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My Son Has Trouble Paying Attention in School

I have a 9 year old son who has trouble paying attention in school. He isn't hyper at all so I know that ADHD is out of the question but he does have trouble staying focused and on task. I thought he was doing better this year but after speaking with his teacher the other day I found out this wasn't true. She is also concerned since in the 5th grade they are so much more responsible for themselves and he has such a hard time staying on track. I can tell him to brush his teeth at night and he will go to the bathroom and go pee instead of brushing his teeth!! He gets good grades but he is very unorganized and very distractable. His handwriting is also horrible. Any suggestions to get him a little more on track?

What can I do next?

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He may have ADD (Attention Deficit without the hyperactivity. That is what my daughter has and I hate it anymore that they are lumped together. They are 2 different things I correct people constantly. Anyhow, things that you can try are when you tell him something have him repeat it to you. My daugher is on medication because she really could not function at school no matter what we or the teachers did and was falling way behind because of it.

If you would like more information about medications or things to do I will be happy to talk with you. My email is ____@____.com


Have you considered his diet? My son was having concentration issues & I began cutting out foods with RED 40 dye & most preservatives. I don't know if its possible, but dyes in foods & preservatives are causing behavioral difficulties in kids who otherwise don't/didn't have them.
Also something I've started using for my kids is MonaVie, its a juice that gives them the basis for all nutrition (including Omega 3's etc.) & rebuilds brain cells, helping them in areas of health & brain function... worth a look? www.juice-moms.info

You may look into CAPD (Central Auditory Processing Disorder) or at least different aspects of it. He doesn't necessarily have to have the whole gammit, but with the proper testing/screening, you may be able to identify more of what the problem is. CAPD is where a person may only hear every other syllable of what you're saying or every other word of what you're saying, therefore, their responses may be odd/different. This greatly affects schoolwork, as with CAPD, the child can not decipher between what the teacher is saying (her/his voice) and the extraneous noises of what's around him (i.e. another classroom, students around him, the clock ticking, etc).
Just a thought?!

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Word for word you could be talking about my son. I had the exact conversation with his teachers in 4th grade. Just because he doesn't have ADHD doesn't mean he doesn't have ADD. You should have him tested. There are different levels of ADD. My son is borderline. My problem is that my sons school would not work with us to help him find a education plan that works for him unless we had it documented in his permanant record. We made the decision not to because in 3rd grade his teacher read his record before meeting him in which his 2nd grade teacher at a diffent school had noted that he should be tested and decided he was going to be a problem. He ended up being her favorite student once she got to know him. Now he is about to enter high school and I'm not sure if we made the right decision. He scores a 98% on standerized testing but is getting C's and D's because he can remeber to turn in his homework.

So to answer your question, the thing that has worked the best for me is LISTS. List everything step by step. There is one one the bathroom door What to do when you get up, What to do before bed, There is one on his bedroom door What to do WHen he gets home from school. There is even one that says What Must be done before you ask to play video games. By thye way video games are great for hand eye coordination so it may help with the handwriting. But most of all PATIENCE. I find that my son remembers more when he has less stress and he has less stress when I try to be more patient. And Lots of praise when he does remember things with out being told 100 times. Good luck. I know how stressful and hard it is to raise a unorganized forgetful son.

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I am an elementary school teacher, and I have had several students with the same issues as your son. My most important suggestion is to have a lot of communication with your son's teacher, maybe even daily e-mails home about his behavior. It really makes a difference in student achievement when the parents are involved! You could try rewarding him with something special for good days, or losing TV, video game, or computer privleges for not so good days. Obviously, I'm not an expert at diagnosing attention problems, but it does sound as if your son has some ADD symptoms. Children with ADHD have the hyperactivity, but children with ADD can be disorganized, have trouble focusing, and have trouble following directions. (Not all kids that exhibit these behaviors have ADD, but it's always possible and it never hurts to check with a doctor!) I suggest taking your son to his pediatrician, and he/she will give you a form for you to take to your child's teacher. The teacher will write down what she observes about your son's behavior, and then the pediatrician will evaluate it. If they do decide that he has ADD and reqires medication, they will probably have to try several different medications and dosages before they find what will work. Good luck with everything, and I wish you and your son the best!

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M., Your son may not be ADHD, but he has ALL of the traits of a child with ADD. Been there, done that, survived! And we now have a 23-year-old son who is doing ok. If you don't mind, I'd like to share some things I learned about my son (and myself) as we worked our way through those years.

When Andrew was in 2nd grade, his teacher complained that he had difficulty paying attention in class. We were already aware that he was a fairly bright kid - wanting to read in kindergarten and quickly learning to do so. My initial thought was that because she was retiring at the end of that school year, didn't have the "love" for teaching as she once did, therefore she wasn't putting in the effort that perhaps she one had. There were also several challenging youngsters in this class. We talked with our son about the importance of paying attention and following directions, and while he seemed to understand, the teacher continued to let me know about every little thing that he did or didn't do. The proverbial "straw" was when she attached a note to a timed test of math facts. On this particular test, our son had done poorly. All his previous tests were 100%. What he had done was complete only the problems around the perimeter of the page and left all of the others blank. When I asked him why, he told me that he was tired of doing those simple problems over and over. Aha! He had mastered this skill and was ready for something more challenging. (He was bored with the same old timed tests of simple math facts!) When I followed up with his teacher and told her what he'd told me, she refused to believe me, preferring to believe that he was instead lazy. Third grade went much better. Part of that I credited to his maturing a little bit, and much of it was due to a teacher who offered challenges to those students who were ready to move on. When I told this teacher about the math test from last year, she laughed. At conference time, she told me that he was having some difficulty following instructions, but he was not disruptive. This was a good year for him academically.

