Friday, February 27, 2009

A Work in Progress

A couple weeks ago, I talked about Mason and his behavior ... here and here. There are a couple questions I want to answer and then I am so done with this topic.

After that week from h-e-double toothpicks, I have been very careful about the amount of artificial color that Mason has ingested. He is not allowed to have any red, although I have allowed yellow and other colors in moderation. Red is the real stickler with him ... it makes him crazy!

That said, his behavior has improved. He still has his moments, but overall ... he is doing much better.

We have continued to use the sticker chart at school and he has been inconsistent in the amount of stickers he receives each day. I am not convinced at this point, however, that it is just him being inconsistent ... I think his teachers are inconsistent as well.

And that is a problem.

Last Wednesday, Mason got four out of five stickers. The reason he didn't get the fifth sticker? Because "he spent too much time telling his friends to listen during class". Seriously. So we have gone from one extreme to the other.

This past Wednesday, Mason got one of out five stickers. Sigh. I don't remember now what all the reasons were, but I thought some were a bit extreme and that the teachers expectations were perhaps a little too high.

But then I questioned whether or not I thought that just because it is my son that we are critiquing here ... so to speak.

So today, he got three out of five stars. The two stars he didn't get were for not following directions and not keeping his hands to himself. The explanation? "When walking in the hall, Mason was touching the walls, the coats and his friends."

Are you friggin kidding me?

First of all, they docked him in two areas for essentially the same behavior. Second of all, he is a five year old kid! Is it really that big of a deal that he is touching the walls and coats in the hallway as they walk by?

I don't know, maybe my bias is getting in the way here. I just think that perhaps their expectations are a bit high. As far as I am concerned, he got five stars today.

The poor kid ... he tells me everyday ... "Mommy, I'm trying ... I'm really trying!"


I also wanted to address a couple things with regard to ADHD, evaluations and medication. Although I have looked at a list of symptoms, I am in no way trying to diagnose him with ADHD right now. In my opinion ... and in the opinion of many professionals ... he is too young to evaluate appropriately. I want to wait and see how he does once he enters kindergarten in the fall. If we need to evaluate at that point, then we will.

So for now we are addressing the issue mostly by watching his diet, only because I have seen what it does for him. We are working hard on rewarding good behavior and trying not to focus a lot on the bad behavior. I should note, we do talk about his bad behavior, but we sort of try to turn that into how he can make it better. I hope that makes sense.

Thanks for listening to me ramble and for all of your feedback!


  1. IMO,he needs to get 5 stars. He needs to know that he can succeed and it is possible. If they always set the bar too high he may say "the heck with it". They need to just give him the stars for trying and then raise the standards later. Children need parents that are biased in their favor :)

  2. I totally agree with Loving momma.
    And OMG, are they for real? Touching the walls, make ya want to slap some sense into them doesn’t it? Bethany I think your going to have a big year ahead dealing with these teachers.
    One of my nephews with ADHD, had a year of being medication free simply because he had a wonderful teacher, that “Got it” knew how to talk…with my nephew.
    These teachers are out of line. Here we see the opposite, kids with problem behaviour are always being rewarded, drives my DD crazy lol Because “The naughty kids always get the student of the week” I tell her it’s so they keep trying. Like posted already, what is the point if a child is feeling worn out from trying and never getting the full rewards for it. The focus shouldn’t be on, how often he goes off track. He’s a boy and having issues with food additives and other things going on, it’s not going to matter how much Mason wants to be good, if he has environmental things going against him.
    Keep doing what your doing give him lots of rewards, I wish you all the best in dealing with the teacher/s who don’t get it.

  3. I just wanted to mention and I am sure you might know this already but the touching the walls etc can be a sensory seeking activity. Alana touches EVERYTHING lol..It gives her feedback that she needs sometimes and its part of her sensory issues and also her need for joint pressure. Maybe if they gave him a fidget toy when walking or something then he would keep his hands to himself :-P. That being said I totally agree for a 5 yr old boy they really have some high expectations! Have you tried getting him on a 504?? where you can put those stars etc in it for his accomodations and this stuff has to be agreed upon by you? things like fidget toys in the hallway, extended test times etc.. its like an IEP but less invasive and more just about certain accomodations.

