Teaching Students with LD and ADHD

What happens after a diagnosis-how can it make things better

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Joined: Nov 01, 2009
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Posted Nov 02, 2009 at 12:31:42 AM
Subject: What happens after a diagnosis-how can it make things better

My son has had attention problems in school since pre-k. Throughout his school years he did not seem to learn anything at school, I had to simultaneously homeschool him after school every day, redo all his assignments that he didn't complete in school, study with him for exams.

It has been very hard for me because it was difficult to keep him focused, and frankly, some things he just never seemed to know how to do. I think I have been in denial all these years telling myself that he was OK and all this would pass and he would outgrow it, but it didn't.

My son has started middle school this year and surely enough, they noticed right away that something is wrong. He doesn't copy his homework right, he doesn't follow up on his assignments-he finds it difficult to complete more complicated tasks, especially writing projects. He is in school but he doesn't seem to retain anything that is taught there.

At this point I am a wreck. It took so much effort and often yelling to push him all these years through school and sometimes I was mean and then I was upset at myself but I didn't want him to repeat any grade so I tried so hard to make things right. I don't think I can continue teaching him at home, it's middle school now and I am not a teacher and all this time I feel like I was forcing him to study, forcing him to do things right, he himself has no desire to study and he has never become better organized. When there is work to be done, what happens is as if he is losing all energy, says he has a headache, tummyache-whatever-anything - he just doesn't want to study or do schoolwork.

I have been trying to do the impossible, doing my job, than being his teacher and then being his mother and trying to work out other things with him ( he is also slow in every day activities at home and I have to constantly try to correct this). My job has suffered a lot because of all this, because my son has become my focus and I stopped to focus on my work. I lost my job last year, it was my fault. I was lucky to find another one soon.

Anyway, this middle school has just had my son evaluated and we are waiting for results and I know they will find something is wrong. I checked some symptoms of dyslexia online and most of them apply and maybe there is something else as well.
I have a few questions:

(1) I just wonder once the diagnosis comes, what is it going to change and will it improve our life?
I know it will make things worse for my son as far as his friends are concerned - I mean , if he gets moved to a special education class now it's not going to get good reviews from his friends - you know how children are and sometimes I heard them talk bad about kids from special education classes. And he wants to hang out with cool guys. So it's not going to be good. Now I think it is my fault, that I should have had him evaluated earlier but when this was proposed to me I got so defensive and I thought-my son-never- he's all right and I will make everything work out. My mistake

(2) Another question is, is diagnosis going to help me in any way? Will I be finally relieved from teaching him at home? I just cannot imagine how he can learn in class, special or not - he just cannot focus in school - at home I have to refocus him every few minutes otherwise he won't finish anything-I can't imagine a teacher being able to do this. His teacher told me that special education or not - he will still have to pass tests - so that means that I would have to continue teaching him, am I correct?

My greatest fear is that if I stop teaching him he will drop out of school..But I am just so exhausted and feel like I cannot continue to teach him and do his homework with him, it's been so many years and I didn't improve anything....

I cannot afford any private tutor.

Sorry for the long post and I hope someone can answer my questions. Thank you

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Joined May 05, 2008
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Honestly, a diagnosis doesn't do anything on it's own and it all really depends what the diagnosis is and why it is diagnosed and who is diagnosed and what their personal feelings are on the matter weather or not it does any good at all.

Getting diagnosed is really a process of putting a name to whatever it is that is going on. That is really all it is. In many cases though they also offer medication. Most of the time it has good short term effects and debilitating long term effects and other therapies work better for many things in the long run. Though it depends what the diagnosis actually turns out to be.

Once the diagnosis is done and it has a name, you have done 2 things. One of them is perhaps positive. Your child can get educated in a way that will work better for how his brain worrks. That part is good. YHou have also reduced your child to....defective subhuman in the eyes of society. You have made it harder for him to get a job in the future and likely impossible for him to join the military and ruined his self esteem most probably.

I wouldn't worry about weather or not he drops out. After all, the education american schools provide anyway when compared to the rest of the western world it is not worth the time kids invest in it anyway.

They always talk vbad about kids in special ed. You are destroying his social standing and his standing in his own eyes. Also they will probably try to convince you to pump the equivalent of cocaine into his system twice a day. I personally don't give a crap what the problem is called. All i care about is how to fix it... The problem i find with the practice is that, it does so much destruction in the process that it actually in me experience makes problems alot worse.

Though i think education is sacrosanct i also think that the right to be taken seriously in life and to be treated by everyone as a human being fully functioning is also sacrosanct. I think to allow anyone to take that away from him would be wrong.

I don't know what you are going to do. I wish you all the best and i hope that someone else has some sugggestions.... How does he learn best? Does he need to see it hear it or touch it? That is a good place to start. Another good way to teach is through hands on activities such as museums. Especially for kids with trouble staying focused on the boring dry school work. School is supposed to be about learning and experiences that help children grow while providing them with the necesary buyilding blocks to be functional in society. What i don't get is why american schools have turned into prisons fuill of paper pushers rather than students.

