ADHD and Teens & Pre-Teens
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ADHD and Teens & Pre-Teens
ADHD inattentive type - 13 year old
Our very bright 13 year old is struggling in school.
She does her homework but frequently forgets to turn it in.
Has trouble completing tasks unless supervised. Doesn't plan ahead. She
is otherwise a happy child with loads of friends and enjoys school very
We suspect she may have ADHD- the inattentive type.
We are torn. We were hoping it was just a ''maturity'' issue and would sort
itself out. Unfortunately, she is getting ready for high school and still
remains absent minded and this is taking a toll on her grades .
I am very concerned about medicating her. I would love to hear from
parents who have dealt with this issue.
I would also love to get some recommendations of doctors, therapist etc
who are experts in this field .
At the age of 40 I was diagnosed as ADHD Inattentive Type.
I always scored in the top 1 % percent of standardized
tests but my performance at school and in life was always
unpredictable. I am not sure how much I would have been
helped by a stimulant at your daughter's age, because of
maturity problems and problems at home. But by the time I
was in college I would have definitely benefitted from
medication. It took me eight years to get my bachelor's
degree. My life has changed so much for the better since
starting Ritalin. Before Ritalin I could not follow a
conversation or news report or teacher's lecture or even
read a few paragraphs without my mind drifting. I don't
feel like an outsider in social situations any longer
because I don't have to work so hard to make sense when
I'm listening and talking over background noise. I am
motivated to start projects and able to complete them.
Completing projects was always a huge challenge for me
I know my post probably does not help with your decision
about medicating your child, but if your home life is
stable and she does not have emotional problems, my advice
is to consider getting a prescription for her on a trial
basis. If you then decide to discontinue the medication,
stay open to medication as a possible future solution.
Good luck to you and your family.
Benefitting from Ritalin
We had concerns related to attention/focus/motivation etc.
for years, but it was not an academic or behavioral problem
in elementary school. Once he got into middle school, the
expectations increased and he had more difficulty managing.
We hadn't sought an official diagnosis for him until that
point, although we had done some work with an OT around
sensory integration issues and done neurofeedback, because
we saw that the issues were there. We really wanted to
avoid medication if possible. Finally we got to the point
that we didn't feel there were other options and that we
owed it to him (and ourselves/our relationship). It's been
a godsend and I'm so glad we got to that point. Doesn't
make the issues go away, and we have dealt with trying to
maintain his weight, but it makes it workable. Also
improves his mood hugely, I don't know if that is an issue
for you or not.
I do believe that neurofeedback can do amazing things for
many kids (but make sure you get a good provider who is
familiar with ADD issues). It just was not helpful to him.
You might want to try that route before medication, though
(or at some point even if you opt for medication now).
Good luck. I think it's not unusual that issues get more
intense at this stage.
My daughter has similar issues and at 13 she was diagnosed with ADHD. We
tried various drugs and they worked for attention issues but she did not like
the effects - she felt they turned her into a boring, unimaginative person. (But
trying them seemed right, and the results motivated her like nothing else
could have). So we read Sanford Newmark's book ''ADHD Without Drugs'' and
tried 1) organizational training, 2) general health, and 3) cutting back on
computer/tv screen time. This has been working very well for 2 years. Though
she still has her spacey moments, she is happier, has an a- average in school,
and is doing well in extracurriculars too. For organizing, I basically had to do
it for her for a year and gradually start turning it over to her: checking her
planner every day, reminding her to check it, making a separate shelf for each
school subject or project where she sorts all materials each day, buying extra
used textbooks online (and the school provided some) so she could keep one
set at school and another set at home. Now she is pretty good at it bur still
needs some reminders (and praise). Seems like a lot of trouble at first but it's
what she needs. For health, getting enough sleep (9+ hours!), taking vitamins
& minerals, and eating well including real breakfast with protein made a huge
difference. For screen time, which I don't think is good for the ADHD brain,
our rule is no more than 1 hr/day, 2hrs/day on weekends, and none within an
hour of bedtime because it keeps her awake for a while. All these have been
hard to achieve sometimes but the effect is apparent every single day they
happen. But the most important thing is that she understands better how her
brain works and realizes she is not bad or lazy as some teachers have implied.
Everyone is different but I urge you to try these kinds of measures in any case.
Wishing you well
I was diagnosed with ADHD at 36. I wish that there had been
more diagnoses and information about ADHD when I was a kid.
My teenage years would have been so much easier.
There are many ways to manage ADHD without meds if that
feels like a better fit for your family. I manage pretty
well with a good diet, lots (I mean LOTS) of exercise, and
keeping a pretty strict calendar.
The first step is a diagnoses and I urge you to do that.
Once you know what's going on, then you can figure out what
the next steps are for her to be successful.
I would also recommend two books: Driven to Distraction and
Delivered from Distraction, both by Dr. Ned Hallowell.
Well managed ADHD can be a gift. We're a super productive
and creative group when given the right resources.
ADHD and loving it.
Our daughter too had ADHD Inattentive type. For 3 years my
husband and I disagreed about medication so held off. Once
started (roughly 5th or 6th grade), we found that a tiny
dose of Ritalin made a very marked and positive difference.
Immediately she was then able to focus and get school work
done, the quality of her work went way up, and (directly
related) her sense of self esteem soared with her other
I highly recommend Dr. Lester Isenstadt, Psychiatrist
(Berkeley). Don't wait though. Already in middle school and
still dealing with these issues could leave her without
adequate tools, coping skills, and sense of self to thrive
in high school.
Wishing you well
I hear you! My daughter is the same kind (although
younger). However, I have talked to her teachers every
year about the possibility of her having ADD. I would also
like to avoid medication if at all possible. One day, my
sister-in-law sent me an article about Executive Function
(or dysfunction) in kids, and that was totally describing
the problem. Read about it online, and find useful advice
on how to help your child get organized:
In short, she needs to help herself get organized. She
will need to learn to use calendars, written notes to
herself, and other organizational material to get on task.
She could also find a positive reinforcement for doing the
right thing, and creating a plan for herself, with your
help. You can get there, and so does she!
Not organized but spontaneous!
My son was diagnosed at age 6 as having ADD, but we resisted
medication for years. In middle school, he had all the
problems you describe -- inability to focus and complete
schoolwork, a backpack where completed homework went to die,
no organizational or planning skills. His poor grades and
negative feedback from teachers and peers really started to
affect his confidence, and the management we had to exercise
with a resistant teenager really strained our relationship.
Finally, after a horrible year in 6th grade, we had to act.
We had him reevaluated and medicated (Focalin XR). It was
like magic -- instant executive function. He was on top of
things, we didn't have to nag, and he was able to be the
student he was meant to be. Rather than hating school, he
began to love it. The main side effect of the meds is
appetite suppression. He needs a substantial, high
calorie/protein breakfast before he takes the meds, and he
brings to school every day a high-protein smoothie so that
even if he doesn't eat, he gets some good calories.
Now, a HS senior, my son understands the meds, and plans
around/manages them. He eats a lot and well (this is
relative, of course; he's a teenager) before taking meds and
after they wear off. He modulates his dose based on what he
has to do (no meds on weekends/vacations unless he has a lot
of schoolwork, time-release meds for full days, short-acting
meds when there are limited school tasks, etc.). He is
thriving: a confident, happy, successful teenager.
Our only regret is that we didn't go the medication route
sooner. It changed his life.
We see Brad Berman in Walnut Creek. He knows his stuff.
Only downside: It takes months for new patients to get an
Grateful for Meds
You have nothing to lose by giving the ADD meds a try. If
they are going to help your child, you will be able to tell
immediately. Really, like within an hour. Ritalin is not
addictive, and it leaves the body completely within a few
hours, so if you don't like how your child is after an hour,
in 3 more hours you are done with the trial. It's not like
anti-depressants where you wait for months to see a
difference. Ritalin has been used for ADD since the 1940's,
so it's also not like a medical experiment with risky
unknown results. Try it for a day or a week and then stop if
you don't like it.
This is the argument that convinced my husband after our son
was diagnosed in 3rd grade with Inattentive ADD, that we
should at least try the meds for a short trial. We saw
immediate benefits. All of a sudden, we could have a
conversation with our son at the dinner table, something
we'd never been able to do before. We didn't have to
constantly shout his name to get his attention. He could
read to the end of a sentence. He could follow a Little
League game and understand when it was his turn at bat. We
realized how disconnected he had been from the world, having
Inattentive ADD, and for him, Ritalin was a great gift.
There is definitely a stigma attached to Ritalin, though. It
was very hard for my husband to move past his aversion to
giving our son meds, and I've found that most people, even
teachers and close relatives, have a similar negative
reaction. If I happen to mention my child's ADD to another
parent whose child isn't ADD, I often get a look of
disapproval, or a sermon about ''medicating children'' and
''over-diagnosis of ADD.'' People who don't have an
Inattentive ADD kid don't get it. It's an organic brain
condition that doesn't go away by signing your kid up for
tutoring or seating him on the front row of class or turning
off the TV or eliminating gluten from his diet.
So my advice is: do your child a favor and at least do a
short trial of meds. You are no worse off by trying it, and
you stand to gain a lot.