Unfortunately, fourth grade was a disaster! Not only for our son, but also for my husband and I in trying to deal with what was happening at school. I felt we needed to do something to help the situation and my husband initially laughed it off, saying boys will be boys. One time after getting a call from the teacher for a meeting with my husband and I, we sat Andrew down for a serious talk. I knew there were several rambunctious boys in this class and that didn't help the situation. They tended to "feed" off of one another. Misbehavior in class had not been a problem for Andrew previously, but I knew that if he wasn't "busy" he could get into it! And he did. We told him what our expectations were concerning his classroom behavior. He got upset and felt that we weren't listening to him and were "siding" with the teacher. (Some parents - like me - still give the teacher the benefit of the doubt.) So, we asked him for his side of the story. He told us that the teacher yelled and threatened them with no recess. She also gave them so many "orders" that he couldn't remember them all (there's a flag), and he WAS finished with his work and had checked it and was still waiting on others to finish, he didn't have anything to do. Now, my son who pretty much liked school and loved learning, was "sick of school" and hated his teacher. Because I knew a number of the other parents whose children were in this class, I spoke with them and asked if their child had ever complained or mentioned that the teacher yelled and threatened. I got a resounding yes. And because I knew several of the rambunctious boys because they were often at our house to play, I could imagine how they might take advantage of a frustrated teacher with a raised voice. (I chuckle now, but back then I was mortified that my child was not a model student, and in some respects I have to agree with my husband that boys will be boys.) Early in the spring of that year, 4 sets of parents were summoned to school to meet with the teacher and principal. Our boys had staged a boycott on doing something the teacher assigned them to do. No one boy was guilty, and no one would rat another out. They were in this together. I don't even remember now what they were supposed to do, but they'd decided not to do it. I was at my wit's end and actually thought maybe the 2nd grade teacher was right when she said that my child might do better in school if he were on medication. But I wasn't ready to bow to that. (We did however, try medication for awhile, but our son didn't like how it made him "feel". He was also sometimes groggy during the day and couldn't sleep at night. After consulting his doc, we discontinued the meds. Personally, I feel like they are over-prescribed - everyone has their own thoughts on this - and we found others ways to deal with the situation.)

Instead, we spent a lot of time at home talking about proper school behavior. I was also noticing some of the same things that the teachers had said about following directions and being on-task. Our son was VERY into LEGOs! And he spent many hours building and playing with them - not a bad thing at all. But I started to notice that if I asked him to do something when he was engrossed in the Legos, he may have answered me, but gone right on playing. I'd ask again; still no action. Next time, I'd raise my voice, he'd answer, but still not get up to do it. Finally, I'd yell, and he would yell back - "Why do you have to yell and be mean when you want me to do something?" I explained that I'd already asked him 3 or 4 times in a nice tone, but he didn't get up and do what I had asked. He'd say he didn't hear me - even though he had answered. This same scenario occurred at dinner time too, if he was reading, or doing his homework or playing. This cycle continued with Andrew and us being at odds frequently. In the meantime, I had been reading about ADHD and ADD - the differences and similarities. One thing that literally shouted at me was that children with ADD (attention deficit disorder) have trouble doing is focusing, changing focus and/or re-focusing. The light bulbed flashed on! I finally had an answer to our situation - not only at home, but I also understood how it was affecting Andrew at school.

At times he was slow to begin focusing on his work - other things distracted him - thoughts, the sound of an AF cargo plane flying overhead, the squirrel in the tree outside the classroom window, children shouting on the playground, etc. I learned that his head was filled with thoughts and they came at him so fast sometimes that he couldn't decide what to follow through on.

Then once he was focused on something, ie Legos, he was DEEPLY focused and it was very hard to tear his thoughts away from the Legos. Same things happens in the classroom - the student is working on a math assignment and it's time now for social studies. The teacher instructs them to put their math books away and get their social studies books out of their desks. An ADD child is likely so focused on math that he didn't hear the instruction and goes right on working.

Once the focus on math is finally broken, there is the need to re-focus on social studies when thoughts of math are still firing in the brain. So you see, this can be a vicious circle for the kid.

I was also enlightened by what I read about the ADD child's ability to follow instructions. The focusing issue aside, it's time to prepare for leaving school for the day. The teacher instructs the students to check the board for assignments and to get those books from their desks that they need to complete any work they didn't finish in class. She goes on to say, "There are papers in your "mailboxes" that need to go home. One of them is the permission slip for the field trip which is coming up in two weeks. Be sure to have mom or dad sign it and bring it back to school tomorrow if possible." She's interrupted by a PA announcement that Bus 4 has been delayed and those students are asked to wait in their classrooms.

You get the idea. There are so many instructions to remember. For the ADD kid who was "torn" away from his math work to begin social studies, he probably didn't write down the assignment or now doesn't remember that he didn't finish the math homework. And even if he is able to focus on getting the books he needs to take home, the teacher is already on to the mailboxes having papers in them that have to go home, to field trip, to bus delay - which bus was it? I was practically in tears as I read - remembering myself in 4th & 5th grades when changing subjects and trying to make sure I had everything I needed to take home at the end of the day. I somehow learned coping mechanisms - there wasn't any explanation for what I was dealing with in the 60's. But now I understood, remembered my frustration, and could help our son.

