ADD and School-Aged Kids
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ADD and School-Aged Kids
If your kid has ADHD will things ever be calm?
My oldest (of three) has ADHD. He's 8 and a great kid, but is super, super distracted (has
trouble staying focused and on task) and has a TON of energy. At school he does not disturb
other kids, but he is always getting distracted himself. At home he is like a tornado. He's
not destructive but he can't seem to settle down and focus on things especially after
school. He never stops talking or sits still. Homework is a disaster and he can rarely play
or do things on his own unless coaxed. He is always trying to rile up our other two children
and his style of playing is not calm. It's exhausting. He is like a constant whirlwind and I
find that I have no time to think or feel calm when he's around. We're working with a
therapist and have decided not to go the drug route right now and she has helped us with
some behavior management. But I'm wondering, from parents who have been there--will our home
always be this chaotic? He has set a bit of a crazy tone for our household and my husband
and I (who are pretty calm people) just feel burned out from it. Sadly we notice other
families with kids our son's age who sit calmly and read (he's never picked up a book and
read on his own) or play on their own quietly. He is more like a toddler with all of his
needs and it is getting old (especially with two other little ones to take care of). Are we
in for a chaotic life for the next 10 years (if he goes to college!)? Our other two kids are
not like this, but around him they start to act hyper and have started moving away from more
calming activities. We'd love some perspective from other parent's with ADHD kids.
-No time to think
Oh boy, can I identify with your situation! It is exactly the same way in our house,
with my 10-year old son. The hyperactivity and attention deficit makes it hard for him
at school, even though he doesn't have behavior problems there. Tried lowest dose
Concerta last year, which helped his focus at school and made him much more compliant at
home. He said it made him feel more calm. I'm conflicted about medicating him for
school, and wish there was a school more tailored to kids like ours - but we may go back
to the medication, if it's just too hard.
He has a hugely active life with constant friends and stimulus, almost continuous
high-energy play. I'm exhausted by the end of every day, so I can't offer you any relief
there. I can only add that our experience with medication was overall positive, in spite
of my reservations. I will be interested in the responses you get.
Simply wanted to point you to a good online resource for parents of ADHD, ADD kids:
http://www.additudemag.com/. It's a treasure trove of advice and research having to do
with behavioral issues, school, alternatives to meds, meds.. and so on. Really good.
Best of luck!
You have my sincere sympathy for the difficult situation you describe with your son. My
son has moderately severe ADD, which we have been dealing with for fifteen years. Yes,
consistent parenting strategies can help, as can reinforcement for progress, and love.
But why are you unwilling to see if medication can also help? My son has been involved
in deciding on,and self-monitoring utility of medication from the beginning and he
thinks it is helpful. From the perspective of parents and teachers, it is
clear-cut--missing ONE DAY of medication results in inability to participate in
classroom activities. We all need to understand more about the underlying
neurophysiology--but in the meantime, I think your son's inability to socialize, learn,
and co-exist in a functional family will harm him far more than the very well studied
medications for this condition.
doing EVERYTHING we can
My ADD son is also super, super distracted, as you describe your son. My son does not
have the hyperactivity component, but he has such a severe deficit of attention that it
is not possible to have a conversation with him. It's hard for him to read books
because his attention drifts away in the middle of a sentence. He doesn't like team
sports because he doesn't have the attention to follow the game or hear what the coach
is saying. He gets shouted at a lot by people trying to get his attention.
I don't know how my son would be able to live a normal kid life without ADD meds, which
he started in the 3rd grade. He is now in middle school. He has few memories of things
we did together before 3rd grade because he was in such a fog most of the time. With
the meds, he hears what the teacher is saying most of the time, and we can ask him
questions about his day and he can answer back. He can interact with other kids and
grownups. He is not perfectly focused with meds, but it is so, so much better than
without them. I really recommend you speak to your pediatrician about trying ADD meds.
My son has ADHD and nothing was ever calm until we went the medication route. I was
dead set against it, but am starting to wonder if it is just inevitable. The
hyperactivity and distractibility just becomes more and more difficult to manage the
older the child is. I can not believe how much the medication changed our lives for the
better. The thing to remember is not medicating also has consequences. Before finding
a medication that worked for him, we were frequently frustrated with our son, he had
trouble making and keeping friends, and in general was getting the message that he was a
bad kid. Now he is very popular in school and a joy to be around. He has his moments
like all kids, but it isn't a constant management issue like it was before. Now when I
am helping him get through breakfast in the morning before his pill I honestly can't
believe we used to live like that. It is a nightmare, much like you describe and even
though he is 8 years old I have to sit right next to him and basically hand feed him or
he is all over the place being silly or being distracted. I will say the medication
trials sucked, mostly because of my emotional feelings around giving my son medication.
I was so worried he would lose his special spark. Once we found the right thing for him
it has been great with almost no issues with side effects (he eats slightly less lunch,
that is it). He still has his exuberant personality, he just isn't aggravating everyone
all the time with the silly nonsense energy. Anyway, on the other side of it, the
medication is not nearly as horrible as I thought and honestly was needed in order for
my son to have the impulse control to apply the lessons he was learning in therapy.
Good luck! My heart really goes out to you. I don't think people really understand how
difficult it can be living with a child with ADHD unless they have done it.
Just know that you can try medication for your son and stop it immediately if you don't
like it. Nor do you need to use it non-stop. I am someone who is very open to
prescription drugs in general, so I was surprised how sad it made me to tell my son we
thought he had ADHD and should take medication. But I did it I was even more surprised
how relieved -- even happy -- he was to hear this. Before he was treated, he really
felt like there was something wrong with him that made him a bad kid (impulse control
was a HUGE problem for him). Now he really feels empowered - his brain works in a
special way, but it's not going to ruin his life (and it even has positives).
Some other good things about the medication are that because he knows what the
medication does for him, he really gets how the food he eats plays into his symptoms in
a way that he did not before - it's all about chemicals, right? So I don't have to nag
him as much about eating protein, etc.
Also, my son doesn't take medication every day. On weekends, he usually doesn't, but
even then his non-medicated behavior doesn't get to me as much as it used to, because I
know we can control it when we need to. Because his behavior doesn't make me anxious
the way it did before, it's better for all of us. And, the burden of managing his ADHD
is not all on me -- everything doesn't turn on my "managing" him the right way.
