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Help for 16 yo DS organisation losing my mind


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#1 steppingonlego

Posted 26 June 2019 - 04:49 PM

At my wits end.

DS has never been organised. I have cajoled, helped, yelled, denied things, got teachers involved but he just seems incapable of it. It is doing my head in.

I got his report. This is a child that excels in art he got marks in the 80s and 90s for all his pieces.

He did not hand in his visual art diary so got a 0 for that and ended up on 46%. He wants to do design at Uni. He put in two terms of effort for the visual diary work but because he was too disorganised to hand it in he got nothing.

I am after tips because I have run out of ideas. I emailed his art teacher among others.

Apparently he was warned by email. I asked him. He doesn't check his email.

I know many of you will say "he has to learn....natural consequences....its up to him" but I can't see him fail on this scale.

I have told him from next term we will be getting him to open his emails in front of us and making sure he has responded or done the work for all we will also be checking he is up to speed on his tasks every day until he hopefully gets into a habit, I told him if he wanted to behave like a primary school student he would be treated like one.

The Playstation is out of his room from 5pm Sunday until 5pm the following Friday.

We have bought diaries, apps you name it but he doesn't stick with any of them,

Please tell me any tips you have for getting this kid organised.

#2 JBH

Posted 26 June 2019 - 04:58 PM

Do you think he would be more receptive to working on strategies with someone who isn’t you? If you can find an OT with experience in working with teens, they are often good at these kinds of things.

#3 MooGuru

Posted 26 June 2019 - 05:01 PM

I don't know whether this will work for you but as a disorganised person electronic reminders are good. And I often set a few for important things so say 3 days before *reminder Tuesday 8am appt. Then the evening before *reminder 8am appt. Then a final one 2 hours before. Setting the notifications takes maybe a minute.

Eta: if he's very artistic I wonder if he's a visual learner? Maybe a wall planner  (I had one sticky taped to the back of the toilet door when I was doing my HSC).
Different colours for different things?

ETA again - oh I also find a to do list very helpful if I'm feeling overwhelmed or unable to prioritise. Like the wall chart I need to be able to see it - diaries etc don't work for me at all.

Edited by MooGuru, 26 June 2019 - 05:07 PM.


#4 Jembo

Posted 26 June 2019 - 05:06 PM

Following.  I also have a 16 yr old DS who was diagnosed with a short term memory disorder.  We have tried it all as well.  I encourage him to write notes for things he needs to remember.  He is currently at Ag School,  boarding, so I tend to txt him reminders for things.

Unfortunately he is having to suffer through the consequences, I think he gets into trouble weekly cause he "forgets" to set an alarm and misses breakfast.   I find all I can do is encourage him to set phone reminders and write things down.

Edited by Jembo, 26 June 2019 - 05:07 PM.


#5 SFmummyto3

Posted 26 June 2019 - 05:24 PM

My dd was like this and ended up being diagnosed adhd amongst other things. She procrastinated terribly and was overwhelmed with the workload and didn’t know where to start so she often just didn’t do anything. Very smart but just needed some help.

Along with the schools help and my follow up at home she’s been doing much better but it requires planning and follow up from me.

Everything gets written in the school planner including due dates, tests, exams, sports etc. She has colour coded each category and finds that helpful. Eg. due dates are all in red so she can see them easily.

I help her break down large projects and exam study revision into smaller bits and she writes in the diary what to do each week and then ticks off each task when she finishes them.

She also has learned to ask the teachers for feedback on her progress as she’s working on something instead of just leaving it.

This system has been working quite well for her and she’s been achieving better marks. It does require me to follow up each week with her and ensure she’s continuing to write tasks down but so far so good! We go through her planner together still sometimes but for the most part she can handle it herself now.

She also has checklists for a couple of activities so she can go through each item and know what to pack. If she forgets something then yes it’s natural consequences.

Edited by SFmummyto3, 26 June 2019 - 05:27 PM.


#6 José

Posted 26 June 2019 - 05:31 PM

id think about seeing a psych who works in this area

is ADHD a possibility? or just executive functioning deficits?

I'd consult a psych and see if they recommend any assessment or strategies

#7 steppingonlego

Posted 26 June 2019 - 05:36 PM

View PostMooGuru, on 26 June 2019 - 05:01 PM, said:

I don't know whether this will work for you but as a disorganised person electronic reminders are good. And I often set a few for important things so say 3 days before *reminder Tuesday 8am appt. Then the evening before *reminder 8am appt. Then a final one 2 hours before. Setting the notifications takes maybe a minute.