What I read also led me to recognize what kind of learning situation/teacher would best suit Andrew's situation. So, I made an appointment to meet with the principal to talk about our son's placement for 5th grade. It's generally frowned upon to request a specific teacher - unless of course you are on the school board and I wasn't. So without mentioning any teacher by name, I described some of the difficulties we had encountered during the school year, shared some of my insight from things I had read, and described what I felt would be the most positive learning situation for Andrew. God willing, the teacher whose classroom I felt would be best for him was the one he was assigned to. She was open to hearing what I had learned about my child and willing to do what she could to help insure his success as well as that of all of her students. What a gift she was!

Throughout jr. high and high school, his teachers repeatedly told us, "Andrew has way more potential than what he shows in the classroom." We know it, but he has to see it for himself. Changing classrooms in junior high and high school made it easier to change subject focus, but the mind is still at work - racing faster than thoughts can be put to words or to paper.

Today, our son is 23 (24 in July). He started college, took some time off to work when he "wasn't into school", and is now back in school, slowly working toward finishing his degree in Political Science and Communications. Yet when he is interested in pursuing something he goes after it 100%. He was on the debate team in high school and played ice hockey since 5th grade. Now he's into cars and sports. He even landed an internship with a sports radio station that has turned into a paying job.

I'm sorry if I've given you way more information than you asked for, but I hope it is helpful to see the long term results of the challenges you may face with your child. Just keep loving and supporting your child and learn what you can about how he thinks (ask him sometimes).Iif you think your son might be ADD, read about it, and finally pray!

I am currently mom of 2 college students, previously taught school and ran my own business. Today, I'm a free lance writer and do the books for my husband's business.

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He may have ADD (Attention Deficit without the hyperactivity. That is what my daughter has and I hate it anymore that they are lumped together. They are 2 different things I correct people constantly. Anyhow, things that you can try are when you tell him something have him repeat it to you. My daugher is on medication because she really could not function at school no matter what we or the teachers did and was falling way behind because of it.

If you would like more information about medications or things to do I will be happy to talk with you. My email is ____@____.com


I do not know if your child is inattentive or Hyperactive/Impulsive but he sounds like he is primarily inattentive. I have a blog of information on the inattentive subtype of ADHD. For the primarily inattentive type sometimes behavioral and diet interventions work as well or better than stimulants. I have written about the behavioral and diet interventions that scientist have proven help ADD and ADHD. The URL is http://primarilyinattentiveadd.blogspot.com.

Nuchelle Hi

I am a first grade teacher and ADHD is not out of the question. This stand for Attention Deficiet Hyperactivity Disorder. He may not have the Hyeractivity side, but the attention deficiet side, meaning he has a hard time staying focused and on task. You need to take his report card and remarks from his teacher to his doctor. There they should give his teacher a form to fill out on his performance in school. The could be a possibility that some form a medication would help your son stay on track.
Parents often don't see this in their own children, teachers on the other hand can pick this up real quick. Hope this helps, but really take him to the dr. L.

There are two types of ADHD with and without hyperactivity...I would talk to your pediatrician--school districts can also have you fill out behavioral scales which rate things like distractibility--the Connors is a good one that relates to the DSM-IV which doctors use to diagnose such issues. You could also take this to your pediatrician--good luck!~
M. (behavior specialist for local school district!)

i have four sons,,two of which have a.d.h.d. One with hyperactived and one without (a.d.d.)my son that is a.d.d.
Couldn't focus and get school work done,after he was tested
they put him on addurall which worked wonders and he was in
first grade. Today shayne is in 11th and doesn't take meds.
And they have him in speicel ed. Just!!! To give him more time to conplete asignments. Shayne is almost a straight a
student!! So don't give up on him!!!!


As you can see from the many responses, your son may have more of the ADD and not ADHD. I recommend you talk it over with your physician. That is often the best place to start.

I have a son with who has the very same problem. I thought I was going crazy trying to help him pay attention both at home and at school. It takes very little to "derail" his thought train. My husband and I tried lots of different things to help him and his teacher this year is awesome. She really has gone out of her way to help him focus. Nothing really seems to help really well.

We called our son's doctor and she sent us some forms for us and for his teacher(s) to fill out. We sent them back to her and will be meeting with her to discuss the results and possibly putting our son on meds. My husband and I were both a little hesitant about the process but we both agree we want our son to do well in school and enjoy it. It just isn't happening that way right now. We will have the remainder of the school year to see if there is any difference in his behavior. From what I understand, if the meds are working, the difference should be noticable quickly.

Good luck with your son. As mentioned above, calling your son's physician is a good place to start.

Just because a child is not hyper does not mean they don't have ADD (take out the hyper part).
There is a wealth of information about how diet and exercise affect the brain. I've read The IQ Answer by Dr. Frank Lawless and gotten a lot of great info. Check it out and good luck.


