Agh... 14yo Aspie and personal responsibility... - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 7 Old 07-25-2012, 06:49 PM - Thread Starter
 
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So my 14yo son (homeschooled since always) has ADHD and Asperger's, and thus has always had difficulty with self-motivation, 'executive function', that sort of thing.  Personal management is NOT his strong suit.  He needs constant monitoring, constant lists, constant checks, constant reminders.  He *wants* to do things by himself, of course, but when he does, he does a terrible job of it and doesn't care.  

 

As he's been getting older and starting to (thank heavens) mature a little bit, he has been able to take on certain things on his own fairly well.  I let him do his Life of Fred math with no monitoring for instance.  His RightStart math (Geometry, designed to be done independently) didn't fare so well.  I let him do for awhile on his own, he said he was doing fine and staying on track.  But when I eventually did check his work, a third of the worksheets were not fully completed, several were lost, most were just stuffed randomly in his bookshelf all wrinkled, those that were finished were often done poorly.  

 

It's a real struggle, since I want him to gradually gain independence.  I shouldn't have to watch over his shoulder *all* the bleedin' time at 14yo.  He argues about how he wants me to trust him, but this is what happens when I do.

 

But we keep trying.  Because it does get better, bit by bit.  

 

And so this year he was doing LiveOnline Pre-Algebra video course.  I'd usually let him watch the video on his own, do the assignment on his own, then I'd check his work each day (or every couple of days).  It wasn't without hiccups, but it was mostly fine.  He enjoys the course and seems to be learning from it.

 

We're almost done the course.  Just doing a bit of a 'blitz' to finish the last 2 units, since our subscription is up (took some time off in the spring and misjudged, apparently).  He's been doing the last bunch of lessons on his own, I haven't even checked to see if he's done the assignments, much less done them well.  I did have some concerns that he was focused on his iPod when the lesson videos were playing, rather than watching the videos... don't get me started on that device... but he said it was fine, he was learning, all was good.

 

Well, today he did the unit test.

 

And got 24%.

 

So he's going to do this unit again, and this time I'll be back to monitoring him, every lesson along the way.  One of his main problems is that if he doesn't fully understand something, he either doesn't realize it (fair enough) or he just doesn't care.  He won't ask for help to 'get it', he's content to just coast along blindly and blankly.  Get it "finished" so he can go on to whatever else he wants to do (usually Minecraft or iPod).

 

This was just a rather extreme example of this tendency in action.  Just when I think he might be starting to get it, to apply himself independently... *sigh* guess not so much.

 

So we keep going, keep trying to find ways for him to gradually take on more self-responsibility, and in the meantime me having to spell and list out every little step for him and check every single thing every single day.  Trying to find the balance in allowing reasonable electronics access without letting him slip into obsession and addiction (which he does).  

 

I'm just ranting, just wanted a place to vent I think.  I know this might be more appropriate to the special-needs forum but I just felt like this was more of a homeschooling-frustrations-in-general thing, something that many parents bang their heads over even with neuro-typical kids.  It's like the "without the carrot and stick of grading and exams and the peer pressure of 'looking dumb' in class, how do you inspire low-motivation kids to apply themselves to anything?"  Not that I think he'd do any better in public school.  Even from a very young age he felt he was 'stupid', and when he struggles with something even the SLIGHTEST bit he tends to give up rather than try harder.  When he was young he would throw fits over even attempting something NEW... if he didn't already know how to do it, he didn't want to try it.  Thankfully he's outgrown that, but he still has the give-up-if-it's-hard and you're-dumb-if-it's-hard mentalities.  

 

Which makes it all the more complicated for me to deal with a 24% on a unit test.  If I just throw it in his face and say "look, think, this is your responsibility, what are you going to do about it," his response will NOT be "whoa, I screwed up, I know what I need to do differently and I will strive to do better."  It will be "I suck, I'm dumb, this is too hard, I quit."  

 

Agh.  That is all.  I just wanted to say, "agh", to an understanding audience.  Is there a glyph emoticon for :pulling my hair out:???


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#2 of 7 Old 07-25-2012, 06:56 PM
 
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I would suggest posting this in the special needs parenting forum.  There are a bunch of moms over there who are homeschooling their kids with ADD and ADHD. 


 
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#3 of 7 Old 07-26-2012, 10:47 AM
 
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No advice but I want to applaud you for sticking with it and trying to help your son to become increasingly independent. My Aspie brother wasn't so lucky as my parents partially didn't care and partially bought into the whole "he'll snap out of it when he turns 30" crap. Now at 30 he is about to become my sister and my responsibility and it's much much harder to teach a 30 year old basic skills.


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#4 of 7 Old 07-27-2012, 04:56 AM
 
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There is a lot more going on here than self motivation. He doesn't understand the material. Some kids with similar dx's need tutoring, things to be explained in a different way, etc. you assume that if he went through the course, he would "get it", and that's a faulty assumption.