Eta: if he's very artistic I wonder if he's a visual learner? Maybe a wall planner  (I had one sticky taped to the back of the toilet door when I was doing my HSC).
Different colours for different things?

ETA again - oh I also find a to do list very helpful if I'm feeling overwhelmed or unable to prioritise. Like the wall chart I need to be able to see it - diaries etc don't work for me at all.

I have tried apps and phone reminders but he doesn't set them. I think I will have to set them. I am happy to try a wall planner again I will need to go and fill it in though. He loves all the ideas when we come up with them but doesn'f follow through using them.

View PostSFmummyto3, on 26 June 2019 - 05:24 PM, said:

My dd was like this and ended up being diagnosed adhd amongst other things. She procrastinated terribly and was overwhelmed with the workload and didn’t know where to start so she often just didn’t do anything. Very smart but just needed some help.

Along with the schools help and my follow up at home she’s been doing much better but it requires planning and follow up from me.

Everything gets written in the school planner including due dates, tests, exams, sports etc. She has colour coded each category and finds that helpful. Eg. due dates are all in red so she can see them easily.

I help her break down large projects and exam study revision into smaller bits and she writes in the diary what to do each week and then ticks off each task when she finishes them.

She also has learned to ask the teachers for feedback on her progress as she’s working on something instead of just leaving it.

This system has been working quite well for her and she’s been achieving better marks. It does require me to follow up each week with her and ensure she’s continuing to write tasks down but so far so good! We go through her planner together still sometimes but for the most part she can handle it herself now.

She also has checklists for a couple of activities so she can go through each item and know what to pack. If she forgets something then yes it’s natural consequences.

I have just gone into his inbox created categories for each subject and started moving emails into folders. Leaving only actionable items in the inbox. I have told him we will categorise them each night and leave only what is needed in the inbox.

He doesn't speak to the teachers if he can avoid it. I have told him to ask ask ask it is what I am paying for but he doesn't.

I think a planner on the wall a  monthly one might be helpful if I sit with him each night and look at what is due in.

There were 2 emails from the art teacher they had been clicked on (not unopened) but I don't think he read them at all.

#8 steppingonlego

Posted 26 June 2019 - 05:38 PM

View PostJosé, on 26 June 2019 - 05:31 PM, said:

id think about seeing a psych who works in this area

is ADHD a possibility? or just executive functioning deficits?

I'd consult a psych and see if they recommend any assessment or strategies

I would be happy to look into that. The thing is he can focus very well on things he is interested in but not on things that matter like school. If he wants new headphones he will research which ones are best but not for an English assignment.

There has never been a flag raised in these areas but I am happy to consider it

#9 ali-song

Posted 26 June 2019 - 06:15 PM

View Poststeppingonlego, on 26 June 2019 - 05:38 PM, said:



I would be happy to look into that. The thing is he can focus very well on things he is interested in but not on things that matter like school. If he wants new headphones he will research which ones are best but not for an English assignment.

There has never been a flag raised in these areas but I am happy to consider it

That’s pretty typical for ADHD

#10 Luci

Posted 26 June 2019 - 06:19 PM

l agree with some PP’s - could be introvert ADHD. Does he also tend to procrastinate & misplace items he needs to complete school work?

#11 Silly Old Elf

Posted 26 June 2019 - 06:32 PM

I wonder if this is more around anxiety rather than disorganisation? The email avoidance also supports this. It may be around worrying about not getting perfect or good scores where he isn’t as comfortable?

#12 Trevor Trove

Posted 26 June 2019 - 06:38 PM

I'd look at an adhd dx. It is crippling for things like study :(

#13 SFmummyto3

Posted 26 June 2019 - 06:44 PM

Creating different categories from the inbox etc is a great idea. I wonder though if it might help him to physically write tasks down from those emails. That is what I would have dd do otherwise just leaving things all online did not work for her at all. I think that the act of writing something down with a pen and paper helps some people remember much more. I’m like that too and so is my dd. And I’ve taught my other kids to do that too. Your son might be similar so I would have him write everything down himself. You could supervise for a bit and check in on him til he gets the hang of it.

I also bought a large paper month to view desk planner, one that you tear off each sheet at the end of the month. It’s on her desk and right there for her to add things to and she refers to it a lot. I think I got it at officeworks but prob can buy elsewhere too.

Edited by SFmummyto3, 26 June 2019 - 06:46 PM.


