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Organization Problems in Middle School (sorry so long)


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Joined: Sep 22, 2008
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Posted Sep 22, 2008 at 8:43:52 PM
Subject: Organization Problems in Middle School (sorry so long)

My 11-year-old son with ADHD attends a public middle school where the rules are VERY important (more important than the students, I sometimes think!) He has four minutes to get to class, which should be enough time (the administration will point out that most students are able to make it on time, so my son should be able to make it, too.)

However, one of the rules is that students may NOT carry backpacks, thus he has to store his supplies/books in his locker. In the four minutes between classes, he must go to his locker (which is nearby), get his things, and make it to the next class. He must also use the restroom if he needs to, because, as you might imagine, one of the rules is "no going to the bathroom during class."

It takes him longer than most students (due to his organizational problems stemming from ADHD) to figure out what to take out of his locker for his next class. If he forgets something (a book, a pencil, paper), he is "written up." Five write-ups in a grading period (or two in a single day) send the poor kid to "ALP" (which is a separate classroom--similar to in-school suspension--and carries a certain stigma).

Today he almost had to go to ALP because he was late for his second period class (after his first period teacher kept him late) and he showed up without his workbook. He choose not to get his workbook so as to avoid the dreaded second write-up. (His first was for being tardy.)

Long story, some venting, I guess. Any suggestions as to how to deal with this problem? What organizational fixes have worked with other middle school students? Are there any accomodations in an IEP that have helped someone out there with this kind of problem?

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scifinut
Joined Jul 11, 2005
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Posted:Sep 22, 2008 9:06:24 PM

You can request extra time for passing in his IEP. I would document every write-up that is a direct result of his organization problem. This can help in showing that the issue isn't because he is "dinking" around but because he is really struggling.

scifinut mom to: ms 16, bp/adhd/anxiety/complex ld mr. 20, add/dyslexic I hear and I forget I see and I remember I do and I understand. -Anonymous

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Mandi
Joined May 05, 2008
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Posted:Sep 22, 2008 10:31:53 PM

First of all, i would recommend precisely what Scifinut says cuz who ever they are they seem to know what to do.

I would also say, "write it up." stick it on both sides (if necesary) of his locker! EVERYTHING he needs for each class. If there is something extra for some reason leave space to write in and cross out extras.

When one has a more difficult time with organization, organization becomes WAY more critical. I know, because i live it EVERY day. I strategize. For example i stop before i go out. I look around and i ask myself did i forget anything??? Then i go through it all in my head.... briefly, make sure i didn't. Sometimes i still screw up. But sometimes everyone does. Draw pictures of what is needed as a list if your kid has trouble with reading too... (not that you have mentioned any such trouble just dropping this part for others with similar problems.)

Creative strategies are your friends. USE the strengths to kind of hmmm... Take over in weird creative ways when the weaknesses set in. There are ways to manage these things with and without medication with the alleged and totally fictional ADHD. (Not denying something is going on and whatever it is, it DOES screw with some important stuff.) So get creative and create methods of organization. Give him the tools. Think creatively. Teach him to use the tools. Lists, organizers schedules, etc.... If then he still needs extra time, go to the school and SHOW THEM how hard he tries because you will have the tangible evidence and if they still won't give him an extra 5 minutes to get to class... Then they suck and it becomes time to kick their butts a bit harder. But in the long run these skills and these creative tools and methods are going to be the things that save your child and they are going to be the things that make your child able. Trust me i know, because i suffer from the same LD and as an adult diagnosed as a child who sometimes had the same problem, sometimes this is what it takes for us to function like everyone else does because whatever is going on in our lives often gets in the way of our thought processes a bit and we can become distracted scattered and disorganized.

Best of luck!!!

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Mandi
Joined May 05, 2008
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Posted:Sep 22, 2008 10:31:54 PM

First of all, i would recommend precisely what Scifinut says cuz who ever they are they seem to know what to do.

I would also say, "write it up." stick it on both sides (if necesary) of his locker! EVERYTHING he needs for each class. If there is something extra for some reason leave space to write in and cross out extras.