I understand your reluctance to give drugs to your son.
I had ADHD as a child and though my parents were wonderful, I was a real handful.
Especially in even slightly stressful situations. I even remember my friends and
teachers trying to get me to calm down in school. I remember being unable to get
homework done, even small tasks finished.
I wasn't diagnosed until my own son was tested in late high school and I recognized all
the behaviors from the questions. He never took ADHD drugs. I do.
HOW I wish I could have taken something! I am a smart person who ended up knowing I was
different, knowing I needed to get it together and not being able to. It has been
very hard, personally, to figure out why I couldn't complete stuff, get things done, was
always started something new...(on and on).
When I finally got drugs as a 40 year old, it was like night and day. Boom! Those
drugs have saved my life! I get things done. I organize. I am normal-ish. I still
have to work harder than most I believe to accomplish tasks. Yes, I have learned coping
techniques that I can use when I am not taking the drugs.
But there is just no comparison. Again, it was like night and day.
Any competent psychiatrist can describe to you the difference between the way an ADHD
brain operates and ''normal'' people's brains operate.
I absolutely believe the doctor when he says that to not provide a person with ADHD
meds is like someone being denied glasses for poor eyesight. For me, this has been
I encourage you to let your son at least try ADHD meds, and see what the result is. You
can always stop. But, you might be saving him and yourselves a lot of pain and
Glad I take ADHD meds
My son has received an ADHD diagnosis, now what?
My son just participated in a 6 hour neuropsychiatric session with Carina Grandison
and the ADHD evaluation through Kaiser. Both reports point to the hyperactive,
impulsive child. He has always been strong willed and full of energy but his
behaviors have started causing him to be in trouble at school. His kindergarten
teachers have been great with daily communication, but he tends to get put on time
outs frequently for being silly and disruptive while waiting his turn. He often
wiggles, fidgets or displays sillyness to try and cope with his difficulty sitting
still or maintaining focus. His teachers and coaches get quickly frustrated with his
behaviors and he often has to sit out the very activities we sign him up for to use
up that constant energy. I would love to hear from parents who have had a similar
diagnosis and what behavior modifications, parenting classes or medications
supported your child in participating in his/her childhood with more self
regulation. I want nothin more than my son to create good relationships with his
friends, teacher, and coaches. I appreciate you sharing your experiences.
Looking for some guidance
My son also has ADHD, he is almost 11 now. This is the short version of what has worked for us,
there are a lot of options out there and every kid is different, but here goes.
We did put him on medication starting in 1st grade. He was falling behind in class and often
felt stupid (he isn't). The impact on his self esteem was awful. We tried EVERYTHING before the
meds. We tried putting him in an ''office'' (cardboard cubical looking thing on his desk) so he
wouldn't get as easily distracted, we tried moving his desk, he had already been seeing a
therapist since about 4 years old and we continued that.
The medication helps my son perform the way he sees himself in his mind's eye. They don't want
to be impulsive, lose their temper, be combative about every little thing, etc. They usually
want to succeed. As he gets older some things get harder and some things get easier.
He also has some learning differences so he sees an educational therapist in addition to his
regular therapy. I strongly recommend therapy. Especially since my son loves his therapist, it
helps him navigate all the emotions that seem to just burst out of him. We tried social learning
groups, those were not for us. It is a slow process with little to no measurable impact. It
seems to depend a lot on the therapist that leads the group, but we just couldn't afford the Ed
Therapist and the social learning group and in our case the learning differences are a large
player in his poor self esteem. Feel free to email if you want more. Hope this helps.
IMHO you can rely on a diagnosis from Carina Grandison --
hers have long been the gold standard.
I suggest that you enroll your son in either (a) active sports or
(b) Boy Scouts. Burning off the excess energy will be good
for him. Of course, it can be high maintenance for the parents
to arrange transportation, and the child may have a difficult
transition between the activity and the parent's need to get
dinner on the table. Some Scout meeting are scheduled for
one evening per week after dinner.
Team sports and Scouting are venues where young males are
socialized and trained to support each other, and there is
adult supervision. That makes it better than school playground
situations where bullying can more readily occur.
Good luck -- he will improve with age!
Veteran of the Hyper-Years
Hello, I am sorry to hear your son has received a ADHD diagnosis. As a mother with a son in the
public school system, I understand completely how you feel, from every angle.
I am also a student of nutrition and I learned there is a strong link between ADHD and certain
foods. If I may give a few suggestions, please refrain from giving him these foods if possible:
-foods containing artificial coloring or flavoring (this includes candy)
-foods that are refined and processed such as crackers, cookies, pre made meals
-foods containing MSG or aspartame (chewing gum is a big culprit)
As well, please encourage more consumption of these foods:
-clean proteins from pastured eggs and meats
-free range and organic poultry
-good fats such as avocado, wild salmon, sardines, flax seed
There is so much more I could write but I think it best to make little changes, as you would be
more successful. There is no doubt your son would understand the true meaning of this
diagnosis, since he is in school every day and is not blind nor deaf to comments made by other
people. My son also gets labelled but I have been fighting the system. Ugh! It is important to
understand that this is not his fault. Certain children process foods differently and it
affects their brains. My own son was 'crazy' two days ago and when I questioned him, I found
out they were given marshmallows and jelly beans during science class. No wonder!!!!
Please don't give up and give him medication. The medication would not work and would cause
more damage in the long run. You have rights as a parent and if it helps, explain to the school
that you are making adjustments to his diet. Monitor his behavior with these changes.
The person who told you not to give your son medication made an incorrect and irresponsible
statement: ''Please don't give up and give him medication. The medication would not work and
would cause more damage in the long run.'' It is possible that she has had some success
changing her own child's diet, but she is in no way qualified to say that medication will not
work for your child and will make things worse. My own son who is nine has been taking
medication for ADHD for 3 years and is also receiving emotional and educational support and
these three things together have made an immense difference. I'm not saying you SHOULD give
your child medication, but please consider that it might be helpful. Also, my child was
diagnosed with ADHD at Kaiser Oakland and we (2 years later) saw Carina Grandison for a
neuropsychological evaluation to find out more about his makeup and issues, and we found her
to be extremely knowledgeable, thorough and professional as well as warm and an excellent
advocate for our son's success. I believe you went to the right person. If you do feel you
need a second opinion, may I recommend that you see Dr Raymond Hearey in Rockridge. He is
making adjustments to our son's medication and it seems to be helping him a great deal so far.