Our child (age 7) was diagnosed with ADHD-inattentive this
summer, and we started meds this fall. Her capacity to pay
attention is much better, and so is her schoolwork. Her
doctor comments that most kids are grateful to be on the
meds because they function better socially as well as
academically. Our kid no longer has poopy accidents (before
meds, she didn't notice her own body) and no longer gets
yelled at by teachers (before meds, she didn't notice they
were talking to her). She no longer gets trapped by
distractions -- and she felt trapped.
Among kids with ADHD, the ones who on meds are much safer
drivers, considerably less likely to get mixed up with
recreational drugs, and less apt to get pregnant or contract
STDs, because they have more impulse control. Of course,
they seem a little different on the meds than off. Does this
mean the medication makes the child ''not herself,'' or is it
that the UNmedicated child is the one that is ''not herself?''
I had a diabetic housemate that sometimes failed to regulate
his blood sugar well; he would become suspicious and
irrational, which meant we couldn't tell him to check his
sugar. And my bipolar brother felt he wasn't ''himself'' on
lithium - he died as a result. What happened with my
housemate and my brother is not uncommon, and results from
imagining we should be able to manage naturally on our own.
Soemtimes we can, sometimes we can't. Sometimes medication
is a means of managing a crippling, potentially deadly
12 year old son super spacey - Advice Please!!!
My 12 year old son is earnest, bright, and super spaced out
about certain things. He has no sense of time and is always
late - and always feels terrible about it. He writes down
his homework assignments, then doesn't do them - he says he
forgot - and feels terrible about it. He scores off the
charts academically, and is super fast to learn things in
the classroom, and loves his classes and school. He seems
happy, walks around the house singing and loves to write and
read, is social, and genuinely seems to want to do the right
things, but just can't execute - and then he apologizes and
agonizes excessively about forgetting or being late. He
has always been like this, so it isn't a new teen thing. I
don't want be responsible for repeatedly reminding him to do
things, to hurry up, or to check the lists that we have made
for him, especially since this hasn't been successful in
getting him to be independent (and I am tired of doing it).
So, should we have him tested for executive functioning?
Or is he just lazy and wants to rely on my helicoptering?
How do I know the difference? Should I keep helicoptering -
and if so, when can I stop! What is going on here? He
seems to authentically want to do things well, but I am out
of patience! What should I do? HELP!!
Thanks for your advice!
Wants To Land The Helicopter!
Your son sounds a lot like mine, who is ADHD (inattentive type). We struggled
for a couple of years then got him tested when he was eight. For a year after
that, we tried everything *but* medication-- nothing really worked. Now he's on
medication, which isn't a magic bullet-- you still need to work on behaviors,
check in when it's homework time, etc.-- but wow, what a difference it has made
in his life. You will hear a lot of negativity, in person and on the web, about
medication, but it's mostly from people who have no clue. No clue whatsoever.
So get your son tested. Good luck!
Hi, Helicopter Mom,
YES. Get your son tested. I was in the GATE program, my IQ score was
at the genius level, and when I was 5, I memorized the phone numbers
for all kindergarteners (without meaning to). In 7th grade (age 12), my
frazzled mind started to get worse. My thoughts were disorganized, I was
forgetting everything, I felt horribly guilty about not living up to my
potential, and I started to lose self esteem. This worsened through high
school. I wrote down my homework but forgot to do it, or I avoided it
because I didn't know where to start. I survived with good grades by
learning how to cram for tests immediately before that class started (I
realized this was the only way I could get info into my head and actually
retrieve it). It felt awful - I always felt something was wrong with me
because my brain was obviously different than my peers'. I dropped out of
college - twice. Last summer, at the age of 33, I decided to finally go see
if there is help out there. After 5-6 months of trying meds and combos
of meds, I was given a new life. For almost a year, I've been a rock star
at work, started my senior year of college and am receiving A's in all
classes while working full time and parenting 6 year old twins. A strange
side effect was the fact that I am a lot more patient with my children.
Please, please get your son tested. Your son is smart, and he
might just need a little help to focus. My 6 year old daughter is exhibiting
the same signs I did as a child, I had her tested, put her on a very low
dose of medication, and she has blossomed. I had her in Sylvan tutoring
for a year and my father was trying to teach her phonics (he was a
teacher), but nothing stuck. She wasn't hyperactive - she just couldn't
concentrate. With medication, she learns and retains info, is able to
retrieve information easily, and she is more social with her classmates. It's
like night and day. On the first day of her medication (she didn't know what
it was for), she grabbed a book and went to the couch to read. She had
never done that in her life, and I was floored. So - explore everything,
don't give up, and don't delay. I wish you and your family all the best!
This pretty much describes how my brain works and i have
ADHD, the attention deficit type. Particularly pronounced
for me are problems with time management and scheduling -
even getting out of the shower in the morning in time to
organise my daughter for preschool is beyond me. No one
likes to give kids medication but the drug Strattera was a
miracle for me, suddenly i knew what it was like to have
executive functioning and i finally understood what planet
everyone else was on. Even when i havent taken my
medication (it clashed with some thyroid meds i was on for
a while), it was still invaluable for me to have that
experience with better functioning because it allowed me
to manage my life better knowing where my brain was
letting me down. I wish i could describe what it feels
like to have no sense of time, but its as if to have a
shower and then get my daughter dressed and then for me to
dress are all isolated incidents with no connection, my
brain wont allow me to group all those task together and
apply a time pressure, logically i know there is a
timeframe but i dont FEEL it. Its great you are onto it so
quick, I wish i had been diagnosed as a child rather than
I don't know how helpful this is, but I WAS a spacey 7th
grader - what you said about your son pretty much described
me at that age. I always got good grades, but was always
losing points for forgetting to hand things in, being late,
losing notes, etc.
My mom was very ''helicoptery,'' and in the long-run, I think
it just delayed me learning how to function on my own.
Having said that, I may have benefited from a tutor/mentor
to help me with chronic disorganization, study habits and
time management - sort of like a life coach for kids, if
such a thing exists (someone who cares about you but isn't
Another thing to think about is the cause of the spaciness -
for me, it was intense anxiety. I was very social, but I
was preoccupied with certain things and unable to
concentrate in the present moment. I don't know if that's
an issue with your son.
Good luck. Now as a mom myself, I can imagine how stressful
Former spacey 7th grader
You might want to look into the book, Smart, but Scattered. Has
straightforward advice about helping kids of all ages who are struggling
with different types of executive functions. I read it 1/2 for work and 1/2
for my own child and thought it was very good. Don't get the Kindle
version, though- too hard to reference different sections!
Mom of a space cadet, and pediatrician
Sounds just like my ''airy fairy'' who finally got diagnosed wtih ADD Inattentive
type. She is doing great now with some behavioral treatment and some
My 14 yr old daughter was diagnosed with ADHD 7 yrs ago
(re-evaluated and confirmed last year, both times by Gary
Landman, behavioral pediatrician). In brief, we did a short
trial of medication shortly after diagnosis, too short to
see any results, and her father did not see the value in
giving it more time. Fast forward to her first year of high
school and she is struggling with the same issues she faced
in elementary and middle school. Namely, inability to focus
in class, doesn't write down the assignments, doesn't do
much of the homework or projects or prepare for tests. She
can usually perform well enough in one class that she pins
her failures in the other classes on her teachers. They call
her out more, they weren't clear about what the assignment
was, the work is boring (please don't focus on the boring
issue as her the issue is not that she's not being
challenged), etc., etc.
She refuses to accept an ADD/ADHD diagnosis. There is
clearly a genetic component as both her father and I have
siblings, nephews, etc. with ADHD. It's likely her dad has
ADD also, but he, too, is in denial.
Her father and I have been divorced for 4 yrs and he is very
anti-medication, he derailed another trial of medication,
scaring the crap out of her in regards to medication
side-effects, yet he does nothing to acknowledge and make
accommodations to help her be successful in view of the
challenges ADD presents. He has an extremely hands-off
approach, thinking somehow she will miraculously be
successful in spite of her difficulties focusing.
If we presented a united front, I think she would be more
amenable to trying medication. All I've asked of her is to
give it a fair trial and then she can decide, she refuses.
At this point I would like to go to family counseling with
her and discuss ADD management. Freshman year is almost
over, the clock is ticking and I fear she will continue to
fail if something doesn't change. BTW, she meets with a
tutor/mentor 2x/wk when she's with me, her father refuses to
have her tutored in his home even though I've offered to pay.
Any recommendations for a good family therapist? I am not
interested in any fringe treatment approaches, no offense.
I'm interested in how other families have handled the issue
of ADD acceptance and treatment with their teen.
mother who cares
Wow...you have the exact same ex-husband as I do! I have a 14-year-old son
who has been diagnosed with ADD, but his father (my ex) is totally against
medications and has brainwashed our son against taking them (only mentally
ill people take drugs, you will become dependent, they have side effects,
etc.). I have a friend who is a pediatrician who has his own daughter on
ADD drugs and swears by the difference they have made in his daughter's
life...my ex won't even consider talking with him. I've come to the
conclusion that there's not that much I can do to change the situation. It
is what it is and my son loves and respects his dad's opinions...
Unfortunately, it is my son's loss.
