She has kept him *barely* afloat. He'd drown on his own with his low motivation. He responds well to her, better than to me at his stage of teenagerdom. You might give it a go, or have him work with an ADHD coach as well, some one to be accountable to outside of school and family.
As for the additional private testing, if you already know the answers, you might just try to go it on your own without a 504, and pass on the expense and trouble, unless you think there may be new or different issues looming. I don't think we really would have needed my son's 504 this year anyway, except for the extra time for assignments. But, every student got that extra time anyways. Nothing we had on his 504 was really any different from what we could do without it. What he really needed, a list of his assignments, they would not provide even with a 504.
That was helpful and what I wanted to hear. This year we had tutors for individual subjects but not just for organization. He hates the tutors so much but generally agrees to them when he knows he might fail. Does bribing with money for grades help, do you think?
05-26-08, 10:56 PM
Wow, I've tried "briberies" such as earning coupons for fun things if he had his agenda filled out and completed, Playstation time, and that didn't fly, neither does money. This is an area some parents think well of and some don't. With the tough stuff they have to do, I have found for my son with lack of motivation that NOTHING motivates him! Only you would know if your son responds to that or not..... My son could have everything in his room GONE, or he could have the world offered to him, absolutely NO diff. It is something that if he is to be successful, he is the one who will have to see the need, and if/when that time comes, we have worked together so much, that he has all the tools he needs should he decide to pick them up on his own and use them. In the meantime, I watch and keep him going somewhat myself by hovering lightly behind the scenes and keeping in touch with his teachers and tutor. Every expert I have talked to has advocated this, rather than the road to "just let him fail, then he'd learn" but my son does not have the full ability to learn from his mistakes, so I know that tactic would do no good either, he'd just start to suffer from low esteem and confidence without some outside help. One expert I spoke with, as far as "bribery" was that we go to work every day and we have the reward of a paycheck, and so should our kids, hence the reward idea. Give it a go and see how he does!
05-27-08, 12:01 AM
I think I have tried every parental "motivational" means you just listed. Out of sheer fustration a year ago, I was at the point of saying "you want to fail at a 69 average... then just repeat 8th grade." I am just a bit amazed reading you did everything I tried to do.
I think some sort of motivation means do help.. especially something with a short term reward. I'm hesitant to say my teen knows long term rewards at the moment. However, IMO if your son is experiencing difficulty specifically with reading or math.... I doubt motivation would help much until he learns to compensate in these areas. Bribary may cause more fustration in that case.
I would opt for some sort of diagnostic test to show a learning disability especially if your son is failing. I may be heading this route next semester if my son cannot maintain his grades consistently with meds. I would also opt for private testing since the school system will generally take some time to determine an LD... about one grading period.
I know what helped my son the most in school is his peers. I have a hunch many of them share the same kind of difficulty in his class (gifted with flexible due dates). He does not want to take regular classes or change districts.
Oh my gosh-- you all have the same son as me. My son is in 8th grade and I'm crazy with worry about how he'll do in High School. Our high school is ranked #1 in the state (public school.) I can't motivate him at all. If I start to take privilidges away, there will soon be nothing left to take away. I've tried rewards too. Doesn't work. SOmehow they have to find some kind of internal motivation. I keep hoping when he goes through puberty some light will switch on for him- -he's a late bloomer and young for his grade.
My son has ADD and I don't know what else except that I suspect some sort of reading comprehension issue. I don't know. He doesn't write well. He is really disorganized. His IEP doesn't seem to be helping. He does his homework and just doesn't turn it in. I'm at my wits end too and next year he'll be in high school where his grades will really count. It is so hard being a parent.
06-12-08, 02:03 PM
As a student, I don't know what services are available, but as far as AD/HD being considered a disability, it depends. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines a disability in the following way (cut and pasted from their website):
An individual is considered to have a "disability" if s/he has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, has a record of such an impairment, or is regarded as having such an impairment.
It further goes on to describe what is meant by "major life activities:
The first part of the definition makes clear that the ADA applies to persons who have impairments and that these must substantially limit major life activities such as seeing, hearing, speaking, walking, breathing, performing manual tasks, learning, caring for oneself, and working.
I'd say if your son falls within those categories, then he'd be eligible for services under the ADA.
