ADD and School-Aged Kids
Berkeley Parents Network >
Health & Medical >
ADD and School-Aged Kids
Activities for 7-yr-old boy with ADHD symptoms
I have a sweet, bright and inquisitive 7-year-old son with
impulse-control/immaturity issues that have been causing him a lot
of grief in structured settings, such as classroom or even camps.
The issue is not necessarily the structure alone, but rather
abundance of stimuli - lots of kids, lots of noises, etc. In
one-on-one settings he is definitely more focused and more
manageable (from a teacher's standpoint). As I said, school has
been a challenge in that regard, the teachers get easily frustrated
with his behavior and he's received enough criticism/reprimand to
last an average child a lifetime. As a result, we've been shying
away from extracurricular activities. We tried tae kwon do when he
was much younger, but the teacher had to spend a disproportionate
amount of time on him, leaving other kids stranded, so we
discontinued with the class (and our son wasn't that into it). We
tried Lego camps and despite the fact that he is REALLY good at
building with Legos (the teacher had a hard time coming up with
projects that were challenging enough for him), we still ended up
frequently getting an earful regarding his impulsiveness. I was
hoping to get recommendations for classes that you found to be
excellent for a boy with these characteristics. Or more
specifically, if you know (or if you are) an instructor who LOVES
all kids, including ''challenging'' ones, that would be even
better. He is a pretty bright kid who gravitates toward science,
engineering, not so much sports or art, but we would be open to
I could've written your post. Sigh. Its tough for our bright and boisterous
boys, no? We have recently (last six months or so) started a couple of
things that are really working for us. One is that we're taking swimming
classes one on one. Less stimuli than all the kiddos in the pool and his
swimming skills have really improved. Then recently we started taking tennis
lessons, also one on one.
Email me off list and let's chat more. julie
Sorry to hear the challenges your bright and inquisitive 7 year old is
having. I can relate! My beautiful compassionate and intelligent 10 year old
went through an extremely rough year last year in 4th grade that did a
tremendous amount of damage to his self esteem and confidence and desire to
My solution was to find a place where he was emotionally safe,
accepted and nurtured. Like your child my son was criticized and reprimanded
for behavior he was not in control of which did a TON of damage. He was also
over stimulated by all the stuff in his classroom not to mention the 28
students packed into the small classroom. I actually moved my son to an
amazing school that is doing wonders for him. He LOVES going to school and is
happy. He no longer talks about being angry and not knowing why or feeling
dumb because he learns differently. The school is known for looking at the
whole child and finding solutions that work for each child. They teach them
how to manage themselves, even those who are challenged doing so and
practices differentiated learning, reaching children from where they are not
where they are supposed to be. The classroom sizes range from 9 to 15
students, which gives the students breathing room and the teachers the
ability to work with those who have special needs.
Here are some of the
things that have helped my 10 year old in just 4 weeks since school has
started. He was provided a netbook to use instead of having to write to
address the low turn issue and the feeling of not being able to write and
think at the same time. He and his teacher use a private signal to let my son
know when his behavior is not working so that he can then do a breathing
exercise or move himself to the break chair, which gives him the time to
regroup and come back and participate in a respectable way. The teacher and
the librarian have taken my suggestions about what style of books work best
for him when trying to find reading material for my son instead or forcing
the typically 5th grade reading material on him. The teacher used a conflict
resolution process with my son and a friend within a day of an incident
happening that left my son feeling hurt and unmotivated. These are just a few
examples. I have many more. For life long skills that will help your child
excel and learn to be accountable without being punished I highly recommend
looking at Windrush School. What happens at that school is truly MAGICAL in
all grades and all classes!!!! Good luck to you!!!!!!!
Hi. It sounds like your child, you (and undoubtedly the
rest of your family) have been dealing with a complex and
likely to be ongoing situation. My son was first evaluated
at age 5 for ADD--he is now 18--one excellent piece of
advice from our pediatrician --this is a marathon, not a
Reading your post reminded me of the feedback I received
about my son in the early days. And while classes may be
helpful, I wonder if you are also exploring evaluation and
if appropriate, medication.
Some in the Berkeley community seem to automatically
denigrate use of ADD medications--would they be so negative
about a diabetic taking insulin??
Medication made an immediate and dramatic improvement in my
son's ability to participate in his''journey'', as well as
school and social interactions. He himself sees medication
as useful and has been involved in discussions about its
utility and judging the right dosage since he was 5. The
effect is so dramatic that when he has failed to take a dose
one day for one reason or another, his teacher or camp
counselor has recognized the difference (without knowing he
was on medication). Without the medication (primarily
stimulants, in various forms over the years) he is basically
unable to participate in or benefit from school and social
interactions.Currently we see Brad Berman for medication and
I am not suggesting that medication alone is the answer. My
son also is in ongoing therapy with Betty Tharpe, MFT (510)
549-2092 who has been invaluable for my son, and our
family--she is positive but clear thinking and pragmatic
about what we all need to be doing.
Over the years, we have also done social skills groups, etc
etc. fellow marathoner
6 year old was recently diagnosed with ADHD - your thoughts?
Hello there. I have a 6 YO son who has sensory processing disorder, and
was also recently diagnosed with ADHD (combined type). I'm looking for
thoughts/experience in two areas:
1) We are looking for a good psychiatrist or pediatric behavioral
therapist to help us with a plan to help our son. Brad Berman is
someone we'd LOVE to see (and I see recommended here quite often), bur
unfortunately, he's not available until MARCH! So, I've made an
appointment, but need help before that. I'm overwhelmed by the long
list of doctors to choose from, and wondering if any of you have
experience with (or heard of) the following Blue Shield of CA-contracted
doctors: Diller, Akindele, Zuberi, Simon, Levine, Towery, Kokade,
Isenstadt, Massie, Fink, White, Hartog, Michel, Pollatsek. Any feedback
you can provide would be greatly appreciated.
2) Also, dare I ask the question: to medicate or not medicate? I'm not
looking to stir up controversy or get super strong opinions... I respect
both sides and just want to hear different thoughts - and would
especially want to hear from other parents in our situation with a
really young child. Part of me feels he's too young to start meds, but
the other part of me just wants to make it a little easier for him as he
starts school (he is very aware of his issues staying on task, focusing,
sitting still, etc.). And if you were in our situation with a young
child diagnosis, what did you do, are you glad you did it, and what
would you have done differently? I should also say that there are other
things we're going to look at to create a full treatment plan for
Thank you in advance for any help/guidance!
We used Dr. Lane Tanner with Children's Hospital Oakland and
he was awesome, although I don't think he was on your list.
Same deal with the long wait. In terms of medicating - we
didn't medicate for years because we were already using lots
of asthma meds. But after many years of fighting over
homework and school being a let down for our son, we started
using adderal. The very first day (he was older than your
son, maybe 11 or so) he said ''wow - everything made sense.''
So in retrospect I do wish we'd medicated earlier. Although we do have
to really watch the appetite and we
don't medicate on weekends or holidays unless he has a big
soccer game or something. We were told we could probably
stop medicating at around 14 or 15, and I can see that being
the case. He just turned 14 and he is much more capable of
monitoring his attention. Good luck! another mom with an ADHD kid
If you are considering meds, I highly recommend reading the
recent articles in the New York Times Review of books (June
23 and July 14).
I debated whether or not to use meds for both of my
children, now in their early teens. The argument ''for'' was
that meds would work quickly and help them focus more in school.
I decided to take the slower approach, which was a
combination of neurofeedback and academic coaching. Academic coaching
gives kids specific strategies for
focusing in class, doing homework, etc, and a good coach
understands strategies that are age appropriate. Neurofeedback is a way
of training the brain (giving
feedback) to do what it takes to be more focused. Research
shows that results are long lasting, while with meds the
benefits stop as soon as you stop the meds. For us, the
results have been a complete turnaround in school performance.
Several friends of mine tried meds for their kids diagnosed
with ADD and ADHD, and report that it ''seems to help a bit''
- weak praise in my book. Another friend tried them for her
child, and is already on a second set of meds to manage the
I'm really happy about the path I took.
Medication Question Response:
My son was diagnosed with ADHD (inattentive type) as well as
sensory issues and many OT issues at an early age (3 1/2). I was adamant
that my child would not be medicated and so we
tried *everything* (as well we should), and some things did
help him. He was fortunate to have great teachers that were
willing to constantly redirect him when his attention
wandered, and I spent nearly all evening redirecting him so
that he could get his homework done. Finally in 4th grade I
was willing to consider medication since there had been no
real improvement and the increase in workload/expectations
was becoming very challenging for him. His teacher at the
time was very supportive, and a comment she made about the
reversibility of this decision is what finally convinced me
to give it a try. Her point was that we could stop
medication at any time (if the side effects were
unmanageable, if the desired results weren't achieved,
etc.), and no harm would have been done. Well, in his case
the results were immediate, positive, and the best thing I
could have done for my son. His new found ability to focus
and work independently were an immediate source of pride for
him. It is 4 years later and he still takes medication, and
it is a very conscious choice on his part. He is very aware
that his ability to focus is greatly compromised without it
(as evidenced by weekend days when he has forgotten to take
it and then had homework to do--it takes us right back in
time). My only regret (with the benefit of 20-20 hindsight)
is waiting so long to give it a try.
