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MomWithOCDSon

Reading Speed

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DeeDee -- Boy, did you hit the nail on the head: how to "enforce" his "moving on." You can talk 'til you're blue in the face. He will tell you that, yes, he knows it's not a good use of his time to reread or to ponder every word along the way. He will tell you, yes, this time, he's going to move through more efficiently. And he means it . . . it's not lip-service, and it's not him being a pacifist, either. It's just that the intention and the rational thought can get trampled by the perfectionism in the moment. He's conquered it in so many corners, so this is a stubborn one. It doesn't help, either, that your standard teacher is constantly issuing admonitions to the class to "read carefully," "reread Section XYZ to prepare for the quiz," etc. We constantly have the talk about The Lowest Common Denominator in school, and how so much of the instruction and warning language is intended for that sector of the population, how it really doesn't apply to DS, but because it suits the Perfectionism's world view (I'm going to start capitalizing that word, since it's taken on a life of it's own in this particular quadrant of our world), he has trouble truly setting it aside.

 

Interestingly, LM's metronome idea does appear to have made a dent in that, if only temporarily or because of its novelty. We'll have to see if the technique continues to be of positive impact. Once we turned the metronome on last night, he did not stop and go back, did not reread, did not pause, take his eyes off the page and find something else to distract him. He just kept reading. Progress!

 

DCMom -- My friends at work call me "the anti-mom," more or less for the same reasons and examples for which you've earned your "un-parent" title! My DS comes home, complaining that his classmates swear and it makes him uncomfortable, so for the next several weeks, I swore in front of him at every possible opportunity (I usually keep a lid on it at home, but clearly that was working against us). So now we've come to the point where he doesn't criticize others for swearing, and he'll even use a word or two in its proper context, particularly if he's quoting someone else. He was also an absolute prude about everything else (I don't know where he gets this stuff), so I pretty much dropped any pretense at age-appropriate television, YouTube videos, reading material (bring on "The Onion"!) in front of him; now he'll watch the occasional episode of "South Park" and pretty much every episode of "Top Gear" without bolting from the room when someone uses risqué language or behavior. He decided alcohol was pure, unadulterated evil and threatened to call the police rather than ride home in the car with DH and me after a dinner out during which each of us had a single martini. So DH and I decided we would have at least one drink at pretty much every family dinner and insist that, in addition, DS must toast us with a clink of his water glass to our wine/beer glasses. After about 2 months of not giving in to his religiosity/fear over adults' use of alcohol, he dropped it and hasn't raised the issue since.

 

The challenge we're having with this reading issue is, of course, that we can't actively push against the issue without his participation. His bedtime is sacrosanct, so we're not giving him extra time to complete his reading when he struggles/drags/avoids/rereads. He'll get the grade he gets in light of how much he has or hasn't read and comprehended, and he'll have to deal with how that feels when it happens. But he will also come home full of regret if/when things don't go well: multiply your DD's confession/pledge by a factor of 10, I'm predicting. It all proves to be a very big and real paradox because the Perfectionism is stumped by the process and the consequences: he must read slowly and carefully to be Perfect, and yet he must also complete the reading in order to do well on the test and be Perfect. DS currently views the two pieces of that as mutually exclusive, so instead he wants to blame the teacher for giving them too much material to cover (possibly objectively true), the book for being poorly written (also possibly objectively true), etc. I welcome the opportunities for DS to learn that Perfect isn't a worthy goal (actually, he already knows that outside the heat of the moment and accepted his first B ever last year with good grace). I just want him to develop some solid, reliable, accessible skills and tools for dealing with this reading material issue because I know it is only going to get tougher in a college curriculum (at least in terms of pace).

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Nancy - I'm shocked but of course glad the metronome helped last night. I'm sure you have a good handle on the ERP aspect of whatever you devise. But from the ADHD world, I'll toss out this thought. In the ADHD brain, it acutally helps to multi-task. To ask the brain to do more than one thing at a time because it's the bored brain that gets distracted. So ironically, chewing gum or sucking on a hard candy in class helps ADHD or ADD kids focus. So do fidget tools like reading while fiddling with a rubber band wrapped around your index fingers or playing with silly putty or rolling a ball of rubber cement between your fingers. Or reading while listening to music with head phones or ear buds in. It's very counter-intutitive but it really helps.

 

Perhaps the OCD brain is a little like the ADD brain - give it too much time on its hands and it allows elbow room for OCD thoughts. So maybe the sound of the metronome or some headphones or a fidget tool could help. Maybe put a ball of rubber cement on the edge of a ruler and let him play with the cement whie using the ruler as a slide bar on the line of text he's reading. Or change it up.