Giving medication is not giving anything up. It might just be the difference between what
works and what doesn't.
Medication is not evil.
I felt compelled to respond after reading what others wrote. My son also has ADHD like
symptoms and we tried EVERYTHING. Our lives were hell. We were unhappy, my son was unhappy,
and even worse, was starting to have rock bottom self esteem and feel like he was a terrible
person. The stress he and our family were under can not even be described. I also was very
resistant to medication after hearing stories about how all he needed was a better diet and
''don't give up.'' Well, now on the other side, I can say that medication truly changed all
of our lives for the better. We tried one medication that did nothing (but did not make him
worse) and then the second one we tried was very helpful. It is not a magic bullet by any
means, we still have to stay on top of keeping a very structured life at home and at school.
If sprinkling flax seed or whatever else people suggest was so effective then why wouldn't
more people be doing it?!? The research does not support that these diets do much if anyting
and trying to actually adhere to it is a herculean effort. This is not to say that your child
does/does not need medication, but just know there are serious and unfortunate consequences to
NOT medicating and if you do need to go down that road, it isn't that you are ''giving up''
but rather that you are weighing the consequences for not medicating against the benefits of
the medicine and trying to help your child reach his potential. I also have to say that the
horror stories of zombie like children with medicine were not true in our case. My child has
the same beautiful spark as before, he just can control his negative behaviors better and
doesn't feel like a failure all the time. We have experienced almost no side effects. The
only one was eating slightly less at lunch, but he makes up for it with an after dinner snack.
A healthy diet never hurt anyone, but it also does NOT WORK to address behavior issues for
everyone (or maybe even most kids). Good luck to you and your son!
Receiving an ADHD diagnosis is so hard on so many levels - I feel for you. I have a
7-year-old boy with ADHD, and I've been on this path for a while. I would work with a trusted
child psychiatrist or other specialist to determine what kinds of therapies would help most
for your particular child. For social issues, I would suggest looking into a ''Social
Thinking'' play group, or some other type of peer group therapy that deals with
self-regulation, social interactions, etc.
And, contrary to other advice you received here, I would not rule out medication. While I
wholeheartedly agree that good nutrition and whole organic foods are a great thing, I take
issue with the advice not to ''give up and give him medication'' and that medication ''won't
work''. Medication DOES work for a great many (not all) children with ADHD, and indeed can
change their lives. Stimulant medications, typically used to treat ADHD, are among the most
studied medications out there, have been in use for decades, and are generally considered very
safe. There are many variations that have varying results and side effects depending on the
individual child (what works for one child may cause unacceptable side effects in another).
It is often a case of trial and error before you find the right medication and dosage for your
child. Talk to an MD specializing in ADHD, gather as much information as you can, then make
the choice that feels right to YOU.
Good luck to you - I wish the best for you and your son!
I am very sympathetic to your situation, as we were in the same boat a year and a half ago
when my son, then 7, received an ADHD diagnosis from two different sources. This came
after two absolutely miserable years of school experience, during which his self-esteem
had completely eroded.
To counter one of the previous responses suggesting that this condition can be cured by
your intake of food - my son's diet has been stellar since his birth. He is 9 now, and to
this day, neither soda nor artificial coloring has passed his lips. His favorite meal is a
plate of salmon and steamed broccoli. So if a diet can change ADHD, I would question if
this was ADHD in the first place.
Before we ''gave up'' and tried medication we:
1) Switched from a public school to a private one in the hopes of small class size and
better resources creating a more positive environment for our son - this did not address
the underlying challenges;
2) My son was the youngest child in the classroom, so at the suggestion of the teachers we
held him back a year - this had no impact on his academic performance, but made positive
changes in his social life, as his apparent immaturity due to impulsiveness seemed to
blend in much better with a younger grade;
3) One of us became a stay-at-home-parent in order to be more involved at school and
provide a more balanced and calm life at home.
Neither these steps, nor the balanced diet ''cured'' his ADHD. A year after the diagnosis
we tried our last option - the medication. It was not the magic bullet as so many people
have suggested to me it would be, but it is still the most effective tool at my son's
I am not suggesting that the medication is the only route, but I thought I would share our
experience with you so you have one more anecdotal evidence in your arsenal.
I would like to mention one more thing. If you can, try to reach out to other families
with ADHD kids. It is so great to be able to talk to other parents who know what you are
going through based on a personal experience, not some book or a college lecture. As a
bonus, playdates with these kids are awesome and you donâ€™t feel guilty, because your
child is not the only one running and jumping like crazy.
Best and warmest wishes
ADHD-- dd on meds ; no change in productivity
10 yr old dd has been on various ADHD meds for 2 yrs. Teachers have not noted much
improvement on focus and productivity. Still requires lots of one on one prodding
to get work done. Evaluated by neuropschy, high IQ thus capable of doing work, but
low processing skills (16% percentile). Dislikes and avoids writing, says that
mind goes blank when it comes time to put thoughts on paper. Mom concerned about
middle school and future. In public school with IEP to help with writing and
study skills. Has anyone with similar issues found a way to resolve them. Help
Been there! Contact Phyllis Koppelman at Strategies for Learning. She got my child
writing which was a MIRACLE! (http://www.strategiesforlearning.com/) She is funny,
warm and so experienced!
Meds should work, period. However, I learned that my kid's doc was not giving him a
'clinically significant dose' that is not enough to help, just enough to disturb his
sleep! We switched to Dr. Brad Berman who is heaven-sent.
In both cases it was critical that our child LIKE the professionals. These two
really do love kids and interact with them, not just you.
My son had ADD and several learning challenges including processing and focusing, as
well as severe anxiety. When I put him on a gluten free diet years ago he changed
almost magically. We also gave him high doses of Omega 3 fish oil which was RX'd by
his wonderful shrink. Previous to that,when he was on meds for 2 years there was NO
change except they stunted his growth (GRRRRR....Mama bear comes out) The meds were
RX'd by a Kaiser shrink. The meds were more for his anxiety, which the Omega 3 took
care of beautifully.