Our daughter in 8th grade was just diagnosed with ADD, inattentive type. The
doctors are not recommending medicine, but we do want to talk with a
specialist to understand how best to help her. I have a few books I'm now
reading, but they aren't based on her situation. I'd really like our family
to learn some tips/tricks on how to help her, especially with her study
skills/homework. Ideally an expert in ADD could spend time with her and help
her figure out what would be best for her. All the information from the BPN
website is from years ago. Do you know any such tips/tricks and who might
help us uncover them for my daughter? Thank you.
I am curious why the doctors have not suggested medication for your
daughter. My daughter -- who has the same diagnosis -- has been on
medication since 5th grade (now in 8th) and it has made a world of
difference for her. I'm not a doctor, nor a pill-pusher, just a mom who
has seen her daughter's life become significantly easier as a result.
That being said, there are tutors/coaches who can assist with
''executive function'' issues and teach skills for organization and
focus. I don't have any suggestions because we haven't used one.
However, if your daughter attends a public school, she may be eligible
for such support paid for by the school district; I have a friend whose
daughter receives those services.
Linda Lawton has helped my daughter immensely, both with things like
time management, study skills, focus, and prioritizing, and also with
the feelings of confusion and shame that are so often a big part of the
A.D.H.D. experience. She works with both teens and adults with A.D.H.D.
in her office near El Cerrito Plaza. Linda is gifted at assessing what
each individual client needs, and then tailoring sessions to suit those
needs. Honestly, I don't know what we would have done without her. Her
website is www.centerofattentionandlearning.org.
We are discovering somewhat late that our child may have ADD and/or
another learning issue. Has anyone had success with getting BHS
(e.g., BUSD) to assess your child for learning differences, and how
did you go about it? We have heard that they will fight very hard not
to do the testing; is this what you found?
Given that it's rather late for him, we're also prepared to get
private testing, but have no idea where to begin on this. We belong
to Kaiser, if that helps (or if anyone has tried it there and can
Where did you go for private testing, what did it entail, and how much
was it? Any and all resources and recommendations are welcome!
Need testing information / help
Public schools cannot diagnose ADHD. They can help a
physician/neuropsych/psychiatrist with information that will be
used to diagnose ADHD.
Kaiser has a process for diagnosing ADHD. They also have some
support services for families with ADHD. Otherwise, you can go to
a private behavioral pediatrician or neuropsych who specializes in
attention issues; this will be much more expensive than going
through Kaiser. Public school funds are being streamlined as
special needs are increasing. Getting extra services is tougher
as resources diminish. Private parties such as educational
therapists can provide targeted support for families dealing with
ADHD and attention issues.
My son was tested at Kaiser while in 9th grade. We had no problem
with getting him tested, he did come up positive for ADD, and they
were happy to write a letter to the school, which included the
test results. My son now has an IEP at Berkeley H.S.
You need to call the Pediatric Behavioral Health Program at Kaiser
to set up an appt.
mom of two teens
Hello BPN, My 10th grader's in trouble. He is highly intelligent as
proven by umpteen tests, yet he can't get to school on time, can't turn
in homework, and is failing or below C in every single class, including
PE! His grades have been getting steadily worse since he started middle
school until he's now hit the lowest of the low. SST meetings at school
formerly resulted in nothing other than ''he'll grow out of it''. Now,
the SST suggested testing him for ADD. We are a low income family and
are now looking for someone reasonably priced to come daily and sit with
him while he does homework, make sure it gets into his homework folder,
show him time management strategies, etc. How does one find a great tutor
at a low price? I'd be grateful for recommendations for tutors that have
worked for you and would welcome any advice anyone can give me if they
have ever been through this heart ache.
If your son is having consistent troubles in his classes, and is in
public school, you can write a letter asking the school to test him
for learning differences including ADHD. Look at the Disability
Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF.org) web site for more
information on how to do this. From your posting, it sounds like you
and the school need to know more about how he is processing
Even before I got to the line in which you wrote that SST is
suggesting testing for ADD, I guessed he has it. My 10th grader
does but luckily he was diagnosed in 1st grade. It is very trying
and I cannot understand how kids get to HS without it being
recognized. I think the schools wish ''he'll grow out of it'' so
that they don't have to provide services. But they do. The school
district is required by federal law to test him and if he does have
ADD, they must provide accomodations and services. Since I don't
have a lot of space to respond here, my best advice to you is to
call DREDF, Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund.
510.644.2555 or firstname.lastname@example.org They will educate you on your rights
at no cost to you. I don't know if they can help you find a tutor,
but they will probably have some ideas. ADD is a disability. He may
also benefit from medication. Best of luck to you.
Living with ADHD and it does get better
We believe our 17 yr old has ADHD. This is not a new feeling, we've
suspected it for a while.
Our child would be inattentive type if diagnosed. Our child is
easily distracted, takes hours to finish homework, doesn't always
remember to turn in work or other important documents on time, won't
use resources at school for those who can help (counselors, talk
w/teachers) and a procrastinator.
While a very good student, the past 3 months have seen a downturn in
interest and motivation. Not to mention no interest in looking at
college info, just thinks it will all happen. Even started failing
some classes, but has since improved.
I have no idea how we will get through Sr. year and college process
if our child dosen't embrace the realities of all the requirements
necessary to apply to college. I know, perhaps a gap year is in
order, yes, but we need our child to want this, not just do it
because they cannot get their act together.
It is hard when child thinks it's OK to take risks at critical times
like Junior/Sr. year. From
what I read/hear, college dosen't just happen and I'm very worried
parents will get burnt out in trying to have our child understand
consequences of not being engaged right now.
We plan on having an ADHD evaluation, and have some family therapy
to discuss how we can all get along with all the deadlines
approaching in next 8 months. Any words of wisdom, family
therapy/adolescent therapy recommendations, ADHD recommendations (we
can't afford Dr. Berman), etc. would be very appreciated.
overwhelmed is not the word
You have listed a lot of issues around teen sons and ADHD. It is
overwhelming and horribly distressing to see this unfolding in your
own home. Trust me I have been there. It might be good to pick off one
thing and start there. Doing well in school is of utmost importance
for everything to come. Consider a serious incentive program with him
if he can't seem to motivate on his own. ''Big juicy carrots'' is what
they say these guys need. With Summer coming maybe he does a
particular thing he is good at. Engineer a little success in one area
and see if that influences other things. Do what you need to, do not
give up. Seek professionals that you trust. The economy sucks maybe
they will lower their fees to gain another patient? Get school
accomodations in place if he needs them and he might do better and
feel better too. Importantly, if your son is smoking pot and it sounds
like he might be, that must stop. It is a non-starter for everything
else. Sadly people w/ ADHD want to self-medicate w/ pot because for a
while it works, but, ultimately it's the path to self-defeat. You are
beginning what will likely be a very trying time period. But it is
does end. We thought our guy would never get there and he's off to
college. Now I only hope that he will actually attend class.
Mom of an ADHD boy
We went through a similarly murky process to try and get a definitive
diagnosis as to whether our teenage son had ADHD; he had many of the
same symptoms you listed for your son. ADHD is a term or diagnosis
that seems to get thrown around quite loosely; we were looking for a
definitive,analytical approach especially since it may involve
medications in the future. Our experiences were that 1) schools rarely
make a definitive assessment when testing a child, because to do so
would commit them to a number of support services that cost the school
district money that they don't want to spend. 2) the behavior
questions asked by the pediatrician (at least ours) were so
non-specific that a huge swath of the US population could be diagnosed
with the syndrome. 3) We chose formal testing by an educational
psychologist that had been recommended to us. He does not do any
individual therapy, just testing, so he has no financial incentive to
''find'' ADHD in the children he tests. The process involved about 6
hrs of recognizable tests (I'm an NP of 31 yrs) and he made a
definitive dx. of ADHD. Both the pediatrician and the school accepted
his results. It took some nudging to get the school to initiate
support services in the classroom.We chose a medication trial instead
of organizational training and support.Our son's grades improved
immediately, and he reported that he could ''feel'' the impact of the
drug and when it wore off.
We did not search out and compare different psychologists, since we
had a recommendation from a trusted psychologist. The educational
psychologist who did the testing was Alan Siegal, PhD in Berkeley, and
his phone # is (510) 527-7929.
If additional information would be helpful, I can be reached at (510)
Good luck on this tough journey!
I could have written your post, with the exception that our son is one
year younger. We too are in the midst of seeking every shred of help
we can find to keep our son's academic ship from hitting the shoals.
One idea you might consider: we have hired an educational consultant,
Betsy Kaye (925-284-7229), to work with our son at least once a week
over the summer. She will serve as both a writing tutor and
information conduit to all things college prep. She has done one
session with him and it was a complete home run. She's very savvy
about school politics, is warm and engaging (our son loves her), and
understands that she needs to meet him where he is "which isn't
anywhere near his abilities" with humor and understanding.
I'd love to hear what you learn from other parents in this amazing
network if anyone responds to you directly. Or, if you'd like to
commiserate please get my information from the moderator.
Have a very young 9th grader struggling academically and socially
inpublic high school. Currently being tested (suspect ADHD) and, if
so, is twice exceptional. Giftedness likely masked his ADHD symptoms
all these years. He is a bit nerdy, immature, underweight.