 

Normally, I'd agree that straight ERP is the cleanest approach. But since you need his full participation and neither of you have control over when his mind wanders until it's too late, maybe keeping the OCD part of his brain distracted while he reads dry textbooks will help.

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Unlikely this will help, but when I was in school (AP kid, but not a pandas kid) I found that taking notes while reading my texts helped me to feel like I was not missing anything. I could condense a chapter down to a few pages of notes this way, and use them as a study guide for a test. This served me well for college also. I used a linear format for clarity as well.

 

I. Main topic

A. First main sub topic

1. Minor point

a. Detailed point

B. Second main sub topic

1. Minor point

2. Second minor point

II. Main topic

 

ETC......

 

Maybe this could help him speed read through, jot down the important stuff he sees, and he can feel more assured that he is not missing or will forget an important point.

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DD15 is struggling with similar issues, working at the speed of a solid in trying to perfect the reading and the work, to the point of finding grammatical errors in the textbooks. She is historically an academic over-achieving student so the OCD behaviors exacerbate her perfectionist tendencies.

 

She is so goal-oriented that I turned that in my favor. We set times for completing work using an old-fashioned kitchen timer that ticks (there is that metronome concept)....and then she enters the time to complete the task on a printed spreadsheet. She decides whether or not she meets the goal and then rewards herself accordingly - amazing but it works. When that timer goes off, the books close no matter what and we go do something away from the room, just to break the grinding-to-a-halt-cycle. It drives her CRAZY when I force her to quit studying and she is beginning to connect the dots that she needs to pick up the pace when she has the allotted time.

 

The patterns of behavior in the older kids is fascinating. The only difference with DD is that she cannot stand to have the TV or radio on but that may be due to her thinking that good students study in a quiet setting.

 

At this pace DD will complete high school in about twenty years which seems a tad too old for prom, so as I keep trying strategies, I will gladly share them.

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Nancy,

I love the idea of making him complete his work and go to bed at a certain time regardless of whether the work is done or not. This is a great way of giving him ownership of his own pace. You are a genius. This is it's own way of making his perfectionism force him to be timely. It's perfect (no pun intended). I expect using that technique will solve this problem in time. I just love this forum and all of the genius minds that come together here.

 

Dedee

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Nancy,

I love the idea of making him complete his work and go to bed at a certain time regardless of whether the work is done or not. This is a great way of giving him ownership of his own pace. You are a genius. This is it's own way of making his perfectionism force him to be timely. It's perfect (no pun intended). I expect using that technique will solve this problem in time. I just love this forum and all of the genius minds that come together here.

 

Dedee

Thanks for the compliment, though there was far more practicality and far less genius involved in the school night curfew. From birth, this kid has always required a lot of sleep, and he is simply not at his best -- emotionally or mentally -- without a decent night's rest. So homework has always played second fiddle to two non-negotiables: sleep and meals!

 

I hope you're right . . . I hope the self-limiting impacts of the real world clock will pick up where we leave off as parents and coaches. He's had a tendency, however, especially when he was younger, to live his life as though the clock would just stop ticking if he needed it to: if he wasn't "ready," if he needed "just 5 more minutes," etc. He's gotten past all that, thankfully, with the exception of this reading stuff.

 

This, too, shall pass! (Crossed fingers!)

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Nancy,

One thought might be to have him take this class without having to worry about the AP test at the end. In other words, he would be well prepared to take the course in college, but would not be under the stress of having to actually get the material down well enough to pass the AP exam. It would at least take a little pressure off him. If he wants to skip the course, in college, perhaps the college he wants to go to will allow a CLEP exam to pass in for it. CLEPs can be taken anytime, at his convenience--no pressure. Cost about $100. Not all schools accept them, but it is a thought. My older two children have taken several. Saves lots of money.

 

I have personally taken two AP classes--biology and chemistry. Stressed out all year in the biology class only to get a non-passing score on the actual AP exam, though I got a "B" in the class. With chemistry, I never even considered taking the AP test, relaxed in the classm and learned much more. Got an "A" in the class.

 

Also, perhaps when he does go to college, he can just take 12 credit hours instead of the usual 15. I know that is extra money, but in your son's case it may be worth the extra cost to take away the pressure. Lots of people take five years to graduate. He could make up the difference by going to college in the summer if he really wanted to.

 

So glad your son is doing so well! It's a great encouragement to me.

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