Just Our Experience
I was diagnosed with what is now considered ADHD very young,
but that was in the early 70's when it was still being
referred to as mild brain damage and hyperactivity. First,
how lucky your child is to have parents and a medical
community who will support and understand, it will make all
the difference! I started with Ritalin at 7 yrs old, but it made me so
spaced out and mellow that the teachers decided they would
rather do things like give me structure, routine, and no
sugar. 33 years later, those still seem to be the most
effective things for me, along with a cup of coffee! The
drugs are so much better now, available in lower doses and
time released doses, and a variety of combinations to
experiment with. I have taken them all over the years to
some advantage, and you should be prepared to be patient and
know that experimenting for the right drug and dose is a
long journey, but can be very worthwhile. I would say that
as a kid, the social problems of being not very self-aware
caused more grief than the focus issues of not getting work
done. Just so you know, I have a masters degree and am
highly regarded in my field, and have a great husband and
child, while always managing ADHD. ADHD also has it's
benefits, as a totally different neural thinking path allows
for really creative problem solving. ''attention deficit'' is
such a misnomer; it should be called ''attention abundance'',
with everything being so interesting and stealing our focus!
I wish my parents and teachers had given me insight as to
the benefits and treated it as just a different way rather
than a curse. Good Luck!!!!
Just thought I'd chime in on this one. I, too, ''fought'' the
concept of medicating. At the end of 4th grade, on the
recommendation of several people ranging from my daughter's
therapist, physician, friend who is psychologist, etc. I
finally started meds over the summer. The next school year
was amazing. While she still has ''executive function''
issues, her homework was getting done in record time, I had
zero disciplinary notices sent home from the school (except
one for not wearing the correct uniform socks - lol), she
made more friends (because she was no longer engaging in
''annoying'' behavior), and her grades went up such that she
was on honor roll (this was an academically strenuous school
in another state). My daughter thanked me for having her
take the medications. She is about to turn 14 and is still
on them, although we recently switched meds following a huge
As several people pointed out to me, if she had another
disease (such as Type 1 diabetes) would I hesitate to give
her the medication she needed? Keep in mind, it may take a
few months to figure out what ''works'' for your child. Some
of the ''extended'' meds don't work that way on all kids. (My
daughter ''crashed'' after lunch on one that was supposedly
all-day ''extended release''.) Also, some of them gave her an
upset stomach, others not. But it is worth it in the long
run, for your child, on so many levels: educational, social,
Wish I'd done it sooner
My husband and I have been in marriage counseling for a
year now. We're doing really well, but last week our
therapist suggested that my husband might have ADD. We did
a lot of research and think that he does have ADD. Now,
he's waiting for an appointment with the doctor and
possibly psychiatrist. Well, I've also said for a long
time that our oldest son is a mini version of his father.
My husband agrees and we are also taking a close look the
possibility that out son could also have ADD (neither
seems to fall into ADHD catagory). My questions are to
anyone who has been through this process. To medicate or
not to medicate? How do you discipline a child with ADD?
Any proven methods to help them remember things? How do I
cope with this condition? I want to support them both, but
it's so hard to not get frustrated when I see them
constantly forget or put things off. Are there any good
support groups in the Dublin/Pleasanton/Livermore area?
Any advice on good reading material for both coping (them)
and handling it better (me) is appreciated. Thanks!
Trying To Find Help
My 10-year-old has ADD, inattentive type. He has been helped
a great deal by taking Concerta and he can now actually
interact with the teacher and students
in the classroom, participate in discussions at the
family dinner table, and play on a sports team. He could not
do any of these things before, because of all the distractions
going on inside his head all the time.
You should have your son evaluated by either a developmental
pediatrician or a neuropsych to see if he does in fact have
ADD. If so, you can discuss the options with your doctor.
There is a lot of info about ADD on the internet - in particular try the
I'm a coach who works with non-linear thinkers like people
with ADD and many artists. A great resource is www.CHADD.org
It stands for Children and Adults with Attention
I can only answer part of your question and stay within
the maximum character limit... sorry... I have a son with
ADD or ADHD depending on who is doing the talking. I'm
sure this will buck most of the advice given here, but
medicating him has been the best thing we've ever done for
him. It is not a decision we made lightly. In fact when he
was first diagnosed in 2nd grade and we refused medication
outright. We had a hard time accepting the diagnosis; he
seemed just like all the other little boys we knew.
However, by the time we got to 4th grade it was obvious
that he had more difficulty concentrating and sitting
still than his peers. Between the ADD and his learning
disabilities school was a struggle for him and constantly
being in trouble was wrecking his self-esteem. Once it
became apparent that he was having trouble in social
settings as well as academic ones we decided to give the
medicine a try. What a difference. His reading got better,
his writing got better, he was able to concentrate and
remember things. His self-esteem improved as he saw his
academic struggles diminish. Don't get me wrong... he
still has learning disabilities and memory problems... but
things are much better than they were. Overall I'd say it
was truly a wonderful thing, and I wish I'd done it
sooner. Give it a try and then worry about techniques, you
never know what results you are going to get.
See my response to a question above about ADHD. Ed Hallowell
and his wife have a new book out about being married to a
person with ADHD.
Our 10 year old son was recently diagnosed with ADHD
(inattentive type). We are looking for recommendations for
resources, groups, classes, books, playgroups, IEP etc. to
educate ourselves so that we can nurture our son and be good
advocates. We would be most grateful for any feedback or
recommendations. We live in Castro Valley.
Dr. Edward Hallowell has written many excellent books on
ADHD: Driven to Distraction, Delivered from Distraction. He
has ADHD himself, as does at least one of his children. He
is an MD with a vast knowledge on all aspects of the
subject, a compassionate and respected voice, and his books
are easy to read. This would be a great place to begin
learning about this topic.
I am an adult with inattentive type ADHD and I have found Dr. Amen's books
helpful. You should be able to find them at most major bookstores, but here is
also some websites - http://www.amenclinics.com or
I think it is also important to emphasize to your 10 year old that he is not
''dumb'', nor that his brain is dysfunctional, nor that there is anything wrong with
him. Your son simply thinks in a way that is different from many other people
and such thinking style can be a great strength, but sometimes is also be
difficult. The difficult part is a challenge which he is cable of overcoming. Here
are some website which show famous people with ADHD ( http://www.adult-child-add-adhd.com/categories/general/famous_people.php OR
Hope that helps, good luck.
My child will be entering second grade this fall and I'm
beginning to wonder if she's just active, or if she has
ADHD. She's always been on the very active end of the
spectrum - jumping up and down when she sees friends or
spinning when she hears music she likes, dancing, moving
constantly, running. She's never been a kid who can sit
and do a puzzle, or color quietly. She's constantly
exploring drawers (childproofing was a must), opening
bags, dancing, filling containers with dirt and beans and
pouring them into smaller containers, stuff like that. Her
temperament is kind, and she makes friends easily. We've
worked hard not to restrain her natural curiosity, because
it's messy (but natural) and there's no malice in it. But
she's clumsy, fidgety, and simply can't sit still for
long. In restaurants, she's literally rolling on the seat,
her arms are like tentacles, she's kicking, and despite
our attempts to demand she sit still, she can't. Her last
year's teacher did not see any indication of ADHD but did
indicate that she ''spaces out'' sometimes. My partner's
relative said we should give her time outs for not sitting
still in restaurants -- should we? Or can she help it? Is
all this movement a result of bad parenting? Where's the
line between temperament and disorder? Help!
She's Digging in the Backyard
My soon-to-be-fourth grade son has a similar temperament. He mostly
seems unaware of what his body, and his fingers, are doing -- and they are
generally doing quite a lot; he's especially bad with picking stuff up and
handling it after specifically being asked not to. For a year or more around
1st grade he seemed to be walking into people on the sidewalk on purpose --
I must have said ''Be careful, don't bump into people...'' a thousand times.
He's also clumsy, though that has improved considerably over the past year.
He's quite tall, and I often describe him as ''a half-grown golden retriever
puppy, not knowing quite what to do with all his arms and legs.''
He's not quite as bad in restaurants (but full disclosure -- we give him iPhone
games to help him wait!). He can't yet entirely control his sheer physical
energy, so we don't punish him for it. And he does not have ADHD.
His second grade teacher described him thus: ''He hears every word I say. He
may be hanging upside down off his chair when I say it, but he hears me.''
And I think that's the difference. Kids fidget (some more than others). The
question is whether or not they can attend when asked to.
