Behavior: Social Skills, Self Esteem

lack of interest or learning disability?

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Joined: Nov 19, 2008
Posts: 1
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Posted Nov 19, 2008 at 8:18:16 AM
Subject: lack of interest or learning disability?

My son, now 14, has struggled for the past year and a half in school. He attends a college prep private school and is always on the verge of failing at least one class a semester. His teachers all tell us he "is capable of so much more". He says the work is "too hard" and his teachers are "too tough". He is the youngest of 5 children, an outgoing and seemingly happy kid, who we now battle with constantly over his work ethic (or lack thereof). He does his homework (if I monitor him) but I'm not sure he is really learning the topics but just doing "busy work" to have something to turn in. He lost his privileges to play lacrosse last spring and now has been removed from his current school activity because he is failing 2 classes mid-marking period. We have withheld his video games, TV, sports, etc. all to no avail. He tries really hard for a few days and then just goes back to the old habits. At what point do I stop blaming these problems on laziness and start wondering if there is a bigger problem, perhaps a learning disability?

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Joined Jul 11, 2005
Posts: 550

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Posted:Nov 19, 2008 6:24:17 PM

I'd start wondering now if he is not responding to consequences. It could be an LD or it could be depression or anxiety, or any number of things.

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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Joined May 05, 2008
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Posted:Nov 24, 2008 12:33:52 AM

I wouldn't. Look i am dyslexic, and an epigrapher. I speak more than 6 languages and i am multi instrumental. And up until 8 months ago, I couldn't do decimals percents, or any math beyond basic multiplication, division addition subrtraction and fractions. I never did my homework in math. I hate math. Atleast i did. I hated alot of subjects in school. I spent most of my time soooo bored i would just cut class instead and go to the library. That is where i discovered ancient societies. Now i am an archaeologist i hold a degree. Working on another one, have worked a little in my field and will work more in it. I am LD. I am also a stubborn woman, with very selective interests. I have always been this way. If i am not interested you can stick me in the iron maiden to make me do it, and i still simply, won't.

I failed German. But at the time, i spoke verbal german fluently. I just didn't want to spend my time reading the basic german crap, "Guten tag!"-Good day!....
Die katse der hund... der man die frau.... who cares??? I could have lived in Germany and not only survived but thrived so long as i never had to write anything above the 4th grade level. I could have taught that class. German was my second language. Polish was my first, and english was my third. I grew up in a multi lingual household filled with people from all over the world. I failed, because i didn't see the point in wasting my time learning to read see spot run in german when i could be at home having an intellectual conversation with 8 different german professors several of them working for BU several at Harvard and several MIT. What could i really learn from some half educated half baked beginning german teacher in a rinky dink suburban highschool? It *WAS* all busy work.

I am an artist and a musician, i used to have some fair paying gigs till i moved a couple years ago. And my work has been shown in a number of countries including the USA. I got into the music department (I ultimately changed majors i got bored) But i was accepted first to and by the the conservatory department. They fought the college to have me there because my highswchool grades were so bad and because it was obvious, that i was super well trained and very practiced and acomplished as a musician. My father used to beat me up physically, once he caused me a concussion in an effort to make me do my homework. I still didn't do it. I graduated with good grades in history and pretty good ones in english, and great ones in drama and the arts. I think i went to 2 PE courses in my whole highschool carreer.... and i passed math with a C minus and just made it through science too.

Oh, did i mention, i have an IQ of over 160? Which means only that the person performing the test was too retarded to get their math right while scoring?

Seriously, try some other methods. try capitalizing on the strengths first and slowly work your way to around to the boring junk.... find ways to make it relevant to his life and his dreams and his ambitions...

Example: In highschool i had to write a 30 page research paper. For science, the point was to teach us how to do major research really nothing more. As we were supposed to research some weird genetic disease that affected 1% of the population in like 1910 and the sufferer died in like 1950. I just rolled my eyes. I didn't care it counted for 50% of my grade. What a waste of my time! I had music to make and art to do.... And Ooooh..... greeks, romans, egyptians, and celts to research... Dogs to walk, a part time job, music classes 4 of them a week after school for which my work was always done. friends to see, a sister to raise, and a house to keep clean for my over worked parents. I really didn't wanna waste my energy on that sort of nonsense.... Well, my teacher called me over at the end of class and he said "You aren't gonna do this are you?" I said "Because youa sk so honestly i will respond just as honestly, no i am not."
"How can i get you to do this?" he asked and i said "You simply can't i have a life to live other things that interest me a billion times more and no time to waste on stuff that i don't consider relevant to my life. But you are a good teacher and i am glad it will be your class that i fail instead of the class of some nasty teacher who would be a jerk instead of putting in so much effort."
He says, "What do you *do* in your busy life???"
I told him, "I sing.... and play half a dozen instruments."
He got all excited, and he went, "PERFECT! Write me a 30 page research paper on the biology of singing instead!" I kinda blinked shocked and thought about it for a while and i said ok.

I have never written a paper in my life of any length, that i have found as beneficial to my life as the one i wrote that year in that science class. That is a good teacher. He needed a 50 page research paper he had an able child to teach he knew it, so he found a way to interest that child with the assignment instead of turn them off while still teaching the skill that needed to be taught. When your son has teachers like this one. Teachers, that reach out to play on his interests and if he STILL isn't getting it done then, then start to worry about LD. Until then, try to interest your son. Schools don't do enough to interest their students. Play on his passions use them and segway through them to whatever he has to learn for school otherwise you could find you are in trouble. Physical abuse not that you have tried it, it doesn't work. Frusteration doesn't work. taking stuff away and punishments... doesn't work. Not saying when he does something very bad an offensive not to tell him so ofcourse you do! But, find other ways to get him to do it... Bribery and obligation is good...