#14 onetrick

Posted 26 June 2019 - 07:10 PM

Honestly- he sounds similar to a lot of 16 year olds, including me at that age. I got better when I realised that being organized actually meant doing less work (I'm efficient and always look for the quickest way to get things done) as I was misplacing things, leaving stuff at home so having to redo it at school etc.
If he is visual, then a system might work? Lots of my students colour code and that's what I used to do. So each subject has a particular color on my timetable, color book/ section in a binder, and homework would be in a diary in that colour. As a teacher, I often dont write the full thing, just draw a star in my planner in the colour of the subject to signify a due date.
I'd also suggest a routine of checking compass or whatever online system the school uses, and transferring dates to a diary. easier to see a week at a time in a diary. Maybe 10 mins after school once or twice a week to check?
I think that the biggest thing is changing the mindset of 'organisation'being 'more work', and realizing that it actually means less. Took me failing a subject to realise it, so hopefully this low mark does the same for your DS.
Good luck!!

#15 Mands09

Posted 26 June 2019 - 07:21 PM

Whatever you do try not to go it for him. He needs to find something that works for him so that later on when he is studying further or just in general adult life he has the skills he needs to be able to handle it himself.

Perhaps an OT as previously suggested.

#16 kadoodle

Posted 26 June 2019 - 07:26 PM

Mine finds the planner ap and alarms on his phone helpful. A blast in the ear is a good reminder to put the novel down and pick up the maths book. I have been known to spray him with the cat behaviour water gun, and that works too.

#17 Quick hedgehog

Posted 26 June 2019 - 07:41 PM

You need to read chapter 4 of   "He'll be Ok, Growing Gorgeous Boys into Good Men"  by Celia Lashlie.

(hint, sign up for a free trial of Scribd.com  and you can access
it there)

As many PP's have suggested, there may well be something going on you can help him with, but if not, this will make you feel a lot better and give you hope.

#18 PrincessPeach

Posted 26 June 2019 - 07:55 PM

View Poststeppingonlego, on 26 June 2019 - 05:38 PM, said:



I would be happy to look into that. The thing is he can focus very well on things he is interested in but not on things that matter like school. If he wants new headphones he will research which ones are best but not for an English assignment.

There has never been a flag raised in these areas but I am happy to consider it

That is my brother exactly - he is gifted & ADHD inattentive (I'm sure that's the new term, it was plain old ADD when he was diagnosed). The giftedness meant he could bumble through without raising flags.

#19 CallMeFeral

Posted 26 June 2019 - 09:17 PM

I second the inattentive ADHD likelihood.

#20 QuirkyMum

Posted 26 June 2019 - 10:14 PM

Some fancier ADHD clinics have psychologists that help organise work/life/high school work for such kids and adults (!).
I'd also suggest reading a book for life/home organisation for ADHD adults, it will give you an insight
to how such brain works and a list of strategies that are useless and strategies that might work.

#21 xxyzed

Posted 26 June 2019 - 11:10 PM

My DS is 14 and has adhd. I actively monitor his activities. Each night I ask about homework and assessments. Every weekend I check the schools online assessment program to help him plan out his workload. I also go through his folders and schoolbag and emails for crumpled up discarded papers. If you are unable to provide this sort of support which is pretty normal at 16 when kids don’t won’t to hear it from parents there are ADHD coaches that can assist with this sort of structure.

#22 Prancer is coming

Posted 26 June 2019 - 11:21 PM

If you think it is really impacting on him and he cannot manage in his own, I would get it checked out.  spending hours doing something they are  interested in, yet being unable to focus for more than a few seconds on something deemed boring is referred to as hyper focus and common in ADHD.

One of mine has ADHD and the diagnosis helps me have realistic view of his capabilities.  So whilst most 16yos can organise themselves or learn from natural consequences, I would be aware that DS would struggle with this and need help, not because he is lazy.

Edited by Prancer is coming, 27 June 2019 - 09:34 PM.


#23 coolbreeze

Posted 27 June 2019 - 08:30 PM

View PostPrincessPeach, on 26 June 2019 - 07:55 PM, said:

That is my brother exactly - he is gifted & ADHD inattentive (I'm sure that's the new term, it was plain old ADD when he was diagnosed). The giftedness meant he could bumble through without raising flags.

I think my ds is this!
CB

#24 FeralRebelWClaws

Posted 27 June 2019 - 09:13 PM

We find term planners very useful for our students. You could just draw one up in word and get it printed in A3 (so 7 sections for each week of term). Write on due dates and other  

Then write all the assessments and when they are due. He might need some help with scaffolding the tasks? So breaking them down and figuring how when those parts should be finished by.

Good luck!

#25 hoohoobump

Posted 27 June 2019 - 09:25 PM

If you/he are visual the Seth Purler YouTube channel - all about executive function - could be another place to get ideas.






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