I'm sorry I can't supply more information regarding an IEP or such. But I hope that gives you a little to go on.
In reference to your initial question, I'm not in a position to advise, but I will give you some insight that might be of some use. When I was in high school, I had a C average, but then again, I wasn't sufficiently stimulated by the course materials. When I went to college, I found subjects that interested me. I graduated as a member of an honor society. Because of that, I think the performance of an AD/HD student in high school and grades below is a poor indicator of potential academic perfomance in the future. It depends on the stimulation it, or medication, provides.
Wow. How is it possible we all have the same son : )!? We too, have tried all those parenting "tactics" to no avail. When other parents say, "just do this, just do that" I think "Doh, why didn't I think of that? WE ALREADY TRIED IT ALL AND NOTHING WORKS!
I have subscribed to the "gently following behind, offering help, but he is mostly on his own" method. I do think it will take something outside of our consequences to motivate him--he has to want it for himself.
Any thoughts on withholding the Driver's license? That is a little leverage we have right now since he is turning 15 this March.
Also, have noticed that the classes with the worst grades are the ones with daily homework: math, French. The other ones, he seems to get by in OK.
01-04-09, 07:29 PM
Wow, someone else with my son! Thanks for bringing this thread back up, dkmtw...at least it was kind of interesting to see my old comments. To update, my son pretty much flunked last semester, and he'll have to retake a couple of classes. His only problem is getting out his agenda and writing his assignments down - he had 36 missing ones last semester. Like yours, he does great in classes where there is little homework, though he managed to fail his geometry final after getting all a's in the classwork. (Which leads me to wonder how well they are actually "teaching" geometry or just going through the motions so the students will pass and the school will "pass" for the county assessments.)
So, we did what DizFriz here called Academy: her thread (http://www.addforums.com/forums/showthread.php?t=57471&highlight=academy), and my thread (http://www.addforums.com/forums/showthread.php?t=61358&highlight=academy) I started. You might try something like this with your son to see if it helps. My son also expressed an interest in starting up meds again, he really dug in his heals that he has a memory issue with his ADHD until he saw his final grades for this year.
He is also seeing a counselor......he is great. Son is 16 and 2 months - we've held of to no avail. He suggested that rather than holding off on the permit, to let him go ahead and get a feel for it, get a taste for it, that it might jump start him to motivate him and let him take the tools we've offered him to heart to help himself, rather than fight and rebel against them. We really do need him back in his own team! We started son on the driving classes offered by Driving MBA, which is a great program, especially for the ADHD teens and he REALLY likes it - if you are in the Greater Phoenix area, check it out.
Frazzle - Didn't even notice the post date! Just hop on here occasionally when we are going through a difficult phase with DS and this so hit a nerve!
I will check out the threads you suggested. So are you in Phoenix? I have debated about sending DS to counselor, but he has been a few times in the past and HATES it. Usually, he doesn't talk, or he just turns on the charm and they can't find anything "wrong" with him. It's really frustrating.
We just started up meds again as well. That is a frustrating process. He tried Concerta, but he felt too "wigged out" on it. Now he's trying Vyvanse, but it really takes his appetite away and with sports, that's not a good thing. Also, doesn't seem to noticeably help. Need to call the doc and figure out where to go next with them.
The math thing is just like my DS. Finals before break he said, oh I aced my math final--test grade came back as a D and he couldn't believe it. Does he do tutoring at all? It is very difficult for my DS to ask for/get help.
Thanks for your post!
01-05-09, 09:00 PM
Yes, DKMTW, I'm in Phoenix. If you would like to PM me, I can give you the name of the "therapist" my son sees. He's in the downtown area. Son really likes him and actually enjoys his visits and looks forward to the next time. I think this is the third counselor. He's very quick and cuts to the core very quickly. He was recommended to us by the founder of the ORHO program here. My son participates in this program locally (Scottsdale area) he did one summer of workshops and is currently a peer leader. I sent him dragging him by the hair, but after one day I couldn't get him to come home and he just loves it. it has offered him a lot of personal growth and opportunities to shine, share, and develop true very intimate relationships with his peers. It has been the best thing for him, and I could not recommend it enough to parents and children in this area. Let me know if you'd like more info.
Good luck with the med change, we may be venturing on that path very very soon! Hope to hear how it goes with your son.