I'm certainly no developmental psychologist, so if you are concerned, you
should have your child evaluated. But do know that there are other kids out
there with very active temperaments. It's normal, and not necessarily a
problem. They may have trouble because the school wants them to sit still,
but it doesn't necessarily indicate a need for punishment, therapy or
One thing I've definitely found (just FYI) that has helped with body awareness
is that he has taken regular martial arts training for a couple of years now.
He's much more able to control fidgeting, and not bump into stuff, than
before he started.
the puppy's mom
Your daughter sounds extremely active, but I wouldn't jump
to a conclusion about ADHD unless her teacher begins to
express concerns and she isn't learning what she should be
in school. Activity level is a temperament trait that is not
necessarily a problem, except that our society expects
children to sit still. I wouldn't create problems for
yourself by expecting her to sit still unless it is really
necessary for the situation (a haircut, for example). As she
grows older she will have an easier time sitting still but
will probably always need more physical activity than other
people. You might try helping her to get more intense
exercise (gymnastics, sports, etc.) in order to get some of
her energy out and make your life a little easier. I am
offering a support group for parents of spirited children,
so contact me if you are interested in that.
Hi. You will probably get lots of letters with similar advice. I would definitely
take your daughter to an occupational therapist with experience in sensory
disorders. Your daughter sounds very similar to mine (who is younger), and also
to me as a child. Our daughter is also extremely active and ''clumsy''. She was
diagnosed with a mild sensory processing disorder in the areas of vestibular
and proprioceptive processing. How this plays out with her is that she craves
extra input in these areas and is challenged by activities such as sitting still in a
chair for a long time. Of course I don't know your child but from the things your
wrote I think it would be really worth your while to get an evaluation. We ended
up getting the evaluation and then sharing all the suggestions with our
daughter's school, which really helped both my daughter and the teachers. I
know the restaurant thing is annoying, but it probably really is hard for her. I
feel lucky we were able to kind of figure out this problem early because I work in
special education. Feel free to contact me.
I don't really know much about adhd, but I know my
experiences. You're describing me when I was a kid. It took
me until about 3rd/4th grade to finally be able to reel in
my energy and sit still for any real length of time. In
fact, it took a great 3rd grade teacher to figure out to
give me books to read during class because otherwise I was
disruptive due to my energy (even though my grades were
perfect). This taught me how to always have books with me so
I could ''sit still'' in certain situations. I always did
great in school, but it was boring and easy. I'm in my 30s
and I'm still hyper by most people's definition, however I
can control myself when the situation requires it (hours of
boring meetings). My hyperness only appears that way to
others when it's expressed in a physical way because I can
just as easily sit and do 3 hours (or many more) straight of
work (software engineer) or read for just as long or longer.
I need to be doing something, either physical or mental or I
go nuts. I think for small kids it's harder to have
something that can mentally stimulate them for long periods
(or realize they want/need it), so it looks like hyperness
instead of physical action (which they can provide for
themselves). I think it's good to point out to her that
other people are sitting still in a restaurant so she can
too, but I would encourage you not to make it a battle
because this might be her nature and you don't really want
her to learn how to turn her energy off/tune out. bad
parenting? no way. Bad parenting would be you constantly
trying to get her to sit still. There is a very fine line
between temperament and disorder - it's all perspective. My
parents think I should be ''reigning'' in our child too, but I
don't agree most of the time. I'm giving her until late
elementary and then I'll start explaining that society will
take her more seriously if she's not bouncing when she's
talking to somebody. Until then, who cares?
--hyper and happy
The truth, in my opinion, is that the line between temperament and disorder
is very very very gray...
Whether or not she has ADHD, her activity level is not a product of bad
parenting, it is just how she is and it will likely be a valuable strength later in
life after this awkward stage is over. Its very easy for others to judge when
they have not truly experienced it, but its not right for them to do so. I think
it is fine to give children with ADHD (or non-ADHD kids) timeouts, in fact I
strongly suggest it as it gives them a break from all the stimulus. The
various books on ADHD may be helpful on this subject and just about every
bookstore has a ton of them. I found Dr. Amen to be helpful -
(http://www.amenclinics.com). What is harmful is to call a child with ADHD
''lazy'', ''spazy'', or try to force them to focus when they are already tired or
are not interested in the subject. If you do determine she has ADHD, then I
would learn about all the accomplished famous people who have had ADHD
(and there is many) and ADHD as well as other ''learning differences'' are just a
different way of thinking, not a ''disorder''.
If your child seems to be suffering, such as doing poorly in school or feeling
bad about themselves, then maybe getting tested for a learning disability by a
qualified professional is a good idea. I am sure your school can provide
recommendations. Such testing is not cheap and insurance rarely covers it
(although I think Kaiser might), but such academic testing will give you a
much more thorough and professional opinion on how your child learns best,
and if she has an LD, how best to approach it. I am personally very weary of
medications for ADHD, so I suggest being cautious if ADHD is the diagnosis,
but you can read about the pro and cons of medication if and when a
diagnosis of ADHD is confirmed.
Good luck, I am sure your a great mom.
Recently we started suspecting that my grand daughter (and maybe my grand
son too) has ADD. The problem is: their father died recently from mental illness
and they know he had ADD and depression (among other things). The subject of
perhaps them having ADD is really scary for them. Any suggestions about how
to approach this? They are both already in therapy for grief counseling. Feel free
to email me directly.
I am an adult with ADD. I was diagnosed as an adult when applying to law
school. It was a scary thing to learn since I had also heard so many negative
things about having ADD, as most of us have. I think when exploring the
possibility of having ADD, it is important to keep in mind that ADD does not
mean mental illness or one is unintelligent, its just a different way of the brain
operating. In some circumstances, thinking in a different way can be a big
advantage. Many successful people are reported to have ADHD or learning
disabilities including Charles Schwab, Erin Brockovich, Gavin Newsom, Nelson
Rockefeller, James Carville, Anderson Cooper, Michael Phelps, Tony Bennett, etc.
(see http://addmoms.com). There are challenges associated with having a
learning disability such as ADHD, but with a supportive family such challenges
can certainly be overcome and one can lead a very normal, if not extraordinary
I have a good friend whose son was diagnosed with ADHD, and
he's 3. We both find this rather crazy, as most three year
olds are well, a little crazy. Although she does say that
while in preschool she can see he's different. Here is the
issue, the pediatrician.
The doctor said because of the aggression and his flight
response he wants to do meds and then come up with a plan.
She feels the exact opposite.
Calling all parents of kids with ADHD. Books, websites, tips
whatever you got. She does not want to do meds, he is only
3 after all.
I recently moved here from Washington state where I was on a team that
conducted developmental evaluations of children under the age of three. I
strongly encourage this parent to seek the advice of another pediatrician and/or
pursue a developmental evaluation through your local school district. I do
believe this is much too young to make a diagnosis of ADHD and to medicate on
that basis alone. If the child's behaviors are truly dangerous to himself or
others, medication may be warranted (a second opinion would certainly be
appropriate), but there should be severals attempts at behavior modification
before that point. A thorough evaluation would work to rule out sensory
processing differences and medical anomalies, including vision or hearing
concerns first. In addition, I would expect that preschool teachers and parents
be interviewed at length and the child observed in both home and school
settings if possible, to gain a thorough understanding of the problem behaviors
-- both what the triggers and typical consequences are (sometimes called a
Functional Behavior Analysis). Good luck to your friend.
In my opinion a parent should not give ADHD meds to their 3 year old child
unless that parent is comfortable doing so. My child was diagnosed with ADHD
at age 4. Both the doctor and I opted to wait until my child was in Kindergarten
to determine whether or not to prescribe meds. My child is now 6 and I'm
convinced that medication is the right way to go, however, I needed time to
research and evaluate my child before becoming comfortable with this decision.
Your friend is right to be extremely cautious about medicating a 3-year-old and
I applaud her for finding other ways to deal with her son's behavioral issues. A
few thoughts: 1) You said the pediatrician wants to medicate because of
aggression and flight response. Neither of these is a symptom of ADHD. And
aggression, in general, does not improve when ADHD meds are given.
Aggression needs to be treated behaviorally (with rewards for not being
aggressive, and carefully administered negative consequences when the child is
aggressive). 2) Pediatricians who do prescribe meds for ADHD do so because
that is their only resource. They can't provide behavioral therapy or other
alternatives. Your friend should find a psychologist or psychiatrist, or even a
developmental pediatrician, who is not inclined to medicate and can offer other
treatment strategies. She could start with the San Francisco Bay Area Center for
Cognitive Therapy (http://www.sfbacct.com/). 3) Websites:
http://ccf.buffalo.edu/resources_parents.php and www.chadd.org.
Since his mom sees his behavior is ''different'' from other kids in his class, it
would be good to help him in whatever way seems best to the family. I think
this little boy is very lucky to have people like you looking out for him, and
staying on the case, because you want this child to have positive experiences at
school in the next several years.