Perhaps he is an auditory learner. Try having him repeat aloud what you ask him to do. An auditory learner processes things through their OWN voice, so just speaking TO them does not necessarily mean they PROCESS it. I had 4 sons and all of them had "ADD" type symptoms to one degree or another--all of them are successful people now. I once heard a musician tell of a school meeting he attended for his son, regarding ADD. He said that after he heard all the symptoms, he thought to himself...everyone I know has ADD--they are all musicians!!! If your son is getting good grades, he must be able to stay on task to some degree, or his teacher is really going easy on him. Some people just have more important things to occupy their brains than the mundane things the rest of us think are important. (i.e. brushing your teeth) : ) Can your son attend to anything? A movie, TV program, video game, conversation about something he is really interested in, a book he is reading, an art project? A truly ADD person cannot attend to ANYTHING. So much of the time children are labeled with medical problems when it is really just personality, learning style, and developmental differences. "Boys will be boys" as they say, and many boys "march to the beat of a different drum." I would use extreme caution before I allowed my son to be labeled by anyone!!!! I wish you and your son the best.

ADD is not out of the question. I know medication has a huge stigma attached, but, as a teacher, I have seen in work in kids who have trouble focusing. I would call your pediatrican and ask for some help. They can do some tests, talk to his teachers. Make sure the doctor doesn't just automatically jump to meds. Make sure he is in contact with the teachers. If he does recommend meds, make sure you and the doctor stay in constant touch with the teachers. Is he getting toom uch and is now a zombie? Is he getting too little and is still not focused. Do other things too. Timers are wonderful to help him finish a small task. Then move up to bigger ones. Make sure at school he is seated where he can focus and be less distracted. Once a week, if you can, go to the school and help him organize his spaces. Make sure he has a planner that you can communicate daily with the teachers - however, this should be his responsibility to get it filled out. Hopefully with these things it will help. Good luck.

Hi! Your son does not have to be hyper at all to have ADD. ADHD is "Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder." However, ADD is the same thing w/out the hyper part. I would definitley talk to your doctor about this and see if you can get him tested. Best of luck!

Have you considered his diet? My son was having concentration issues & I began cutting out foods with RED 40 dye & most preservatives. I don't know if its possible, but dyes in foods & preservatives are causing behavioral difficulties in kids who otherwise don't/didn't have them.
Also something I've started using for my kids is MonaVie, its a juice that gives them the basis for all nutrition (including Omega 3's etc.) & rebuilds brain cells, helping them in areas of health & brain function... worth a look? www.juice-moms.info

Hi. Just an FYI for you...ADHD does not have to include hyperactivity. They used to classify it as ADD but have since eliminated that term, but there are lots of ADHD kids without hyperactivity. A lot of the behaviors you are describing fit ADHD to a tee. You might check with your pediatrician, or look into going to a developmental pediatrician to get him tested.

I have a 10 year old who has had the very same issues. ADHD might be out of the question but ADD isn't. Most ADD kids are super intelligent and make good grades with little or no effort. The are usually disorganized and have issues staying on task. ie( the brushing teeth thing) My son is the same exact way, he is a little hyper but not really. He has a hard time remembering what he is doing etc.. Handwriting his awful because he rushes through it. He probably doesn't take his time to try to make it neat. I hate the idea of medication for kids but it maybe worth getting an evaluation. As mothers if there is a way to help our children get through life easier then we want to help. It worth talking to his doc about and see what they think.

Hi M. - My name is G., and I am a special education teacher, as well as a mom. I know that you said you ruled out ADHD because he is not hyperactive. There is another condition called ADD - no hyperactivity, but symptoms are inability to organize, follow through with a task, focus attention, highly distractable. ADD stands for Attention Deficit Disorder. Many of us have this.

Things that help:
Written list of things to do;
brush teeth, go to the bathroom, wash hands.
Routines written out with each step- getting dressed.
clean underwear, socks, pants. shirt shoes. Laminate the routine and put it on his bedroom door. If it is laminated - he can check off each step, and complete the task.

At school he can also have written lists of tasks to be completed. These kids get distracted half way through, and can't remember the original directions. If he writes down each of the assignments in school, he has a checklist there at his desk, to check off each task as he finishes one task - and he knows what to do next. The teacher can help hi with this too. There are also medications for ADD. I would recommend that he see a pediatric neurologist to diagnose, prescribe medication - your have to work with the Dr. to get the medication and dosage right, and adjusted as he grows. If he is ADD, the medication will make a big difference for him - but he may still need to make lists for himself. Hope this helps. Sincerely, G.

I know from personal experience(my own child) that there are three different kinds of ADD. They are ADD with inattention, ADD with hyperactivity and ADD combined(both together). If you can get medications regulated and then do behavior therapy it is really beneficial.
I am not saying this is what your child has but since you ruled it out due to him not being hyper, I thought you should know the different kinds.
Good Luck!

I too have a son with similar issues. We give him an Omega-3 (fish oil) capsule eveyday. This really does help "feed" their brain. They say we don't eat enough fish these days and we are missing the wonderful benefits from the fish....brain food! We started giving it do him when he was 4...he was not talking yet and within a couple of weeks he started talking. I can always tell a difference when he does not take his pill for the day or two. It somehow just seems to calm him down a bit and help him focus. It's worth a shot! Hope this helps! (If you would like a link to a website where we buy good quality fish oil, just respond back)

There are actually three types of ADHD - hyperactive type, inattentive type and combined type. I wouldn't rule out ADHD. I'm a special educator and work with several students who are extremely inattentive and their grades suffer tremendously without intervention of some kind. You may want to approach the topic with your pediatrician.

Do not rule out ADD... My son was the same way, he would even fall asleep in class. The simplest task required step by step directions. Children like ours are go undiagnosed, because they do not cause disruption in the class room. If you suspect something is there, just get him tested to rule it out.


