Thursday, May 3, 2012

Why haven't we figured kids out yet?

So, in a post from a few days ago, I alluded to the fact that Tyler has been having some behavior problems at school.  I wanted to talk about that a little more today and talk about what we've done (and are doing) about it.

First, I should probably say that Tyler is a great kid.  He's smart and funny and seems genuinely interested in trying to be a good kid most of the time.  His behavior problems are things that he does when he doesn't think before he acts.  He can be VERY impulsive from time to time.  Sometimes, he does it because he thinks it is funny.  Other times, I think he does it because he is bored.

That all sounds very vague.. so, let me just give an example of some of the things he's been getting in trouble for at school:

  • Getting up out of his chair when he shouldn't be
  • Talking (or shouting) in class when he shouldn't
  • Playing with things in the classroom that he knows aren't toys
  • Stealing a snack from another kid and eating it (ok, this one is kinda funny)

So, like you can see, nothing _earth shattering_.  But, we expect more from him and have told him so.  We talked with his teacher some.  She suspected ADHD might be an issue.  Certainly, Tyler has some of the indicators for that.  Most especially his impulsive behavior is an indicator for ADHD.  But, there are plenty of times when he doesn't have trouble sitting still and focusing.. it just has to be on something he's interested in.

But, we decided to pursue it a little bit.  We made an appointment with a pediatric neurologist.  We've learned that there's absolutely no way to truly "test" for ADHD.  It's just a diagnosis that a doctor makes by looking for any number of behavior indications.  After 2 office visits, he was ready to start Tyler on some medications for ADHD...  that seemed a bit premature for us.  When we suggested we weren't ready to start medication yet, the doctor just totally shut down on us.  He basically said "Ok, well, I can't help you then.  Have a nice life."

So, we were somewhat back to square 1.  Mandy decided to go visit Tyler's classroom one day last week help the teacher out and observe how Tyler acted in the class.

That was when things got _really_ interesting.

The classroom was absolute total chaos.  *CHAOS*

Kids were standing on top of their desks and screaming.  Kids were throwing scissors across the room.  Kids were shouting and screaming when they were supposed to be taking a spelling test.  Mandy's jaw was on the floor.

It soon became clear that Tyler's behavior was just a product of the environment he was in.  Sure, it might be somewhat exacerbated by a few things.  For instance, since we moved into the school district this year I think Tyler started out struggling a little bit to make friends.  So, I think he compensated by trying to become a class clown, which gets him in trouble sometimes.  

It may also be that he really does have some mild ADHD symptoms.  Certainly, he is impulsive from time to time and that's the only way to describe his behavior.  Of course, that could be said of about 98% of 7 year old boys.  So....

There's one other thing that we're kinda tossing around that may be going on.  He may be somewhat bored in school.  We are considering getting him tested for gifted programs.  This is where I start to second guess myself.

I mean...  doesn't every parent think their kid is "gifted"?  I mean, when have parents ever said "Yeah, my kid is the on the bottom half of the IQ curve."  So, yeah.. of course we think he's smart.  I keep trying to focus on the concrete facts to help make decisions.  Here's what I know:

  1. When he first started the year, he was somewhat behind on reading.  He was reading at a lvl 6 around Thanksgiving and his teacher was encouraging us to do extra work with him at home to help him catch up.
  2. He's now reading at a level 24, which is just one level shy of what he needs to graduate *Second* grade (he's in first now).
  3. Mathematically, he's very sharp.  He can see patterns in numbers and math that help him figure things out intuitively.  For instance, if you ask him what 9 + 9 + 9 is, he will recognize that 9 is 1 less than 10.  Since 3 10s are 30, three 9s must be 3 less than 30, or 27.  He approaches math like that, rather than just say "Well, 9 + 9 is 18.. and now 18 + 9 is 27."  That seems pretty sophisticated to me.

So, I really do think that intellectually he's doing pretty well.  So, maybe it really does make sense to have him tested.  It's just hard to start that discussion with his school.  I mean, how do you walk in and just say "I think my kid is special, so, do something special for him." ???

Having admitted that he's doing well intellectually, he is struggling some _emotionally_.  He's started developing a bit of a temper, especially with Logan.  He also sometimes has a hard time expressing himself or how he feels.  He is clearly frustrated sometimes but isn't quite sure how to articulate it to Mandy or I.  So, we're considering maybe finding a counselor that can help all of us help him learn how to deal with his emotions.

So, anyway.. that's where we are in all that.  Mandy is going to try to contact the school guidance counselor as soon as she can to set up a meeting.  That meeting will cover both the gifted testing as well as attempt to find a resource to help Tyler with his emotional needs.  I'll keep you posted on how that goes.


  1. Let's see:....hmmmm....he is his fathers son! Why haven't you called us, this sounds a lot like you! Remember we had you tested outside of school, and you went to counseling some! Hey, call your mama and let's talk!

  2. Mostly because I don't want to assume that Tyler is just like me. Sure, there are some similarities, but I kinda want us to approach him as a unique person and not just Caleb 2.0

    Having said that, I'll be very interested to hear your take on what the Guidance Councilor says.

  3. Did Mandy say anything to the principle about the out of control class. Sounds like the teacher is not doing her job or did I miss something??

  4. No, Mandy hasn't said anything (yet). Since we're so close to the end of the school year, we're just going to ride it out. We're pretty sure that if the principal did or said anything, it would be obvious to his teacher who complained. We don't want to run the risk of Tyler not getting fair treatment, so, we're going to wait until after the school year to say something.