Month: April 2014

Does Your Child Have “Curriculum ADHD”?

If your child is feeling overwhelmed by school and falling behind, they may have 'Curriculum ADHD.'

A mom came in the other day to talk about her struggling eight-year-old daughter, Jacqueline, a fourth grader. Jacqueline presented with many of the common concerns- difficulty with decoding, reading fluency, spelling and writing, feeling overwhelmed by school.

I asked the mom, “What has been done for Jacqueline?”

The mom answered, “Well in kindergarten she got Wilson Fundations. Then in first grade she got Reading Recovery.” She continued, “The Reading Recovery teacher went out on maternity leave at the midway point of the school year and they gave Jacqueline instruction with Harcourt Trophies in her regular class. Now they are talking about giving her SRA for next year or Read 180. I really can’t keep up with it all. Why do they jump around so much?”

“Sounds like she may have a case of Curriculum ADHD,” I responded.

What is Curriculum ADHD

Curriculum ADHD refers to jumping from method to method without ever really giving any of them a chance to take hold. My impression is that there’s a lot of Curriculum ADHD going on these days. Struggling readers, in particular, require a focused approach over a long enough period of time. This allows the child to internalize the skills prioritized by the better methods (the ones with good clinical and research support).

My question is this: if a child doesn’t receive sufficient time with a particular method had we know if she is responding to the intervention, as is required with RTI (Response to Intervention), which is a part of the public school landscape?

Could Curriculum That ADHD be contributing to the child’s difficulty?

Takeaway Point: How to help struggling readers in the classroom

In conclusion, kids with reading issues (even relatively mild ones) need a special therapy that extend over a long enough period of time for them to make a difference. Above all, try to advocate for sticking with one method long enough for it to have an impact.

There may be significant variations in how a child with ADHD responds to his or her surroundings over time. Since it’s a medical condition, cure is available. All you have to do is wait and see which one works best for your child.

Adapted from School Struggles (Sentient Publications), Richard Selznick, Ph.D.

The Parenting Dance That We Do

The Parenting Dance That We Do

Parents often need help in learning how to communicate with their child. Children with learning disabilities or ADHD can be very frustrating and difficult to manage. Negative and irritable patterns of communication often play out in a habitual manner.

In order to gain a sense of control, parents tend to adopt punishing postures with children who are struggling with school or do not appear to be motivated. From my experience, this punitive approach is a mistake often leading to greater degrees of anger and increased shutting down on the part of the child.

There are other ways to go.

I am not suggesting that limits be removed altogether or that you go soft on the child, but it is the tone of punishment that needs to be addressed. Punishment is reactive and often administered in anger. Too often, the child is struggling with skills that are not well developed and, thus, he is not able to meet the task demands.

Punishment is like blaming someone with a bad foot for not running the race more enthusiastically.

While parents may feel a sense of momentary victory after punishing the child,  this feeling is almost always short-lived, as the desired goal of having the child assume greater degrees of responsibility is rarely achieved following the punishment.

Parents rely on punishment, I believe, because it is an  attempt to gain control. Effectively, they believe it is the only tool that they have in their parental toolbox. They think because they’re not hitting the child, at least they have improved on an older generation that subscribed to such an approach.

Another typical problem that occurs between parents and that is part of the parent dance is the finger-pointing that takes place in the household between parents. As a result of the ongoing frustration and difficulty, parents are frequently polarized in their communication patterns between each other and the child.

Marital communication can be challenging enough without the variable addressing the difficult child. In the dance between the parents and the child of concern, usually one parent feels that he has the right approach and if the other parent would only listen-up and do it his way, all problems would be solved.

Typically the stricter parent believes his way will lead to solving all of the child’s problems. This parent accuses the other parent of feeding into the child’s demands, indulging rather than helping. As there may be a grain of truth in this, the softer (more indulgent) parent usually reacts by countering the stricter parent’s punishing style. The accommodating parent sees the stricter parent as too harsh, irritable and reactive and attempts to buffer the child from the stricter parent.

It's an exhausting dance.


Take-Away Point

Punishments are generally ineffective. There are natural consequences to most choices that are built-in without the added reactive punishment. Try and avoid long harangues, idle threat and excessive use of timeouts. Strive for a middle ground position between parenting styles.

 Adapted from: The Shut-Down Learner:  Helping Your Academically Discouraged Child, (Sentient Publications) Richard Selznick, Ph.D.


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