Would like to hear from
other parents about what has worked to help newly diagnosed 2E teens
thrive? Most ADHD help classes are geared for elementary school
children. (If only he had been so lucky to have been properly
diagnosed early on). Would love to hear from others what worked and
what didn't work.
- Prescription meds, if so, which, and how were the side effects?
- Alternative treatment?
- Counseling for teen? for parents?
- Skills class?
- Do you have a great doctor (psychiatrist) who ''gets'' 2e kids, if
so, feel free
to share his/her name.
Thank you one and all.
Signed, New to 2E
Last year we discovered our 8th grade daughter has ADHD (w/o
hyperactivity), after struggling all 3 years in middle school. Over
the summer, she started taking Strattera (not stimulant ADHD med).
Now, her first year in high school, things are going great. She has
A's, and 2 B's, and she is accountable for her own homework (no more
excuses, etc.) Strattera takes about 5-6 weeks to start working,
which is why summer was a great time to start it. Now there are no
side effects, but the first two weeks were rocky. She was nauseated
and had no appetite, and had mild sleep disturbances. Strattera
stays in your system 24/7, so there are no peaks and crashes. She
does not seem ''different'' in any way, except happier and more
confident. She's actually enjoying school for the first time in 3
years. I wish we had an earlier diagnosis so we could have started
treatment sooner. Now in high school, she's repeating the math class
she failed last year (getting an A currently). It's never an easy
decision to medicate your child, but for us, it was the right one.
Our daughter has been seeing a therapist prior to ADHD discovery, and
still continues. Our pediatrician is Dr. Nash at Alamo Medical.
After he told us the pros cons of all the meds available, my daughter
ultimately made the decision to try Stratter.
Good luck to you, and if you would like to have more information, ask
moderator for my email.
Our daughter is exceptionally bright with a myriad of learning
differences including ADHD. She too is in High School but was
diagnosed earlier. She is on Concerta. I fought against putting her
on medication for many years however she asked for them in 8th Grade
and I honored her request. It has helped exhorbitantly. She can
focus more in class and I don't think she could navigate her High
School classes without it. She has few side effects. Some
headaches the first few weeks of taking it but she says that they
disappeared after her body adjusted.
What is most important though is that your son truly understands how
his brain works. To that end, I can't say enough about Dr. Teresa
Doyle. She is a neuropsychologist who has a unique insight to kids
with learning differences and she and her staff after testing are
able to discuss with you and your son his strengths and weaknesses.
As a psychologist, she can offer counseling as well.
After filtering through and administering more tests, what she also
can do is a project with your son that helps explain to him and to
his teachers his learning differences. By presenting this himself,
he at that point will become his own and best self advocate.
Projects can be anything from artwork, to a written and bound book,
to a power point (my daughter's choice) or anything that your son
and Terry decide on. As an example, my daughter's Power Point has
been shown for the last two years to her teachers with great
success. With a little ''tweaking'' it can even be shown to
professors in College.
I know if you have a diagnosis, you have already had some tests
administered and interpreted (we did too) but I still think you
should contact Terry. She is on College Ave and her number is 510-
594-1926. She is pretty amazing.
I also know that as this is your first plunge into the pool of
learning differences, this can sometimes be an overwhelming and
costly experience. You have my empathy. The best thing you can do
is make sure your son understands who he is, how his uniqueness will
ultimately help him and encourage him to understand that school is
just a small window in time where people expect him to excell in
everything and once he finds his passion and profession his unique
brain will be a magnificent aid.
Our 14-year-old daughter is twice exceptional, too: gifted and emotionally
(anxiety and depression). She was miserable in a traditional middle school
due to social
aggression from other girls. We pulled her out and she now is thriving at a
values her specialness. It's the
in Oakland, a charter
school that is the
quality of excellent private schools but is free because it's paid for by
Envision is pioneering learning centering around projects and numerous other
approaches to learning. I highly recommend it. Search this site for reviews,
mine. I did have to advocate for accommodations for her giftedness. I
recently donated 2
books and a CD to the school on Teaching the Gifted in a Regular Classroom.
over a hundred sheets developed by experienced teachers that show in detail
teach the gifted in a regular setting. These have ''primed'' the pump with
the learning specialist, the school psychologist and the principal, and they
input. It sounds like your son would fit well in this school community and
Brad Berman, Walnut Creek behavioral pediatrician, diagnosed our
son. When consistent routine in both houses (we're divorced) was
unachievable, ADHD meds showed minimal side effects. Big breakfast,
snack & late dinner (after meds wear off) help with less appetite.
Late puberty's a plus; evaluating meds is harder with hormonal
changes. Berman said 1500mg/day of fish oil helps some ADHD kids.
Alternative therapies use more supplements & diet control,
conflicting with autonomy, fitting in with peers, & was
unenforceable. I told him caffeine's bad with his meds & sugar's not
great for ADHD; Sam avoids caffeine.
Meds helped class/homework focus & behavior, but a 504 plan (which
took a year) was also needed. Accommodations address intellect
(reduced routine tasks) & social challenges (a focused friend in
each class) as much as the ADHD that qualifies him for the 504.
Your son's individual issues determine needed help. Poor executive
function & frustrated intellect can hurt social interactions or be
compounded by anxiety or depression. Your diagnostician can identify
the issues, leads for help, school options/accommodations. Diagnosis
brings realistic expectations & tools to support your son. If a
parent may have ADHD, get assessed & treated; it's a modeling
opportunity that helps everyone. Talk therapy didn't help Sam, but
the relationship's there just in case. He did biofeedback training,
but doesn't use the skills - or organizational skills from Linda
Lawton, educational consultant, but he liked learning about ADHD
itself. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy requires motivated clients.
Sam's best in focused AP classes & structured extra-curriculars like
orchestra. He resists homework & refused programs (Classroom
Matters) & tutoring. He likes after-school tutoring at school, not
for content help, but a no-stigma setting for all: he goes as needed
to finish homework. More autonomy, fewer home battles. Some hire
college kids to keep a kid homework-focused, then reward with fun
CHADD offers parent support groups, speakers, useful links.
Thinkkids.org is for parents of easily frustrated or inflexible
kids, common to some with ADHD (The Explosive Child by Ross Greene
Your son will partner in identifying what works as you go. Some
bright ADHD kids tire of a new routine once it's no longer novel.
Expect a few sure bets & lots of improvisation. Try to enjoy the
It took us until age 12 to get our son diagnosed as well. I work
professionally with kids, so I knew he had it. But like your son,
he is very bright and was able to hide it quite well. I only just
started him on Adderal last month. I didn't want to, because he's
already on asthma drugs. But the very first day into the trial, I
asked him how it went. He said ''mom, everything just made sense.''
His symptoms had gotten a lot worse over the past year, which his
6th grade teachers would be likely because the social scene ramps up
so much in 7th grade. Not to mention puberty, etc. We did work
with an OT through the school years ago and found that to be
helpful. OT's are really good at teaching kids mechanisms/tools for
self-management. Good luck!
mom in similar scenario
I am an educational therapist who specializes in treating AD/HD. One of the
recommendations I make to my clients is that they consult the website of
(Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Disorder) and follow the link to
Clearinghouse for Information on AD/HD which CHADD cosponsors with the CDC.
you can find information about all the treatments you listed, and you can
research studies that might help you make up your mind about things like
and neurofeedback. You might want to join (it's only $45 per year) because
a monthly magazine that keeps you up to date on research and timely topics
lifespan, free attendance at support groups for parents, and discounts on
stuff and the annual conference.
A great book for teens to read is ADHD
What I Learned from Lighting Fires at the Dinner Table, by Blake Taylor.
Blake is a very
accomplished young man and the book is full of good information and pretty
entertaining. Good luck!
For several years I have been concerned for my 12 year old, and
think he has many symptoms of ADD, lack of concentration,
tantrums, inability to complete homework, low pain threshold,
highly irritable, lack of organizational skills, just to name a
I've brought it up with several teachers over several years,
but they all tell me it's a lack of motivation, or he's
choosing to be social rather than do his work. I think this is
because he doesn't show symptoms of hyperactivity, and they
tend to lump the two together. He just can't seem to keep up,
this last progress report he had a 22% in math and in science,
subjects he enjoys. Then an A in English, and he tests in the
90th percentile when he's been assessed. He's so smart, but
nothing we do helps him stay on track with his school work.
I have a referral to a psychiatrist that helped my friends
daughter, she had similar symptoms and she now takes Ritalin,
which they think is fabulous. I have also spoken with the
Attention and Achievment Center in Walnut Creek, that uses
cognitive skills training instead of medicating, which is very
appealing to me.
I'd like some advice on how to go about getting my son
assessed, whether the school district should be involved,
should I go through a psychiatrist, or my ped? Or do I go with
this alternate treatment, has anyone tried this center? Do I
want an ''official diagnosis' or does that stigmatize kids in
their schools? We are in Walnut Creek.
Thankful for any advice
You have opened an explosive area and am sure you will get very
strong opinions for both sides. My son got diagnosed with ADD
at the start of 3rd grade. We too were told all the things your
school is telling you. We are in Lafayette. We were fortunate
to already be a patient of Dr. Brad Berman
from 4 years earlier
for something totally unrelated. Because of that we could get
into see him quickly and get him evaluated and diagnosed.
