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ADHD -- I'd love any/all input (Read 907 times)


Needs more cowbell!

    A little background...during the 2 years our son was in preschool he often frustrated his teachers with his unwillingness to stick to a task or follow directions, even though they both could tell that he was exceptionally bright and had more than enough potential to do the tasks given. Last Spring, during his kindergarten assessment, after 10 minutes (was supposed to be 20-30 minutes, so we were were a bit annoyed that they spent so little time on it) with him the evaluator recommended he be "held back" in a young 5s (pre-k) program, even though he will be 6 in less than a month and will be one of the older kids in his grade, anyhow...and their reasons for the recommendation were not academic, but were more behavioral and related to his ability to follow instructions and not wander around the room and stall. So this year, with very little faith in our local school system (which does not produce students who do particularly well on standardized tests compared to just about every other school in the county) we decided to put our son in a Montessori kindergarten program. He is doing much better in this environment (we hope to enroll him in a public charter Montessori program that goes through 8th grade next year), but is still not working up to the potential everyone who knows him well sees (I should add that when my brother was the same age it was also recommended he be held back., but my folks decided not to and he ended up graduating second in his class and going to Northwestern U. Dane and my brother are a LOT alike and my brother has often wondered if he also suffers from mild ADD/ADHD). Yesterday we saw our son's pediatrian for an ADHD assessment. Prior to this appt. we had submitted a 2 part form to our son's dr.--one copy we did and the other half his teacher completed. After meeting with us and watching Dane in action his ped has determined that our son definitely appears to have fairly mild ADHD and presribed a low dose Ritalin medication (Metadate CD 10mg). We're giving it a try for a week or so, then may double the dose to 20mg (which appears to be the usual standard dose...I'm glad our ped is starting small and building up, if neccessary, though). He started this AM and I'm not seeing any difference in his behavior, but he was at school until noon, so it will be interesting to see what his teacher notices in the classroom setting, which is where he has most issues (at home he has fewer distractions and no friends to "entertain," so his attention span and activity level is much more "normal" here). I have a feeling once we get him more able to focus on things that he will really excell in school and not be so prone to innappropriate activity and distraction. Right now he mostly just wants to stick to the things he's comfortable doing (Math, Science...he is a mini version of my brother--and my hubby, in this respect) and refuses to concentrate on anything that takes more effort or doesn't come naturally (Reading, Writing). Anyhow, I'm curious to know what sort of experiences others have had with ADHD, whether personally or with a child or other family member. Have you seen medication make a major difference? What other sorts of treatments have helped? Have symptoms changed with age? k

    I shoot pretty things! ~

    '14 Goals:

    • 6 duathlons (1 Olympic distance)

    • 130#s (and stay there, gotdammit!)


    madness baby

      Kirsten, I'd just point you in the direction of googling some behavioral strategies that you can implement in your home and provide his teacher. Medication will probably help with the organic portion, but teaching him strategies to deal with being easily distracted is a lifelong skill. Kind of like teaching a person to fish. I think that providing a structured environment (home and school) and clear expectations are the most important things for children with ADD. You could try behavioral strategies such as using a timer, star chart (earning points toward some reinforcing activity), and using his highly preferred activities to teach on-task skills. Practicing some of these things at home that would likely generalize to school. Also, catch him being good and give very specific praise about what he's doing right when he's focusing and working toward a goal (e.g., chores). All that little stuff at home works wonders for helping children feel successful, empowered, and motivated to learn.
      deb


      Now that was a bath...

        Kirsten - I don't have personal experience but it really sounds to me like you are doing everything possible and I am sure that now you have a diagnosis - you will move towards a solution soon. The Montessori Kindergarten was a great move. I have lots of friends that have used them and I have heard such great things. My children attend a program based on learning through free play (it's a NZ concept called Playcenter) from 0-5 and we have several kids with behavioral/Autistic Spectrum disorders as they cope well in an environment where they choose their own educational activities. We have no structured activities at all (we offer all activities at all times) so a kid can never be doing the wrong thing at the wrong time Smile. It will be cool if you can keep him in Montessori for longer and I hope that he settles down soon. Interesting too that he is similar to your brother. Let us know how the medication works. Claire xxx
      • jlynnbob "HTFU, Kookie's distal tibia"
      • Where's my closet? I need to get back in it.