My main point is, you want to avoid the scenario where everyone decides to
wait-and-see, and in first grade the child is still hitting a lot and ends up being
avoided or in trouble at school. We have one good friend with ADHD, whose
behavior is mostly fine, and who is on medication (but is much older than your
friend's child.) It has been a lot of work for the parents, but their son is doing
Po Bronson (''NurtureShock'') has written about the connection
between ADHD and sleep disruption caused by snoring and
other problems. He says that 25 % of cases of ADHD have been
helped by having the child's tonsils removed.
Evidently some very serious brain development occurs during
certain stages of sleep, and when that sleep is disrupted,
it can have long-ranging effects.
Lisa in Oakland
Three years old is probably too young to start most
medication. I started trying to get my daughter diagnosed
when she was about 4 years old. It tool several years just
to get hte diagnosis to get medication. Meanwhile I tried
auditory processing therapy which did do some good and you
might try that for a child under 5 with ADD/ADHD. You might
also try cutting out all sugar and certain other foods. Cut
out as much television and video and computer games a
possible and no TV, etc. for at least a half hour before
bedtime to let their brains rest. (This is actually the
hardest thing to do because if spouse is in there watching
a football game or someone is working on the computer, its
very hard to get junior to NOT do the same thing as
everyone else in the family.) There are certain
neurological stimulation therapies that some clinics do
also. I think that normally, most kids won't start
medication until age 5 or 6. For most insurances, the
diagnosis of ADD/ADHD has to indicate that the problem
satrted before they were age seven and rule out any head
injuries or other problems. My daughter was in the 4th
grade before I got a diagnosis and then I had trouble
getting souse on board with the medication. Some kids
cannot handle the medication. Some kids recognize that it
makes them feel better. Both parents have tobe positive
about the medication. By itself, it won't fry your child's
brain and studies show that children with ADD/ADHD who are
not treated as children are more likely to use drugs and
alcohol as adults to ''self medicate.'' I think it is pretty
well accepted that most people do not ''outgrow'' ADD/ADHD.
Some people just learn to handle it better as they get
older. Others need medication throughout their life. It is
also familial. So medication - if the child can tolerate
it - is a good thing if other avenues don't work but its
also important to get them started early because once those
kids hit middle school things get really tough. I think 4
to 5 years old is the best time to start medication - you
could wait until part way through Kgarten to see if adding
medication improves his attention and behaviour in that
environment so that you have a basis to go by.
parent of ADD child
Has anyone thought about speech and language processing issues in this
child? I would at least suggest a consult with a Speech and Language
Pathologist. Frustrated communication can manifest in behaviors like this.
There was lots of good food for thought in the other posts.
I am looking for references for Inattentive ADD. Any good
books, resources in our community, etc? Advice on getting
public school to work with child? Any success using supplements
and diet restrictions to aid child's ability to work with issue
My son has inattentive ADD. It's like a very interesting movie is
playing inside his head all the time. As a result, he does not hear
his family talking to him, the teacher talking to him, he can't follow
the steps in a board game or a game of baseball, he has a hard time
interacting with other kids. He is just not present.
We got a lot of insight about this type of ADD from
a developmental pediatrician in Orinda, Dr. Marianna Eraklis. After
consodering all our options, we decided to try Ritalin for our son,
and we have been very pleased with the results. He is playing on
a sports team for the first time this year, we can have family
conversations now, and his academic work
has shown an incredible improvement - he caught up quickly once he was able
to focus. I would
really recommend that you consult with one of the developmental pedi's
in the area - there are many excellent ones. Good luck -
I expect you will hear from many parents with ideas on this, so I will be brief. Two
great books to start with are: Delivered from Distraction by Hallowell and Ratey, and
Spark by Ratey. CHADD is a good national organization with local referrals. Omega 3s
are helpful, but not a magic bullet. I'm happy to talk with you more if you like.
Last year, after our 9-year-old daughter was flagged by her
teacher as having processing/attention/learning issues, I saw a
BPN posting about a research study, conducted jointly by UCSF and
UC Berkeley, looking at exactly what you're asking about: ADD
without the hyperactivity. The study is called ''CLAS'' for Child
Life and Attention Skills.
As part of the application process, our daughter was tested (for
free!!), and it was confirmed that she did have inattentive ADD.
Then we were randomly assigned to a small group with whom we met
on a weekly basis. The meetings were facilitated by a CLAS staff
member (Ph.D.) who introduced several very specific strategies
designed to help children with inattentive ADD. We tried the
strategies, came back together and talked about how it was going.
We got to know and compare notes with the other parents. We were
able to get suggestions from the researchers tailored to our
specific circumstances. Last, but not least, the project actively
involved our child's teacher, and she got paid for her time! It
was an excellent experience for us. We are continuing to use the
materials and strategies at home and with this year's teacher.
CLAS is a 4-year study, and they recruit a new group of
participants each year. (Last year was the first year.) You can
contact the Project Coordinator, Adriana Nevado, about possibly
joining this school year. Her number is 510-643-3437. Be aware
that families are randomly assigned to one of three groups; one
is the control group which receives little to no information or
Has anyone taken their child to UC Berkeley's School of Optometry for a
Binocular Vision Test recently? Planning to take my 6yr old
daughter there. Her school had a doctor from UC Berkeley who did the eye
exam and had mentioned about Binocular Vision. I've taken her to my
regular eye doctor, who said she was fine. She?s not doing academically
well in school, so trying to see if there's any relation in vision. I
took her to the doctor and was diagnosed with ADD, just by the
questionnaire completed by the parent and her 1st grade teacher. That?s
it? Just by a questionnaire? Does anyone know what other tests there to
test her? I?m not sure what direction I should start looking into. I've
written an email to her principal to see if the school psychologist can
give her a test. My daughter now freaks out when you tell her to do
homework and hates school. She use to love preschool & most of
My son was also referred to have the binocular vision testing done when
he was about 6. His teachers at school suggested he be evaluated
because he wasn't doing well academically. The binocular vision
testing was part of a larger diagnostic work up (he was ultimately
diagnosed with ADD).
The binocular vision testing is very thorough and somewhat exhaustive
at UCB, and they have a pleasant manner. The multiple tests look for
any problems with visual perception. My son tolerated the tests well,
as UCB works well with kids.
I took my daughter to the UCB Binocular Vision Clinic two years ago. I
was very impressed with the process and the recommendation they made.
My daughter is a good student who's a terrible speller. They found her
to be perfectly normal with no vision or attention issues. I also took
her to the Linda Moode Belle center in Berkeley. It was probably
overkill but I felt like I had dotted the i's and crossed the t's when
I had both opinions.
Best of luck to you
My son, age 10, just finished testing at UC Binocular Vision. They
found all of the same issues his ed therapist had found. We are in the
process of getting testing done through the school district. Once we
have that report we'll go back to UC to begin therapy. The supervising
professor at UC encouraged us to wait so that we wouldn't have to pay
for them to do certain tests or initiate therapies that would be
done/included by the school. Unfortunately that clinic is incredibly
busy... we had to wait more than two months to get in initially, and
had basically no choice with regard to day or time. Also, this is the
second time we've gone through testing there. The first time was three
years ago and the results were ''normal'' however I got the impression
from the professor we worked with this time that the screening done on
the weekend (when we went) is less thorough than that done on the
weekdays. Perhaps some of his issues would have been caught sooner if
we'd done screening on a different day, but honestly I think he was too young then for
any of the screening to be effective. There is a huge range of what is
developmentally normal at 5,6 and 7. It's just really hard to tell if
there is a learning disability or if the problem is attention, or if
the kid just isn't ready yet, but will be in six months. My son was
within normal ranges for almost all of the tests he did, including
those with an audiologist and testing done by a private ed
psychologist... it wasn't until late in second grade that we were able
to get any real diagnosis from any testing.
As for ADD... it is not uncommon for children to be diagnosed using no
other measures than a survey. Sometimes if it is done by a school
psychologist the child is also observed in class. I've spoken to one
who recommends brain scans, though I haven't had a chance to persue how
one would get that done. We waited about two years to do anything about
our son's diagnosis... it seemed arbitrary at the time, borderline at
best. The psychologist who presented the results had no credibility
since she couldn't even read the graph to us correctly... So we decided
to wait and see. This year it became obvious that the other kids aren't
''just like him''. It was impacting him socially and acadmically and
really hurting his self esteem, and since we'd tried addressing evey
other issue we decided to start medication... it has made a world of
difference already and we aren't even through experimenting wiht dosage
to see what is best.
Still trying to figure it out
I took my son to the binocular vision clinic, where they found trouble
with his horizontal tracking. We worked with a piece of software, and
over a period of a few months, his tracking became much better, and his
reading improved quite a bit. Shortly thereafter, he began to enjoy to
read. I don't know how much of that was him developing, and how much
of that was the help with tracking -- but it certainly didn't hurt, and
it wasn't that expensive.
