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Homeschooling ADHD child without meds... In tears!!

Posted by on Oct. 14, 2011 at 1:45 PM
  • 17 Replies

I have a 7 year old that I am homeschooling. He has ADHD and I havent wanted to medicate him because I watched my 2 brothers and cousin on the medicine and by highschool they were just turning around and selling the medicine to anyone who would buy it. I live in the south and prescription drug abuse is one of our main issues here. So I wanted to teach my son he didnt need medicine unless he was sick. Anyway, last year in first grade at Christmas the teacher called me in for a conference and suggested he be put on meds. I told her no, because he was 6. She then went on to stick him out in the hallway 3 to 4 times a week there after. After one conference after another with teachers, the couselor and principle nothing got better and it was always my fault for not giving my child the advantage of medications. This year I decided to homeschool and now I feel like I am caving. He doesnt sit in his seat, throws horrible fits about having to do work, flat out refuses to do it unless I am sitting right next to him basically saying do your work, nothing is ever fair. I have tried yelling, grounding, positive reinforcement, giving him coffee in the morning ( calms him down for about 45 mins) and I am running out of options. I being ADD myself am feeling like I am stotally losing control and what I wanted to be such a positive thing is not so positive. I have thought about putting him back in public school but they will not allow him to go to the second grade even though we had him tested over the summer twice and paid 3000 dollars for a reading tudor. By the end of the summer he was at second grade level. Does anyone have any advice????


by on Oct. 14, 2011 at 1:45 PM
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by on Oct. 14, 2011 at 3:27 PM
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Have you tried letting him do his work while standing, running, or bouncing a ball? Let him do the work orally, instead of written, until he is better able to sit and work calmly. Have you looked into unschooling, or giving him more control over what/when/where/how he learns? The best part about home-schooling is being able to try different approaches. It doesn't have to look like, or work like a school. You can do anything for and with your child. 

by on Oct. 14, 2011 at 3:51 PM
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Hello, Here's some advice comming from the other end! :) Im 16 and have ADD as well, DONT PUT HIM ON THE MEDS!! :) They're terrible. when I was on meds I was focused, but depressed. The life was drained out of me and i just wasnt myself. I stopped eating little by little and eventually completely stopped. I wasnt very social..and I wasnt tired. I was basicly a robot, the teachers were happy but everybody who loved me wasnt. I changed meds lots of times but the sign effects were bad. One messed with my kidneys, one made my chest hurt, and one made me suicidal. Working with me without meds was difficult for my parents too, I was homeschooled for a year and now I go to an online school. The first year was difficult because I wasnt focused AT ALL. But now Ive been finding little tips and tricks that help me study. One is reward. After getting a certain amount done I just reward myslef with little things. Another thing is lots of breaks, Have him do 10 questions at a time, take a 5 minute break and get back to work! helps a lot. Coffee helps me, but if he's six itll stunt his growth...and I dont drink much but thats only cause Im pregnant. If he goes to bed early or is at least laying down by 8ishh he shoud fall asleep pretty early too and it will give him a fresh mind to think with, another thing that has always helped me is doing somehting while studying. Most kids get distracted but you need something to do which is why he wiggles a lot., I used to do that too. I usually listen to music in the background and sometimes chew gum. or play with a rubber ball as I read ect. hope I helped, good luck and hang in there! just want you to know once he gets older he will apreciate your hard effort even if he doesnt now, I sure apreciate my mom sticking with me when I was all jitery....even though I hated it at the time :)

by on Oct. 14, 2011 at 3:56 PM
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oh yeah, after reading the comment over mine, I do want to add working in different places helps too. If one day you work in the library and another day you work at a park that can be fun too. Sometimes learning styles very. when my mom took me off meds she tried different methods and I learned best with physical objects. If you find a hobby and incorperate it into the lesson it makes things a lot more exciting for him, and holds his attention longer.

by Bronze Member on Oct. 15, 2011 at 7:28 PM
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Okay, first of all -- hang in there.  You are doing the best you can for your child.  I completely understand the desire to not medicate a little boy who is so young.  I have four children, and with the exception of the youngest (who we're not sure about yet), all of them have some symptoms of ADD, including, with our oldest, temper tantrums beyond belief, so I know what you are going through.  (He's now in his second year at the University of California, Merced -- so there's hope :-) ). 