My 10 year old has ADHD. When I started noticeing a lot of the same things in my 8 year old (all but the hyper part), I got worried. With the school and doctor's help my youngest son was diagnosed with ADD. School work, SIMPLE instructions... everything was hard for him to complete. Due to both of the boys not being on meds to assist them with their 'disorder' they missed out A LOT in the early years of school... The grades are getting better, handwriting too, but they are both still strugeling to get 'caught up'... Don't wait! If you notice there is something not 'right' you need to have him tested. There is nothing wrong with having your child on meds to help them concentrate (which I always thought there was something wrong with!!). My boys are like night and day when they don't have their meds or they have worn off for the day.
There are different kinds of meds you and your doctor can see are right for your son. There are some that you give EVERY day and they work continously. There are some that you give in the morning and they work throughout the day, and wear off. The second is what both of my boys are on. Neither one take the meds on the weekend or durring school breaks, as long as they work to help themselves with the disorder.

I can explain more about this if you would like. Just send me a message, if you want. :)

Take a deep breath and good luck!!

Hi M., I am a mother of 3 grown children and one granddaughter. I went through the same thing with my youngest child. However, his teacher claimed that he was ADD. At the time, I was young, didn't have the time or the resources to do the research into various methods of learning/teaching. Once the teacher diagnosed him as ADD/ADHD, the school was obligated to test him because she gave a medical diagnosis which she was not qualified to do. When he was tested, he tested out in the gifted area. As a result of the tests, I was able to move him to another room where the teacher actually taught to him and challenged him instead of giving him the same repetative work.

Other things that helped us were:

*getting an organizer/daytimer for him to write his assignments in as well as what he did in class (Let me warn you, this is going to be a challenge for you EVERY DAY until he gets in the hang of it. He will fight you on it tooth and nail. However, this is what actually helped him to stay on tasks, organize his time and assignments, and organize his free time as well.)

*we established a chore chart that he was responsible for going over with us each night before bedtime - which included making bed, getting dressed, homework, brushing teeth in the AM as the PM, going to be by his bedtime, chores.

My son is now in college in his 3rd year. He told me when he started college his first year that college was much easier for him that school. So, there is hope at the end of the tunnel! Just don't give up because it's the easy thing to do! Solicit help from family and friends, an outside tutor that specializes in the help that he needs - not all tutors know how to help all children - look for very specific positive ways to reinforce the changes that you want, but most of all shower him with love, understanding, patience and kindness, especially right now. He's more than likely getting picked on or things are being said to him in class in front of others that shouldn't be said. If you are able, take off a few days from work and go sit in class with him so that you can observe for yourself what's going on, where you see changes that need to be made, and how - more specifically - how you can help him. You are his parent and you have the right to go to school with him as often as you'd like no matter what anyone else says! If you can't spend the day, then just pop in and go for a couple of hours at a time. Find out what time his core subjects are taught and just pop in and sit down at that time. It will truly surprise you at how much you will learn in just one visit for a couple of hours. Be very objective so that you can truly see where his issues are, what changes need to be made, and how they need to be implemented.

You are welcome to chat with me anytime in the future, just IM me and I'll share my number.

God Bless,

I would definitely have him tested for ADD. This can be a very expensive process outside the realms of school, but if you request it from your son's school, they are required to pay for it. The older a child with ADHD/ADD gets (say about 3rd grade on), the more they begin to "deal" with it, which makes it harder and harder to recognize. I would have him tested, simply for the fact that the things you describe (even his handwriting), sound like ADD. ADD/ADHD are caused from brain waves not maintaining at average levels. This doesn't necessarily mean you would have to put him on any kind of medication (that is your choice), but it would help your child in the long run to learn how to get the most from his education as well as life. Please don't ignore these signs, because most likely, your son is noticing them too, he just may not know why.

Your son could have ADD. You need to have him tested through the school to see what might be going on with your son. I know school is about to end but talk to his teacher & see if he may need tutoring, special needs or something along that line. As for the hand writing BOYS usually have terrible hand writing but I wrote out a sentence & had my son write that everyday until it improved. His attention span sound like it's not long at all & you might consult with your family doctor about that part....I'm NOT saying he need to be medicated but you need to know what your dealing with now & better be on top of it now then later before it's too late or too far gone. I wish you the best of luck & God Bless!

Some kids are ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder)--the hyperactive part isn't in the picture. I can't tell you off the top of my head what the rest of the differences are. Have you talked w/ your pediatrician?

I am a 36 y.o. & married. Been married for 6 mo. now. Have 2 step-children (live w/ their mother).

I had the same trouble with my 11yr old. He has ADD attention disorder. He was a very quiet, not hyper just could not stay on track. We put him on vyvance this yr and it is like I have a new kid. We used to fight to get homework done and now he has it done and ready for me to check when I get home from work. We worked very close with our pcp and his teacher...it has been the best yr ever!

C. S

Hi M.
There are two forms of ADD. There is the ADHD that includes hyperactiveness and then the ADD which is the inattentiveness without the hyperactivity. My son is diagnosed with ADHD. The behaviors you have described with regard to your son are some of the key signs of ADD. I highly recommend that your son be evaluated for ADD by a doctor or counselor. I have worked in the social work field and counseling field for ten years and have worked with children with ADD and ADHD, along with my experience with my own son. My son is taking Strattera which is a nonstimulant and has counseling two times a month. I completely understand the frustration that you and your son are having. My son and I have it on a daily basis. Hang in there and remember that as frustrating as it is on the parents and teachers, it is ten times more frustrating on the child. Good luck.