With regard to ADD, just a couple of questionnaires seems like an
incomplete diagnosis. That would work as a screening test -- saying
that your child needed further evaluation, but not as a complete
diagnostic tool. It seems like you might want to consult with a
developmental pediatrician, developmental psychologist, and/or the
school psychology team at your school (you can get an evaluation
through your public school by formally requesting it, and I believe it
must occur within 60 days of the request). They usually do a very
thorough testing of your child, including IQ tests, academic tests,
classroom observations, as well as questionnaires.
In terms of your child hating school, some of it may be a mismatch
between how she learns and the teacher. You might want to do some
talking to other parents who have spent time in the classroom to see if
there's been any friction between your child and this teacher. My
child had trouble with the teacher in one particular grade, and it was
a total nightmare, for him and me. Since then, however, he has done
very well, loved school and the teachers, and all has been well.
My 7-year old son has always been ahead on the learning curve,
was an early reader, has great fine motor skills, and good
focus. Recently, however, he has been having trouble
comprehending instructions at school and at home, and can't
seem to focus on any school related tasks (he does fine when
playing). He is struggling in school and with homework, and
seems to be forgetting even the simple things he has known for
years. His teacher is concerned that he has ADD. However, he
can focus intensely for long periods when doing legos, drawing,
or doing other non-academic activities. I get frustrated
helping him, because it seems like no matter what I say to help
him he doesn’t grasp it (and being frustrated with him clearly
doesn't help him). Should I be concerned or is this just a 7
year old phase?
confused and concerned
I am a first grade teacher and see that many boys have ADD-like symptoms
age group which disappear later. This observation comes from many years of
experience. In my first years of teaching I would overreact to things
because I had
not seen enough children over long periods of time to know any better. I
refer kids to testing and nothing would come of it but that they were in a
just as you suspected. How many years has your son's teacher been
she administered any testing for him? Has he been referred to any
specialists? If she
is making off-the-cuff remarks to you during conferences or in passing w/o
up data, this is a BIG no no. You never should say anything like this to
parents if you
have not gone through the necessary steps schools have in place for
diagnosing learning disorders like ADD first, then the parents should be
every step of the process for testing , creating individual education
plans (iep) etc. If
you are concerned, you can go get him tested somewhere on your own.
Don't be too concerned....It is probably a phase
first grade teacher
I hate to ask this, but have you ruled out boredom at school. If he's far
imagine he can think circles around most of the kids and probably is his
too. School is often not a good fit for the genius and genius's often
fare as badly as
learning disabled in school. They just get too bored.
My husband's mother told him to watch his teacher and pretend that he was
listening. He said that helped.
I don't know if there are alternative programs for your son, or different
ADD or is school just really boring? It's numbing to be told what to do
and when to
do it for 6 hours a day, constantly supervised, constantly corrected.
deadening his spark.
You did say that his attention is just fine when he's interested in the
task at hand.
I'd stick with that observation and ask the school to change, not him.
The only other question I'd ask is, ''Is he depressed about something?''
Best of luck,
Is your son getting enough sleep? Maybe his sleep needs have
changed and he needs more. Our very bright son went through a
similar phase, we were puzzled but realized suddenly one day his
sleep had been getting disrupted on a regular basis. We made his
sleep a priority - in second grade he would go to bed at 7:30
p.m. and sleep til 7 a.m. - and things turned around literally in
a couple of days.
My boy needs his sleep
I have a wonderful little boy who just turned 6. Since he was in
preschool teachers have been quick to mention they think he has
ADD. I've been reluctant to jump to this conclusion because of
his age. Boys tend to mature slower and be impulsive. I spent
some time volunteering in his Kindgergarten class and quickly
noticed that my son was not as ''engaged'' during reading time when
the teacher was talking or singing, had a hard time staying
focused on his work, and was doing very poorly at socializing. I
had some talks with his pediatrician over the symptoms and even
though they do not generally diagnose them until they are 8 he is
showing signs of ADHD.
Here is where I am stuck. He is 6. He is a boy. He is above
grade level in math and reading. So, there is not a learning
disability, but he is really struggling with his actions (he
tends to have poor impulse control), his transitions in the class
are very difficult for him, he keeps telling me that ''he was in
class and his mind made him think of (insert 50 random things
here)'' and that he struggles with concentrating. I was amazed
that he was able to communicate that with me. Although, it means
that it was on his mind too. I'm careful not to mention things
in front of him. I don't like labels, and I don't want him to
label himself either.
I want to know what I can do to help him, but not overhelp him.
I'm not sure if he needs a 504 plan. I'm afraid of him getting
labeled and having that carry over and the teachers
discriminating against him because of it. Or, him being singled
out in some way and not feeling like part of the class. I'm
really confused because, having not been through this before I
have no idea what to expect, what works, or what else to try.
This is where I plead for help. Any advice will be consumed and
devoured. I want to be my child's advocate. I love him dearly
and want him to succeed in life. It just takes one step at a time.
Hi there, I almost feel like this post is a flash forward for
me! My boy sounds very similar to yours in terms of poor
impulse control. Tack on trouble with transitions and its him
to a tee. Anyway, mine is still in preschool, with another year
to go before K, but we already see that his social/behavioral
maturity level is a little delayed - not ADD or ADHD, just not
what teachers want in school. Academically he's above average.
Anyway, so we took him to see a developmental pediatrician
whose advice to us was to hold him back from Kindergarten or
have him do it twice, so that he could catch up developmentally
to where he is intellectually before he hits 1st grade. We
don't want to hold him back or have him repeat K twice, so
we're exploring a middle ground - montessori. Montessori
schools don't have grade levels per se, and the curriculum is
child centered. This means that the teacher will assess my
child and provide him with curriula that challenges and
interests him. It also means that if he has to do an extra year
of school before Kindergarten, it won't be weird for him. He
won't be held back while the rest of his friends go off to the
I wish you well and good job for trying to figure out
alternatives to having your child diagnosed with a learning
disability - especially since it's possible that he just needs
a little more time to catch up socially.
So many of us have been right where you are and can relate. I will
get right to some quick advice. (I have a 12 year old ADHD boy and a
10 year old year with ADD).
By the age of six, you can certainly have him tested. This is
first and most important step. A professional can sort through the
difference between ADHD and just a ''boy.'' In our case, it was very
cut and almost off the charts. We retested at age 9 with a different
person and same results. In our case, medication was and is essential
for daily functioning. There is so much to read and so many options.
Medication isn't the only option, but it is often a part of an overall
solution. My son really didn't know a label until quite recently.
we have worked with his teachers very successfully since 1st grade and
they have known of the diagnosis. Overall, better for them to know and
work with it than not (although I struggle with the same concern of
If it turns out that he does have it, there is lots of help out
both of you. They say one out of nine kids may have this. Maybe
environmental? In our case, both the dad and grandmother clearly have
it, so genetics is at play.
My main advice, get into the subject. Find out what he really has
then you can create your game plan. Good luck!
My daughter has almost the exact same symptoms, is a high scorer
in math and reading, etc. She is now 9. We've been dealing
with all of this since age 3. I am reluctant to put her on
medication but her distratability and inability to sit still is
affecting her school work.
This is what I did. I spoke to our naturopath and we decided to
do neurotransmitter testing on my daughter through
NeuroScience. It was just a urine test. It took 3 weeks to
process and we found out that she has some fairly serious
imbalances. She's on 3 different supplements and the difference
is amazing. It's not fixed yet, but we are closer. She can now
sit down and pay attention for much longer periods of time. Her
self esteem is coming up a lot as well. The other thing I did
was I found her an accelerated program at school. The whole
school is an accelerated program (I changed her schools). They
move much faster than a traditional school and she is doing SO
well. She's never bored in school (do you hear that?) and she
likes going to school. Those two changes have made all the
difference in the world!
I would start with an assessment. Once you have some more
specific information about what is (or isn't) going on with
your child, you can figure out what the best course is.
I've been through this with both of my kids -- it's expensive,
but well worth it. My son was also 6 when issues arose, we had
him evaluated, it was ADHD plus other things. My daughter was
also evaluated a couple of years later -- no syndromes, but we
got great input from the psychologist on how to parent this
I would recommend Dr. Carina Grandison (sp?) at Children's
Hospital (she evaluated our daughter).
Your son and your concerns sound a lot like mine. My son had
behaviorial and social difficulty at the same age. I struggled
to figure out what to do. And, I was concerned about having my
son pulled out of class and labeled.
After numerous discussions with our pediatrician, we took our son
to a developmental pediatrician for evaluation. Honestly, this
wasn't terribly helpful and cost a lot. We learned our son has
some of the qualities of ADHD and Aspergers kids, but did not
receive a firm diagnosis - he's borderline. The pediatrician
confirmed our concerns and observations about our son, but didn't
add much to our understanding of his behavior or approaches to
handling it. Although, she did make us aware that impulsivity is
an element of ADHD and can contribute to social difficulties.