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Joined Jan 25, 2008
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The school can complete an evaluation to see if your child qualifies for special eduation services, but they cannot make a medical diagnosis of your child.

A diagnosis is a tool. It can provide you with information to research and find your son the help or assistance he may need. A diagnosis will allow you the ability to research what options are available and empower you to make informed decisions. It is not the diagnosis -- in of itself -- that provides the remedy, but a diagnosis can give insight to determine what would or would not be an effective approach in order to begin helping your son.

Right now, you are understandably stressed and worried. See what the results reveal and take it from there.

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Joined Nov 01, 2009
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Mandi, thank you for your reply. Fortunately, I am not in a situation where I would have to consider medicating my child, whether it is confirmed that he has a LD or not. I am totally against excessive medicating of children in this country and in my opinion, the only reason to even think about it would be if a child posed a danger to himself or others.
Coming back to my questions, I guess they are not easy to answer. Probably for us, parents of children not performing well in school, there is really no way out. Perhaps I should get counselling for myself because at this point I feel I really cannot go on.
Each child is different, and there are probably different reasons why some children are diagnosed with LD or other problems and are placed in special education. Maybe some are not taken care of well, maybe some parents cannot help them at home at all or they don't care. Maybe these children, under different circumstances and with different parents, maybe they could have stayed in a regular class and not be labelled as different. But in our case, I tried really hard and believe me, it is just me who cares about this problem anyway. Sometimes I feel like my child resents me for pushing him to do the work he doesn't want to do. It's just my own battle and no one really supports me in it. Some teachers do not even care to talk to me, perhaps they felt it's a lost case, perhaps they got fed up with teaching my kid as well, I don't know. What is the point of it? My child will only remember me as the mother who was bothering him with schoolwork every day. I have not been able to make him a better student - I have not even been able to make an average student out of him.
How my son learns best? He learns best when he..studies. I have taken him to museums and to theaters and to ballet and even opera... Once he gets there he gets bored and wants to get out anyway. I cannot back up every lesson by hands on experience and by a trip to museum.
I know our education is not the best. But it is going to be a big problem if he drops out, because then his day will be filled with nothing. Where will he go? His current friends will drift away, I am sure...What to do with him? What job can he become qualified for in the future? Who is he going to hang out with? I can't imagine parents will encourage their children to hang out with a school drop out.
Everyone is so careful and protective- I can't blame them.
It is also going to be a big problem if he gets moved to special ed. I have even explained all this to him. I told him it is all up to him, people who achieve most in life are not those who are most intelligent and talented - but those who are hard working, determined and persistent. But he must make a decision to focus and try. Words to live by, but he can't even remember what they were talking about in class today or what he has to do next...so how can he remember my good advice?
I think that, at this point, him moving to special ed or him dropping out of school is equally bad.
But I really need to relax, step away and try to have a more normal life so that I am able to support us, otherwise we will both end up homeless in the streets. An that would be the worst thing of all.

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Joined May 05, 2008
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glad to hear you are against medicating it is a poor idea i agree.
Next thing to discuss here.... Giving up. I understand your frusteration. Truly i do. I feel for you alot. But you are all he has. A child is a child. And you are wrong that it is sink or swim on his own. That is wholy true when adults fail in life. But when it is a child. The failu8re is not that of the child. The failure belongs to the support system in place for the child. I realize you are working your butt off and you are trying so hard and doing the best you can with what you have got. But it isn't always about the amount of riding him or the amount of pressure you place on him. Or even the amount of time you are spending on it with him. Often it is about the method you use to get the information through to him. Which is part of why i ask how does he learn best? Studying, isn't the answer i was looking for. Let me explain why.

When we study we study in different ways. Some people have to see things it has to all be presented visually for it to mean anything relevant inside their brain. Others, like me for example, must hear it. Someone has to say it to me for me to understand it. I have the equivalent of a photographic memory onluy with sounds. Especially words and speach. Does he learn better and study better through a discussion format??? Or through hea\ring the information he has to take in? For some that is really the main way they get it.

For others who are very kinesthetic, they have to associate stuff somehow with different hmmm.... sensations physically.

Others learn through activities that they take part in. For example, next time you want to take him to the archaeology exhibite at the museum to teach him about strata layers, don't bother. Get a shovel find where a local dig is turning up interesting stuff take him down there and make him voluteer to dig and go dig with him so he is learning through doing. Don't take him to the ballet. Make him go take a ballet class in which he participates. Foor some kids that is the best method of study.

There is another issue here too. Many kids, myself included, can not learn anything from someone they really don't like. No offense i don't know your son i don't know how he feels about you. I am sure he loves you but i am also sure as no kid always likes his parents that he likes you all the time. I am sure he really dislikes you with some frequency when you ride him so hard to study study study clearly without any idea of how it works best for him to take in the information. I think first you should watch him and figure that out. Then go from there. If i were you too, i would also start making more effort to have fun with him. Do things he enjoys not just always study study study. Because if he enjoys your company he will eventually begin to like spending time studying learning from you because he is learning then from someone cool that he likes. Someone he respects and enjoys.