Hi went through this myself and still am. Only my son is 17 now and it all started about 4th grade. I notices his hand righting and spelling was terrible. I talked with the school and has him tested for add adhd He had neither but he does have a learning disability. His brain functions are differently then most peoples. He can't remember lists of things enless he rights them down. If it is the same thing then u are in for a long hall and lots of work the school did teacher with a teacher (that is a teacher helps him read and write) one teacher techers the class while the other helps him or kids like him also I hate Phonics my son can't spell (try to spell the word spell) he spells it with one L because that is all you here. So when he writes it that is the way he spells it. There are things you can do read to him ask for extra books (class room books) math spelling social studies so you can help him at home. also when he is older a tape recorder will be his best friend. Good luck

I noticed many of you have children with ADD & at least one person also had a processing disorder. Do any of you worry about how this will effect your kids as they get older? My son has a really great group of friends but I can see some of them passing him by in maturity. My son has ADD with the processing issue and I just worry that he will loose his friends and have trouble making new ones. He tends to get lost in his own world and forget about others around him.

Hi M.,
B-vitamins and folic acid are considered brain food and also calms the nervous system. I specialize in health and nutrition and have heard and read testimonials from moms and dads who have add/adhd kids and use nutritional supplements as an alternative to drugs. There is always a big change at home and school which is really quite amazing. The products I use are Isotonix which means they are powder, and when mixed with water are ready to drink...they body can absorb these nutrients much better than a pill. If a child or adult has a health issue, their body is usually lacking something that it needs...nutrition, we all need basically the same nutrition, some however may need more than others. A lot of people lack b-vitamins and folic acid which play an important roll in our overall health. Giving the body what it needs to function properly is key. If you want more information, I can tell you what I recommend to family and friends. Take care, V.


There are two types of Attention problems- one has the hyperactive component ADHD and then there is ADD (without the hyperactivity). You might want to do further research on the second type.

M.--please know that there are 3 different types of ADD, one of which does not include hyperactivity. This type does focus more on inattention and distractability. I work for the Missouri Developmental Disability Resource Center at the Institute for Human Development at UMKC. Please feel free to contact me--I would be happy to send you a packet about ADD--Sincerely, J. Hatfield-Reed, Information, Referral and Outreach Specialist, MODDRC ###-###-#### or ____@____.com

Hi M.,
I am the mother of three children. One of my children has ADD with inattentiveness. This means that the child is not Hyper but distracted easily. There are some wonderful medications but if you want to try without meds, I recommend a book called "The ADD Answer" by Frank Lawlis (yes, from the Dr. Phil show). Please be patient and an advocate for your child. I don't know what school district you are in but there are some great parenting classes to help also. I hope I don't offend any teachers but I found very few that were sensitive to the child's needs probably because in the public school there is so much a teacher has to do already. If I found a teacher that would team with me it worked out great. Hang in there and most of all love him for who he is. Find out things he is great at and praise him, I know you will your a mom.

There is "Attention Deficit Hyper Disorder" AND just Attention deficit disorder (difference)". Of these 'two' there are about 6 diffent sub-types or combinations. Not all children who are ADD are hyper. Impulsivity also plays into it.
Other things to try- is your son getting 10 or more hours of sleep a night. does he have aleries that might keep him from sleeping soundly? try giving b vitamins and 'fish oil' capsules - they help with brain functions.
I have a son who is adhd and a daughter who is add. I don't think of it as a 'disorder' but rather a 'difference'.
A great place to learn a bit about ADD/ADHD is Dr. Amens clinic web site. He's done brain scans on the differences.
good luck!

I always knew my son probably had ADD, but we chose to deal with it through behavioral corrections at home until he was about 9 years old. That was around the 4th grade when the school work was transitioning into a different level of on task studies. He was floundering miserably and the teachers and school councelor suggested a specialist who tested specifically for ADD. He tested out as having ADD with no H, and VERY high on his IQ testing. Because of the dispartity between his IQ and his performance in class, it also qualified him for some Special Education. The specialist said because he didn]t have the Hyperactivity to go along with the ADD we hadn't came scrambling into his office when he was 4 years old! Kids without Hyperactivity often are late to the dance when it comes to being diagnosed.

It has made all the difference in his school experience. He's making straight A's in 6th grade this year.
Please do not ignore the signs of your son's difficulties, give him the tools for him to suceed in school, even if it means that he gets a diagnosis.

You can choose to medicate or not. We tried it both ways, my son actually asked to be put on medicine since he has several friends who told him how much it helped them. We are using Strattera as it isn't an amphetimine based medicine and there are less terrifying side effects(death as a "side effect" is totally unacceptable to me) He's doing great.

You may look into CAPD (Central Auditory Processing Disorder) or at least different aspects of it. He doesn't necessarily have to have the whole gammit, but with the proper testing/screening, you may be able to identify more of what the problem is. CAPD is where a person may only hear every other syllable of what you're saying or every other word of what you're saying, therefore, their responses may be odd/different. This greatly affects schoolwork, as with CAPD, the child can not decipher between what the teacher is saying (her/his voice) and the extraneous noises of what's around him (i.e. another classroom, students around him, the clock ticking, etc).
Just a thought?!