We ended up having our son assessed by our public school speech
therapist (for language pragmatics/social skills) and
occupational therapist. Some of the assessment was observation
or in-class and some out of class. The speech therapist worked
to minimize the loss of class time. The kids in his class don't
seem to view visits with the speech therapist in a negative
light. The results of the assessment and IEP were not
surprising, but thorough and provided measurable goals. My child
was recommended for the gifted and talented program and other
services to address his social difficulties. We weren't
pressured to accept any services. I am finding that the
assessment and IEP are a good place for us to start conversations
with my son's teachers. They lend legitimacy to the idea that my
child needs support socially and behaviorally. I spoke with a
number of teachers about the possibility of stigmatizing my son
by putting him into the school evaluation system. They all felt
that he would not be harmed or stigmatized by the process and so
far, that has been our experience. Overall, I'm happy with the
public school process and found our speech therapist to be a good
advocate for our child.
We also are planning to have our son attend a private social
skills group this year. They do their own assessment of your
child. Although we haven't started the weekly classes, I have
been thinking that I wish we would have started with this
approach. They would have told us if he needs more, less, or
different help. And, we would have started working to build
social and behavioral skills immediately instead of doing so much
evaluation. Good luck.
The results of a large study was just described recently in the
New York Times. Kids who ingest artificial colors and
preservatives in foods demonstrated hyperactive activity like
ADHD afterwards. Try eliminating processed foods like this,
especially in his lunch. He sounds like a bright boy. It may
help control his moods and behavior. The article is here:
I'm responding as both a psychotherapist and an adult with ADD.
While it is totally understandable that you don't want him
labeled, without help he will have unneeded difficulties. It's
important that your son receive the adjustments that will help
with his attention difficulties. A good book to start with is
''Delivered from Distraction.'' I also recommend MarRem
Remington, a psychotherapist in Oakland who has a background in
special ed and specializes in assessments and consultations as
needed with schools. Parents are fully involving in the process
and she has many helpful suggestions for home and school. Her #
I was in my salon the other day and spoke with someone who
has a daughter with the same type of problems as my
daughter. some were your typical, but some hit right on
the mark. She said her daughter was tested and was found
to have inattentive ADD disorder. She was givin meds and
went from a majority of D's on her report card to A'S.
Any input or Recommended physicians who specialize in this
hard to detect type of ADD.
Clearwater Counseling and Assessment Services, in Oakland,
offers comprehensive psychological ADD evaluations, which
include a school observation, for quite reasonable fees. Attention
Deficit Disorder is not a medical condition, and it is best assessed
by a psychologist rather than a medical doctor, although of course
an MD needs to prescribe any recommended medications. Often,
symptoms of ADD can be treated behaviorally, with medication
added only if there isn't satisfactory progress using behavioral
interventions alone. Visit Clearwater's website:
www.clearwaterclinic.com or call Dr. Sharon Witkin at 596-8137 for
ADD is a medical disorder that has a higher genetic basis than any of
the other psychiatric disorders (including schizophrenia) and is primarily
treated with medications. I am a psychiatrist who treats UC Berkeley students with attention
deficit disorder. ADD can be with hyperactivity and/or impulsivity but these are not
necessary for the diagnosis. The inability to focus must begin before age 7 and interfer with
two areas of functioning such as school, home life and social skills. For children the
treatment of choice is medications and this is provided by pediatricians and child
psychiatrists. Educating the family and teachers how to work with the child and tutoring as
needed to keep the child up to grade level are also important. For adolescents and adults
treatment choices include medications and cognitive behavior therapy.
Depression, anxiety, substance abuse, bipolar disorder and post
traumatic stress disorder are sometimes co-morbid with ADD so the treatment of
people with ADD is usually complex.
In the work I do we have a different perspective on ADD.
ADD, whether inattentive or hyperactive, stands
for ''attention deficit disorder.'' It implies that there
is a lack of attention. What if there was actually plenty
of attention and it was just being paid to something other
than the outward task at hand? We all have priorities,
what we pay attention to first, and our neurological
system is no different. We will all make sure we are safe
and protected before we deal with anything else. If a
person's tactile system is particularly sensitive it might
be painful to sit in a chair to focus on the lesson in
class, therefore they might squirm to stop the pain in
order to pay attention to the lesson. Likewise, if
auditory or visual systems do not give clear information,
a person might ''space out'' in order to attempt to make
sense of what is going on.Meanwhile they miss pieces and
look like they are not paying attention. Ever have a
difficult time understanding a speaker and get stuck
trying to figure out what they said and by the time you do
the speaker has gone on and you are completely lost? You
weren't being inattentive - you weren't able to attend to
what they were saying until you could decipher that. It
would surely affect your functioning if this happened all
the time! Inefficient or disorganized neurological systems
work harder to give messages that make sense to the
brain. Perhaps a more accurate name for this situation
would be APD or ''attention priority disorder.'' Once the
neurological system is organized the priorities shift and
the person can more readily attend to the outer world.
If this perspective intrigues you, please contact me at
925-934-3500 and we can discuss it. You can also learn
more about this approach, called the HANDLE perspective at
Best of luck as you look into this complex subject.
I'm a Berkeley psychotherapist working mainly with teens who have
learning disorders of one kind or another. Many of my clients have
Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). ADHD comes in two varieties.
There is ADHD, Predominantly Hyperactive/Impulsive Type, and there is ADHD,
Predominantly Inattentive Type. Most specialists now consider the
Inattentive Type of ADHD to be a different disorder altogether, not just a
sub-type. ADHDI (as it's often called) is hard to diagnose, because people with
ADHDI don't show outward signs of distractibility; that is, they don't jump
up and down, wiggle, tap pencils, interrupt people, talk ceaselessly, and so
forth. They may appear to be quite calm, composed, and focused; but inside,
their minds may be racing aimlessly from one thought to another. They are
highly distractible: so much so, that they often don't seem to hear what is
said to them or to be aware of what's happening around them. They find it
hard to get started on projects or complete them. They do things quite slowly;
overall they are characterized by what some experts call ''sluggish
cognitive tempo.'' In moments of stress they may slow down rather than speed
up; occasionally people with ADHDI may even fall asleep during important
final exams. Obviously this kind of ADHD can produce severe academic
problems, though it isn't as likely to produce disciplinary problems as the
I hope you'll find this very basic information helpful. Please let me
know if you have questions.
I expected to see tons of answers to this question, so I
held off, but so far the only replies have come from
therapists; nothing from parents! Yes, I have indeed
heard of inattentive ADHD -- we've been living with it for
a long time... ADHD comes in 3 flavors: primarily
hyperactive-impulsive, primarily inattentive, and
combined. Before you settle down with any particular
therapist or doctor with any particular approach, you may
just want to get some basic information. There are so
many good websites, but here are a few that I have found
helpful: CHADD.ORG - extensive information about all
aspects of ADHD; some very good basic information sheets.
MEDLINEPLUS.GOV - National Institutes of Health (I
think...); very authoritative and reputabile; just search
on ADHD SCHWABLEARNING.ORG - lots of very informative
articles on ADHD, as well as on other learning
difficulties. I hope this helps.
I would like some advice to help my 10 year old daughter who
is incredibly bright and talented in the arts and acting and can
sing very well despite having had no voice lessons. She does well
in school despite not paying attention well at all. I have
noticed this problem with her since pre-school but always hoped
she would outgrow it. She doesn't pay attention to directions,
she doesn't pick up social cues; she loses things; interrupts
conversations inappropritaely; does not know how to join a
conversation, but will just start talking about a topic of her
own interest; will reapeatedly interupt an adult conversation to
get them to attend to something she is saying; doesn't like to
wait her turn; is a perfectionist to the point that it interferes
with her test taking ability and so on. She was tested for ADD in
Kindergarten by Kaiser, but I didn't believe the testing was very
inclusive. Her school report cards at Elementary school in
Berkeley were always the same - her academics were always fine,
but with comments from the teachers about her inability to pay
attention and her difficulties with her peers. We moved to
Martinez where she goes to a fairly conservative public school
and again - she really stood out - her intelligence and knowledge
are above grade level but her social and emotional functioning
are behind. The teacher has to practically stand over her to make
sure she is on the right page. I spent a lot of time and money
putting her through auditory processing disorder therapy which
didn't help much. (A little but not enough that the teachers
noticed). Her school did a lot of testing on her that shows an
above average I.Q. but placed her at risk for attention disorder,
depression and other such things.
I have now come to the
conclusion that the child does in fact have an attention deficit
disorder and that a lot of her depressive symptoms are caused by
her inability to make friends and get along with her peers and
her inability to pay attention to instructions and things going
on around her. I have been trying to get her into a physician or
a clinic that will work with her and do a trial of medication,
just to see if it works. She is going to be entering 4th grade
which is a big change from 3rd grade. We don't seem to have any
control over her behaviour. She ignores what we ask her to do.
Reward tactics don't work. Discipline tactics don't work. I am at
a loss as to what to do for her. We have tried changing her diet
(excluding sugar, refined foods, milk - you name it) counseling,
different approaches to discipline, Kumon, fun things, not fun
things etc. She is in her own world and is going to slip throught
the cracks without some intervention. I really can't afford to
send her to a private school as her little sister is
developmentally delayed and also requires extra tutoring, etc.