Berman's number is 925-279-3480. BTW, I can't say enough good
things about him.
Anyway, we decided to go the meds route because of his young
age. You could tell from the first day how much it helped.
School was better and his self-esteem started to improve. We
liken the meds to eyeglasses a tool to fix a defect. We did not
go the behavioral route because we didn't want him to lose
anymore time in school. He had ''checked out'' in February of his
second grade and lost almost half a year. Also when the dose
needed to be changed because he had grown, it was obvious from
the day we changed it how much it helped.
The school would do nothing for us until we asked in writing
for an evaluation. I'm not sure they would have done any
special resources or would have changed their opinion of him if
we didn't have Dr. Berman on our side. They quickly gave him an
evaluation and gave him the resources and provisions he needed.
Now that he's on the meds, we are starting behavior
modification as well.
So I would run as fast as I can and get an evaluation.
Unfortunately there is a huge wait to get into Dr. Berman. I
would get on the waitng list, but find another behavioral
pediatrician to help you now. Your psychiatrist may be
sufficient, I don't know. At the same time I would ask for a
I also have an 8th grader whose friend is getting the exact
treatment as you are. They have a doctor and an advocate and
are sill battling the school, but started at the school when he
was 13. He has been on meds for years. Their hope is to get him
accommodations in time for high school. The work only gets
harder as they go through middle school and high school and
every minute is precious.
Good luck with your choice. People will question you no matter
what you do, so go with your gut.
Mom and Wife of ADDs
We're going thru something similar with our son. We're both
very wary about medicating kids (ours is only 5!) But we have a
therapist we respect, who recommended we see a child
psychiatrist for an assessment; I also spoke with an adult
psychiatrist that I know and respect; they both advised me that
1) the research (which is plentiful and on-going) suggests that
not only does medication really help the child focus, put them
in a position where they can succeed, and thus begin to build
their self esteem back up (which is usually destroyed after
years of not succeeding the face of their teachers, family,
friends and classmates), but that the brain may actually
get ''healthier'' on meds - it shows signs of atrophy after
years of untreated ADD/ADHD (not to mention the
anxiety/depression that can develop with untreated ADD). They
also both said that once on medication, cog. behavioral therapy
has a better chance of working (for obvious reasons). I'm no
doc so I'm not the best person to try to explain... but I would
highly recommend you see a child psychiatrist for an opinion -
and not just any child psychiatrist, but a really experienced
one who is respected in the field, who will look at the whole
picture, not just assume it's ADHD and prescribe ritalin, like
less experienced ped's might, unless they are quite sure that
that is what you are really dealing with. These mental issues
are complex - there could be more than one thing going on. One
such person is Herbert Schreier, who's been the head of child
psychiatry at Oakland Children's forever. :-) And for the
record, I was talking to our babysitter last night about my
son, and she told me that she WISHES she had been medicated as
a child for her ADHD! That her childhood was awful as a result -
classmates constantly teased her in the meanest possible ways,
she didn't have a single friend, teachers ''wrote her off,''
and she was constantly aware that she was ''different'' but
couldn't manage to help herself. Her mom thougt she'd grow out
of it. As a young woman now in her mid- 20's, she is doing
cognitive behavior therapy to try to undo some of the life-long
(bad)work and social habits, low self- esteem, and coping
mechanisms she developed. Her story made me much more open to
the idea of meds, and less ''judgmental'' about it. You just
need to learn what you can, find doctors you trust, and do what
feels right for YOUR son. Good luck.
Try taking your son off of all gluten products (wheat, barley,
oats, spelt, rhy. Maybe Dairy, but try gluten first.
Does he take Omega 3- fish oil?
My son has been gluten free for 2 years(he's 14) and it was a
stunning change. Also the Omega 3 helped him focus (fyi, Omega
3 was prescribed by a psychiatrist after a brain scan of my
son). he takes 4 caps of Omega-3 per day.
It helps to minimize sugar intake too. Personally, I find
eliminating gluten easier then sugar. You have to read labels
and ask questions....gluten is in a lot of things. It's hard at
first, but definately doable.
We've never used meds and dont' need to. Try these first. Much
safer and healthier.
mom of ADD plus other issues
There is a strong anti-meds bias in this community, which can
make it hard to know what is right for your child. I shared it,
and resisted any medication for my son when a sees-ADD-everywhere
doctor said he had ADD in first grade. We managed until 6th
grade, when everything fell apart: homework was an all-evening
nag-fest, he couldn't keep track of assignments, and this
brilliant kid was getting Cs and feeling like a failure. Enter
the meds (and Brad Berman, whom we had seen for other issues and
also adore). The change was immediate, and fabulous. Overnight,
he had executive function. He was able to focus in class, keep
track of assignments, get homework done in study hall. He was
also more socially cued in, and doing better there as well. He
goes off the meds on weekends unless he has homework or a school
function (his choice -- he knows he does better with them). Now,
finishing eighth grade, he is confident and has no concerns about
his ability to handle the work in a demanding high school. So
don't be afraid of meds. You wouldn't deny your kid insulin if
he/she were diabetic. Some brains need meds to function well.
There is little risk to trying them, and if they work, they
really, really work.
Grateful for Meds
The bottom line is that the best approach is not either/or but
both. Medication maybe needed, and cognitive skills must be
taught to make a change in behavior permanent (Pills do not teach
skills). Like a previous responder, we resisted meds for years
and then found that they worked wonders for our son. Our
pediatrician also suggested that our son may have a condition
that might benefit from meds when our son was in first grade
(although she didn't name it ADHD as the time). In spite of
considerable difficulty at school, I did not want a label and did
not want to medicate him because of the anti-medication sentiment
so prevalent in our society(and despite the fact that both my
husband and I are physicians). After 7th grade, it became clear
that there was a misfit between our perception of a very bright,
creative person and his school performance. Our son went
underwent a thorough assessment and has been managed by Dr Brad
Berman with medication. What a relief! He has not been reduced to
a zombie nor lost his personality. Instead, he is able to focus,
is neater, gets better grades, and is a much more pleasant person
on medication. We've also tried other alternative methods, such
as fish oil (which Dr Berman supports) and PS/DH--can't comment
on whether the latter has been effective. We also use cognitive
methods such as educational therapy and behavioral modification
techniques that we've learned through CHADD, Children and Adults
with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, http://www.chadd.org/
Although whether or not any given treatment is effective varies
from one child to the next, existing research on treatments for
children with ADD/ADHD suggests that generally, treatments
including stimulant medication are most effective in improving
attention and related symptoms; next best are behavioral
treatments (working with parents and teachers to structure the
environment in a way that teaches the child skills and improves
his/her functioning). There currently is not a lot of evidence
that individual cognitive training with the child is effective
(although it may be more effective if parents and teachers go out
of their way to reinforce skills taught in therapy when the child
is out in the real world).
I am a clinical psychologist who does behavioral parent training
and teacher consultation out of my San Francisco-based private
practice-- I specialize in working with families of children with
ADHD or other behavior problems (as well as with parents of
children with significant anxiety or worry). NK
My son is 10 years old and he has been diagnosed with Tourette
Sindrome and ADD. His doctor talked about start him on some medicine
to help wit ADD before the school starts.We will discuss with her
about it and I need some advice from parents who may have the same or
similar case to help us find the best solution for our son. thank you.
My experience with
children who have comorbid diagnosis is that it takes a skilled
psychiatrist - as opposed to pediatrician - to prescribe meds.
The comorbidity in the meds can cause side effects and a downward
spiral if both diagnosis are not thoughtfully considered.
If you haven't already seen someone, I have had clients work with
Dr. Ellen Krantz in Marin and also try Dr. Lisa Hardy in Walnut
HOPE THIS HELPS, ML
We've just completed the testing on my HS teen, who has
been diagnosed with ADHD (inattentive type). We are about
to begin the 504 process to get help through the school.
However, this disability has affected our home life (and
even more so now that we are dealing with a teenager who
gets emotional). I really do not have a sense of what I do
(as a parent of an ADHD child) to make life easier for all
of us at home. My child resents our acting as room monitors
but otherwise homework or a project (such as cleaning the
bedroom) may not get completed. What should I care about
and what should I let go? How do you keep them focused
without becoming an ogre? My teen seems to rely on us to
fill in the gaps but sometimes, I feel like I am doing too
much. Medication may not be an option because my child is
currently opposed to it and I feel this has to be a joint
decision. On the other hand, it takes so long for anything
to get completed that it seems like my teen loses out.
I have read the books but now I am looking for classes or
training for how we, as the parents, should deal with
everyday experiences. There has got to be something more
than just putting a label on a kid or thinking the school
will fix everything
Also, I would appreciate any updated recommendations on
local occupational therapists.
Thanks so much!!
We have an ADHD (inattentive type) son also. We did several
things of the course of a few years (and researched
The first thing we did was to find a therapist for our son
(a child psychiatrist) and a family therapist (Licensed MFC)
for us as parents. It was important to us that we learn how
to support him so he didn't feel like we were nagging him
all the time and for us to be able to filter out what was
important (studying, getting to school on time, making good
choices with spare time) vs that with which we could live
(messy room, messy-looking homework). Besides the formal
process of getting and IEP in place, we also worked with his
teachers so a) they would understand what certain behavior
could be attributed to, and b) so they could develop a
feedback system for him so he could participate in the
monitoring of his behavior.