Anyway, give gluten free a try. Most Dr's. don't know much about the negative
effects of gluten but it can really change one's focus, personality, brain
Today my son is a healthy and well adjusted 17 yo who has ways to deal w/ his
challenges and gets his school work done.
If you want to talk further about this, please e-mail me. Good luck.
People with ADHD have different challenges and to varying degrees. In order to be
successful in life it's important to come up with creative solutions. If writing is
difficult, perhaps being interviewed or talking into a recording might be a good
ADHD and thriving
Seems like the first thing to do is take him off the meds. Then I would suggest that
he learn to use a keyboard. Sometimes that is easier than using a pencil. Then, if a
keyboard doesn't work, either, the physical act of writing and the mental act of
composing should be separated. While he talks, you write it down. Scribing is a
wonderful way to connect with your kids and is wonderful for those who have trouble
with the pencil. Then have him copy it so he continues to get practice putting words
I'd look into getting some voice recognition APP for your computer and let him
dictate his stories and then edit them after they've been typed. He could use this
type of system at school too.
Our son struggled with trying to produce all through elementary school -
well, he wasn't really struggling, he was indifferent. He had an IEP. We
were very worried. But now he is a successful college senior with a
While it is true that every special-ed kid is unique and you can never
generalize, here's what worked for us:
Three things: First, behavior modification. During one of the OUSD
regimes with an enlightened head of the Programs for Exceptional
Children (PEC) department, they brought in special-ed aides who
were hugely overqualified. Ours was a licensed special-ed teacher
in another state.
Now, our kid was beyond the stage where he would
work in return for stickers.
What did our son value? Time off. So this marvelous teacher made
a deal with him: he got 15 minutes off for each 45 minutes that he
stayed on task writing an essay on the computer.
So our son began to negotiate. Could he save up his increments of
15 minutes to have an entire afternoon off? Well, okay. And what
would he do with his afternoon off? He wanted to stay in the school
library and help the librarian. She, too, was a jewel.
This process made him into a writer who got A's in college fiction-writing.
Second thing: Emotional support. When kids are struggling,
especially if there are social deficits involved, they need a trusted
adult to confide in, so they do not experience ''collateral damage''
of loss of self-esteem and inability to stand up to any bullying.
For our kid, a good therapist using sand-tray methods helped
Finally, Maturity, We parents tend to suspect that speaking of
''developmental delays'' is a euphemism for''not smart enough''.
But in our son's case, I am here to say that he has grown out of
a lot of the problems we suffered with in the earlier grades.
And I am proud to say that we were able to protect him from
Yes, there were nights when I went crazy -- sitting over him for
two hours trying to get him to complete a simple work sheet in
third grade; wondering what medication to try, arguing with my
husband who was/is anti-med. I have to say now that the meds
had little impact and were not worth trying. The biggest piece
of the puzzle was the behavior modification, and to make that
work, the teacher or parent must really understand what
motivates the kid.
Keep your sense of humor and your faith.
10 year old boy with ADD - after the meds wear off
My son is 10 years old and has ADD. He is on 10 mg of Focalin XR that he
takes in the morning. On his meds he is just a super great kid. He is sweet,
helpful, kind, behaves well in class, never much trouble. Other parents like
him, teachers like him, family members like him...
BUT.....after the meds wear off (about 5pm) its a 180 degree difference!! Like
Jekyll and Hyde! He is loud, impulsive, doesnt listen (Stop teasing the cat.
Leave your brother alone. Dont splash water--purposely--all over the
bathroom, and on and on.) Every 5 minutes he is being reprimanded for
something. On his meds he is nothing like this, I swear.
He has brought me and my husband to tears many nights due to complete
exasperation and/or feeling guilty for how we are treating him (yelling, anger
I know about the ''rebound effect'' of these medications. But we just arent sure
which avenue to go to make things better for him and for us. Wondering what
has worked for others out there with boys with ADD, who can be a complete
nightmare when not on their medication. (Of course we are going to run
everything by our pediatrician, but you all are experts too!)
Have you noticed a difference in your kid if youve given him an afternoon
dose of meds? (Our pediatrician has suggested it.)
Should we bring him to a developmental pediatrician (except the good ones
have wait lists months and months long!!)
And what would a developmental pediatrician do exactly? We dont need more
testing, a diagnosis or someone to dispense medicine, weve already had all
Are there counselors/psychologists that work with behavioral issues of this
kind? (I went for an intake at the Ann Martin Center. Left there feeling it just
wasnt a good match. I could be wrong.)
What parenting classes are out there in the Bay Area for parents of kids with
ADD? The only ones I know of are at Kaiser and we arent Kaiser members.
Some have said you dont have to be Kaiser members, but every time I go on
their website, 90% of their parenting classes say you have to be a member.
Any advice would be SOOOO appreciated!
PS Oh and yes, we do have reward systems at home with consequences
and/or positive rewards.
Feeling Sad and At Wits End
Since you say your son does so well on school on meds, would
you consider a small afternoon dose to get you through the
evening? Focalin XR is a long-acting form of Ritalin. You
could do a small (say, 2.5 or 5 mg) dose of regular (4 hour)
Ritalin in the late afternoon and that should be enough to
get through homework but still not keep him up at night. I
am not one to push meds, but I think in this case the
advantagese might greatly outway the disadvantages.
I feel for you. Our son is younger (7) and not medicated all the time
(wears out by evening and not on weekends). He seems tired and has a
hard time controlling himself when he is not on medication. We went
to a parenting coach - MARCIA S TROJAN LMFT RN in Berkeley. She
helped me understand that I have to stop myself before I get angry.
She taught me to notice the feelings - emotional and physical - I have
before I react in anger. When I notice these
feelings/tightness/pressure I give myself a time-out and walk away - if
possible - from the situation to take a deep breath and get a grip on
myself. Just an example of how the kid is not always the one who
needs the fixing. I can also develop skills and think differently about
my reactions, actions, and attitudes. I try to remember every day - and
many times in a day - that my son is doing the best he can. That
thought encourages me to do the best I can. I try to look at the fun
loving nature of my son - who makes everything a play opportunity -
and try to laugh with him. I also try to notice when my energy is low,
or I feel stressed, and treat myself a little better. I try to not be punitive
or shaming while correcting my son. I don't manage to stay positive
every time, but I keep trying. Every case is different. I hope this does
not sound like its all the parent fault. Just suggesting that parent
reaction can make a difference in lowering the tension.