Your son needs MORE help to learn math. Turning it into a personal responsibility issue is ignoring his educational needs. You need to be monitoring not just that he does the work, but that he actually understands the material.
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but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#5 of 7 Old 07-27-2012, 05:13 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Linda on the move View Post

There is a lot more going on here than self motivation. He doesn't understand the material. Some kids with similar dx's need tutoring, things to be explained in a different way, etc. you assume that if he went through the course, he would "get it", and that's a faulty assumption.
Your son needs MORE help to learn math. Turning it into a personal responsibility issue is ignoring his educational needs. You need to be monitoring not just that he does the work, but that he actually understands the material.

I agree with Linda.  My oldest is on the spectrum with executive functioning issues, and he's 13.  We've learned that when it startts to look like he's not motivated or not taking responsibility for his work, it's because he's exhausted by trying to figure things out on his own.  He also sometimes doesn't even realize he's not getting something until someone points it out to him.

 

  And just like Linda said, sometimes, he just needs to have things explained to him in another way.  It could be different words or different graphics or simply a different problem.  If he is just doing things on line and you aren't checking with him everyday, it's likely he's missing things that he needs to know before he moves on.  You miss a couple of different things, then you get stumped.  He may need to go back to previous chapters to make sure he's got the basics down instead of just restarting him on the place he's already at. 

 

What are you doing to teach him how to deal with the executive functioning issues?


 
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#6 of 7 Old 07-30-2012, 09:08 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the comments, but in fact his comprehension is fine -- when he is self-disciplined and pays attention.  ;)

 

In the past, for instance, it manifested as comprehension without retention.  For instance, we'd do a math lesson, he'd get it just fine, we'd do all the exercises, he was cool and confident and seemed to have mastery.  The next day, it was like he'd never heard of the idea before.  

 

Indeed, we found that what "worked" for him was hitting it on many different fronts at the same time.  While he was doing Right Start, he was also doing Life of Fred, a little bit of MathMammoth now and then, and some online game-based math things too.  With all the different approaches, over time, things would eventually "stick."  

 

Now that he is older, this is much less of an issue.  His brain is different.  Things stick much sooner, and without the need for the multi-pronged attack approach.  He has done just fine this past year with *just* the LiveOnline Pre-algebra course and Life of Fred Pre-Algebra.  

 

When he does poorly, it is pretty much always because of lack of self-discipline, when I stumble from monitoring him enough.  When he doesn't understand something, he has gotten much better at asking me for help with it, but honestly it doesn't happen often.  

 

In this current case, where we blitzed through the unit and I didn't check his work at all and he ended up getting 24% on the test... it was absolutely because he was playing on his iPod while the lesson videos were playing.  So, yeah, he didn't understand the material... but not because it wasn't explained the right way for him heh.  It was absolutely just because he hadn't paid attention in the first place.  And he had skipped 80% of the exercises.

 

What we did after the 24% test, was he watched the lesson videos again -- without his iPod.  And right afterwards he was like "oh, I know what I did wrong..."  He redid the test and got 85%.  Without even having really done more exercises to practice.  All he needed to do was actually pay attention to the lesson.

 

The next unit was the last unit, and was only 3 lessons.  We agreed that he'd do them all in one day and then celebrate that he was done-done-done.  (It had to be done all at once like that since he was going away to camp soon, and will mostly be away at various camps for the next 3 weeks)  He watched the lesson videos all at once, then when I asked him if he'd done the exercises he said "uh.... mostly..."

 

Of course this time I was going to check them, and he had only done like 2 exercises from each lesson... not nearly enough.  I wasn't even going to force him to do all of it, if it seemed that he had the idea down, but when he tried to pass this off as having done 'enough' work, I told him that he now absolutely had to do every last question.  

 

Well, he did, and it didn't even take him all that long.  He was motivated to finish because his cousins were visiting and he had to finish first... and he even said to me when he was about 2/3 done "you were right, mom... I'm pretty good at math when I focus, this is not taking nearly as long as I thought it would, it's going really quickly in fact."  That says many things about the way his brain works -- 1) when he does poorly it's usually because he's not focused, not 'trying', rather than not understanding, and 2) when he thinks a task is going to be too big, it scares him, and he's more likely to try to cheat on it.  I need to remember that 2nd one, it's all part of keeping things broken down into manageable bite-sized tasks.

 

Oh, and despite all the struggles we've had, when we do year-end standardized tests, he consistently scores high 80s through mid-90s in percentile rank for math.  So once again... it's not, in fact, lack of understanding.  

 

(I do honestly appreciate the comment since I can see how that might be assumed from the way I described things, and I know that it is a very common manifestation in many kids -- not just Aspies!  So that's why I wanted to clarify a bit more.)


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#7 of 7 Old 07-31-2012, 04:20 AM
 
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Yeah, I can see that.  My ds no longer has any academic issues.  It's all the executive functionins stuff and behavioral stuff at the moment.  But still, frequent check-ins are really important with kids with executive functioning issues.  It often shows its self as being unmotivated or air headedness. 


 
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