When Life is Out of Focus

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Focus, focus, focus, please focus. I find myself saying this over and over a million times a day. I know many people do not believe in ADD but I can tell you this, whatever name you want to call it, there exists a condition in which someone finds it extremely difficult to concentrate attention on just one thing. The result is devastating.

This year is particularly hard for my son. I feel like he is back in 5th grade when he couldn’t complete a thing in class. We would help him with hours and hours of homework and there was never time for anything else. This year is a repeat. The work load in 8th grade is so much greater than any other year. He completes quite a bit in class now but the amount of time it takes him to study and complete homework is affecting us all. We reach a level of frustration that is hard to overcome. I try my best not to get frustrated with him but time after time I fail. My daughter is starting to resent him because he takes up so much of our time. “Let him fail.” That’s what she says and every time I hear it I am more determined to make sure that never happens. I grit my teeth and do whatever it takes. He did much better on the medication but he didn’t like the way it made him feel. His loss of personality was the most difficult side effect for everyone. So, last January, we made the choice to take him off of it.

Sometimes I Just want to cry. I want to cry for him and how difficult it is for him to keep up. I want to cry for the free time he never has because there is always something else to do.  I want to cry for my frustration and inability to show him patience when the clock turns none-thirty at night and there is still work to do. I want to cry because I need a break too and it is no kind of life for any of us when it’s always work, work, work, aggravation and no play. The clock does not exist for someone with ADD, they can only move at one pace.

 He is so smart. I think that’s the hardest part to understand. I tested him over and over on his Spanish words last night. He just couldn’t remember them. He finally starts to get something and then his brain overheats and everything melts away. He needs breaks. Hours of work at a time is not good for someone who has difficulty concentrating. The misconception about ADD is that there is a lack of attention span. That couldn’t be more untrue. Their  focus is just divided up among several different things at once. It’s hard to channel it on one particular thing. He is listening to me, climbing under the cushions on the couch and petting the dog at the same time. I can feel my blood start to boil as I say, go and take a 15 minute break. Like it or not, those breaks are necessary but that also means me will finish 15 minutes later than we should.

I don’t have any answers. I do my best to educate everyone about how difficult this is for families as a whole. Add that to the belief that this condition is made up and the result is not receiving any support. I dread evenings now because I know what they bring. He dreads them too. My daughter resents them and I’m sure my husband wishes my mood wasn’t so affected when home should be a happy place. He is just a kid who wants to go outside after school and ride his dirt bike. I want that for him too. 

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32 thoughts on “When Life is Out of Focus

  1. I don’t want to give it a name if I have it. I am too old to be claiming a disease from my youth. I just want to, at least, think it’s temporary and easy to clear away like a fog with the right conditions….

    While your daughter (who sounds like Raven from Teen Titans) may sound harsh with her recommendations to “let him fail,” I am wondering if there ISN’T some “coddle” factor in the son’s life that is sucking up a large portion of your energy and time that some other member(s) of the house feel is missing from their life/lives.

    Rather than chalk it up as an illness (please don’t), I’d say this is a job for some brain training, conditional thinking. I can’t teach that Jedi path myself. But, I suspect it would have helped me…instead of people either…what’s that word for coddling/over-protective parenting?…or saying I am “faking”/making excuses. I just wish I had better conditions for doing homework and someone to work with me. Lacking friends and parents who know how to make friends (and keep them) didn’t help.

    One tip from personal experience? Don’t talk about how smart he is. That’s bound to shatter him to the core like it did me should he fail anywhere. He may be really smart in your eyes, but that might be small potatoes compared to the rest of the class. He should be celebrated for his achievements but NOT expected to do better/more simply because he’s “so smart.” That’s part of the self-pressuring problem.