On parenting classes: I see that there are classes for parents online. I
don't know how good or bad they may be. Just do a search on any
search engine. Kaiser classes - through behavioral health - tend to be
both for members and pay-for-service. The classes through
psychology department seem to be more members only. I plan to take
more Kaiser classes to keep learning how to cope. Good luck to you
and to your family.
Your life and your son's sound exactly like mine. Our son
had ADHD and his meds wear off at about 6pm and we go
through exactly the same thing-leave the dog alone, stop
harassing your dad or me, please keep the noise down a notch
(yelling goofy songs so the neighbors hear, etc) What we
have done is something that might seem counterintuitive. We
let him play Algodoo (a free physics game you can download
which has him fascinated) while we make dinner and while we
eat dinner we watch a Star Trek episode with him on Netflix.
During the halfway point of the movie, it is 5 mg of
chewable melatonin and dessert, and when the episode is
over, we brush teeth read and go to bed. We do this every
single night, and while the sillies and crazies do sometimes
rear their ugly heads during the computer time, he is
usually so fascinated by this game that he's able to calm
down if one of us asks about what he's doing. I know every
family is different but this works really well for us. I
think the melatonin does a really good job with helping him
wind down and be ready to sleep. He takes Ritalin LA at
about 8am and this wears off at about 6pm. On another note,
he has been going to the Ann Martin Center since he was five
and he is turning 9 in December. It seems to be a pretty
good fit, but it took a while to figure out the best method
to get him to share information which he does through a
method you'd use for much younger children-a duck puppet.
Since he is emotionally immature, it works for him. He's
brilliant with a 147 IQ and a sponge for anything technical,
but this duck, somehow he relates to it in a way that makes
him feel safer than a grownup, who he often doesn't trust.
Anyway, good luck and if you want to email me, I hope the
moderator can give you my info.
Know what it's like.
Your experience sounds just like ours--it was IMMEDIATELY
obvious to us, teachers, and camp directors for my younger
son when he missed even one day of medication. Medication
was the difference between his being able to participate and
interact vs being thrown out of programs. When he was
taking a relatively short acting medication, we had a
prescription for a short acting stimulant for the late
afternoon-evening. So I would encourage you to see your
behavioral pediatrician soonest.
Medication did not substitute for the demanding parenting
skills needed for our son--but it made it possible to make
progress--and also minimized the frustration and anger that
is destructive for everyone in the family. I am astonished
at the number of folks on BPN who congratulate themselves on
NOT using medications--would they be so proud of dealing
with a seizure condition without meds???
And our son has just gone off to college with a substantial
merit scholarship. He recognizes the value of medication
and manages it himself. Everything is not perfect--but I
can't imagine the past twelve years without the assistance
using the help we all need
I highly recommend Russell A. Barkely's book ''Taking Charge
of ADHD: The Complete Authoritative Guide for Parents.''
We have had that same problem and we've changed meds several times
to try to give him enough to get throuigh homework, but not so
much that he can't get to sleep at night. It's hard! We got an
enormous amount of help from a child psychiatrist at Kaiser who
was able to suggest a number of different meds at different dosages
until we found one that works for us. As he's gotten older
we have revisited it a couple times. Don't give up!
Pre-schooler diagnosed with ADHD
My 4 1/2 year old son was just diagnosed with ADHD. I'm not surprised
but I am somewhat alarmed by the strong recommendation to medicate
him. My husband, mother and mother-in-law are strongly against it but
I'm torn. I don't want to medicate my kid for the rest of his life (as
the literature would suggest we do), but if he is able to more fully
live up to his potential (personally, academically and socially)
wouldn't I be doing him a disservice NOT to medicate?
I'm really just looking for personal stories from people who have
experience with ADHD - either themselves, or as the parents of a child
with it. Did you medicate or not? Why did you choose to/not to
medicate? What has your experience been - good, bad or otherwise?
Besides parenting classes and/or behavioral modifications, did you use
or explore any alternatives? If so, what, and did you find it
helpful/useful or a waste of time?
Thanks in advance.
Please consider thoughtfully your child's individual
situation and the credibility of the medical
evaluation/advice you are getting and do what is best for
that child--not fall in with doctrinaire ''against
My son was diagnosed with ADD in kindergarten, in addition
to focal learning issues. It has been a long and complex
route, including parenting classes, therapy, small private
schools, social skills, etc etc. But medication has made an
ENORMOUS difference for him. With medication, he can
participate in academic learning and is able to have social
interactions. When he misses a day (inadvertantly),
teachers and camp counselors IMMEDIATELY recognize it (he
takes a short-acting stimulant), and come running to us to
say he can no longer participate in the situation. He
recognizes the value himself--from the start, we discussed
medication with him and kept him in the decision making loop.
Next year he is going off to the college he wanted, with a
merit scholarship. We know it will continue to be complex,
but I doubt we would have gotten to this stage without the
help of medication.
I just purchased a computer program and headset from Neurosky.com that is
specially geared to help kids with ADHD (apparently, all kids can benefit from it,
though). The program/game is called Focus Pocus. I can't vouch for it's
effectiveness, since we just got it, but the youtube video and the description of
the program make it look like a promising treatment option for ADHD.
hoping this works
We are struggling with the same decision right now for our 6-1/2 year old
due to major distractibility...and ''academic'' difficulties in Kindergarten (don't
get me started about that). BUT, the first thing I though when I saw your post
is that 4-1/2 is way too young to diagnose and medicate ADD. I feel like 6-
1/2 is too young, really. Many kids will just naturally grow out of behaviors
that could be labeled ADD as they mature. It runs in our family on both sides,
so my son likely will need medication somewhere along the line if other
environmental adjustments are not helpful.
Good luck with your decision. I know it's a difficult one and I look forward to
hearing others respond to your post. It's just hard to imagine that a 4-1/2
year old is not ''living up to their potential''.
