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Jennifer
Jennifer, School Psychologist
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 397
Experience:  Collaborative parent consultation on everything from modifying behavior to child development.
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My 7 year old son, Griffin, acts a little differently than

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My 7 year old son, Griffin, acts a little differently than most of the other boys his age. He's bright and very energetic. When he was younger, his energy was almost frenetic at times and was quite concerning then. Now, when he plays soccer he's the only one on the field who is seems very unfocused and and distracted by his own self play (flapping his hands around, spinning around, and generally not paying attention). When the coach tries to talk to him, the coach often just gives up because he doesn't pay attention. He's also getting more defiant at home. How shoiuld I approach this? Should I videotape his behavior, or keep a diary of it. Griffin saw a child psycologist who my wife and I were seeing to learn how to do a better job of parenting, and she said she thought he was "just one of those boys who needs to run around a lot." Your professional opinion please.
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Parenting
Expert:  Jennifer replied 4 years ago.
Chat Conversation Started
Jennifer :

Hello and thanks for using Justanswer.com!

Jennifer :

I'd like to help... May I ask a few questions to help pinpoint what's going on here?? How is Griffin doing at school?? What specifically are the behaviors you're looking to change? Other than flapping his hands, do you notice any other behaviors that might be meeting sensory needs? Does he have difficulty focusing in all settings or only in certain situations? I imagine this is difficult for you and I applaud you for wanting to help your son to be as successful as possible. With a little more information I'm hoping we can come up with some strategies to assist you. Thanks!

Customer :

Griffin is doing just ok at school. None of his teachers have ever said anything bad about his behavior. He does very well at math but his reading and especially writing/spelling are below level. He is fairly outgoing, but I believe some of the calmer children find him difficult to be around for more than a very short period of time. He seems somewhat immature for his age. He likes physical play (rough-housing, pirates, swords etc) but does not like organized team sports. He can focus for long periods on legos, video games and pretend play. He is an only child so he is used to playing by himself.

Customer :

(sorry I hit enter by mistake) The behavior we would like to change would be to have him focus on the tasks at hand such as being an , picking up his toys (this always seems to be a monumental task to him), doing his homework and follow through without everything being a huge battle. As for sensory needs, there is always some part of his body that is moving. He is never completely still. He speaks loudly, it is difficult for him to speak quietly for more than a few seconds. We'd also like him to be a productive team member instead of being so distracted. He's seriously the only one of the field who acts that way.

Jennifer :

I see a few red flags... My first suggestion is to have the school psychologist at your son's school do a classroom observation to see if she / he sees anything out of the ordinary when compared to same-aged peers. The benefit of this is that you'll have an objective perspective and he / she will be able to sit down with you afterward to discuss the observation and any suggestions they may have. If he's having difficulty at school at all, you can always request an evaluation (free of charge). School support teams (typically comprised of a learning specialist, school psych, speeth path, and OT / PT reps) evaluate children all of the time to determine whether they may qualify for additional support (individualized educational goals, case management, specially designed instruction, counseling, etc. -- all under the broad umbrella of special education services). There are many high functioning, very bright students who receive this kind of support even when their needs are minimal. Even if he doesn't qualify for any services, the evaluation itself would give you a great deal of information (IQ test, academic assessment, social-emotional rating scales, and speech/language assessment if needed). May I ask if you've noticed any social skills or communication deficits? Also, is he easily distractible?

Customer :

Not sure what you mean by communication deficits. As for social skills, I think he is very outgoing but is not always willing to play the game or do the activity of a group of peers. He has only two good friends he plays with mainly.

Jennifer :

Another avenue may be to mention your concerns to your pediatrician. They can also refer you to specialists who can evaluate to determine if there are factors out of your son's control that may be contributing to some of these behaviors. In the meantime, consider how you might meet some of his needs in acceptable ways. If he has sensory needs, perhaps a "squish ball" (I buy them frequently at the dollar store) may help to meet the need for tactile stimulation. See if that helps him to focus more when he's doing deskwork or other quiet activities that require his attention. On the field or in the classroom, the coach or teacher might come up with a pre-determined word to capture his attention and remind him to focus (without drawing attention to this fact). We even use things like clickers in classrooms to meet this need. Sometimes the unusual sound is enough to redirect attention as is a hand on the shoulder, a tap on the desk, etc. Have you talked with him about what you've noticed? Does he notice he has difficulty focusing as well? Communication skills include both expressive communication (ability to express his needs clearly) and receptive (understanding others). Examples of deficits might be difficulty understanding / following multi-step directions, difficulty retelling a story or explaining the sequence of a movie (beginning, middle, end). Those are just a few, but common for those who might have difficulty in this area. When it comes to social skills, do you find that he initiates social interactions? Does he ask questions when communicating and seek friendships? I hope I'm not overwhelming you with questions... I'm hoping to rule out possible areas of concern for you through all of this.

Customer :

He tries to "break in" to social situations but I don't think he really knows what to do so he acts silly, talks babyish, or gets a little bit physical. No, he doesn't ask questions when seeking friendships. He does have difficulty retelling a story or explaining what happened during his day (or lack of desire to do so). He often says he doesn't remember. Sometimes he'll tell us a sequence of events, but not often.

Jennifer :

Based on what you've told me I would think an evaluation would be very helpful. You could go the route of your pediatrician, but you'll have to pay for the services. I don't often recommend school evals, but if a parent came to me with these concerns I'd want to check them out. These are issues that are likely impacting him at school (socially and academically), so they should be willing to assess to rule out possible causes. As the therapist siad, this could very well be a case of immaturity and he may simply grow out of this. However, it may be beneficial to rule out other possible causes just to be sure you're not missing something. I'd want the speech pathologist at his school to look at his language abilities. The school psych could assess in the areas of attention / distractibility, and overall social / emotional / behavioral functioning. I'd recommend you mention some of the sensory components as well as they might be indicative of other needs for assessment. The only thing you need to do to initiate this process is call your son's school. Ask to speak to the school psych and explain that you've noticed some things that may warrant an evaluation. Ask for a pre-referral meeting. This is a meeting where you'll sit with the team (you're the most important team member) to discuss concerns and determine whether an evaluation is needed. They'll ask further questions to help determine the kind of evaluation that might be necessary. You are your son's greatest advocate. The upside of all of this is that I only see issues that can be easily addressed. I also see a very caring parent willing to do some research to figure out how to help her son. Good for you! I wish you the best of luck in all of this and please feel free to ask any additional questions you may have (today or in the future). I'm signing off for now, but will check back later.

Customer :

Thanks so much for your helpful advice. Wish you were here! I'm happy to pay for this advice. Bye for now.

Jennifer :

Glad I could help!

Customer :

I keep clicking "Accept" to pay you, but it says you haven't finished answering. Were you keeping this open on purpose? I'm new to this.

Expert:  Jennifer replied 4 years ago.
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Expert:  Jennifer replied 4 years ago.
I doubt you're doing anything wrong. I've been having tech issues with "chat" mode for the last few days. I've switched it to Q&A mode so that should help. I wish you the best of luck with your son!
Jennifer, School Psychologist
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 397
Experience: Collaborative parent consultation on everything from modifying behavior to child development.
Jennifer and 2 other Parenting Specialists are ready to help you

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