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Old 11-14-13, 09:44 AM
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School behaviour in morning vs. afternoon

For those who haven't read any of my posts, I have a just-turned-8-year-old boy in Grade 3. He is in the process of possibly being diagnosed with ADHD (and ruling out CAPD and other issues). If he does have ADHD it's very mild and mostly just affects school. The attention component also seems to be the main issue. He is not yet medicated since he hasn't been diagnosed and has no other issues; we have been giving him multivitamins, Omega 3, light therapy to help him sleep at night, more exercise, etc.

I've asked the teachers to keep track of his behaviour so that I can see any changes or patterns. To make it easy, the teacher draws a rectangle divided into 4 sections for 4 parts of the day (2 morning, 2 afternoon). In each section she either draws a happy face, a neutral/so-so face, or a sad face, based on his attention and whether or not he bothers other classmates.

So far (in the last week-and-a-half or so), what I've noticed is that my son is doing fairly well; one day he got all happy faces. He's never gotten all sad faces. But the most common pattern seems to be happy faces in the morning, and neutral or sad faces (or one of each) in the afternoon.

(This pattern kind of surprised me though, especially given that the mornings are always devoted to language/literacy (totally in French, as he goes to a French language school). The afternoons are math, phys.ed, religion, science, art, music (which he enjoys; he's even joined the choir which was his own decision)). And he's a very good reader in both English and French (sometimes has issues with comprehension especially when he's tired and not paying attention to what he's reading); his math skills are also very good. He struggles with his handwriting and with writing. He struggles somewhat not with math skills themselves, but with organization of problem-solving in math, and communicating his thinking/answers in writing).

I'm wondering if this is a typical pattern for children with ADHD (to be better in the first half of the school day)? Being tired really, really affects my son's behaviour which seems to go from totally normal or better than normal when he's not tired, to sometimes horrible and out-of-control (temper tantrums/meltdowns, lack of attention, acting out-of-control silly, etc.) when he's very tired.

Also, has anyone ever heard of giving ADHD meds only in the afternoon (meds that wouldn't last very long, only until evening, about 6 hours or so)? If it turns out that my son is diagnosed, as I said his ADHD is mild and he appears to be doing very well in the mornings, so it wouldn't seem to make sense to medicate him then. Our mornings at home, especially now that he's sleeping better, go very smoothly; this morning he even had to finish some homework that he didn't get a chance to do last night since we were busy, and he was even cooperative and okay with that).

Or, if he doesn't get diagnosed and/or we don't medicate him if his symptoms are not severe enough to warrant this, is there anything else we could do to help him get through the rest of the school day? We do light therapy in the morning. He gets vitamins in the morning and also at suppertime. He gets Omega 3 in the morning and also at suppertime. (I think these both stay in his system though, so the timing doesn't really matter too much). I try to get him to exercise a bit in the morning, at least for 10 minutes or so; but from what I've read, the benefits of exercise on attention/hyperactivity last maybe an hour or two, and then he'd need more vigorous exercise. He does have 2 small recesses (mid-morning and mid-afternoon), as well as a long lunch recess. I'm sure he moves around somewhat during recess, but it's not guaranteed that he's getting a ton of activity; he could be mostly slowly walking around with a bit of running here and there. He has phys. ed at school three times a week I think -- twice in the middle of the afternoon, and once at the very end of the day.
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Old 11-14-13, 11:00 AM
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Re: School behaviour in morning vs. afternoon

I definitely see a pattern of behaviour decline in the afternoon for my son. As he gets tired, it is harder for him to concentrate and to control his impulses. If your son has more difficult subjects in the morning, his brain is probably tired by afternoon and it is harder for him even though he does well in and enjoys the afternoon subjects.

Many take a booster med in the afternoon to help cover the full day so that would be an option. Also make sure he is getting a good protein breakfast and lunch. Protein really helps concentration and control.
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Old 11-14-13, 11:26 AM
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Re: School behaviour in morning vs. afternoon

Out of interest, did you get more smiles on the Phys'ed days?

Any chance you can pinpoint / start to log foods / a diary for him you can cross reference with the teachers info? fairly sure it's not foods... More than likely energy fluctuations...

Behaviorally, what would be his "process" when he gets "off center" Would you say that he lags emotionally..... I'm struggling to put this kindly....... as the literature dicusses..... If that were the case... he would need more "rest time" and more ways to "be involved"...etc....


When I was that age..... too long on one thing or quick transitions (fast-slow) (slow-fast) sent me in a spin behaviorally. Too long I got irritable and the transitions mean't I was never running at the same speed as anyone else.


Not saying that's correct.... Just something to ponder....
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Old 11-14-13, 11:54 AM
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Re: School behaviour in morning vs. afternoon

Thanks JenE. I pack healthy lunches with protien but he enjoys fruit and veggies and carbs (whole-wheat bread etc.) so will eat those first and, if anything, leave the meat, cheese, etc. I should talk to his teacher about encouraging him to eat these. He eats oatmeal in the morning made with milk, but I should give him some egg or something (he loves oatmeal; he's not as keen about eggs all the time, but I know eggs are a very good source of protein and a large variety of amino acids).


