Distractible Donnie

The following is an example of actual experiences children and their parents have when faced with some school, social and/or behavioural difficulties. The purpose is to demonstrate a typical case which many parents may identify with. Names have of been changed for privacy.

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Donnie was an 8 year old boy who was friendly, kind and very outgoing. He liked spending time outdoors and was very creative and imaginative. He liked going to school and playing with his friends. Although he made good grades in tests, in the classroom, his teacher said that he was too chatty and got easily distracted. He did not always finish his writing activities on time and sometimes it appeared as if he was avoiding writing. He would sometimes disrupt his classmates by tapping his feet or fingers on the desk. A few times his classmates complained about him, that he played too roughly. Donnie once made a negative comment to his parents saying that “Nobody wants to play with me.”

Donnie’s parents and teacher started noticing that his grades were dropping and he was having more difficulties keeping focused and often got in trouble for being disruptive in class. His parents and teachers knew that he was an intelligent boy who meant well. So why was he not doing as well as he should in school? His parents could not understand what was going on and they decided to take him to a psychologist for an educational evaluation.

They met with the psychologist, who spoke to his parents at length and spent many hours with Donnie doing a variety of tasks. The evaluation revealed that while Donnie was indeed very intelligent, he had trouble with lengthy writing tasks and was given an ADHD diagnosis. This meant he had attention difficulties that prevented him from keeping focused on his school work and learning in the typical way and was sometimes overactive and had difficulties with managing his behaviour. The psychologist explained this to the parents in simple terms so that they understood what his learning style was and how to focus on his strengths and work on his weaknesses.

This psychologist made many recommendations to suit his learning style and even recommended that he go on medication to help him manage concentrating in class. But his parents was sceptical about medication for their child so the psychologist recommended they try many other things and if those did not work, to revisit the medication recommendation.  The psychologist also did a school visit to share the findings with his teachers and to make sure Donnie was getting the support he needed there.

These interventions improved Donnie’s grades at school. When Donnie had to write his SEA exam the psychologist’s report helped him to get concessions such as taking short movement breaks in the exam, a separate room to be free from distractions and extra time for essay writing.  Donnie did very well and passed for his first choice. His parents continued to ensure that he got the help and support that he needed in secondary school.

Submitted by: Lena Jogie

Lena Jogie is a Clinical Psychologist in Trinidad and Tobago offering confidential services in psychoeducational assessments, mainly in children and young adults. Her interests are in promoting awareness and education, and sharing her experiences. This is the second of four articles she will be sharing through Social People.

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