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  1. #1
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    Default Advice Please 9 year old boy struggling at school

    Hi all, I am after some advice please

    My 9 year old boy (grade 4) is struggling at school academically, but only in ONE area. He is great at Maths and Music and art and dance, decent at sport, reading well above his year level average - but he cannot put his thoughts into words either spoken or written. When it comes to assessments that require him to write sentences or paragraphs, he not only struggles, but he refuses to do it. He shuts down and hides, gets distracted by whatever he can, refuses to engage and take part - both in the planning process and the assessment itself. It's not just that he doesn't do well at it, it's that he refuses to do it at all.

    Does anyone have any advice? We had the same issues last year and I had him tested by both a behavioral optometrist and tested for Auditory processing disorder, and both tests came back clear. When he is pulled up on his behavior (ie. ignoring the teacher and refusing to engage in the work or do it at all, plus mucking around and distracting other kids) he shuts down and cries and becomes very despondent.

    He doesn't receive any help from the special needs team at school because he is doing so well in all his other subjects and because his reading is so good it pulls his english mark up, so he is technically not failing.

    I'm at a bit of a loss and not sure what to do next.

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    Default Advice Please 9 year old boy struggling at school

    Maybe he has expressive and/or receptive language disorder. Speech therapy will help.

    Can he type his words? Or does he struggle with that too?

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    Is it an issue with his fine motor skills? My DS struggles with this and refused to do any writing. OT has helped and he’s now writing voluntarily.

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    I second the speech and language assessment suggestion.

    How is he at expressing himself verbally outside of the school context?

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    His speech is fine, as in he pronounces all his words correctly and he knows all his words, and if he's just mucking around playing he uses his words perfectly. However, when asked a question that requires a lengthy answer, he can not get his thoughts together and put them into the right words, hence we get a lot of "I dunno" or shrugs.
    The same goes when he has to write his words on paper, it's like he can't think of what to write down, even though he knows the answer.
    I think his fine motor is ok, he's very good at drawing and seems to hold his pencil correctly. He can write all his letters and numbers, he's never had any issue with reversing letters or numbers or anything like that. He writing is a little messy and I think he sometimes pushes a bit to hard on the pencil, but I don't think that's the issue (I mean I don't know what the issue is, so it might be, but I don't think so!)
    I asked him again yesterday afternoon, why is it that you wouldn't do your written assessment. Why did you just refuse to do it and sulk while everyone else was doing it? And his response is "Because I don't like written assessments". I asked if he didn't like it because he struggled with it, or he felt he couldn't do it, or he didn't understand what to do... and he said no... he just doesn't like it and didn't want to do it.
    I think maybe it's a mixture of him actually struggling to do it (though he won't admit it) and him just being too stubborn to even try. I'm not sure what to do next. Maybe a tutor, I'm just not sure!

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    I have a 9 year old DS also in year 4. Same situation as yours. He loves maths and science and is way ahead in reading. Loves coding and anything tech related also no social issues. Over the last 2 years we have had him tested for everything under the sun. We also worked with a child psychologist for a while because he is pretty emotional ( although improving now). He just hates writing and English, to him it’s boring, he has trouble concentrating on it. He would just write anything down most of which made no sense just to get it over with. His writing is pretty messy. Conclusion was that he just hated it, simple. We are very lucky that he has an amazing teacher who would praise him beyond belief when he did manage to write something constructive, she also introduced a prize system in class which motivated DS. It’s only in the last few months that there is an improvement in writing and he can manage to write a paragraph or 2.
    For DS he just felt he was bad at it and it was boring so he didn’t bother with it. He didn’t want to make mistakes so he stopped trying altogether. He would get really upset seeing all the words he got wrong. We worked slowly with it, reassured him that not everyone can be good at everything but the more you practice the better you get. It’s been a long road but we will get there in end. Lots and lots of praise when he makes an effort.
    Also DS gets down on himself very easily, is he can’t do something he jumps to the conclusion that he must be stupid. He has a bit of a depressive tendency, hence the psychologist.

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    I would look at seeing a speech therapist as well. It could be something like an expressive language delay/disorder. So he can pronounce words, but may have difficulty finding the right one at times, or use a smaller set of words. This affects both speech and written communication.
    The better health vic website has a good run down on some examples of expressive language disorder signs.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Janesmum123 View Post
    I have a 9 year old DS also in year 4. Same situation as yours. He loves maths and science and is way ahead in reading. Loves coding and anything tech related also no social issues. Over the last 2 years we have had him tested for everything under the sun. We also worked with a child psychologist for a while because he is pretty emotional ( although improving now). He just hates writing and English, to him it’s boring, he has trouble concentrating on it. He would just write anything down most of which made no sense just to get it over with. His writing is pretty messy. Conclusion was that he just hated it, simple. We are very lucky that he has an amazing teacher who would praise him beyond belief when he did manage to write something constructive, she also introduced a prize system in class which motivated DS. It’s only in the last few months that there is an improvement in writing and he can manage to write a paragraph or 2.
    For DS he just felt he was bad at it and it was boring so he didn’t bother with it. He didn’t want to make mistakes so he stopped trying altogether. He would get really upset seeing all the words he got wrong. We worked slowly with it, reassured him that not everyone can be good at everything but the more you practice the better you get. It’s been a long road but we will get there in end. Lots and lots of praise when he makes an effort.
    Also DS gets down on himself very easily, is he can’t do something he jumps to the conclusion that he must be stupid. He has a bit of a depressive tendency, hence the psychologist.
    Thank you so much for your response, you've basically described my son EXACTLY, and my thoughts on it are that he just simply doesn't like it, and is stubborn about actually "trying" because he doesn't want to and doesn't like it, so it's not the actual work that stresses him out and makes him emotional, but the fact that he doesn't want to do it but is being made to anyway.
    Sounds like we have the same son. I do think I should possibly consider the psych route. He does have it in his head that there must be something wrong with him or that he is stupid, even though I constantly tell him just how smart he is (because he really is!).
    Thank you

  11. #9
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    Im going against the grain but it is possible he finds the subject boring and wants nothing to do with it. So refuses. Yes it's beyond frustrating but we don't always need to label our children with something

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    Default Advice Please 9 year old boy struggling at school

    Speech therapy doesn’t help only with pronunciation. They help with processing etc. but if you think it’s just laziness/boredom then they won’t be able to help with that anyway.

    Can he spell?


 

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