Private tutor able to help Delta student learn to control ADHD

Tuesday, August 19, 2008
AARON EISENHAUER ~ aeisenhauer@semissourian.com Cody Kneir, who was diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, has been able to control it with the help of a tutor. The side effects of a medication forced him to stop taking it.
AARON EISENHAUER ~ aeisenhauer@semissourian.com Cody Kneir, who was diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, has been able to control it with the help of a tutor. The side effects of a medication forced him to stop taking it.

Cody Kneir used to sit in his classes at Delta Elementary School and feel like "just running around," he said.

"I don't know where I wanted to go," he said. "I just wanted to run."

Cody has attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD. The behavior refers to individuals who are easily distracted, impulsive, hyperactive or some combination of these symptoms. In Cody's case, he has a mild combined form of hyperactivity and distractibility. But getting to this mild form has meant experiencing social misunderstandings, bad school grades and side effects from medication. Now, through the help of a private tutor, he has learned how to operate on a more socially acceptable level.

In the third grade, Cody was diagnosed with ADHD, said Marilyn Kneir, his mother. She said she suspected he had it because he wouldn't sit still while studying. She said he couldn't spend more than 15 to 20 minutes doing homework.

"He could not focus," said Sheila Eby, Cody's third-grade teacher at Delta Elementary School. said. "He was very bright, but getting him to work and put it down on paper was very difficult at times."

People with ADHD "have two values in time: now and not now," Dr. Stephen Jordan a neuropsychologist at Saint Francis Medical Center. "It's why physical activities are utilized. Unless an activity is inherently fun, they don't do it."

That year, Cody began taking the drug Strattera, which helped him focus on his school work. However, it also caused complications for the three years he took it.

Before Cody began taking the drug he had been taking medication for migraine headaches, Kneir said. The Strattera seemed to disable those drugs and make his headaches worse, she said.

"It made my brain hurt," Cody said. "I just couldn't think."

During one year in school he had problems passing his classes, even though he was still on the Strattera, Kneir said. Cody had problems paying attention in class and needed things explained more than once. Kneir said the teacher that year didn't believe her when she said Cody had ADHD.

Kneir said the teacher wouldn't explain anything more than once, and said Cody should learn how to take better notes.

"If a child has ADHD, it takes three or four times to explain something before they get it," Kneir said.

At the end of his fifth-grade year he stopped taking the Strattera because it was making him tired by 4 p.m., Kneir said.

After he got off the Strattera, Kneir said, he stopped getting tired.

Before he stopped taking the Strattera, Cody was having a bad year at Delta. Kneir was looking for help when she saw an advertisement for a private tutor who could help children with ADHD. She immediately signed Cody up.

For the past three years, Cody has been meeting with Vicki Abernathy for an hour once a week for one-on-one tutoring sessions.

"They hit it off right from the start," Kneir said. "She has been a godsend."

Abernathy said when she and Cody began working together he was a slow reader, lacked rhythm and couldn't stay focused on a single subject.

Abernathy said in order to keep him focused they would do the hardest homework first, which was always math. She would also entice Cody with his favorite snacks, such as Cheetos and Pepperidge Farm Goldfish if he finished his homework.

With Abernathy's help, Cody began doing better in school. He used to stuff papers in his backpack without putting them in a folder. Abernathy said he's still doing this, but now he is able to spend more time doing his homework.

"He still wigs out every now and then," Kneir said, referring to episodes where Cody can't concentrate on his homework and has to run around. "But now he is able to calm down and focus without as much difficulty."

adohogne@semissourian.com

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