The people who acheive the most inlife are the ones who are inspired to work the hardest by their support suystem. Not the ones who just work the hardest beecause they are hard workers. Mozart for example was a notorious play boy. Many of the people who accomplished the most in life are just that. Theuy succeed because they have the love and the support of those closest to them. And they don't want to let those people down. Hard to care when you don't really like the person around you most even if you do love her because she is yhour mother.

I agree being homeless and in the street would be the worst. I suggest reading some books on teaching children with LD. I also think your idea about getting some support for yourself is a really good one.

Show your son learning is fun and he will want to learn show him how tough and hard work it is and he will run screaming in the opposite direction. Find out if he is an interpersonal learner or not and how else he learns best then apply methods that work best for people who learn the way he does. You may finally hafve some success.

i wish you luck

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Joined Nov 01, 2009
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Hi Mandi,

I might have not stated that clearly, but the only person who had any success at studying with my son and got results is me. It's just that the price I have to pay for it, the amount of effort that I have to put into it, it's so overwhelming that I cannot function normally any more.

In the past years, while I still had money, we have been through a few tutors, some were qualified and did evaluations as to how he learns best, and all the time spent with these tutors was as wasted as time he spends in school - he retained nothing - no matter how they did it - or never enough to pass any test in school.

And it had nothing to do with whether he liked his teachers or not - he had some really nice teachers whom he liked a lot - still, he just didn't feel like studying and yes, he would disappoint the people he liked and respected. That is the whole problem!

And of course, we have tried to show him that learning is fun, that's the first thing one would try to do to get any child's attention - this has been going on for 9 years now -

And of course, many people have told him that we believe in him and we love him and this hasn't had any effect either.

I don't think it's possible to put a whole entertaining performance every single day and for every single subject that should be studied for one student. No one can. If he is the kind of student that needs to be so much stimulated by the teacher - in order to give a subject just very minimum attention - he's really very high maintenance! You need to see a student give something back - it cannot be one sided effort all the time.

I didn't lose my enthusiasm after one try - it took me many years to get to this stage.

Anyway, of course, I do realize that all these problems cannot be the result of my child's ill will, it's just the way he is. Perhaps all this trying to make him fit into regular school system was a mistake. Well, we just want our kids to be a part of regular group of kids, to have regular social life...just dreaming...

By the way, maybe you wouldn't guess from my posts here, but I am a very fun loving person, I love to laugh and to joke and my son is a fun kid, too. He is just completely not into school curriculum.

[Modified by: Adra on November 04, 2009 10:56 PM]

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Joined Jun 13, 2003
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One thing that a proper diagnosis can do is shift the blame that is often laid on a child (and sometimes consequently the parent) to the actual underlying condition. Using your example of dyslexia, a child who has this will often express as a secondary feature behvaiors consistant with ADHD. So when they have trouble with reading in school, or processing multistep instructions, they may be called lazy, or daydreamer, or obstinant, when what is really going on is a neurological impairment to the typical ability to process auditory instructions, read the written word, organize executive functioning and retrieve information upon demand.

Left undiagnosed, the child may begin to accept that they are indeed lazy, worthless, whatever. So the child assumes the responsibility for a condition well beyond their ability to control (at least in the immediate short run). At the same time, the school has allowed themselves to be let off the hook for failure to identify early, when intervention has the greatest "punch", and saves temselves the costs associated with more individualized instruction that is necessary to help a dyslexic person overcome the worst of their processing deficit.

After all, why should the schools care about one child when they have hundreds to shove through the system (as contrasted to the parent who is concerned with each of their cubs). By neglecting to correctly identify the true condition, the school can just push the child through under social promotion (in the name of protecting the esteem of a child they may have made feel is at fault for their inability to succeed), and once the student reaches high school and the rules change, they can drop out and go flip burgers or pick up garbage. After all, society needs low level job holders, and once they are out of the school system (regardless of how they exit) they become someone else's problem.

This is a large part of the reason why NCLB was written and enacted with very strong bi-partisan support. An interesting part of NCLB is the concept of "scientifically validated methods" being codified. This is why accuracy in diagnosis is so critical. There are proven programs and methods for helping children with CAPD, dyslexia and autism achieve remediation.Certainly, not every single child can be reached or brought into typical range. But gain is still gain, and achieving a higher level of functioning, even in the absence of full recovery is still not only a goal that is worthy of the effort, refusal to even try is against Federal Law and can and will result in judgements in favor of the student if it can be proved.

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The diagnosis serves two purposes. First, it is a means of getting additional services through special education or section 504. Depending on how thorough your evaluation report is, you should get some helpful information on where to begin with instruction. Test reports can also give teachers insight on how your child learns best.

Learning disabilities are for life, but they can be managed effectively.

If you have more specific questions, please feel free to write me at:

Ann Logsdon

Ann Logsdon, Learning Disabilities Guide About.com About.com is a New York Times Company

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