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My son, 13 yrs. old, has been growing in the last two years as expected from his German background, I supposed. He wears adult-size clothes and 11 1/2 shoe size. He has become very unfocused in many things such as dropping and spilling everything, from milk to food, to not been able to perform two different things one after another. It's just impossible and he was not like that before! Talks lasily and walks lasily when he supposedly was hyper and over active! He's a very smart young boy but has a hard time focusing in his studies as well. From been a Gifted and Talented student, he is now just a kid who doesn't care as long as he passes his TAKS scores. Every professor mentions the potential he has in becoming a student that excells in all areas but he just doesn't seem to care at this point and I am concerned. Please advise.


Jim Taylor, Ph.D. Replied: You are really asking three distinct questions here. First, your son's recent clumsiness is probably due more to physical changes rather than focusing issues. It is quite common when boys have a significant and rapid growth spurt for them to see a temporary decline in their motor coordination In a sense, your son is learning to control and use a new and unfamiliar body. There is no need for concern if this is the case. He will, in time, grow into his body. I would encourage you to encourage him to participate in sports and other activities that will allow him to use and sharpen his motor skills. Second, your concern about your son's being rather lazy in his speech and movements rather than hyper and active may also be related to his recent growth spurt. His body requires more energy and he is learning to use it properly, so a slowing of his pace may be normal. There's nothing that says that 13-year-old boys are supposed to be hyper and active. Perhaps he's just mellowing out in his "old age." Finally, it's also not uncommon for boys entering adolescence to have a loss of motivation and focus in their school work. Remember that, in addition to the obviously dramatic physical changes, your son is also undergoing deeper physical changes related to puberty (e.g., raging hormones), as well as social and emotional changes as he evolves from a boy to a man. Also, "not caring" is another common occurrence among adolescent boys (it's not cool to care about school in many school cultures). I would suggest the following: 1) Establish expectations and consequences for hard work, time commitment, and school performance; 2) Talk to your son about his feelings and goals; 3) Explore what obstacles may have arisen that might have caused his loss of motivation (e.g., fear of failure, pressure from parents); $) Be sure that he isn't having any social or other difficulties at school that might be causing his decrease in motivation, and 5) If he has a difficult time focusing, you might consider having him assessed by a trained professional for ADD.
Posted On 2007-08-20 12:32:17
Dr. Steven Kairys Replied: It is not unusual for young teens who breezed through school in the past to show signs of the non-hyperactive ADD with executive function issues of poor organization, lack of focus, difficulty prioritizing,etc. There are other possibilities also, including depression, drug use. A good psychological assessment would be helpful.
Posted On 2007-06-20 13:01:25
Mark Viator Replied: The adolescent years can be tough, particularly when physical changes occur before the emotional/mental changes. Many of the behaviors and attitudes that you describe are fairly typical of the young adolescent. They begin to show interest in other areas, other than school, and they do seem to be "lazy." While some of the behaviors, such as not focusing and not performing well, should be of some concern, I would not rush into thinking that he might have ADHD or some other form of behavioral or learning difficulty. I would, however, take some steps to help him. Start off by taking him to his doctor. It never hurts to have a physical just to be sure nothing is wrong. Next, talk with him about his studies. Offer to get him extra help or tutoring. Encourage him not to give up and to try to really excel in the areas that he does well in. Also, please remember that he is going through many changes. He may feel that he does not fit in anymore. Give him some time to catch up emotionally with his growing physical body. Finally, if his behaviors worsen over the next few months, then take the necessary steps to get him to a counselor. Many times, particullarly with young men, they just need someone, besides the parents, to help them sort out all of these feelings and changes. Good Luck.
Posted On 2007-06-19 09:50:22
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