When one has a more difficult time with organization, organization becomes WAY more critical. I know, because i live it EVERY day. I strategize. For example i stop before i go out. I look around and i ask myself did i forget anything??? Then i go through it all in my head.... briefly, make sure i didn't. Sometimes i still screw up. But sometimes everyone does. Draw pictures of what is needed as a list if your kid has trouble with reading too... (not that you have mentioned any such trouble just dropping this part for others with similar problems.)

Creative strategies are your friends. USE the strengths to kind of hmmm... Take over in weird creative ways when the weaknesses set in. There are ways to manage these things with and without medication with the alleged and totally fictional ADHD. (Not denying something is going on and whatever it is, it DOES screw with some important stuff.) So get creative and create methods of organization. Give him the tools. Think creatively. Teach him to use the tools. Lists, organizers schedules, etc.... If then he still needs extra time, go to the school and SHOW THEM how hard he tries because you will have the tangible evidence and if they still won't give him an extra 5 minutes to get to class... Then they suck and it becomes time to kick their butts a bit harder. But in the long run these skills and these creative tools and methods are going to be the things that save your child and they are going to be the things that make your child able. Trust me i know, because i suffer from the same LD and as an adult diagnosed as a child who sometimes had the same problem, sometimes this is what it takes for us to function like everyone else does because whatever is going on in our lives often gets in the way of our thought processes a bit and we can become distracted scattered and disorganized.

Best of luck!!!

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funinthesun
Joined Sep 23, 2008
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Posted:Sep 23, 2008 12:43:39 AM

First remember -- you are your childs only advocate. And you can't give up ... your child is worth the fight!

I had the same problem and there is a simple solution - you have two sets of textbooks. One set goes home and stays there so YOU don't have to worry about him remembering to bring home his books for homework. The second set - stays in his classrooms -- that way - he doesn't have to go to his locker between classes.

This will not only save him time .. but the STRESS is reduced! This made a world of difference for us. You will probably have to push because they use the whole we don't have the money for extra books blah blah blah ...but they will do it...so just stay on it.

Secondly, you can request that he actually has the choice of leaving 2-3 minutes early at the end of class -- especially for the classes he has a long ways to get to. And remember you are his advocate ...you know what is best for him. It took me awhile to catch on ... and as I tell the teachers now, this attitude didn't come from dealing with the IEP team and teachers for just a year or two, it comes with dealing with the issues year after year after year. And to think, that I actually thought they had the best interest of my child in mind ... they don't. They have the best interst of the administration and the schools checkbook -- end of story period. That means, if you don't push and stay on top of things, our kids get pushed thru the system. Don't let that happen! Stay strong.

This is a sentence taken straight from this website:
. It is so easy for adults to punish and to try to put the responsibility back on the child, but a true professional will recognize that if a child is not fulfilling expectations, it is due to faulty planning on the part of the educational team, and is in no way a reflection on the child.

So chin up -- be positive -- that's what your son needs. Helping him succeed is your job, and if it is something as simple as having books stay in the classroom so they are they when he gets there -- and it works! YEAH for you!

Good luck!

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Mandi
Joined May 05, 2008
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Posted:Sep 24, 2008 12:55:44 AM

And that is EXACTLY what i mean! Creative methods and solutions! Someone has earned a cookie.

Kudos and a good parenting award to the one who put up this most recent post because they got the 411 and know what to do. Way to be creative and take a bite out of problems! Good good good! Kids *labeled* as ADHD, need more parents like you!

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DRHD
Joined Apr 29, 2008
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Posted:Sep 26, 2008 8:38:08 AM

TBass,

I read your entry and the associated responses and I must respond. ( No doubt Mandi knew I would ).

I do not believe an IEP needs to legislate or accommodate this issue or do I conclude that lack of organization and ADHD will serve as the basis of this issue. I would likely conclude that there are other children in that middle school who are struggling with the same issue. Frankly, 4 minutes between classes is short but doable. It's done to capture minutes for instruction and for lunch periods. Students simply need to become efficient and make good use of the 4 minutes.

My simple advice is to first address your concern with the school administrator and attempt to obtain some understanding of what could be done to help your child. Often they are the last to know of issues like what you describe and how it may be affecting your child. I feel your administrator will be helpful.

Your son could benefit from a class buddy who will help him if possible. Perhaps he can find one who will do this. It won't hurt to try. Also, your son will need to step up and make an all out effort to comply with the requirement and make good decisions of what to carry in his backpack and ensure he is prepared. To the extent it is simply such a problematic situation, I would then suggest to have a parent /teacher conference to lay the issue on the table and find out clearly if there is a problem at all. Perhaps your son is choosing to waste time within the 4 minutes that you may not be aware of. Just a thought for you to consider.