-Disheartened by Pressure on Kids Today
My son was also diagnosed at a young age, and I was also
someone who hated the idea of medicating my child, but I can
tell you with the utmost sincerity that it has changed all
our lives for the better. He is able to handle so much more
with the medication. I explained to him like the literature
says that he has a race car brain with bicycle brakes and
that the medicine helps his brakes match his car. It
literally speeds up the process to make everything match
better and work more efficiently. He is a VERY challenging
kid with VERY challenging behaviors and yet is incredibly
smart (doing high school levels in testing at the age of
eight)so I feel like this is giving him the help he needs to
develop the good stuff he has. He takes 20 mg of Ritalin LA
(the long acting slower into and out of the system kind)You
can try it and if you all don't like it, either stop with
your doctor's help or try something else. We were lucky
enough to have just tried two (we started with Ritalin LA,
tried Focalin, then went back.)Good luck!
Best for the brakes.
I want to first off offer you my general support: parenting
ADHD kids takes patience and self-awareness beyond what I
imagined. I encourage you to get support, especially from
other ADHD parents (as you are doing here!) through groups
like CHADD and PPSNK (local listserv that offers amazing
support for all special needs kids). I also highly recommend
the book ''Transforming the Difficult Child: The Nurtured
Heart Approach'' by Howard Glasser.
Regarding medication, who is ''strongly recommending'' this
and what is their personal stake in seeing you do so? We
only recently began medicating our 10 year old, who was
diagnosed at age 6. We work with a doctor, Marianna Eraklis,
who has been supportive of our decision to hold off. She and
others suggested to us that we see how our daughter did with
other kinds of supports and accommodations, and keep
medicating in our back-pocket (metaphorically) for a time
when school seemed especially challenging (and as many
predicted, that time came at fourth grade, when school
becomes more academic). Our daughter is bright, but has
trouble focusing, and the structure of the classroom can be
challenging for her (its not really the structure, its the
lack of stimulation -- she likes high intensity
environments). We have given her a number of other supports
to help along the way, including social skills training
(Communication Works in Oakland) and briefly Occupational
Therapy, and have read a great deal, and learned some tricks
for managing things at home (many from the Glasser book).
Age 4 seems young to medicate, but I don't know the nature
of the struggles your child is having or how they are
effecting things. Still, I think trying to change other
things first makes sense, as you can always turn to meds
later. Is your child struggling at school? It has been very
important for our daughter that her schools be places where
she can get a lot of stimulation: sitting quietly is not her
thing, and some schools/classes offer more opportunities for
multisensory input and more chances to move around. I should
think there would be a number of preschools that would be
great for that. In regards to maximizing your child's
potential, I don't know that meds really do that. I think
they help ADHD comport in an environment that requires a
particular kind of behavior (schools) but their natural
potential often blossoms in other arenas (arts, sports, or
learning environments that are more hands on and immersive).
I'd recommending trying out some of these other things first.
Best of luck!
Mother of an amazing, creative, sparkling kid
I am an elementary school teacher, I have a high-school age
son who has ADHD (Inattentive Type), and I have recently
been diagnosed with ADHD with not much surprise after all
I've read about it within the last 6 years or so. I have
seen almost miraculous results in my students from
medication, and medication has also helped my son and
My son was diagnosed in middle school, and he is a HS senior
right now. He was a very high scorer all the way up to 5th
grade or so, always Advanced on the CST scales. None of the
teachers EVER mentioned a problem because I think he's not
hyperactive, just not focused. Because of his age at the
time of his beginning the meds, it was a battle against a
certain level of resistance on his part. I don't think it
will be as difficult with a small child. It's very sad to
see children unable to read by 3rd grade because they are
unable to focus long enough to even listen, or they are
totally unable to stop talking. I was totally against
medication for a long time because of the ''urban legends''
about it, but I have made a 180 degree turn.
I would suggest you approach the pediatrician with a request
for the smallest dosage possible, and work your way up.
This could amount to say, 5 mg of Adderall perhaps given
twice a day. Take a look at this wonderful website:
www.chadd.org To find the right medication is not an easy
task, but keep trying. If you are able, go in and observe
your child at school to get a clear picture of how the
medication is affecting him/her. If you can't go yourself,
ask the teacher(s) to give a report daily in a notebook that
goes back and forth between you and them. This doesn't have
to be an essay every day, just a note to let you know their
opinion on how your child behaves with the med. I've seen
kids on too high a dosage almost fall asleep (from a
stimulant!), and I've seen kids who obviously need the
medication increased or changed. Don't believe alarmist
statements. It's a slow process to find the right med, but
it is WORTH it. Good luck.
ADHD and happy to have found out
hi - i've got 2 kids with ADHD. both are taking medication.
when my youngest was diagnosed he was 5. he was in
preschool and getting ready to go to kindergarten. he was
in a special, full inclusion (BUSD) preschool for his
special needs. i remember this vividly because it was April
and the teacher sadly told me he was not on track to attend
kindergarten in the fall because he just couldn't grasp the
curriculum he was being taught.
he started meds that month. by June she said he had the
most dramatic turnaround she had seen in a kid. the
medication allowed him to calm down enough to 'let the
learning in'. she recommended he go to kindergarten with no
its not all honey and roses - he still has issues. but i
found medication allowed him to just slow down, focus and
have the attention needed to learn in our schools. he is
not a zombie by any means. he can simply stay focused at
school to sit on the rug and listen, learn and then do his
the days i've run out of his meds or somehow forgotten
(rare), his teachers tell me they had to peel him off the
walls and no work got done. they were in triage mode with him.
my son has a BAD case of ADHD, so may not be the same as
your child. but i doubt my son would have progressed as he
has if i chose not to medicate him.
just another mother's story
My oldest son has ADHD. He is now 14 yo and been on
medication since he was about 9 yo. He is much more
successful in school on medication, currently Vyvanse. He
has never really had trouble with academics, more with
social situations, talking out of turn, joking,
argumentative, etc. Outside of school, he is happier and
more fun off the meds, but has alot of energy. As he gets
older, he is more able to be sucessful without medication.