  4. Here is a link some lovely lady’s from a parenting forum sent me, when I was looking for information on Sensory Processing disorder, after our Pead OT Dx, Matthew with this.
    and a check list
    you’ll need to scroll down the page a bit for this.
    my son is big on the first question in the check list, he hates it if we touch him lightly
    also foods do seem to trigger a lot of problems for us. One the OT picked up on was food temperature. I always knew Matt only liked his dinner (all foods) cold, as he’d leave it every night then go back to it. I just needed the OT to put it all together.

    What a journey your on, best of luck, it’s a rocky road to start with.

  5. I'm glad things seem to be getting better. The red dye is interesting....I've never even noticed it on labels (which I read ALL the time due to allergies). We don't eat alot of packaged stuff anyways, so maybe that's why I haven't took notice too.

    Anyways, I'm babbling.

  6. I am so glad things are getting better. hang in there... i think you are doing great!

  7. As a parent of a child with serious emotional and behavioral issues I would like to assure you and remind you that Mason is 5. He should have little to no attention span :P lol I think sometimes doctors are too quick to give kids a diagnosis and forget that they are just kids. If he was 11 and completely unable to follow a SENTENCE without being distracted or totally unable to listen to anyone or anything if the TV is on because he cant peel his eyes away. Then you would have to worry. Mason sounds like a really sweet boy. He is a boy and his is 5 so that kinda explains a lot. he he.. not that im trying to dumb down the behavior. just saying it sounds fairly typical.

    as for the Red. I have heard QUITE a bit about Red's being a major culprit as far as allergies and hyperactivity as a child i was taken off ALL artificial foods and preservatives which apparently helped a great deal

    good luck Bethany we all know you are a great momma! Keep up the good work!

  8. Bethany and Mason - may the Force be with you - and your teachers!

    I don't know the answers, but I do sometimes wonder if the charts aren't sometimes a better indicator of the teacher's mood on any given day.

    That said, I know that teaching and managing large groups of kids is not easy, and I bow low to those who do it well.

    Good luck!

  9. I agree with you that they seem to set the bar too high. It's completely normal for a young kid to touch the wall when he walks by. I also really don't see what is bad about such things. It seems like the school is really aiming too high.

    A sticker chart system only works if the child is able to obtain the five stickers. If he he never reaches the goal he will soon feel demoralised and like he can't do anything right. This can cause him to behave more badly because the child will feel like this what everyone expects from him so why should he bother to behave himself better.

    It's better to not set the aims too high and make sure the child can with some effort obtain the five stickers. If this goes well the school can then introduce some new rules and demands on his behavior.

    Consistency from the teachers is very important.

    Of course I don't know Mason or his teachers but from everything I have read his behavior really doesn't seem that outrageous compared to that of his peers (at least my sons and their friends)


  10. I've often wondered if Kayla has ADHD, she has a lot of the same characteristics you've described with Mason. She's very active, impulsive (she would also be the kid walking in the hallway touching everything - and she's 5 too! LOL) no one has ever suggested it to me though, it's jus something I've thought because of how active she is. But then I wonder how easy it is to dx since she has Ds - do you notice any difference in activity levels with the girls compared w/Mason? I try to make sure Kayla doesn't have anything with red in it either and really I didn't find much stuff in my house that did have it, so I already wasn't buying that/giving it to her.

  11. Ahh Bethany! My heart is there beside you! My son is 8 yrs old and has ADHD. He was diagnosed at age 5 and the signs were there earlier as well. I think you are doing a great job!! Google ADHD and you will find a MILLION opinions on how to help-cure-fix-medicate-discipline your active child. Even if he doesn't have ADHD, it's crazy trying to figure out how to help your child when there are so many conflicting opinions. I will pray for wisdom for you :-)

    It does seem like your son is set up to "fail" in a sense he can never seem to get those 5 stickers on his chart at school--that can be very discouraging. I am wondering about the "touching of the walls, coats" etc as they were walking. Was he just grazing them? Or was really pulling so the items were falling and moving all over the place? Did the teacher remind him not to touch? Or did she just write down the behavior that bothered her? Seems like a bit more digging might be necessary I guess.

    Anyway, keep up the good work! You're a great mom and your son is blessed to have a mom that cares so much :-)

    Laurie in CA