DRHD

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Mandi
Joined May 05, 2008
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Posted:Sep 26, 2008 3:08:33 PM

haha yes i did. Does that make me P.S.Y.C.H.I.C. instead of A.D.H.D?

Though i agree, that children need to learn to manage time effectively, it is NOT always doable in 4 minutes. Example, in highschool we had buildings spread out over about i want to say roughly half an acre to 2 thirds of an acre of land where i went. We also had several buildings. You could have a class on 1 side of this mini acreage, a locker on the other and then a class on still the even further distant side of the acreage. I used to carry all my books everywhere. Today, i have some rather serious back problems as a result those books are damn heavy.

Every teacher i had would give a 15 minute detention for every 20 seconds you were late for class. So less than a full minute late was a 40 minute detention. How many hours then is a couple of minutes?! 4 minutes in many cases at many institutions of learning is simply.... Insufficient due to lay out of the school alone. Too few offer any recognition of that fact as far as teachers go and there were 1 or 2 you could count on to always ask "where were you coming from?" and if it was the other side of campus you got 5 minutes every 20 seconds rather than 15. A small bit more fair atleast. Look, i am not saying kids who don't do the right thing should not be penalized, but i AM saying it is *school* *PRACTICE* for the real world. If kids are too busy puking in terror over the penalties all the time, how are they learning anything, could you in such a high stress *and* rushed environment?

Also i would like to point out these are CHILDREN, NOT marines. Not to be rude, teaching time management as part of our education system is a very good idea, however, i find that with every year the demands on students and the terror that goes with school and the responsibility gets more and more and more new 'aspects' extra hoops are added so regularly now for our children to jump through. Have you ever heard of Machiavelli, DRHD? I suspect as a well educated person that you have. We are training children not military in our schools and this sort of time restraint is in essence in my opinion in not all but many cases the equivalent of terrorism. Do you think they will learn better going somewhere they love to be filled with well qualified teachers who both love respect and show some tolerance for them as well as providing a massive wealth of information as interestingly put as possible? Or do you think terrorizing them is more effective? 4 or 5 minutes between class in many cases at many school is just that, terror inspiring. Is it better for leaders to be loved or feared? Schools, ARE leaders. But NOT of marines, of CHILDREN and our society in the usa would do very well to remember that more than it does.

Kids get up earlier and earlier. They have less and less and less time for themselves to deal with their own inner persons and soon they acquire baggage as a result of never having time to deal with themselves.

We had, 10 years ago my senior year, 20 minutes at lunch time total. 5 minutes to get to the cafeteria, a line out the door and around the corner which didn't feed more than hmmm lets be generous here... 1 8th of the line (about 1000 students) in the 15 minutes alotted for us to receive food *AND* eat it so our brains would function through the afternoon. 5 minutes, to often in many cases get our crap from lockers and get all the way back across campus to our classes where everyone ADHD and non ADHD students usually had about 2 hours of detention a day followed by 6 hours or more of homework a day, And ofcourse on top of that many had rigorous sports practice to fulfill some small part of themselves and in bringing glory to the school. And you should know how schools as institutions get all sports happy gaga sports. It is part of how they sell themselves as being superior to other schools in this country. Personally, i think it is stupid. Not because of the clicks or the social crap, but because forcing children who haven't eaten anything since 6 am to then run miles on fields in one sport or another is actual cruelty and it is a violation of the school's obligation to at least SAFEGAURD, THE HEALTH OF THE STUDENTS IN THEIR CARE. Then double the homework load on saturday and sunday. This system, is the equivalent of an evil fascist dictator that controls his people with fear. An 18 year old girl, (senior) in highschool, should NOT weigh 92 pounds at 5'2" tall. But i did. Because i was STARVING, literally. My doctor, actually thought i was annorexic. I spent 48 hours in a psych ward where i just scarfed as much food as i could put in my system without puking because i was soooo hungry and since they watched they saw i had no problem eating it and i wasn't vomiting it back up. They ran tests found i was anemic and that i had a deficiency of several important vitamins and actually sent me home diagnosed not as annorexic, but as malnourished! My mom worked full time never cooked either i did or we ate take out. I tried to keep good stuff in the house. I went grocery shopping twice a week had fruits and vegies after school and at dinner... And a healthy breakfast.... But i just couldn't maintain a healthy weight due to inability to eat all day. So yes, i started cutting classes every day to eat. And soon i was 110-115 pounds in a matter of 3 months which for my size and body type was completely healthy and apropriate. And every day i would go home and get beaten by my father who would get a call from the school that i had skipped a class.