Hi M.,

I see you got alot of good responses but I just wanted to suggest getting a Hair Analysis done to determine if he has toxins in his body. These days it is so easy for our bodys to get overloaded with toxins from all the processed foods and packaging. If you want anymore information just let me know. Best of Luck


Sounds Like he may have ADD - Attention Deficit Disorder and Not ADHD - Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
You might want to ask your Sons Doctor what he suggest and Have him do the Vanderbilt ADD Test. My Son is 9yrs Also and He has ADHD. We didn't medicate him until he was in the first grade. But is does Great. He is a Straight A Student and is on task. The Teacher says he just comes in a gets right to work. I am not saying to Medicate your Son, because it isn't for all families or Kids. But it help tremendously with ours. I hope this helps.

I haven't read the other responses, so I may be repeating someone, but lots of people have ADD instead of ADHD. My dad and sister both have it. Neither are hyperactive, but both have trouble staying on task and focusing. They have a hard time finishing a conversation.
I am not one to quickly go to meds, but I have seen that they can help.

I work with toddlers and one of the things I try to do with them is build their attention spans. Kids need lots of time to run and be active, and explore on their own, but I also try to spend some one-on-one time with each of them and sit down together working on and finishing a puzzle, using building blocks, legos, or other manipulatives for gradually longer periods of time. So, one thing you can try to do at home is to help him learn these skills gradually. When you ask him to go brush his teeth, go with him and give verbal reminders as to what he is to do next "lets remember what you came in here to do" then let him do the remembering. Spend some time with him playing games and finishing tasks. It may be that he just needs a little extra guidance in learning how to focus.

Also make sure he gets enough time to be physically active. This is pretty important for all kids, no matter their attention span.

A diet full of high quality foods may also help. By this I mean so sugary foods, whole grain instead of white bread, lots of fresh fruits and veggies, and no artificial flavors, dies, colors, or additives. It's unbelievable how these things effect our bodies, especially the growing bodies of children. A great book to read on this is "If It's Not Food, Don't Eat It" by Kelly Hayford C.N.C.

It may be that he needs meds in addition to other methods you try. If you do go that route, I would make sure you teach him the skills he needs in addition to any medication he takes. Remember that if he really does need meds, it will help him learn more than he would be without them.
Best wishes, C.

There is a difference between ADHD and ADD. Your child can have ADD and not have the hyperactive problems associated with ADHD. The things you are describing seem to be those of ADD. You can talk to your son's Primary doctor or a couselor to have him diagnosed. They will have parents, school teachers, and anyone else who is close to your son fill out a questionaire on his behavior and go from there.

That's funny I have a niece with the same name. Anyway I AM SO GLAD I SAW YOUR MESSAGE.
I AM 52 YEARS OLD AND A TEACHER WITH ADD. YOUR SON MAY HAVE ADD. That is Attention Deficit Disorder without the hyperactivity. I diagnosed myself at the age of 40 after seeing a program on t.v. 20/20 about it. The symptoms they described were exactly what i was dealing with and nobody I was around teachers, doctors, family knew what my problem was! I had it confirmed by a TOVA test by a O.D. doctor in Overland Park, Kansas and tried Ritalin and I felt like I was clear headed for the first time in my life. I had trouble listening to the weather report and knowing what they said a minute later! Ritalin was a God send to me. I still have problems when I have something upsetting to deal with but generally I function a whole lot better. Please see an O.D. psychiatrist and have him tested. My symptoms were not being able to focus and pay attention for more than a couple of minutes maybe more and not being able to explain or talk about something without going around and around til I could get to the point. I daydreamed and imagined all the time and didn't get but M's in grade school because I COULD NOT pay attention. It was not in my power. I hope this helps. I had to wait into adulthood before I figured it out for myself. I wish your son and you the best of luck. By the way if he is on Ritalin and they give it to him 3 times a day he will have energy rises and falls as well as focus rises and falls. I am on extended release and I hope they can give that to him. :)

my son is at the end of 5th grade. From preschool on, we knew we were dealing with a child with ADD. This is our own unofficial diagnosis...we have chosen not to pursue any testing or meds....BECAUSE HE IS A HAPPY CHILD.

Each year, we meet with his teachers, explain our "take" on the situation, & discuss a game plan. The school counselor has been a huge source of ideas...she taught us many tricks to re-focus our son....at her recommendation, the teacher will tap on his desk/touch his book....whatever it takes to help redirect his attention. Another method is to have him repeat what we've just said, & then set the timer & have him "report" back to us...that way none of us lose track.

Our son excels in school, achieves Honor Roll, & is active in sports/Scouts/religion school. By being proactive in approaching his teachers, we've been able to maintain a working relationship....which has allowed him to thrive.

He will begin Middle School/Jr High next year. This is a concern for us....it will require extra effort on his part & vigilance on ours! Each year, we are very aware that we may have to readdress our methods. BUT, not until it affects his self-esteem & "take" on life. We wish you luck!!

What you described is very similar to what I (and teachers) have observed about my daughter. Profesionals have determined is a processing issue. The way I keep her on track is to repeat myself and be patient. When at home and we are going over homework all distractions have to eliminated, otherwise she quits paying attention or finds something else to focus on rather than what we are working on. In the classromm, teachers have said that while walking around the room, should they observe her not on task, they tap on the desk, nothing is said and she goes back to her assignment. We have know about this for a while and as she has gotten older her focus has improved but we continue to work with her.

Your son could have inattentive ADHD. I have done some reading on ADHD as my 8 yr old was just diagnosed. A call and visit to the pediatrician is probably needed. Ask the teacher for specific information regarding schoolwork, attention in class etc.
Hope that helps!