She also does everything that she knows that she is not
supposed to do. Watches TV when it is supposed to be off, eats
stuff she is not supposed to eat. Gets up at night and plays in
her room when she is supposed to be in bed (the child doesn't
seem to be able to go to sleep and once she is asleep - cannot
wake up). Any advice or help from anyone with a similar
situation would be appreciated. My time, my funds and my
patience have been worn very very thin at this point.
My heart goes out to you! And on a number of the challenges you raise - I've been there and done that.
Call Dr. Brad Berman
at (625) 279-3480. He has an office in Walnut
Creek. Leave a detailed message. He has a long waiting list, get on
it now. The more info you give, the better he will know how
challenging this is for you and your daughter. This is more than just
ADHD and he tends to respond to the more difficult cases faster. He
really likes kids. When I read his recommendations to my son's school
I cried. Because he so clearly likes my kid and wants to communicate
what a great guy he is to the school. You will need Brad's ongoing
support. Things change as your child matures and new issues arise. I
TOTALLY sympathize on the not sleeping and then not waking up! It
makes your life and theirs sooo hard.
You'll find that since your daughter is very bright, things may bother
her MORE because she is aware of more that other kids her age. Being
different may bother her and yet modifying her behavior will feel
impossible to her. Berman is great at separating the things the kid
really needs to take responsibility for (and makes them feel good
about it) and the things that they just can't manage. If she needs
meds, he'll explain why and what they will offer her in terms of
assistance and relief. Believe me, lots of parents know where you're
coming from. You are not alone. Get support!
I read your post with great interest--it sounded so much like my daughter, now 21. I wish I had tried harder, because it only got worse and worse. In Junior High I had to put her in private school when she got so ostracized by friends from her inappropriateness that life was miserable and the other parents didn't want her around. I mainstreamed her back into public high school (mostly due to the expense of private school)...she continued to act up and again it just worsened and grew into smoking, drinking and being totally out-of-control to get social approval. Her teachers said she never paid attention; she just socialized. She seemed depressed and then started cutting herself.
Continuing to focus on academics, I pressed her into college, sort of avoiding dealing with drinking, behavior issues, etc.
except to try ThunderRoad (an adolescent program for alcohol), therapy, and a bunch of other programs that didn't work. I could tell she felt poorly about herself all the time despite the fact that she is attractive, bright, and talented musically and in dance and sports, with an outgoing personality (just an inappropriate one).
Her senior year I found Dr. Gary Landman (925-253-1041)in Orinda. He was happy to prescribe her drugs. Unfortunately her image was so poor she didn't want to take them, and/or would forget them. She spent one year in college, used the drugs to buy/sell/trade...but rarely to help herself. I will never know if they would have worked or not. She continued drinking, showing off, and getting into trouble from poor decision making, impulsiveness and showing off. Her threapist said she had the social/emotional maturity of a 14-year-old. She dropped out of college the beginning of sophomore year at 19, got pregnant with an acquaintance, and now has an infant. Need I say more?
I admire your persistence and encourage you to keep trying, everything, until something works. I wish I had tried even harder, and started the medications, although I was against them, when she was younger and I still had some control over her. I understand a combination of therapy, anti-depressants, and ADD meds work well. I know there is an outstanding doctor in Vallejo I think who has good success with these children.
These children are delightful but require heavy management until a solution is found. And no, my experience is that they don't grow out of it, it only worsens as the stakes get bigger.
There's lots of news about attention deficit, and much of it confusing. There may be many causes for Attention deficit. It is not necessarily a ''disorder''. For a bright child, it could be as simple as a very fast mind, who is always ahead of the present situation. Or because she is so bright, she is easily bored with the present situation. We are also a society that does not treasure slowness or patience. She sounds like a willful child, which can also be characterized as independent, a strong sense of self, etc. It is not necessarily a ''problem''. I too have a child who is very smart, very perceptive, and very difficult at times.
There are many approaches to this situation. I DON''T RECOMMEND DRUGS. My step-brother drugged his kids, and they turned dopey.
There may need to be simultaneous multiple approaches to your daughter's situation. 1. What is your child's learning style.
Is she visual, kinesthetic, audio, Here's an interesting on-line
2. I would also strongly recommend homeopathy in conjunction with a good diet. My son - when he is out of sorts - angry, acting out - usually has been eating too much sugar - and starts going on sugar binges. When he's calm, reasonable, social, happy, his sugar cravings goes away. Call Dr. Roger Morrison, he's an Md.
and a homeopath - he is fantastic. 510-412-9040. There's a long waiting list to see him, but his wife is also a homeopath, Nancy Herrick. 3. I would recommend regular physical activity. Kids who live in another world are not in touch with this world. And this world is physical. If she won't do something regularly - dance, swimming, etc. do massage on her. I don't know a single person alive who doesn't like massage. Get her in touch with the here and now, which begins with her body. 4. Be honest about your own issues. Check out Byron Katie. www.thework.org When I finally learned to accept my son, and not be angry, miraculously, we started communicating. Here's an example. Me:''Please bring in the dishes from the table and wipe it off.'' 5 minutes later, a few dishes have been brought in, and the table isn't wiped. I repeat the first request. Son: ''I didn't make the mess.'' Me:
''Even so, you need to bring in the dishes and wipe the table.''
Son: ''Well, I just wanted you to know, it wasn't me that's so messy.'' ''OK''.
In the past, I would have blown up, and yelled, ''I clean up after you, you have to help clean up around the house.'' I used to get angry because I took everything he said personally. By not taking it personally (I'm not a bad mother because my kid didn't wipe off the table) I can now just ask him to do what needs to be done, and hear what he's trying to tell me. Hope this helps.
Your daughter certainly sounds like she has add. I would recommend seeing a behavioral pediatrician that can assess and treat her. My son sees Dr. Josephine Lindt in Albany. We are also in Martinez and it is not too far a drive. I've also heard good things about Dr. Brad Berman in Walnut Creek. Dr. Lindt's initial evaluation was covered by my insurance, but the follow- ups are not--and are $90 for a 1/2hr appt.--just to give you an idea. I just read a very good book about ADD--Driven to Distraction by Edward Hallowell. Be glad that your daughter has hung in there academically so far. Many kids with ADD fall behind or have accompanying learning disabilities.
in the same boat
I suggested reading up on Asperger's Syndrome, as a potential diagnosis. Here's a fine place to start:
It certainly sounds like something is going on with your daughter, but not like Attention Deficit to me, but my knowledge is mostly anecdotal. The problems my kids had with peers at this age were with distraction (their own and others) and with wanting more fun in class... they NEVER consistently did what they were told not to do (or what they were told TO do, for that matter), because they would have become distracted either way (sigh). For us the battles have always been about homework, chores, consistent behavior.
You're right that 4th grade will be harder for her than K-3, and that she's overdue for a really good evaluation. I think you might need to find a behavioral pediatrician or psychiatrist who deals with a wider range of possibilities though, not just ADD. It is certainly the case that your daughter's depressive symptoms would be a logical side-effect of everything else that's going on. It does also sound to me like she's manipulating you. Some of what you described is normal behavior for any 10 year-old who can get away with it. Also, since she's smart and knows you've tried so many things, she may be feeling like there is something intrinsically ''wrong'' with her.
If you have to go off your medical plan to find the right person, even if it means paying cash out of pocket, I'd do it. I know Brad Berman is highly recommended. We see Gary Landman, because he's an ADD expert and there wasn't ever any real doubt that that's what it was, just if it was.
Where you say your child was found to be ''at risk'' for ADD or other behavioral/learning problem --- I'd say she is more ''at risk'' if she's not properly diagnosed and treated for a condition that is making her life, and yours, miserable. I can't tell you how liberating it is to actually find out what's going on, and that there are ways to make it better.
Is an IEP appropriate for a 7 year old child just diagnoised with AD/HD? Should I
request an IEP from the school? We have not yet tried drugs, but I want to get more
information before we try them. I wonder if the school/teacher would give him
more attention if he has an IEP in place, or if this would lable him. ANy help is really
As a parent of a teenager who also was told in Kindergarden
that he needed an IEP, I would say to hold off as long as
possible. Schools often try to insist on an IEP to put your
child in Special Educ. classes, which he probably doesn't need,
and where, unless he is extremely slow, he won't learn much.