DRHD, I am sure as an intelligent well educated man you can understand that this degree of time constraint may be an apropriate method to train a marines but it is NOT a way to create healthy, well educated, rounded, and 'together' children.

Maybe, schools should try leading by example they want kids to learn to be responsible, realistic, functional members of society, then perhaps they should express that by giving 10 minutes between each class to be realistic themselves. School started at 7:45 every morning. How is this realistic when scientific studies show the teenage brain requires more sleep than average and requires regular nourishment?(http://kidshealth.org/teen/your_body/take_care/how_much_sleep.html , http://homeworktips.about.com/od/timemanagement/a/sleeptime.htm)(Nourishment studies, http://www.betterhealthusa.com/public/268.cfm (This states specifically more or less that it is believed atleast by some being under nourished on certain things can create ADHD... Go Figure!)(This would make us aware that teenagers brains don't function so well in the early morning hours and as i recall the bell rang for the start of my first period 5 days a week prior to 8 am. So that would be 5 minutes to get to class a mile of walking putting something edible in my body as fast as possible (and making my self physically sick most mornings from the rush so i wouldn't eat that early after making myself ill on several occasions.) making myself look human and being in my seat not stinking like someone who hadn't showered in a week by 7:45 am or 15 minutes of detention for every 20 seconds i was late.) Most adults work 9 to 5. So why if the teenage brain works piss poor and they need more sleepo than adults do they start their jobs, hmmm, an hour and 15 minutes earlier than adults who are according to studies in need of somewhat less sleep than teenagers? How are students LD and normal supposed to function at optimum within the alotted time constraints? I would like to see you run the marathon i used to every day. On top of that many students walk to school, meaning they get up all the earlier. Many, go to bed very late especially when there is a large amount due on the following day. We put up with all sorts of threats from the staff. In many respects our highschool students have less freedom than an inmates on death row! We are forced not only to get up at specific times, to attend the yard for an hour each day or more like 2 hours-ish each week so that we can stay 'physically healthy' (the websites presented earlier stand up as staunch evidence that the system is hypocritical in its 'care' for the health and physical well being of the students who attend our school systems today.) We are told where to go every 45 minutes or hour... We are told when to eat. When we can and can not go and urinate and speak. But on top of all that, even our minds are invaded, as we are told what to think about for something like 6+ hours a day (sports practices then included and ofcourse detentions as well) Then our minds are not even our own in the privacy of our own 'cells' with an average of 6 hours a day in standard level classes in homework each night. So much for our social instruction which SHOULD be part of our education as much as time management should be. So much for our health under the stress and pressure as well as the terror and the lack of food early mornings late nights and fear of penalization for the tiniest infraction. So much for time to get to know who we are as people or what we want from life and then our society just as quickly boots us off to the university where it is sort of a massive waste of money not our own, if we don't know what we want to be and do and who we are to some degree.

So though i agree that time management is a great lesson to be taught i think that the system is need of a far more important lesson, than our students who try so very hard happen to be. This lesson is called: Reality and reasonability 101. 1 student can not be eating a substantial enough lunch, waiting in line for that lunch, AND in class at the same time, WHILE they are getting organized at their locker for the next class to begin. This is sadly, according to my husband a PHD in theoretical physics, from Helsinki University, a clinical impossibility. Maybe students will stop failing the system when the system stops failing the most basic human needs of the students? Maybe it's a long shot perhaps not. But ummm, maybe it would be logical to TRY IT and FIND OUT! For the health of our children's minds, educations, and HUMAN MORTAL BODIES.

Now i want to compare a different system to ours. It recently ranked as the best in the world. My husband attended it so i have been picking his brain about it to find out how on these particular issues, it differs from our own. So let me begin....