Thanks Someothertime. I haven't looked into whether the phys. ed days match up with smiles yet. His school schedule is Day 1, Day 2, etc. and I haven't looked at what day is what yet. You're right, it would be interesting to know.


We have the same thoughts! My goal when asking the teacher to clearly mark his behaviour each day was so that I could cross-reference. We're trying different things at home (light therapy, Omega 3, vitamins, exercise, etc.) and I wanted to see how things at home (amount of exercise and sleep, etc.) affect his school behaviour. So far his diet/exercise/sleep has been pretty consistent at home every day, though, whereas his behaviour at school varies widely sometimes.

Someothertime -- I'm not exactly sure what you're asking? Don't worry, you can be more blunt if you need to! Are you asking about how he acts to get the sad faces at school? Apparently he gets out of his seat (ex: to sharpen a pencil that is not really necessary), bothers other kids by talking to them, gets off task, makes noises, etc. It's hard for me to picture what he's like at school because it's such a different environment. At home he's okay and normally good but if he's very tired he'll get angry about having to do homework and will constantly complain (or scream, etc.), will stand up (on the floor or on the chair) or lean over and move around in his chair, make silly faces/noises, write impulsively without thinking about what he's doing (and will make many mistakes), etc. This is quite rare though and if it turns out that we're busy one afternoon/evening after school, he generally does his homework in the morning instead to avoid this.

Usually though he's good about doing homework etc. at home but sometimes he'll be doing his work fine and then suddenly will lose concentraton and will be silly/distracted/etc. for a few minutes, and then he's fine again.

He is behind/immature emotionally, and also in most other ways (ex: motor skills, speech (slight lisp etc.)). He is also the youngest of my 2 children, his sister being 12 1/2 years old, so almost 5 years older; I think that's part of the reason. I know I treat him like he's younger than I treated my daughter when she was his age (and seemed so much older compared side-by-side to him at the time, because at the time he was only 3.5 years old).

I've heard that children with ADHD can be treated as if they're about 3 years behind their peers (I think this is unmedicated?) He is one of the youngest in his class at school, so this doesn't help matters. So if he does have ADHD I guess it's good that I treat him as if he's younger and have different expecations, but he seems to do well when given more responsibility, feels important, etc. so in some ways I think I should be treating him as if he were older than how I'm treating him now.

I'm not sure if I'm making sense; again, if you want to be more blunt and to the point that's fine!
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Old 11-14-13, 10:21 PM
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Re: School behaviour in morning vs. afternoon

Quote:
mornings are always devoted to language/literacy (totally in French, as he goes to a French language school). The afternoons are math, phys.ed, religion, science, art, music
Sounds like mornings are more structured, more predictable, and have fewer transitions between physical locations. I wonder if you could arrange to "help" in the classroom for a couple afternoons and observe what is going on. You might pick up on something the teacher is too busy to identify.
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Parenting Children with ADHD by Vincent J. Monastra
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Parenting Your Asperger Child by Alan Sohn
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Old 11-15-13, 06:00 AM
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Re: School behaviour in morning vs. afternoon

I would be willing ti bet that most adhd kids do well in the morning vs.the afternoon. Especially if they take meds.
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Old 11-15-13, 10:54 AM
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Re: School behaviour in morning vs. afternoon

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Originally Posted by sarahsweets View Post
I would be willing ti bet that most adhd kids do well in the morning vs.the afternoon. Especially if they take meds.

I know mine does. Fatigue is a huge factor in focus and impulse control and not just for ADHD kids. Also, meds start to wane in the afternoon and the frustration level starts to build.
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Old 11-15-13, 11:09 AM
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Re: School behaviour in morning vs. afternoon

Hi, probably missed some info but what are your main concerns with him? From what you say it could be ADHD. Is this a high achieving, demanding curriculum, i.e would the average 8 year old struggle?
It is usual for all children, especial those with ADHD struggle when tired. Before meds, my son shows signs of losing focus after 20 minutes of the same activity.

My son is on concerta and itīs supposed to give him about 8-10 hours but I think it gives him nearer six. If you decide to medicate then he can take the medication mid morning, although for an 8 year old this may prove difficult unless a teacher gives it to him. My son always forgets to take it, if he doesnīt take it first thing in the morning.

Being the youngest makes a big difference, especially at this age but being the youngest and ADHD is harder.

I know I baby my son, now 15 but donīt feel that it makes any difference. His 18 year old sister also has ADHD and I donīt baby her, yet my son is more independent than her, and has been from a younger age.

So I guess what Iīm trying to say is that yes he could have ADHD but there also could be other explanations. My son also has dyslexia (but not my daughter) and sometimes this is harder than the ADHD.
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Old 11-15-13, 12:36 PM
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Re: School behaviour in morning vs. afternoon

Thanks for all the replies.