He had a psych eval last year which indicated he had some
ADHD issues and IQ scores in the genius range. This was
interesting because when he was evaluated when he was 8
yo, the doctor who tested him at that time said his ADHD
was severe, which we felt was absolutely incorrect.
You do not address what kinds of behavior your son
presents relating to his ADHD. When my son was in
preschool he had trouble with empathy,cooperative tasks
that involved focus on other children, and biting (yikes!)
There were lots of meetings at school every year regarding
his behavior, I think Kindergarten year was the worst.
After moving him from private school to public school, we
started trying medication and he was much more successful
which boosted his self esteem considerably.
Another note, my neighbor's son is in first grade and is
taking Adderal during school but not in the summer or on
weekends, and is doing quite well in school. He is very
bright and recognizes the focus the medication gives him
I would trust your instincts with the meds, without
knowing what issues you are facing with your son it is
hard to give advice, but preschool seems so early to start
meds but only you can know for sure.
East Bay Mom
I was wondering if any of you parents out there had
experience/advice about your child being on ADHD meds and
their heighth being affected by it.
Our son is on the short side (the shortest one in his
class and his athletic teams as well) and while he has
always been on the short side, we wonder if his meds are
going to continue to slow his growth rate. We dont know if
its just genetics, the meds or both.
We have been told by the doctors that the meds DO affect
growth rate *temporarily* but that the child eventually
does catch up, that its not a permanent state (ie, they
wont always be shorter/behind just because of the meds.)
Do any of you with older kids perhaps, have any experience
with their growth being temporarily (or permanently??)
affected and then they caught up to their peers eventually?
I had to chuckle at your request. My daughter is on ADHD
meds and is 5'8'' and still growing. She wears a women's
size 10.5 or 11 shoe. She's been on meds since 5th grade
and is in 8th. There is at least one girl in her class who
I believe is on similar meds and is of the same height. So,
I would hate to see how tall they would be if the meds
stunted their growth.
I fully understand your concerns as I am still short, and
would have hated to take anything that could have
potentially stunt my growth, but I have not seen that as an
On the other hand, my daughter has next to no appetite at
lunch. I've had to reassure many people at her school,
family, friends, etc. that she makes up for it at breakfast,
after-school ''snack'' and dinner. She eats a healthy mix of
food so I feel her good nutrition offsets any issues
resulting from many skipped lunches.
Good luck with your son. My daughter says that starting
meds was ''the best.'' Totally turned around her grades, her
behavior, etc. She has thanked me many times, and I'm only
sorry I did not follow the suggestions to do it earlier.
Mom of Tall Girl
Many parents worry about this. Steve Hinshaw,PhD,Chairman of
the Psych. Department at UC Berkeley was one of the leading
researchers in the NIMH Study of ADHD. This 5 year study
with thousands of kids found that there was only a slight
difference between children taking stimulants and those who
didn't. The difference was calculated as 1 inch.
Personally I feel that is a small cost for the great
improvement found with proper treatment. It is important to
assure that your child has proper intake of calories to
maintain weight. This is especially true with entrance to
puberty. There is a necessary balance. Modification of
dosage or switching to another stimulant may help.
Dear Concerned Mom,
I can appreciate your concerns for your son and I hope our
experience will help put your mind at ease. My son, who
is now 15, has been taking ADHD medication since he was 7
years old. He is now the tallest one in the family, at
over 6 feet. He is on the slim side, as the medication
did suppress his appetite, but it definitely did not slow
down his growth in terms of height. And now that he has
entered adolescence, the medication is still working for
him in terms of allowing him to concentrate when he needs
to, but it doesn't seem to be affecting his appetite as
much as it used to when he was younger. He eats all the
time, as most teenage boys do! I hope this helps.
A fellow mom
For what it's worth - a close friend of mine whose son was on ADD meds for a
while had your same concern, and her child did appear to be on the short side.
since had a big growth spurt, however, and is now very tall (though pretty thin).
The meds did help him a lot.
My 12 year old has been taking ADD meds for 4 years. He is now and has
always been off-the-charts tall and generally runs a head taller that
other kids his age. Right now he is approaching 5'10". So, I
have not observed any "stunted growth" although I sure do hear a lot about it
from people who disapprove of ADD meds!
ADHD: Meds stop working?
Has anyone had experience with this? Our 8-year-old,
diagnosed last year with moderate ADHD, had an amazing
response to Vyvance (one of the stimulants) -- big increase
in ability to focus and follow directions in school, major
decrease in agitation at home. But after about 2 months we
noticed at home and teachers independently noticed at school
that her response significantly decreased. Although she
didn't go back to her pre-medication state, her focus and
behaviors are only a small amount improved now. (There
weren't any other life changes or environmental reasons we
could identify.) We've been consulting with a doctor about
adjusting dose and type of medication and other factors.
But we are just wondering if anyone had an experience with a
change in efficacy of these stimulant meds and what worked
My daughter has been on ADHD medication for about 4 years.
We've had to change or adjust dosages -- and even change
medications -- several times over those years. I wouldn't
be overly concerned. After trying a couple that didn't work
well, she was on the Daytrana patch for a few years - it
worked great but we changed dosages as she grew. She is now
on Vyvanse, and we had to play with the dosage for a few
weeks to get it right. The start of the school year, any
changes in her height and weight, a lot of things could
affect the effect of the medication. It is hard at your
daughter's age, but you will need to check in with her on
how well she perceives the effect on her symptoms.
It is worth sticking with it. My daughter has thanked me
multiple times for having her start taking medication. She
is at the age where she realizes how much it helps her
scholastically, socially, etc.
In a word: Yes. Meds need adjustment. Kids grow, things
change. Our child's meds were changed (new medication)
and dosages changed. As they get older the child (young
adult) tunes in to their response to their meds and they
eventually work directly with their doctor to get the best
drug and dosage.
mom of a college kid with ADHD
We've changed meds several times and also increased doses
as my son has grown and as puberty kicked in. Be aware that
there is a tendency with some docs to be overly cautious on
the initial dosage and not give a kid the dosage that he/she really
needs. This could explain why the teachers noticed an
amazing difference when she first went on the meds - it was
enough of a dose that teachers noticed a dramatic change
when she first went on the meds, but not enough
to get your daughter where she needs to be.