My husband started classes 4 days a week at 8 am. One day a week classes started for all students at 9 am to show the school cared about their health and sleeping. He never got detention in highschool not once. But he was frequently late upto on occasion 15 or even a couple of times 20 minutes with no note from anyone. Mostly it was just a couple of minute though here or there. He got a minimum of a half hour lunch PLUS HE GOT 15 MINUTES (which is the standard atleast when he attended) in Finland, to get from 1 class to another! And he went to a very small school with a total of under 50 children in his grade when he graduated, ie there was actually time for EVERYONE to get food and eat because they got 15 minutes to get to the cafeteria and 15 minutes to then go from the cafeteria AFTER their 30 minute lunch period to get to the next class. I have never in all my travels all over Finland seen a school nearly as large as mine as far as campus size goes i have seen virtually no schools with the same or similar number of students most are far larger than my husband's however they are still far smaller than the *3000* students trying to eat out of 2 cafeterias in *15* minutes 10 minutes total to get from class to the lunch line or from the lunch line to the next class. What a HUGE difference! On top of all this there are no sports in Finnish schools. They have private sports clubs one can attend after school so there is no bragging and school is entirely and completely in every way shape and form singularly focused on educating the students who as a general rule according to every student i have ever met and i have spent a total of probably over 6 months there over the last 5 years and even asked these questions of many students i did meet through for example my husband's baby brother or other brother or other friends that we have there etc... (well over 50 students.) all of whom respond that they feel respected and they enjoy school and that it is NOT the least bit terrifying for them then they laugh at us with our sick twisted dehumanizing system and call us idiots. And as they are so much more educated than we are, clearly they are doing something right while we are definately the possessers of a broken education 'machine' rather than system. On average, the best educated student in the world the students of Finland get about.... half hour sometimes upto but never excceding about an hour and 45 minutes a night. My husband, a math genius who does the mathematics after calculus, for example got on average his senior year in highschoo, 5 to 15 math problems to practice on every night. I got 5 to 15 pages in books that had 50 to 100 math problems on each page and if every single problem wasn't done.... Holy hell! The teacher would give me hell NOT understanding that something came up, and an extra night to do it all in if i could explain the situation to her or him. The finnish system made room for the mortality and humanity of their students. It left them plenty of time to take care of their physical well being with exercise, educated their minds taught them to manage time by actually giving them enough so that they could have something to manage. It provided them with practice to be proficient in the skills taught at school, made sure that the education they provided wasn't draining them of their sleeping health or eating health and then treated them with understanding compassion and reasonability. The difference is HUGE because Finland is ranked at the top for well educated students while the american 'system'/machine is ranked lowest. What is more, there is far less LD over there. Far fewer kids are labled and medicated. Here is a finnish website in finnish, first lists all the GOOD qualities related to ADHD unlike the american view that there really is NOTHING good at all about it. In over 25 years of being diagnosed with it i have not read or heard from any expert or paper or book or anything anywhere in the usa anything good or positive about it. Yet i recognize my brain functions differently which means there MUST be positives mixed in there too. Which makes me wonder why we even diagnose it based on the negatives because it should be just as easy if it is just a set of behaviors being diagnosed to find and to then use a set of POSITIVE behaviors for the same purpose so as to talk about it in a positive light and yes with some inclusion and discussion of the negatives, without it being the sole and only focuus leading to severe depression and alot of other problems for people with ADHD. If it is so easy to find all the negative behaviors it should therefore be just as easy to find those positive behaviors. After all, if behaviors can be equated with a disorder such as ADHD and we use those negative behaviors which are indicators... It just stands to reason then that there must be perfectly 'standard' positive ones we could use instead, no? But back to this finnish website which estimates that 5% of the finnish population has ADHD. The finnish population contains is roughly 5 million (significantly smaller than our own here in the usa.) as opposed to in america where the population is 300 million and roughly In the usa it is believed and estimated that more than 3 times that percentage to population is in fact the number more reflective of those with ADHD. What is more interesting most of that 20% of american population are school aged children. Which indicates in my opinion anyway that maybe ADHD is the figment predominatly in america, of a broken school system and cruel and dehumanizing educational methods as a standard method of educating. But i am not really an educator so this is just based on personal observations statistics and quite a few studies i have read and discussed some of them with those who actually performed them to be certain that my understanding of the material was spot on ball accurate. (Finnish site, in finnish i am afraid if you need me to translate or want me to i am happy to just reply that you want a translation. My finnish isn't perfect but it is sufficient. ADHD-aiauiset.org) for my quote of 20% of americans (http://www.add-adhd-alternative-treatment.com/Adult-ADD-ADHD.htm) That means that roughly 60 million ppl have ADHD in the USA in a population of as said before, 300 million are sufferers of ADHD. Of that, over 75% are under the age of 20. That means.... 45 million children (recently on the news i saw that diagnosis had risen from 20% of america's children to 24%) suffer from this disorder. That makes it atleast 20% of the children in the USA or something... on top of that there is a whole nother (which i am not going to get into) percentage for other LDs which ultimately make up something like an additional 10 to 15% of children labled in the USA meaning something like around i think 30% are labled total. That means as it has risen by 4% if we were giving the american school system a rating each percent counting towards a final grade out of a total capacity of 100% American system scores if viewed in this sick twisted unscientific but totally amusing way, a total of about, 66% But i also have not yet factored in the rate of drop outs plenty of whom do have LD and so have been counted but plenty of who also do NOT have LD but simply come from poverty stricken families and grow up in poverty stricken areas and as a result make bad long term choices for day to day survival etc... Which really means american schools get a grade likely being generous of about 60%. In my highschool a test that was marked as a 60% was an F or at best a low D. So maybe before we hold kids so responsible and accountable for everything under the sun and even finding the voice of god on top of everything else, we should hold our schools to a higher grade standard where they are not denying our children their human needs and thus as a result, failing our students and have this system that acts as a 'leader' that we are supposed to trust to educate our kids, lead by example. See if soon the kids learn from that example to not fail the system. But to demand of children to succeed in a hypocritical unreasonable system stacked against them where terror is used as a nightstick like a nightstick in the hand of a prison warden by the system and all to frequently by teachers who are just desperate for a little order in a classroom of frazzled students who are frazzled by hunger, time restrictions, lack of sleep, no understanding, and no respect from the system for their mortals bodies.... Maybe then order would take care of itself and these machiavellian threats and punishments and terrorisms could become a thing of the past? Atleast, that is what i think... Not that you asked... Kinda sucks when someone labeled as ADHD when ADHD is alledgedly an atrophied frontal lobe, is quite more logical than the education system in this country that had her labeled as defective. wtf is wrong with this system?!