We, too, were trepidatious about medication. We didn't
initially put him on medication because he didn't want to
but made sure he was fully informed about choices and what
was being recommended. After a year and a half in therapy
and NOT on medication, our son, himself, asked for
medication. In just a few days, after adjusting the dose,
he could see the difference, as could we. A couple of years
later with letters of admission to several universities and
colleges, he - and we - are happy as clams.
In summary, the combination of therapy, medication, and
total family commitment is helping with a better outcome.
Hang in there!
Another parent of an ADHD son
I too struggle with this issue with my son. A friend
recommended the book, ''Bright Minds, Poor Grades:
Understanding and Motivating your Underachieving Child'' by
Michael D. Whitley. I just purchased it and I am still
reading through it, but already see much potential in its
10 step program. I found the book on Amazon, used. Hope
My 12 yr old son was just diagnosed with ADD (inattentive) by Dr
Gary Landman. The reason we went to see him in the first place
was due to my son saying he was having trouble focusing in
class. (a few of his teachers had mentioned that he seemed
pretty distracted at times in class.) My son went on line and
researched his issues and told me ''I think I have ADD'' I had
never, ever considered the idea that my son had ADD. He is a
very smart kid but does not wow with great grades (B's and an
occasional C) My friends who know him say that he is simply
bored and under-stimulated. How do I know for sure if he really
has ADD or if he simply needs a different type of academic
setting? AND if he does need a different academic setting, where
do I send him?
As you now know, the diagnostic process for ADD is pretty simple and
straightforward: does the child's behavior meet a certain number of
tests or not? I
have heard that one bottom line question is whether or not the child's
issues are responsive to medication. At this point, there's no way of
sure;'' you will have to decide if the situation warrants treatment, and
if so, what you
and your son are willing to try.
In any case, now that you've obtained a diagnosis, you're going to have
to learn to
steel yourself against your friends' well-meaning assessments. Your son
need a more stimulating or otherwise more appropriate educational
topic for another post; there are many differing opinions on this
subject), but please
don't decline to treat an underlying problem (if you conclude that there
may be one)
because of the misconceptions of others.
ADHD, especially inattentive type, is best assessed in the
context of the school setting. I would suggest that you have
the doctor you are working with have one or more of your son's
teachers fill out the Connors Teacher Scale. This is a
standard assessment tool for evaluating ADHD. You might be
asked to fill out the parent version of the scale too. Having
the professional you are working with consult with the teacher
and/or observe the child in school can be helpful as well.
Don't be quick to change schools as yet? How well is your
child doing in school? Has his performance been suffering? And
if so, for how long. How is he doing in relation to his
measured IQ? What have standardized achievement tests shown?
Answers to these questions will help determine the extent of
the problem and whether the current placement is working. Most
children with ADHD can be adequately educated in mainstream
classrooms of public schools, although some accommodations may
be necessary (i.e., sitting in the front of the room, having
oral & blackboard assignments be copied for the student,
interventions for improving the student's organization skills,
etc). Teacher awareness and acceptance of the child's problem
and teacher cooperation with interventions/accommodations also
is important. Once a reliable assessment of the problem is
completed, a plan for intervention (academic, medical,
psychological, and/or parenting) can be established. Most of
all, don't panic. This is a very manageable problem. DB
My advice is to get a second opinion. I worked as a local school
counselor for many years and had an opportunity to review many of
Dr. Landman's reports on a variety of kids over a significant
span of time. He made a diagnosis of ADHD for every child. You
can interpret this as you wish. In his defense, I never
consulted with him directly. I strongly recommend Dr. Debra
Sedberry in Walnut Creek, Dr. Brad Berman in Berkeley or the
Ability Resource Center: http://www.abilityrc.com/home.php. Most
of the boys that I have worked with with this diagnosis generally
have a long standing history of mild/moderate behavioral problems
in school or poor grades in general. Finally, I recommend you
consider having your child evaluated by a psychotherapist.
Perhaps there are larger anxieties that prompted him to
self-diagnosis himself in the first place.
A parent and psychotherapist
Hi Confused about ADD,
I'm a Learning Specialist and know Dr. Landman. He is great
when you know for sure your child has ADD because he prescribes
meds without doing thorough testing, however if you're unsure I
don't think he's the right person to go to as he'll prescribe
when something else might really be going on. An MD who does
thorough (though expensive) testing is Dr. Brad Buhrman or
Berman (sp? I just had a baby and can't remember how to spell).
You could also take him to the Ann Martin Center in Oakland and
Piedmont. They are a non-profit organization and they do
thorough testing. You also might want to read The Mislabeled
Child by the Eide's. He tells all about attention issues and
other issues that mimic ADD.
Hello. I am an adult who was recently diagnosed with ADD and I
can tell you now, that a diagnosis as a child would have saved
me years of trouble. From what I understand, you can have
testing done on your son (very expensive), but you can also go
to an ADD specialist and have him evaluated. There is also some
great books out there, esp. anything by Edward Hallowell. He
has written several. There is also a woman who works out of
Albany and is an educational therapist. She can work with your
son in terms of school and behavior modification. Her name is
Linda Lawton (Linda Lawton 510-499-0994 cell; 524-0350 office;
easy4you AT sbcglobal.net email ) I believe she has been
reviewed on this site before. I've gone to her and she is
fabulous. Even better is that she is a former teacher and a
parent of an ADD child. You can tell her that Kate recommended
My son told me the same thing and at a younger age. Frankly
there is one really fast way to determine whether the diagnosis
is correct - have him take the meds and if he feels he can focus
better and he can TELL the difference, then he has ADD. My son
can tell when he's taken his meds - it makes a difference in his
ability to concentrate and do his homework or stay focused in
And don't dispair. Some people respond to ADD like it's
leprosy. Ignore them. See today's (Tu, Nov. 13) NYT's article
about two new studies on kids with behavioral issues. Of the
kids with ADHD they say: ''The other (study) found that children
with attention deficit disorders suffer primarily from a delay
in brain development, not from a deficit or flaw.''
In other words they grow out of it. According to the study,
they grow out of it by early adulthood.
mom of adhd kid
Dear Confused Mom, I have a 9 year old with ADHD and I have been
learning a lot
about it. Your son may have ADD, but this diagnosis requires more than
one visit to
Dr. Landman. My son has had many extensive evaluations, but the most
comprehensive, and the most useful has been the neuropsychology
Dr. Kristin Gross (510-530-1676). Dr. Gross tests for many things- she
out what are real learning difficulties, what are attention
difficulties, and where the
two intersect. If there are attention difficulties, she can tell you
what type. She is located in Peidmont, and charges $3500 for an
evaluation consists of 4 sessions on 4 consecutive weeks: First with
second and third with kid, fourth the results with the parents, and
child in your case. Each session is about 2 hours. Best money I have
Since your child is concerned enough to explore this on his own, I would
getting an extensive evaluation to take the guess work out of this. If
money is a real
issue, you can have a psycoeducational testing done at your local school
There are support groups and information about AD/HD through CHADD, ADDA
and good info at Swab Learning.org. I would be happy to talk to you
specifics. I am just a struggling parent, but I have had so much
trouble finding the
right place for my son that I want to help others. email me and we can
set up a call
if you want. Good luck.
I suggest that you visit the websites of www.chadd.org and
and begin to read up on this disorder, if you haven't already done so.
have done a poor job of presenting the facts around treatment and
diagnosis of this
condition, and it's easy to be dangerously misinformed. There is a lot
information available, and these two websites provide well-researched
lots of other helpful stuff.
My son has just been diagnosed ADHD. He has never been very
hyperactive in the usual sense, but he has had a focus
problem. We had him eval. because of a marked problem at
middle school. He is seemingly incapable of copying notes from
the overhead or whiteboard. He is very intelligent, scores in
the advanced range on the STAR tests, and gets Bs and As on his
tests and most long-term projects in GATE classes at school.
However, the middle school that he's in heavily weights class
notes that he periodically must pass in and be graded on, as
well as Daily Planner checks, that are also periodically graded
He started taking a low dose for his height/weight of Concerta,
and it seems to be helping with his focusing problem, but the
note-taking is still pretty poor. Thanks for your help.
My mother was a 6th grade teacher for years, and she had a couple of
kids who had a
very specific learning disability -- they were incapable of copying from
a vertical plane
to a horizontal plane. If she laid things beside them on the desk, they
could copy them
just fine. Could your son have a disability like this?
If you haven't already, it would be a great idea to have your
son checked by a developmental optomotrist. This is different
than a typical eye exam, and might uncover some issues, such as
visual processing or accomodation issues that make copying from
the board more challenging. Many children with visual issues
look like they have ADHD. You can have 20/20 vision and still
have problems with vision.