My mother was a brilliant tactician in the war over homework and education related stuff, she would have made Mannerheim proud. She would sometimes come and pick me up somewhere and she would be soooooooooo sweet it would be disconcerting and i would ask what she wants and she would say nothing and i would think maybe she is just in a good mood. Then, the cookie or candy bar or small gifty or goody of some kind would come out to play.... And i would be nearly done with it and then she would say, oh, "by the way... could you do whatever..... You are such a good kid i told your teacher when she called you would get right to it!" and she would be sitting there so innocent sweet unassuming making a polite *request* while plying me with a gift offering of some goody or other... evil and manipulative mommy... But she could have had horns and a tail and a pitchfork and have been bright red, and still she would have gotten St. Peter to open the gates and let her in to heaven on those days.... Because then i would feel like oh crap i owe her now! And she *asked* she didn't *COMMAND* She respected my right to *choose.* Maybe some of this or nmy mum's trick can be useful to you. And also to show you that very intelligent people who go on to marry PHDs in theoretical physics, who hold degrees in the humanities that make constant use of science as a method, don't always do well in highschool because they simply are not interested.

Sometimes, it isn't so much that it is too hard, or the teachers are too tough, but that the expectations are unfair. There used to be time when you were young for kids to be kids. I went to a school of over 1000 kids. And, i had 15 minutes for lunch, 2 caffeterias... 2 lunch serving women in each cafeteria. That means, over 200 students had to line up to get food in each line and eat it in under 20 minutes. So much for a few minutes to rest relax kick back and chat with a friend and do some small amount of what kids long all day long to do. Many kids get up so early most mornings they don't eat because eating that early makes them sick. Then they are expected to not get lunch go through a gfull day of school and then to sports practice. They are held hostage all day body and mind, that is something we as a society don't even do to our criminals. Students don't even get the hour in the yard to be social or whatever, that we give to those convicted of violent crimes. All he can control, is his own actions he is too old and too big now for anyone else to control him. He has discovered, he has a choice. And that gives him power. But, if the expectations had given him room to breathe i think you would have found him compliant and willing to meet the demands. he sounds like a nice kid. If he is able and just not interested, then you all and the school have really done him a disservice without intending to in an effort to set him up for all the best in life, by the way in which and the amount of pressure and demands put on him. Schools in the usa do a miserable job of picking their battles. Schools other places for example Finland best schools in the world, dont give half the amount of homework kids here get.And if a kid doesn't have it no points are lost. He simply has to explain the situation and if he was just lazy, a couple points then might go but if life got busy... teacher shrugs and says well, i would like this assignment as soon as you have some time to do it. Children are NOT machines! And it is time that that fact is remembered. They go at their own pace and in their own direction. The only way to hold on to them and to keep them on the right path, is to walk it next to them and only make them carry what they can manage easily with them. Otherwise it becomes too consuming and none of it in anyway fulfills them, and just like an adult a kid has the need to feel fulfilled as i recall. Especially the smart ones. So if that need isn't catered to, you are gonna lose. Turn it into a battle and you are gonna lose. Parents mistake guidance and protection sometimes, with, hmmm, "control" Control, is what you are *really* fighting for when you fight over homework with a kid. Just like when you fight with your spouse about money, the reason is because it is an easy subject to fight about and the problem is actually of an entirely different nature. If the kid isn't happy doing the work and isn't happy with the teacher's demands at his school, maybe you should send him somewhere else? Somewhere that offers more on the subjects that actually *do* interest him? That is, if such a school exists. Maybe it doesn't? I don't know. I am simply tossing it out as an idea. Consequences are how you force people to do your will. Enticements are how you provide incentive for them to *want* to do it. And if they *want* to do it, it is suddenly of interest to them and it gets done. Unfortunately the education system we have in this country provides no incentive to it's students. In Scandinavia many of their highschool students infact most, get a pay checkfrom the state for going to school. It isn't for much, but it is something and it gives them something to have fun with in their off hours. It recognizes their choice in the matter... It respects their choice in the matter. No one in scandinavia after the age of 14 will ever get into trouble and have to go to kiddy jail for example, for truancy. Here it happens to several hundred kids every year. Instead, those that *choose* to study, get some extra money....
Makes the choice a bit more of a choice.... My advice is, respect your kid's choices. Show him you respect him and his desicions. Otherwise, he will progressively grow a worse and worse self image not because of what he doesn't do, but because of your reaction to his choices. I think more kids should strike like that and force the system to wake up to the fact that students aren't robots. Good for your son! I applaud his obvious intelligence and his insistance on a right to choose. However, in the long run he is shooting himself in the foot. But the more of a fight you make it, the more he will shoot himself in the foot.... It is a horrible cycle.... Just ask myy parents....

Or, hook him up to the internet, and i will be happy to explain it to him for you. The system of education in this country really bites for kids who are smart and have interests beyond being a drone. Still, there IS a value in knowing how to format things and find and to interpret information etc... But really, it isn't about learning the actual junk they teach him. You can teach with anything. It is getting the skills that matter because with those skills, you can assimilate any information you wish to. You aren't limited and no doors are closed to you. But memorizing the great gatsby word for word and lord of the flies really does one little good. As one's future employer doesn't give a crap who's voice was full of money. So it IS busy work. However, the skill of being able to read something and take it in and chew it over and answer a question/s about it is a pretty important skill to have....

Good luck!
And don't make it a war! An eye for an eye only leaves the world blind so him depriving his teachers of their precious homework is NOT grounds for taking away something prescious to him. It will only cause him to resent it all the more. Instead better is to give him reason to NOT resent it. You might also want to read about reverse psychology. My mum also used that often enough on me.... and sometimes it did make a difference...

LD medication will not make your kid more interessted ins chool. Less boring teachers will.

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