I guess that's right, that most children (not just children with ADHD) likely have more trouble with attention etc. in the afternoons.

It could be that a more structured morning works better for him. I'd like to go and help/observe; I have a meeting with his teacher next week and I'm going to mention that. I know that with a big class of about 20 students, I'm sure she misses a lot with him that I might notice.

It's not an overly demanding curriculum, just the regular curriculum except that it's all in French (not a word of English anytime). The average 8-year-old would do okay. My son does fine academically, but I do wonder about possible mild learning difficulties (ex: with language -- ex: understanding complex instructions, writing/communicating information he knows).

At school he has been doing okay, but the teacher's concerns are more behaviour (not knowing what he's supposed to be doing, getting off-task, not paying attention, bothering others, messy desk, etc.). Also, he's intelligent and this isn't coming out in his work (I mean that if you looked at his work, you would see some illegible handwriting sometimes, disorganization, mistakes (generally made because he isn't being careful or checking his work), etc. -- it wouldn't seem like the work of an intelligent child). It is a bit complicated because all of his work is in French and that's his second language so of course he's not as good with it (expression, grammar, vocabulary, etc.) but all the children are in the same boat, so the teacher is comparing him to the others.

At school, from what I hear, he's sometimes "lost" -- he doesn't know what he's supposed to be doing, or sometimes knows but isn't doing it (ex: is distracted with something else, or daydreaming).

I'm not sure how medications work at my son's school, but I now a child at another school who goes down to the office at lunchtime to take a pill -- from the principal, I'm guessing. I think she also had a pill in the morning. (I was just wondering if some children ever only took one for the afternoon).

If I had to guess, I'd say he either has mild ADHD (mostly trouble with attention and things like organization, forgetting, losing things, etc., not as much hyperactivity) or is at the far end of normal (not quite enough to be diagnosed, but close). I think he might also have very mild learning difficulties; I know that although I'm intelligent as he is and have always done very well in school, I do struggle with some things -- for example, writing an essay (the end result is always very good, but the process is very difficult), understanding instructions (ex: for a board game), etc. He also seems to have some mild motor problems (ex: fine motor skills, handwriting, coordination), mild speech problems (mild lisp and other small, almost unnoticeable problems), mild sensory issues (won't wear certain things sometimes, won't sit on benches that are "too soft", etc.), etc. I think he might just have a few different issues that are mild, so that all combined he has some trouble especially in group settings where he doesn't have as much help/guidance. That's just what it seems like to me, because none of his many little issues really stands out. We're going through some testing and appointments to see if we can figure it out.

I guess probably with ANY (or even NONE) of the possible issues (ADHD, learning difficulties, etc.), he'd likely be worse in the afternoon!
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Old 11-15-13, 02:15 PM
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Re: School behaviour in morning vs. afternoon

I think he needs to be evaluated properly as many of the things you describe such as getting lost, and not being able to follow instructions etc, writing, disorganisation, in fact all of it, could mean ADHD or something else or ADHD plus something else and the sooner you start the evaluation the better it will be for him. good luck. My son didnīt have behaviour problems at school so at lot of his problem went unnoticed, but when you put all those little problems together it really does affect them in a negative way.
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Old 11-15-13, 06:03 PM
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Re: School behaviour in morning vs. afternoon

I'm not sure how the system works in Canada -- in the US I would suggest that you request in writing that an IEP team be formed and for him to be evaluated for learning disabilities, and in particular for someone to analyze the problems seen in the afternoon. I've seen Canadians use the term IEP, but I don't know whether a parent has the right to kick off the process on their own or not, as we do in the US.

You could also pay privately for a neuro-psychologist or educational psychologist to do an evaluation, but of course that can be very expensive.
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Lost at School and The Explosive Child by Ross W. Greene
http://www.livesinthebalance.org/walking-tour-parents -- video
Essential Ideas for Parents by Russell Barkley (video on youtube)

Parenting Children with ADHD by Vincent J. Monastra
Smart but Scattered by Peg Dawson
Parenting Your Asperger Child by Alan Sohn
Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy by Peter Wright
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Old 11-15-13, 09:07 PM
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Re: School behaviour in morning vs. afternoon

Thanks again. He is being evaluated for different things. The process just started though so it's long.

He just had a hearing test and CAP (Central Auditory Processing) test this afternoon. His hearing is good, but the audiologist said he tested as "disordered" in the CAP test. But, she also said his results were different from what she's ever seen before. I really don't get the CAP results, because he never has trouble hearing at home. Even in the car with road noise, me facing the front and him behind me in the backseat, and the radio on fairly loud, he has never had trouble hearing anything I say. During the test though, he had trouble hearing when there was background noise. I'm going to do some more research on Central Auditory Processing Disorder though, because I know there's more to it than just not being able to hear with background noise distractions. The audiologist is going to compare his results to norms and send me a report. It still bothers me that his results were different from what she normally sees (and she said she sees a ton of 7-year-old boys). I'm going to post about the CAP test in another thread...
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