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    • I guess as far as being smart, he can express himself verbally better than through writing. The science teacher realized he knew more than he was showing and tested him verbally. He did much better.
      For the record, I do not coddle him. Most of the time he really has no idea what he is doing, especially math. I am shamefully hard on him. It is your kind of attitude and lack of understanding that leaves me in the predicament I’m in. If the teachers did what they were supposed to do, our time spent on work would be cut in half. For example, is I had the notes and examples from class like I am supposed to get, we wouldn’t have to search you tube to relearn a lesson that wasn’t clearly taught in the first place. Because it takes him longer to learn, allowing him to take home the study sheet only the night before a test is harmful. He needs more time to study and again this stuff should be provided to me in advance. What you don’t get is school is different now. The teacher hands him a packet and says okay, get to work. They read the chapter on their own. Many kids don’t understand what they read, especially with the big words they use in these textbooks. Not only is there no teaching going on in the classroom. There are no notes written on the board. This is all left up to the kids to do on their own. It wasn’t like that when we were in school. Some people get it, some people don’t. But the bottom line, is that bylaw I am entitled to the accommodations on his 504 and when teachers do not follow it, it ruins our life at home and his chances of being successful in the classroom. Call it coddling call it teaching, call it ever you want. Until you walk in someone shoes, it’s hard to know their journey πŸ˜‰

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      • I am just guessing! I don’t know what else to call it or how to think of this. Maybe my own affliction is affecting my ability to write what needs to be said. I realize every time I point a finger at what someone might be doing, I am risking getting a finger broken.

        We cannot blame the teachers for all of what’s going on. Can we? No. A big chunk of the problem is inside your son….and me. It’s not ALL his fault. And, yes, teachers could teach differently. But, you can’t threaten/hassle them for not getting your son to do better in school all the time, either. You’ve mentioned some practices that are not helpful to most students. But, not all teachers are like that. Don’t make the good ones pay with the bad.

        But, yea, from what yer telling us, these teachers sound lousy. Or, maybe, to avoid disputes over teaching styles or some other cost factor, teachers are “cutting back” by putting the students to work and merely providing sourcing for information. I’d have to sit down with the “administration” to possibly better understand their side of this.

        I still have never heard of this 504 business and presume it came after the 1990s.

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      • A 504 is a plan to help the student succeed who needs some extra help in the classroom but does not fall under the category of having learning disabilities according to testing. Many people must come together to approve this. You don’t just get one because you want one. Again, by law these teachers are required to comply with the plan on the 504. It is not optional. And it is up to the school administrators to make sure teachers are doing their job. I have asked about different teaching strategies. I have some fantastic teachers and they understand that many kids learn different ways and they practice this in the classroom. And I appreciate the ones that do.Teachers cannot be dictated to teach a particular way, that is a bummer. However, the 504 does to dictate them to teaching away the student will understand. It’s not something I want, it’s the law. Also I mention I hold my son very responsible for what goes on in the classroom and what goes on at home. I also hold the teachers equally responsible because I am the one that picks up the slack when one or the other is not doing their share of the work.Its difficult to hear a teacher talk about how responsible a child is when they are not meeting their own responsibilities themselves. It’s no secret I loathe double standards. Unfortunately the parents have no other choice than to pick up the slack. And it’s easy to tell it’s not your child when you know several parents that are having the same types of problems at home. Yes they are good teachers, but bad teachers do not know how to teach and it’s not fair for the schools to keep these teachers when the majority of parents agree. And in my state, there are people teaching who have it been trained to teach. n

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      • So, you need a posse of people with pitchforks and torches to get a 504 in motion? There should be a prime time drama series called 504. Let’s get on it. 504 Blues. And, be careful out there, people.

        Yes, it may be a law of sorts, but how does a teacher with a class of 17-50 students–who are all potentially different in learning ability–give ONE student (or each student) the best method by which they can learn? I’d say it would be easier to hire one teacher for each student than get one teacher to properly suit 40 unique individuals.

        Perhaps, “holding responsible” is another form of pressure weighing upon his mind? I am not sure what side of the fence to stand on. And, rightfully, I should just shut my fingers’ lips and say nothing. But, I go with my gut/impulse here. I could go into more of why I am so opinionated, but I fear it will irk other visitors… It would be easier/better to discuss in person.

        Maybe, if there are other parents with kids like your son, they could get together and work on this like a book club?…if you can’t reason with the administration.

        Even teachers are under a principal and other governing bodies’ thumbs. Teachers are, in a way, just the middle men/women. If a teacher is denied lunch, should they be expected to function properly during a day? If wages are cut and they are told to make other cuts to their time/efforts, isn’t that a factor to consider, too?