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DRHD
Joined Apr 29, 2008
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Posted:Sep 26, 2008 3:47:39 PM

Mandi, you are amazing. I will provide my email address to further react to your lengthy email responses:
doc7dew@yahoo.com

Please respond if you wouldn't mind.

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DRHD
Joined Apr 29, 2008
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Posted:Sep 26, 2008 3:56:15 PM

Mandi, I will provide my email address if you wish to continue this discussion. It is doc7dew@yahoo.com

DRHD

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Mandi
Joined May 05, 2008
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Posted:Sep 27, 2008 11:42:11 AM

uhhoh is amazing good or bad? And i did pop you that email late last night just cuz i am cuurious what your thoughts are.

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funinthesun
Joined Sep 23, 2008
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Posted:Oct 08, 2008 1:36:23 AM

DRHD - are you kidding me ... you don't think it should be accomodated? Do you have a child with ADHD? And where do your kids go to school - backpacks? Who gets to carry a backpack anymore?

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nancy
Joined Apr 04, 2012
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Posted:Apr 04, 2012 11:36:17 PM

As far as the school organization issue goes----I agree that this is an accommodation that you, as a parent, need to advocate for. My students use the double book strategy (one set at home and another at school). A disadvantage of that strategy can be that students will put their papers in their books when finished and forget that this book stays home. I send one take home folder with work to be completed and turned in the next day. Then, they carry that folder with them, add to it during the day, and sort it into folders for each class the last part of the day. Work for the next day goes in the one single folder and the other papers are sorted into the appropriate class folder for future use.

The locker buddy who helps the student with materials is a great idea. We have used locker buddies to help organize the books/notebooks and folders in order of classes (first class on top, second class, next, etc.). When the class is over, the book goes in the top shelf of the locker and the next book just gets picked up.
Movement in a crowded, noisy environment is hugely distracting for children with ADHD. Keep advocating!

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