I would reexamine your expections.  A child with ADHD is not very likely to sit in a seat for long (if at all, given that he's also seven, and a boy).   I'd try separating the social skills (like sitting still) from the academics for now. 

I'd also try to do every thing in shorter bursts.  This means that you will have to be more organized and break things in  advance into manageable "chunks" -- not more than 5 or 10 minutes perhaps.  I don't know what your son likes to do or whether he can be reasoned with.  If you are able to reason with him, you might try setting clearly defined and reachable goals.  (You need to memorize these 10 math facts -- or 5 or 20 -- you know your son's ability.)  Then, working with him if possible, and explaining what will happen even if you don't, expressly state HOW you will reach it, or better yet, provide clear choices (Do you want to walk back and forth while we review these in flashcards or do you want to recite the facts to me out loud?)  Have a chart to track progress -- whatever makes sense.  Start with just a few goals for the day (maybe even just one) -- and then continue to work in short bursts.  It may not work, of course, but try it for a week or two and see. 

Your object here is not to get him to a certain level right  -- you want to help him (and you) establish patterns of behavior and compensating methods that will allow you to get to ANY level.

At the end of each "burst" or two "bursts" or whatever, have five minutes (or ten minutes) for him to run around.

Also, you may or may not be a "Flylady" fan (I have mixed feelings myself) but "the timer [may be] your friend."  Having a visible timer while you are working keeps you honest (if you are like me, you want the student to "get" something, rather than stopping since "they're so close", and before you know it, an hour is gone and everyone's temper is frayed).  And it also gives him certainty that he's got only X minutes to go, or that he actually did have X minutes of break. 

Cycle the bursts and keep to the same pattern each day:  if the order is math, reading, runaround, science, writing, runaround, history, Spanish, cycle it 3 times -- or two times -- or whatever works.  Alternatively, if that doesn't work, you might try going to a "focus" for each day -- still with the short bursts and breaks.  As one writer already said, the good thing about homeschooling is that you can experiment.  I also liked the suggestions of allowing him to move/bounce a ball, etc. You'll need to do it long enough, though, to see if it's actually working  (or could work if a pattern is established).

Think about restricting or even eliminating TV and computer games if you haven't already.  We generally allow them only for a hour or so on the weekends. 

I'd also look at diet.  There are studies that say that there is no connection between certain types of foods and ADHD, and it's very clear it doesn't cause ADHD.  However, the anecdotal evidence suggests that at least in some cases cutting out certain types of foods seems to help for children that are predisposed.  It won't hurt to keep a food diary (log anything he puts into his mouth), if you aren't already cutting out sugar, food dyes, simple carbs, etc.  Track behavior, too.  Try eliminating certain items (or better yet, ingredients) for a week or so at a time.  You may notice a pattern.  Can't hurt -- might help. 

I would also include social exercises in the day .  Choose the skill he needs to learn (like sitting still in his seat).  Set a goal (15 minutes, 30 minutes -- something that he couldn't  do now, but which is do-able in a few weeks).  Have him sit in his seat (or whatever the skill is).  Set the timer.  See how long he lasts.  Keep track (better yet, let HIM keep track with a visible chart).  At the beginning  of each session remind him about what he did yesterday, and challenge him to go longer, do better, or whatever.  Don't expect him to do schoolwork - but you might OFFER him a choice of "things to keep him busy" while he sits (a book or flashcards?).  If he doesn't want them, fine. See what happens.