David Grisham in San Rafael (Rising Star Optometry) is fabulous
You are fortunate that your son is doing so well in school, and
the fact that he has difficulty taking notes should not hold
him back! Have you attempted to speak to your son's teacher(s)
about ways to make accommodations in his classes? Have you
inquired at your son's school about a possible student study
team or 504 plan? This can enable him to get accommodations in
his classes. Students with diagnosis such as ADHD are
sometimes entitled to certain accommodations in the class, such
as being given copies of notes, rather than having to take them
himself, or an alternative way of getting the notes he needs
(maybe he takes only a portion of the notes and gets copies of
the rest, or he may need a guided notes outline to help him get
his notes down; another possibility is for him to borrow
another student's notes or the teacher's notes and copy them at
home at his own pace). I am speaking as a Special Education
teacher who has taught many teenagers with ADD/ADHD and
learning disabilities, and who have great difficulty taking
notes. I am not suggesting that your son needs special
education services, but rather some help and understanding from
the school that might enable him and you to have more
With an ADHD diagnosis your son would qualify for accommodations.
Make the request in writing. Possible accommodations: using an
organized student's notes, getting the teacher to provide a
written copy of the material being presented on the overhead or
board so your son can take his ''notes'' (underline, add to what is
presented, etc.) on that paper, different grading policy for
notes for him.
Has he been evaluated for dysgraphia? I am a teacher and I had a
student who had problems taking notes because of dysgraphia. In
any case, if his ADHD results in his disability to take notes,
that should be an accomodation in his IEP. The teacher can just
hand him the overhead later or make a copy of it for him, and/or
accept that he may be able to learn just as well or better by
just listening, or recording lectures to listen to or take notes
Hi - I wish I could send every parent my experience with the
Handle program. I did recommend it here about 6 months ago for
someone who did not want to medicate for ADHD. We just finished
our set of exercises, and although according to the reassessment
my daughter still is not quite up to speed with inner
ear/auditory issues and right brain functioning, the change in
her ability to do all the things required in her 6th grade class
is remarkable. She never got evaluated by the public school
system, since she goes to a private school, but it was clear
that she wasn't able to keep up in lots of ways over the last
year or two. I might have termed her issues as dyslexia, but in
the assessment done by Handle, she had a lot of inefficiencies
in many neurological systems. Her strong point was kinesthesia,
which masked a lot of her issues with muscle tone,
proprioception, binocular vision, and vestibular system. It
sounds like your son has a neurodevelopment issue that is pretty
specific, and he could greatly benefit from the Handle
program. It's troubling to me that given all his strengths,
he's now on a drug for ADHD. I hope you explore the permanent
benefit your son could get from doing the Handle program. The
local practitioner is Sindy Wilkinson. Google Handle Institute
for the website, and go to the list of practitioners to find
Sindy's website and contact information. She is located very
close to the 24 freeway at the border of Lafayette and Walnut
Creek, so not too far away from East Bay cities. Good luck - I
cannot recommend her and the program more highly.
Consider getting a 504 plan, and ask for a modification around
notetaking. This seems appropriate given that his work/grades
are ok otherwise.
You may want to get his eyes
checked. I am a grad student and last year was having trouble copying
notes and was missing a lot of material. Even though the board,
projections, and teacher weren't bleary per se, trying to focus
without glasses made it just hard enough that I couldn't write
Hope this helps!
My 12 year old son has had a very hard time focusing on
schoolwork recently. This has not been an issue before now. He
thinks he has ADD and even went on line and took a questionnaire
about it. We just moved back to Albany after being away for one
year, so I have not re-established a relationship with our Dr
(We saw Ben King at Berkeley Pediatrics)
I do not really think he has ADD but he is certain he does and
wants to get checked out. Do you know where I should start with
I suggest that you start at the website for chadd.org (Children
and Adults with Attention Deficit Disorder) and go the the
information bank they operate jointly with the CDC (federal
office, Center for Disease Control). This is science-based
information about AD/HD that is not hysterical or faddish. If
you are interested, there is a public event this Saturday at the
Berkeley Public Library, from 12:30-3, sponsored by CHADD of
Northern California. It will be a panel discussion in observance
of AD/HD Awareness Day that will provide information from a
variety of perspectives and take questions from the audience.
If your child is having trouble paying attention, or thinks s/he
is, there is probably something at the root of it, whether it is
AD/HD or some other learning challenge. Good luck.
It's really good that you are respecting your son's beliefs.
First of all, ADD can show up around adolescense so he may be
right. Your doctor should refer you to a specialist.
My son also told me that he thought he had ADD -- he was a
little younger. He turned out to be right. Since he
had ''discovered'' it, he was more willing and interested in the
things that could help him.
Don't worry. ADD just isn't so very bad. Some people act like
you have leprosy but they are just ignorant. ADD kids seem to
be an especially smart bunch and can be amazing at adapting.
Good luck to you both.
mom of a really nice, smart boy with add
Find a behavioral pediatrician, a clinical psychologist, a therapist, or an
Therapist, EXPERIENCED in evaluating attentional issues. You could start with the Ann
Martin Center in Oakland (non-profit, sliding scale), Langley Porter in S.F., the
Resource Center in Walnut Creek, or check the directory of professionals on the East
Bay Learning Disabilities Association website. Your pediatrician also might have this
background, but ask first.
I would get him tested. My father had a learning disorder (not ADD) and as a child, a
friend of his mother who was a specialist assured her that he ''couldn't possibly have
any learning disorders.'' It took a real toll on him throughout his middle school, high
school, and college life, and he certainly could have had a much easier time if someone
had acknowledged that there was actually a problem and he wasn't just lazy. It's worth
In an effort to educate myself about boys (I have a 5-year old) I
just picked up ''The Minds of Boys: Saving Our Sons from Falling
Behind in School and Life'' by Michael Gurian. It is a REALLY
valuable book, and I recommend it to anyone who has a son in
school. The statistics and stories about how boys are faring in
this society are scary, but the book offers practical advice on
what to do about it. Gurian maintains that most ADD is
misdiagnosed and is actually attributable to normal young male
behavior, based on boys'developmental patterns and brain
development. He describes how to correctly diagnose ADD (it does
exist, just not as much as everyone thinks), the social and
environmental factors that exacerbate it, and what to do about
it. Your son probably *doesn't* have ADD (you'd probably have
known about it before now)but reading this book will probably
answer your questions and give you some strategies to help him do
better in school. Good luck!
Mom of a young boy
My husband has ADD and his 15 year old son does as well (and
after many fights with the mom he's now off the drugs). We both
agree that we will never test any of our children for ADD
because we feel like it just gave him a crutch for not doing
the things that he needed to do. He's still hyper and has a
REALLY hard time focusing on schoolwork and chores but now that
he's not taking medication and knows he's expected to perform
to a certain level despite those problems, he's actually
improved a great deal and makes his way through as well as most
other 15 year olds. We found that the real key was to focus on
the issue that he does have a hard time concentrating but that
means that he needs to come up with a system that will help him
do better. We've worked to identify things that make him
distracted and unable to accomplish tasks (for example, no
talking on the phone while doing dishes)and he goes to bed
earlier on school nights so he's not overtired. Most kids at
that age have a really hard time concentrating at school -
classes are generally pretty boring. I feel as though
identifying a challenge that arises because of a particular
type of personality damages a child's development by letting
them see themselves as unable to overcome it - or as it
necessarily being bad. We all have challenges in everyday life
because of who we are and how we relate to other people. It's
part of what makes us special. It's also part of how we learn
to control and discipline ourselves to function in society by
keeping jobs and building relationships. I can't tell you how
many times I've heard ''you know I have a hard time remembering
things'' to reprimands for not doing something he was told to do
several times. Or using ADD as an excuse for being disruptive
and rude to classmates and teachers. His behavior improved
dramatically when we stopped accepting it. He's not perfect,
but also not allowed to use excuses like ''I'm just not good at
that''. There are lots of things each of us is just not good at
and we find ways to figure out how to do better. I think that's
a more valuable life lesson than diagnosing such problems as in
escapable disorder. Even if your son does have ADD he will
still need to learn how to function in society just like
everyone else and the long-term use of personality altering
drugs to control it is an option that you will probably both
end up regretting... especially if you love your son for who he
is now. You can also talk to the teachers and tell them he is
having a hard time concentrating and ask if there is anything
they can do to help him stay on track.
I'll try not to belabor this point: Whether ADD is over-diagnosed
or not, those of us who have it -- and are attempting to parent
kids who also have it, resent the perky insights of those who
would assure you that its just ''horse-puckey'', and that ADD meds
are ''bogus'' and completely useless without behavioral counseling.
Chances are your boy doesn't have ADD, but if he does, the
appropriate medication would work in roughly the same way that
glasses work for myopia. Not a cure all, but a tool to help with
focus. That tool either would or wouldn't be enough to balance
the years of thinking he's stupid or inadequate, when in fact he
just has the neurological equivalent of ''can't see the board'',
and years of people telling him to just try harder.
There is an on-line test you can give him, at www.amenclinic.com
(or Google the Amen Clinic, Dr. D. Amen) that might reassure you,
either way and point you in a good direction. My kids'had
extensive evaluations with a psychiatrist who was also an
ADD/ADHD expert, and were based on testing and interview - not
teacher recommendations. They were also highly accurate and
useful. Good luck.