        Needs more cowbell!

          Deb, those are all excellent recommendations. We do use the timer, but it's successful maybe half the time. We also try to avoid punishing him for "misbehaving," but definitely reward and congratulate him when he does a great job. He also loves learning by using anything electronic or computerized, so we encourage that. We got him a LeapPad Leapster device for Christmas and he really loves that thing...though he seems to get bored with the games pretty quickly...we have seen more interest in reading and spelling ever since he started using that, though--amazing how much more he wants to read when it involves "video games." As far as structure, we have always kept a pretty set routine as far as meal times, bed times, getting ready for bed and awake in the AM, etc. I know at school they have a pretty firm routine, as well. He has always really craved routine, even as an infant, so we try not to deviate from that too much...he's definitely a creature of habit. We've also used chore charts in the past, but it turned into too much of me badgering him to do the things on the chart and him resisting--that is one thing he has ALWAYS done...if we push, he pushes back twice as hard. I hate to do it, but bribery is one of the only things that seems to work with him on a regular basis (ie "you do XYZ and when we go to the store you can pick out a Matchbox/Hotwheels car"...that's his standard currency). I did pick up a couple of books at Barnes & Noble yesterday. One is for parents that explains the very positive aspects or "gifts" of ADD/ADHD...and the other is geared more for somewhat older kids to read--explains what ADHD is in language a child can process. Until he is able to read I think we will read this book to him a little bit at a time. I'm going to follow your recommendation to do a little Googling, too--there's a wealth of info. out there (too much, almost). k

          I shoot pretty things! ~

          '14 Goals:

          • 6 duathlons (1 Olympic distance)

          • 130#s (and stay there, gotdammit!)

          Scout7


          CPT Curmudgeon

            Oh, boy one of my favorite topics. Mostly because it's all about me, d@mnit. In 1st grade (I went to Catholic school at the time, and yes, my teacher was a nun), my teacher recommended to my parents that I be tested for learning disabilities. So, I spend however long, and the results come back. Turns out I'm actually quite intelligent, I'm just really really bored. So....Now I'm "gifted" (more like a curse when you're a kid). Flash forward to JH. Now I'm in public school. My teachers are saying that I can do really well on tests, but never do my homework. My guidance counselor (may he rot in a special place in He!!) told me and my parents that I had a passive aggressive personality. The solution is to have me write down all my assignments in a little note book that was supposed to be signed by my teachers. Surprise, surprise, I start forgetting the notebook everywhere. Again with the passive aggressive crap. Eventually, I graduate HS, go to college. Now, a number of years later, I'm seeing my doc for a regular old checkup. He stops and asks if I'm feeling alright. I said yeah, why? Then he asked if I always bounce my foot like that, and a series of other questions. He tells me that I have ADD, but that I can function, so meds aren't necessary at the time. Now, about 2 years later, when I'm meeting with my wife's head shrinker, she refers me to an actual knowledgable person on the topic. Took him all of 5 seconds to agree with prior diagnosis, and he put me on Focalin XR. Now, I take both the XR and the regular at different times in the day. Medication helps. It's helped me a fair amount. But the medication isn't the solution. The REAL solution is recognizing what the issue is, and adapting behavior to work with the ADHD. My problem was hyper-focus and total lack of focus. The meds even out those two extremes, which gives me the ability to adjust my habits to better match what my strengths and weaknesses are. Ever since, I'm happier, my wife is happier, and things have gotten MUCH better. Also, and this shouldn't be too much of an issue, but exercise will be key for your child. It's a physical and mental release. Get him interested in activities, but don't force him into anything.