Talk to your
doctor. Meds adjustment is the status quo for us parents
of ADD kids!
8 year old may have inattentive ADHD
Hi fellow BPNers. I have an 8 year old 3rd grade daughter.
She has a mid-September birthday and started kindergarten
when she was four so she has always been the youngest in her
class (we attend a school district where many parents hold
their children until they are 6 to start kindergarten). Her
preschool teachers said she was ready for kindergarten and
she was from a social (making friends) and academic
perspective. However, from the beginning we had some issues
with behavioral situations (wanting hugs from the teacher,
not wanting to sit in circle when it was time, etc.). First
and second grade, however, she did fine--she is an avid
reader and performs at a satisfactory or above satisfactory
level on most benchmarks. However in second grade and now
in third grade, her teachers commented that my daughter is
frequently distracted and often misses important
instructions for completing an assignment. In addition, she
talks a lot when she is supposed to be working on an
assignment which prevents her (and others) from finishing
Another potential piece of the puzzle is that there is a
strong ADHD predisposition in my family...My grandma, Mom,
sister, nephew and niece have ADHD, and another sister has
I am looking for advice from other parents of other easily
distracted children on how to help my daughter focus better.
And how to get her to stop with the chit chat during school
time. And if your child was diagnosed with ADH, were these
signs that your child exhibited prior to being diagnosed?
ADHD is frequently diagnosed in 2nd or 3rd grade because of
the increased academic demands. You need to get her
evaluated, especially given your family history. Talk to
- mom of an ADD kid
I took a long-acting ritalin daily from age 12 to age 19.
Other siblings took ritalin from kindergarten until college.
There was never a need to increase the dose - ever. I
stopped the drug at 19 and was able to integrate my learned
behavior (focus, concentration) into my life well enough
that I didn't have any problems as an adult. However,
probably none of us actually had ADHD. We were diagnosed in
the sixties and not a lot was known. Possibly there were
just too many kids in our family and not enough parental
time. I have mixed feelings because I accomplished a lot
due to being on ritalin, but I think any normal person would
have better concentration skills on ritalin!
Your fears about long term consequences, and the need to
increase the dose are unfounded, at least in our family
experience. Your son's self esteem will probably be boosted
by doing well and being able to behave and concentrate
My son started Ritalin when he was 8 too. He is 10 now. I posted about ouexperience
to the other question in this newsletter about the inattentive 8-year-old.Your son
is taking a really low dose, and it sounds like it's working for him, so that is
great! The kids do not ''adapt'' to the ADD medication; it's not like
heroin where they need more and more and more. It's more like your 2 cups of
coffee in the morning. You don't add additional cups over the years until you're
drinking 30 cups a day because the two cups works for you! Once you find the right
does, they stay on that dose.
We had a hard time figuring out dosages. We started out like you with a low dose
and then went from there. For us, the problem wasn't so much the number of mg's as
it was the ''delivery method.'' It really took almost a year of trying different
brands of Ritalin before we found one that worked. There is the time-release kind,
which lasts for the whole school day, and then there is the regular kind that your
son is probably taking, which is out of their system by about lunch time. With the
regular, he had no focus in the afternoons,which was ok in 2nd grade, but it started
to be a problem in 3rd grade.
Homework was impossible too. The time-release OTOH would last for the
entire school day and he'd have no problem with homework, but then it
seemed to hang around in his system for hours after dinnertime, and he
wasn't getting to bed until 10:30 or 11. We tried using the regular kind and having
the school give him a 2nd dose at lunchtime, but again we found it was interfering
with his sleep. So we finally went to a child psychiatrist at Kaiser who figured out
that our son has a very slow metabolism and this was the problem with the
time-release meds. It was hanging around in his stomach and continuing to dribble
out over a much longer time period. He prescribed a different time-release that
delivered more in the morning and less in the afternoon. It worked great. In our
case, we changed him to a new school that had more running around time and less
stress, and in the middle of 4th grade he stopped taking meds and it was fine. Now
in 5th grade we are all taking about trying them out again because academic demands
are picking up, but we'll see. His older brother's focus got better by 7th grade, so
there is hope!
I have experience with both my son and having been
inattentive and hyperactive myself as a kid myself. When I
was a kid I got worse when I was around large numbers of
children or around other hyped up kids. It took me quite a
while to unwind afterwards. But I did unwind if I was around
someone calm (like my uncle or my dad). Having quiet time
to play by myself helped too. I also realize that another
aspect was being upset or angry about something someone was
doing - which made me aggressive. Mostly it just took me
longer to make the transition active to quiet. Also I needed
more running around and playing time than some kids. The
more I played outdoors, the easier it was to appreciate
quiet time after I burned off the excess energy. It took me
a few years, but I eventually got it right. I also strongly
suspect that food was involved, because what I ate made a
difference. I completely outgrew my issues and went on to
become a successful manager and college instructor. When my
son came along, I saw that he was like me in some ways, so
we decided to home educate (supplemented with lots of
supervised social activities, sports, choir, and so on). No
ADHD issues have occurred. I think a calm and patient
authority being present is a big factor like in the ''Santa
parenting book'' (which is currently free online)at a
parenting site http://parentmoment.blogspot.com. Happy
grown up ADHD kid
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 doesnt 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 donÂt 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. HereÂs a link with some more
information about 504 Plans.
Medication should ALWAYS be a last resort Â something you try
when youÂve tried everything else and your child is still not
meeting with success. Many teachers and administrators will
suggest medication because itÂs easier than trying to implement
behavior plans and educational plans and doesnÂt cost the
school district anything. As a special educator, I know how
important and therapeutic meds are for some kids. But itÂs
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 childÂs 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 thatÂs
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,
donÂt let a thing like a label prevent you from getting him
what he needs. YouÂre his voice until heÂs 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 werenÂt
quite right or partly right. IÂm not disputing anyoneÂs 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 donÂt 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 studentÂs 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
childÂs 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
ÂMedication 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
ThatÂs 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 theyÂve tried before trying medication, which after all, is
not an irrevocable decision. ThatÂs between the doctor and the family. The school
can never demand that a child be medicated, though in my opinion itÂs not out of
line for a caring teacher to say something like, ÂHave 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 theyÂd 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
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