The reason they do this is because they get much additional
funding for everyone they put into Special Educ. Putting my
son, at the teacher's recommendation, into a special educ.
class, even though it was only for a semester, was the worst
thing I ever did to him, and put him behind. He is now a h.s.
sophomore and doing fine with the regular curriculum because I
worked with him at home every evening (he has ADD & is
dyslexic, etc.) and kept him out of special educ. They are
still requesting an IEP for him, but at this point, I think it
would do more harm than good. Don't do it!
a former teacher
How is your child doing in school? Is the ADHD adversly affecting his
academics, behavior, or social emotional well being? Ask the teacher
how he is doing. Ask her/him if you can have a Student Study Team
regarding this current diagnosis. A Student Study Team (SST) is
(hopefully) made up of a school psychologist, the principal, the
Resource Specialist, the classroom teacher, the parents, and possibly
others. Here is where you talk about the childs strengths, get/give some
information, discuss the concerns, what are some modifications/
accommodations, and make a plan. It may come up that he is showing
some significant learning issues that may warrent further testing for an
IEP. If not, and you still think you want something more that lists
accommodations given in the classroom you can then request a 504
Plan.This is an Accommodation Plan for all students having (usually)
health issues that are interfering with their learning. It is not special
education but under the Office of Civil Rights. Let me know if you have
any problems or more questions.
ADHD itself is not a sufficient reason for an IEP. It is
generally not considered to be a qualifier for special
education unless it is impacting your child's learning
significantly. Generally this is defined as being at least two
years below grade level in one or more subject areas. Also,
there has to be a discrepancy between ability and performance
i.e. if the child is demonstrating an average or above average
IQ and has standardized test scores significantly lower than
what they should be then he or she might qualify for special
education. You can request testing for an IEP but be aware
that you are requesting testing for your child to be placed in
special education and that you may not want to do that unless
your child really has a learning disability. However, if you
feel that your child does have a learning disability along with
the ADHD and is not getting the necessary help in class then
looking into testing would be the thing to do. Many schools
will hesitate to test a child who is in first grade or below,
but if the parent requests testing they have to comply.
However, you can't request that your child have an IEP- only
that he be tested for the school to determine whether or not he
will qualify for one. Hope this helps and good luck!
A diagnosis of ADHD does not make your child eligible for an
IEP. Only students with one (or more) of the 13 disabilities
recognized by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
may receive special education services. So, unless your child
has another disability (such as a learning disability, which
often occurs concomitantly with ADHD), an IEP is out of the
He is, however, eligible for services under section 504 of the
Rehabilitation Act (which is a Civil Rights act that deals with
access). Called a 504 Plan, this plan is a program of
instructional services to assists students with special needs
(who donÂ’t qualify for special education) in the regular
education classroom. The plan should detail strategies for
helping you child be more successful in his classroom setting.
It may include things like: quiet room for testing, seating
close to the teacher or away from distractions, assignment
modification, etc. Since anyone can begin the referral process
for a 504 Plan, I suggest you make a request in writing to the
school district/school asking for a 504 Plan referral. In your
request, mention the ADHD diagnosis and include a written
record from the physician, neurologist, psychologist or other
expert who made the diagnosis. Hopefully, the school will
comply and ask you to be a part of the process. At the 504 Plan
meting, you would offer your suggestions for what would help
your child be more successful. HereÂ’s a link with some more
information about 504 Plans.
Medication should ALWAYS be a last resort Â– something you try
when youÂ’ve tried everything else and your child is still not
meeting with success. Many teachers and administrators will
suggest medication because itÂ’s easier than trying to implement
behavior plans and educational plans and doesnÂ’t cost the
school district anything. As a special educator, I know how
important and therapeutic meds are for some kids. But itÂ’s
important to explore all other options.
Finally, I understand your concern about labels. Our culture is
very quick to identify someone with a label. Some labels are
good, though. Your reaction to your childÂ’s ADHD will have the
most impact on how it is perceived. It is important to get your
child the help he needs so that he can be a success Â– thatÂ’s
the label you want for him. Be honest, open and loving about
his ADHD and help him understand how it makes him unique. Begin
to teach him now how to advocate for himself. And by all means,
donÂ’t let a thing like a label prevent you from getting him
what he needs. YouÂ’re his voice until heÂ’s able to have one
I would like to comment on previous responses to this request for advice. They all
had useful information and good advice, but there were also things that werenÂ’t
quite right or partly right. IÂ’m not disputing anyoneÂ’s personal experience, but
adding clarification about the law.
''Schools often try to insist on an IEP to put your
child in Special Educ. classes, which he probably doesn't need,
and where, unless he is extremely slow, he won't learn much.
The reason they do this is because they get much additional
funding for everyone they put into Special Educ.''
It is true that districts receive money for each special education student, however,
the grants for special education donÂ’t begin to approach the costs; districts and
general ed parents complain that special education ''encroaches'' (the word makes
me cringe) on the general fund.
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act [IDEA] requires that students be
educated in the ''least restrictive environment,'' which is the general ed classroom
for the large majority. The school is not likely to place a student in a ''special day
class'' unless he or she really belongs there. A kid of average intelligence with
ADHD, with or without learning disabilities, would not be placed in SDC without
some severe behavioral problems, for example.
''Only students with one (or more) of the 13 disabilities
recognized by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
may receive special education services. So, unless your child
has another disability (such as a learning disability, which
often occurs concomitantly with ADHD), an IEP is out of the
ADHD is expressly considered a qualifying condition, usually as Other Health
Impaired without other problems. It was added to IDEA in 1999 because a lot of IEP
teams didn't realize that it could fit the definition of OHI without being named. A
couple of people noted that ADHD has to adversely affect the studentÂ’s educational
performance (which is more than grades) to be a qualifying condition for special
education, and that is exactly true. All the other eligibility categories require the
same criterion, that to benefit from school, the condition has to adversely affect the
childÂ’s performance *and* the child needs special education to address the problem.
OHI students do not have to demonstrate a discrepancy, though students with
learning disabilities must, but California does not require a student be two years
behind, as someone suggested. Absent needing special education remediation and
support, 504 accommodations may cover what the student needs, and either family
or school may request evaluation for special ed or 504.
Regarding medication, one person wrote that
Â“Medication should ALWAYS be a last resort - something you try
when you've tried everything else and your child is still not
meeting with success.Â”
ThatÂ’s one opinion. I have seen many, many families grapple with the difficult issue
of medication. Another view might say that parents may not want their child to have
met failure in everything theyÂ’ve tried before trying medication, which after all, is
not an irrevocable decision. ThatÂ’s between the doctor and the family. The school
can never demand that a child be medicated, though in my opinion itÂ’s not out of
line for a caring teacher to say something like, Â“Have you thought of consulting your
doctor about medication? Other people might say that a teacher should never
mention medication because they aren't professionally qualified to diagnose and
treat, and that theyÂ’d be seen to be doing it for their own ends, in order to have a
Sorry this was so long, and I hope it made some things clearer.
Dana Lear, DrPH
Negotiating the Maze
Special Education Advocacy, Research, Support
My son is far behind others in reading, spelling and
comprehension as he enters second grade (good oakland public
school). We have had various tests done, and while he is quite
bright, he displays some processing disabilities and mild adhd
behaviors. We are wading through all issues, including IEP,
behavior counseling, Ann Martin tutoring, Lindamood Bell,
further more specific tests on learning. Can anyone offer
advice based on their experience? I am looking for experienced
professionals who can help us with behavior training (us and
him!) and tutoring at our home. We feel by starting early we
can get a handle on this, but we would really benefit from some
I would be happy to discuss this with you. I'm an Oakland parent
with an almost 9-year old who has been receiving services from
the district for 5 years. He initially presented with a language
delay - still the crux of his problem - but he currently has the
most trouble with learning behaviors if in a standard classroom.
We tried having him in his local school, but after only 2 months
it became a nightmare for him. He's now in a non-public
placement with a very small class size and a functional behavior
based model, and he's doing incredibly well - testing right at
grade level, actually finished 2nd grade in less than a school
year. But put him in a class with 20 kids and he dissolves.
I think the list of ideas for you to try would be too long to
burden this email list. If you want to email me we can discuss
Have any of you ever heard the idea that too much T.V. can be linked
to development of AD/HD?
I'm particularly wondering if any of you have read anything by T.
Berry Brazelton or Matthew Dumont that supports this idea.
Also, does anyone know, have any independent, verifiable,
double-blind (i.e. scientific method) studies shown any link between
AD/HD and T.V.?
I am a research psychologist at UC Berkeley specializing in the study of
behavior disorders in children and I've worked extensively on 2 studies of
ADHD in children. I know of no evidence linking TV viewing to ADHD. There
is no theoretical reason to believe there would be a link, and certainly no
conclusive evidence that this is the case. ''Proving'' that ADHD is
caused by TV viewing would require randomly assigning children to either
watch TV or to not watch TV for long periods of time. No one could
implement a study like this, and no parent I can think of would agree to
have their kids watch TV to see if ADHD develops. I am certainly not
advocating a lot of TV watching, but there is no reason I know of to believe
it causes or is even linked to ADHD. Note however, that there is ample
evidence linking the viewing of violent content on TV or in films to
this page was last updated: May 17, 2013
The opinions and statements expressed on this website
are those of parents who subscribe to the
Berkeley Parents Network.
Disclaimer & Usage for
information about using content on this website.
Copyright © 1996-2013 Berkeley Parents Network