Two last things:  you may find that when your son hits puberty all hell breaks loose.  This happened with our oldest.  We finally made the very hard decision to put him on meds when he was 15 (he was getting too big, frankly, for my husband and me to handle).  It helped.  A lot.  And it got him "over the hump".  After a year, he came to us and asked to be taken off the meds and after consulting with the doctor, we agreed.  He hasn't been medicated since.  Don't feel guilty if, not now but at some time, you need to use medication.  You are not a "bad parent" nor have you failed if it necessary to help your kid get through a rough patch, or if he simply cannot function without some chemical "help."  Hopefully, however, working together, you will be able to avoid drugs if you want to.

Finally, a story.  I have a client who was educated long before drugs for ADHD were available.  As with your son, his desk was in the hallway.  Long story short, he went on to earn a Ph.D, invented numerous medical devices that have saved thousands of lives, and is a multimillionaire.  ADHD is not the end of the world.  Good luck!


by on Oct. 16, 2011 at 9:13 AM

I tutor many ADD children, and they need activity laced in with their learning.  One little boy starts walking around and around his chair when he needs a release of energy...  I ask him," is it time to run around the house once?" He is so cute.  Sometimes he will say, "I think I need two times". 

Many of these children are misdiagnosed with ADD when they are actually active "hands on learners."  So I use active games and real life experience to teach them.  Here is an article that will help you.

Learning Disabilities

by on Oct. 16, 2011 at 9:21 AM

I haven't read the other comments, but we have a small trampoline. When I see my kids getting fidgety and unfocused, I put on the timer and let them jump for a bit. It really helps! (I homeschool 5 kids btw and 2 are ADHD.)

by on Oct. 16, 2011 at 1:28 PM

 To shoten my post I am going to add a link to a blog post of mine, it is why I decided to homeschool. I never got him eveluated for ADHD. My husband will not let me put him on any meds, not even a sleep aid once in a while. Some times he will stay awake for hours and he dose not want me to go to bed till he falls asleep. I know he has an anger issue. Especialy with his older sister and brother.  I pray for him every night, thats all I can do now. Prayers going out to all your familys.


by on Oct. 16, 2011 at 3:14 PM
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 I love ADHD meds! OK I just wanted to say there are many bad meds used in wrong ways, but sometimes meds are good. My son ASD & ADHD takes many seizure meds. A long time ago he took a stimulant ADHD med that was non addictive. No side effects just wonderful. But had to take him off due to new seizure med conflict. NOW he is added Felbatol for seizures which is stimulant. He calms down and listens, learns, behave just awesome. He is so figitey with out its almost painful to watch. My DH doesnt want to pay for his own ADHD meds so he drinks like 4 cups of coffee to calm himself down.

ANYWAYS- Ive worked on ALOT of environmental things for him. No distraction, very short burst of work. Little activities we do 3 at a time (always finish) and get 10m or so break. We also do LOTS of activities for the learning. For my DD (never tested but maybe ADD) she is 1st grade and I started checklist for her things to do that day. Now I started writing 2-3 breaks on the list. WHEW did that make a huge difference. I also let her stand, walk, go anywhere as long as she gets it done. We will stop and play a game, a chore, just something moving inbetween too. They all love group reading time. OH when I used to tutor I made really physically games. Like K kids I had them jump to right answer like word families, answers to math. I wrote out things on paper and stuck them around like a giant snake.

by Platinum Member on Oct. 16, 2011 at 3:48 PM

I'm sorry I've never dealt with your exact problems. Good luck!

by on Oct. 16, 2011 at 4:26 PM

I have my son on Attention Gels.  He has never been officially diagnosed with ADD or ADHD but someone has speculated that he has Asperger's.  I just think they are normal children who are expected to sit still way before they are developmentally ready.  That's just my opinion though.

Here is the link to the med I am talking about.  It's a natural medicine and my son has done amazing things on this.  He takes two at breakfast and one at dinner.

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