My recently-turned-18 y.o. son has a problem which I
don't really understand. He's had his driver's license
for 2 y ears now. Early on in his driving career he put a
few dents in my car, one of which resulted in a point
being added to our car insurance (at an additional
$2,000 premium). Then he bought his own car (with
his own money) with the stipulation being that he would
pay for his own car insurance. Over the last year or so
he has gotten numerous parking tickets (all of which he
paid), had a moving violation for which he did traffic
school, and recently another moving violation. He was
going to go to court to ask the judge whether he could
go to traffic school again, but he thought it was today
instead of yesterday so missed the court date. I wasn't
even aware that the date was yesterday or I would have
reminded him (is that possibly the problem, that he
should be remembering these things by himself,
instead of being reminded?).
Well, today I'm taking him off our policy, which will mean
he can't drive. He doesn't seem to have a problem with
this (he sold his car after he realized that it was more
hassle than cool), since he'll be occupied with stuff over
the summer that won't really require driving and then off
I don't understand what's going on. We lecture him ad
infinitum, he dutifully takes care of the associated bills,
but the consequences of his actions don't seem to sink
in on some level - that he's throwing money away and
shooting himself in the foot. In most areas he's a very
If this is an indication of how he's going to deal with
issues when he goes out in the world on his own, I' m
worried for him. Questions - anyone have any idea
what might be happening here? Do I just sit back and
let this one play itself out and let him handle it
completely, or should I try to guide him through it? One
factor in my questions is his age. Supposedly he's an
''adult''. At what point do we abandon them to their
Naturally I blame myself. I've had pretty severe
depression most of my life and only recently with drugs
has the heavy blanket of fog lifted so that I can see
what's going on around me. I certainly wish I hadn't
resisted anti-depressants for so long; it certainly would
have made me a much better parent. How do I help my
''adult'' child when I know that the parenting he received
was far from optimal? Or do I just say that these are
the cards he was dealt and he'll have to find a way to
His father (we're not together) was recently diagnosed
with ADD; as with many diagnoses, it seems that
eveyrone has this these days. But I don't want to
completely discount it. Is this a possibility? With the
necessarily limited information I've given and the
numerous questions, does anyone have any
It seems to me as if things are working perfectly! He is 18
and is learning how to deal with issues for when he goes out
in the world on his own.
Example: He bought a car, had numerous problems dealing
with it and sold it. That is a great lesson for him to have
learned! Next time, he'll buy the car knowing what's
involved and he'll then be ready to deal with the
Example: He's accepting the consequences of not having
insurance by not driving. And is going on with his life.
This is a very valid choice.
My advice for you is to celebrate his successes: ''dutifully
takes care of the associated bills'', ''In most areas he's a
very responsible individual. ''
As far as the problem of ''throwing money away and shooting
himself in the foot,'' from your description, I would ''just
sit back and let this one play itself out and let him handle
it completely.'' This is the learning process. I wouldn't
completely ''abandon them to their unwise choices'' yet . . .
I'd give advice (knowing that it might not be taken.)
Congratulations on coming out of your fog. As far as
helping your ''adult'' child when you know that the
parenting he received was far from optimal, I think that
talking with him about it openly would be beneficial.
Acknowledge that you know you weren't always ''there'' for
him, express your sorrow for that and tell him that you are
so thrilled by how he's growing up, what a good person he
is, how responsible he is becoming [I believe in seeding
self-fulfilling prophecies ;-)], and how well he did without
optimal parenting, etc.
Are you seeing a therapist as well as the person who is
prescribing the antidepressants? It might help you keep
things in perspective.
My 19-year-old has been going through very similar things,
but he's very good (too good?) at telling me that this is
his life, he needs to make a few mistakes, he won't be
sleeping in a box under the bridge, he'll make more money if
he wastes some, going to college a year after high school is
a valid option, etc etc.! And, you know, he's right! This
year he's in college and is turning in his assignments on
time, reminding me to pay his tuition, living within his
budget, riding his bike to school . . . And it sounds as if
your kid will be fine too.
Another Mom still in training
All of the behaviors you described sound typical of ADD,
plus it does tend to run in families (along with
depression). Considering how dramatically an ADD
diagnosis and treatment seem to have improved many
people's lives, I think it's worth looking into.
I think I know how you feel, though. I keep struggling
with my own skepticism and confusion, because for my
family and me nothing is ever so simple as the latest
popular diagnosis or solution. Neither antidepressants
and therapy nor self-help books, exercise, thyroid pills,
Omega fatty acids, workshops, church, etc. etc. have
made my depression go away completely. One of my
sons, who was diagnosed with ADD four years ago and
medicated for school days and homework ever since,
still has lots of times when he can't focus enough to
accomplish anything. My older son seemed to get his
act together academically without medication, but he
has gotten in serious trouble several times and is
currently way behind on a big research project.
Anyway, it canít hurt to learn about ADD and consider
having him evaluated for it. There are lots of books
available, including a few focusing on teens and adults,
and lots of resources at http://add.about.com and
Good luck, and don't blame yourself or think about what
you should have done differently; just go from here to
help your son learn how to help himself.
I think we need a Berkeley support group for parents of
ADHD teens! Anyone else interested?
It sounds to me like your son is learning from
experience. Lots of people screw up on dates and
paperwork. And it does get expensive.
Whether or not he has a learning disability, it appears
to me that he is dealing with the car insurance in a
logical and realistic manner to me. Is he ranting about
the fact that he can't drive? If not, I'd count my blessings
and move on to the next opportunity for growth.
I am looking for a support group for my teenage daughter
who has ADD. We are seeing a counselor, and she agrees
that my daughter would greatly benefit from a group of other
girls her age with her same challenges. Things are pretty
dicely right now between us, and I think we both need
support. The counselor is directing me to a group in SF, but
my daughter still needs one. Any leads?
My daughter is twelve, going into eighth grade next
Fall. She is a mild ADD child, with very few noticed
behavior problems at school. At home, she is a
high-maintenance child. She needs help with organizing
her time, her assignments, her belongings, and so on.
I am very organized and can offer her all sorts of
help in managing her life. However, I get exhausted
from monitoring and shaping her behavior. I could use
some help from a peer support group. Are there any
support groups for ADD teen girls in the
Please reply to the newsletter. Thank you.
I am an MFT
and familiar with a great resource in Berkeley:
Ability Resource Center,
run by Glenn Gelfenbein, MFT. He is well versed in ADD/ADHD and other
learning issues and is available for consultation & on-going treatment. He
can be reached at 510-528-6059. He has a brochure describing his services
and I'm sure wouldbe happy to mail it to you. Hope that helps! Best, Deb
My 10 year old son will be going through
testing at school to see if he has any learning disabilities. They
have suggested that he be tested for ADD by a pediatrician because ADD
is a medical diagnosis. Our entire family sees a "General Physician"
and my boys don't have a pediatrician. I will be asking for a
referral to a pediatrician through PacifiCare and am wondering if
anyone has any reccommendations for a pediatrician who may have
experience with ADD diagnosis and is located in Martinez, Pleasant
Hill, etc. area (Hill Physicians Medical Group).
Kaiser offers a small group screening for ADHD every six weeks which is
pretty thorough. The cost is minimal.
I have LOTS of info about ADHD. There's a lot of misinformation out
there about ADHD and treatments. This "disorder" hasn't been termed
"hyperactivity" for years and years. I would be very suspicious of an
evaluator who called it that and then gave you the information that since
she "attends" to what interests her, she is not "hyperactive." This is
THE classic definition of ADHD. Have your daughter evaluated
professionally by someone who knows what they are doing. NO teacher or
parent can help your child develop normally if her brain synapses aren't
firing correctly. Believe me I know what I'm talking about.
There's a ton of information about
this very real disability on the Net. Also, your daughter may not have
ADHD. There are many other conditions that cause children to appear
"hyper" and unfocused, from emotional trauma and life changes (a divorce
for instance) all the way to brain tumors. She needs a complete battery
tests before you decide on an
intervention. The results of a looong study on children are just coming
out. You may have read about it. The gist of it is that therapy, behavior
mod, counseling, beneficial classroom environment, parental training,
etc. are all good and important, but NONE are very effective without
medicine. And fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how you look at
MEDS ALONE ARE MORE EFFECTIVE THAN ANY OF THE OTHER INTERVENTIONS
COMBINED. It's a hard decision to put your child on medicine, but I see
it much the way I would feel if she needed glasses to see with.
I am not pro-meds, by the way. Nor do I think every "hyper" kid needs
treatment, far from it. Kids exist along a spectrum from very quiet to
wild and it can all be within the range of normal. My 8-yr-old daughter's
behavior wasn't within that range, and I knew WAY before she was
diagnosed at the end of second grade. She was not a behavior problem, just
very "spirited." But it would take her 3 hours of intense struggle,
watching her every moment, to do 15 minutes of 2nd grade homework and she
couldn't learn to read at all, no matter how hard she tried. Now in third
grade, she reads all the time and is doing very well in school, almost
caught up and in some cases, ahead of her class.
Parents, run screaming from anyone who presumes to "know" your child is
ADHD without a professional evaluation. This is a serious condition.
People with untreated ADHD have much lower social and economic success in
later life. They are frequently ostracised and many have few if any
friends. They often end up "self-medicating" with illegal drugs. They
take impulsive risks. ADHD is potentially life-threatening. It is a
diagnosis, not a term to thrown at any kid who is spirited.
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