I am a doctor and find that there can be many factors contributing to this. Not all of these may be true, but even one can cause some of the symptoms he is having.
1. Diet- too much sugar, corn syrup or dyes.

2. Dehydration- not enough water. (just plain water)

3. Allergies- He may have a slight food sensitivity. See if he is craving anything in particular...he might just have a sensitivity to it. It can even be something healthy, like milk products or certain spices, or wheat.

I have helped a lot of kids with the same problem. It sounds like he might have the beginnings of ADD, (ADHD is the one that they are hyper). I find that with some diet and habit changes, many of my little patients have steered clear of the medications or even been able to reduce or get off of them.

You can email me for further information: ____@____.com
or go to my website www.bcoh.org

Dr. Jennifer Murphy

He can have ADD without the hyperactivity. We found that out when our daughter was tested. I would definitely get him tested. And don't be afraid of the medicine. Our daughter was on the lowest dose and it really helped. She was never over-medicated. Kids with ADD really struggle with wanting to do well in school and please the teacher, but feel it's out of their control because the chemical in their brain keeps them from functioning properly. I see it as helping them be more successful in school.

Another idea, especially if a doctor determines that he doesn't have ADHD/ADD, would be to try something like Sylvan Learning Centers. I understand they offer a study skills course. That might help some with his organizational skills. I have no idea how much it costs, but I'm sure you could research it on the Web.

There are two types of attention defecit. One is hyperactive, one is daydreamy. They can also be mixed. Both types are distractable, usually smart, but have trouble with organization, remembering directions and staying on task. www.BrightSolutions.us is a good source for signs and symptoms.

Good luck!

L. C.

Hi M.,
I have a 6 year old that also had problems staying focused and on task and did not appear to be hyper to me. I had taken him to his pediatrician to have him tested for ADHD / ADD. The Dr. gave me questionaires to give to anyone that has a lot of contact with him. ( parents, grandparents, teachers....). From the responses that was given, he was diagnosed with ADHD. The hyper part does not necessary mean what we would normally think of as hyper. In my son's case it is that he is impulsive (interrupting, acts before thinking....).

After the DR told me that my son is adhd, we went to Behavior counseling (which did not help for his problem) and then we went to a Psychologist to have him tested. The Psychologist (Dr. Wells in Edwardsville) tested him for hearing, attention...... He then verified that my son was ADHD and suggested putting him on Concerta. This has helped him tremendously in school. I have learned that kids with ADHD are very smart, they just have a problem with concentrating because they have too many thoughts running thru their mind at once.

There are also a lot of other things that you can do that can help him such as a reward system for doing things that he is supposed to be doing. The Psychologist had me buy the book TAKING CHARGE OF ADHD by Russell A. Barkley, PhD.

My suggestion is to go the your pediatrician to get the questionaires and go from there. If the questionaires indicate adhd or add, then take him to a psychologist to get tested.

I hope this helps.


Have him tested. My son was finally tested and was found to be disgraphic. Also, help him establish routines. Make sticky notes for him to follow. Be detailed! Once a routine is established, you can add another step to it occasionally.

Your son can still have ADD. Without the hyperactivity. My son is ADD and is in 5th grade. He has been on ADD medication for several years and he is the best kid. He was the same way he could not follow a two step instruction and still cant when he is not on his meds, or they have worn off. Ask his doctor. Mine still has a hard time with the grades, but that is in part to him not getting anything from his kindergarden and part of his 1st grade year.

Even though your son isn't hyperactive, it sounds like he certainly has trouble "focusing" to a task at hand and that is a tell-tale sign of ADD. I would encourage you to get him evaluated by his doctor, because last I heard it is a medical diagnosis and a Dr. has to start the process. I was a 5th grade teacher and later a school counselor and know of several students who had extreme difficulty in class without their meds simply because of needing to focus/pay attention to what's going on in class, especially with the higher work load that comes in 5th grade. You might also want to call your school psychologist for their advice--they can tell you exactly what the current procedure is for this. Good luck with this, and hang in there! I know it's very challenging trying to help your son "get his act together" but you're doing the right thing not letting this slide.

My son does not have ADHD. He is not hyperactive, nor does he bounce off the wall. What he does have is attention defisite disorder (ADD) he has a hard time focusing in school. telling him to brush his teeth is a big one with us as well. Somewhere from point A to point B, my son will have managed to focus his attention else where. He is medicated with a low dose of strattera (a non stimulant med) and it seems to work for him. Worth checking into... good luck

I used to use a program with a name something like Italicised writing or something similar. It was a style of writing that is a half step between manuscript and cursive and they teach the kids to make their letters so that it can easily be turned into cursive or even pass for cursive. It's very nice looking and very neat. It's a homeschooling thing for a lot of homeschoolers. But it's been years. Try googling a similar program. They trace and write these and work through workbooks geared toward their age so they get the size of the writing right as well.

I'm not sure I could help with organization because your son sounds just like me. I could easily go into any room with an agenda and forget why I'm there and do something else instead. I wish these schools would back off a little bit. Sure, you want to help him to be more responsible. But he has to want to and it's always worse at the end of the year when everyone is tired of school and thinking ahead to summer. So just talk to him but don't nag. Maybe set up a reward system next year. You could do something like 20 dollars for B's and 40 dollars for A's or just replace the money for anything else you find more appropriate. And of course I mean final report cards not tests LOL.

As far as I'm concerned, if the final grade isn't being affected, then the only thing you are dealing with is a cranky, tired teacher. Don't forget it's the end of the year for her too!


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