        I just get the feeling this is one step from a riot town with teachers on one side of the barricade and angry parents on the other. I don’t want to hear about looting and violence in your town on the local news. πŸ™‚

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      • I don’t expect you to understand. Do you have any kids? No need to argue who is right or who is wrong or whether my expectations are valid or not. That is simply your opinion and we will agree to disagree. You can stand at the Capitol holding your I SUPPORT TEACHERS sign while education is slowly slipping downhill and Americas kids are getting over stressed and dumber. So be it. ❀️

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      • Nope. No kids. So, I will just go out the No Kid door on the right? Okay… Next audition please.

        I am not supporting the teachers if they are in the wrong. I am stating a detailed opinion without full understanding/knowledge of all variables. It’s slightly better–in my opinion–than just empty praise or support for whatever you happen to do.

        I think education has been slipping since before my teachers vented about not getting better use out of their college degrees. The whole system is one step from Gotham Asylum, if you ask me.

        Sheesh! πŸ™‚

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      • I have been fighting this for years and it’s exhausting. I have advocated with administrators and they can’t even turn it around. I can speak from my situation only. We have done our share and it’s time teachers meet us half way.

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      • If it’s exhausting, then there has to be a better way. If I can take anything from Duck Tales, it’s “Work smarter; not harder.” If it seems like you’re going up against a wall, look for a way around the wall or get help. Don’t do your own head in fighting the good fight. Your legions may yet abandon you.

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      • Well, I just hate to see you/anyone suffer, I guess. I am not much help to myself so far. But, again, that may come to conditional thinking…which you often promote in your posts. But, you also cover many different approaches/bases. Can one person hope to utilize and master them all? Should we align ourselves with one “guru” and why? Is our teacher of “better thinking” better than the teachers you complain about? So many questions to ponder…

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  2. I didn’t know about 504 but by reading previous comments it makes sense. It would be upsetting and exhausting to be in your situation.
    Emily is on an IEP and sometimes I wonder what she does at school… I really don’t get much from them and she rarely has homework… So she works with a tutor privately on reading and math. She’s not at her grade level (far from it) but she’s progressing. We are spending a fortune on this but I keep thinking that if she can reach a functioning level in both English and Math I will be one happy mom. Meanwhile, at school… Who knows?!?! I (we) should be all over them but she’s happy, she’s listening in class, she’s learning and functioning so I’m not making waves but I also know that her diploma at the end of it all won’t open doors for her πŸ˜”. It will be more like a “good work you stayed till the end of grade 12” diploma.
    It sounds like you are doing more than your share to help your son, is there any way to reinforce a 504? Accommodations are there to be respected and once you’ve jumped through all the flaming hoops to get a 504 you would think there would be a way to make sure it’s put in place. Yes, it might be more work for the teacher but it is after all your son’s education.
    Here’s to hoping it gets better for all of you.

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    • Thank you for that. You already know a parent will do anything they need to when it comes to their kids and it hurts deeply to see them struggle. I could file a complaint but it would be against the entire school district and O think that’s really harsh. All I want is a heads up on tests(not the night before) and notes if they don’t have a website where I can access them myself. How can they not see those few things would benefit everyone?

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      • A complaint is always tricky. There is a really fine line between getting what you need and making life harder for your kid… I’ve walked that line before. I find it easier to work with the school as opposed to fight them but again, there is no guarantee. Since Em started high school, I got myself elected on the PSSC (parent school support committee). Parents aren’t fighting to be on these committees around here so I got in mostly because I applied and they had more open seats than parents interested to join. Little do parents know that I now meet regularly with the school principal and she knows who my daughter is and what kind of accommodations i absolutely need for Em. I am now confident that Em is safe and that the administration understands her challenges.

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      • Yes. That is great. I got close with the principal for the same reason. It makes a difference. You have to be the advocate partner, cheerleader πŸ™‚ The principal picked all of Chases teachers because she understood what he needed as well. However, they turn over teachers like crazy so every single year we have 2 brand new teachers we know nothing about. Three years in a row and now that principal is gone so I’m starting all over with the new one. Starting from scratch, trying to make someone understand is so hard and it drains the last bit of life O have left in me.

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      • We ran into similar situation with Em’s EA (Educational Assistant) in the lower grade, she was assigned an EA to be with her all day. One year the person changed 4 time during the fall semester… And the last one felt like Em wasn’t cooperating and friendly with her ?!?!?! Seriously! It made me wondered who was the adult! It’s hard to start from scratch but it will be worth it. Just remember to find time somewhere in there for you, your daughter and hubby!

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