            Needs more cowbell!

              Interesting too that he is similar to your brother.
              Seriously, sometimes I wonder if somehow I gave birth to my brother's clone--the similarities in terms of interests, abilities, and personalities is stunning. I think he is even going to look a lot like my brother as an adult.

              I shoot pretty things! ~

              '14 Goals:

              • 6 duathlons (1 Olympic distance)

              • 130#s (and stay there, gotdammit!)


              Needs more cowbell!

                My problem was hyper-focus and total lack of focus. The meds even out those two extremes, which gives me the ability to adjust my habits to better match what my strengths and weaknesses are. Ever since, I'm happier, my wife is happier, and things have gotten MUCH better. Also, and this shouldn't be too much of an issue, but exercise will be key for your child. It's a physical and mental release. Get him interested in activities, but don't force him into anything.
                Boy, that hyper-focus/lack of focus thing is SO Dane. He will play with LEGO, little cars, or a new toy for HOURS--almost obsessively...but anything he doesn't absolutely love doing or that he doesn't feel as confident about will find him wandering around, stalling, avoiding the activity, and outright fighting anyone who tries to convince him to at least try. We definitely will encourage sports with him, too (he can go and go and go, so he'll probably make a very good distance runner!)...and I know he's interested in music, so if he actively wants to take lessons in anything we would definitely support that. And I should add that my mom has for MANY years suspected ADHD in me, though I had NO issues concentrating or succeeding in college, so if I do suffer from it, I would think it is very mild. As a kid I was a ball of fire and a real slacker, though. I was one of those kids the teachers would often describe as "has the potential to be at the top of the class, but goofs around and spaces-out too much." My folks still roll their eyes about the time the principal came up to them and said "have you seen your daughter's score on her SRAs (standardized test)? She should be pulling straight-As with #s like that!" (I was pretty much a B/C student). Tongue k

                I shoot pretty things! ~

                '14 Goals:

                • 6 duathlons (1 Olympic distance)

                • 130#s (and stay there, gotdammit!)

                  Well, I don't have personal experience with this per se as my son hasn't been evaluated for ADHD , and maybe I shouldn't even be commenting since I'm ultra conservative when it comes to drs. pushing meds down my kids, but I'll throw my thoughts out anyway! Smile How old is your son compared to the rest of his classmates? My son is one of the younger ones as most of the kids are usually about a year older than him. His birthday's later in the year, so while he's just turning an age, the other kids have already been there awhile. First grade was a little rough. Disregarding the teacher factor (and there was one), he was beginning to worry me because he seemed to always be extra-energetic, wandered around the classroom, didn't get his work done, always talked, etc. and basically just didn't seem to be able to focus. Even at home, when we ate meals, he couldn't sit still on his chair. We'd also have to repeat ourselves 3-4 times before he'd listen to what we'd ask him to do, etc. His teacher was always complaining about him and even though I was actively involved in his classroom, I then became REALLY involved to see what exactly was going on. After awhile, I realized there really was a difference btwn how the younger kids and the older kids acted. I didn't know beforehand who the younger ones were, but there were about 3 of them (my son included) and before the teacher told me, I could have named them! It doesn't seem like that little bit of time would make a difference, but it does. Not to say the younger ones were acting bad, just that they were acting a bit younger! Smile I'd mentioned to his teacher that I was kind of the same way in school, always getting "talks too much" on my report cards, etc. She said she thought he might have ADHD, especially when I made that comment because it can be passed down genetically. I also told her another thing to consider was that my son was extremely social and since we'd just moved and basically had no "buddies" for him to hang out with, school was social hour too! When she made the ADHD comment, I stopped and thought about it...including her implication that I may have been/ be that way. This only annoyed me a bit as I think that label is thrown out there too haphazardly on kids. I later learned at a parent mtg that this particular teacher had also suggested to them that their kid had ADHD! It amazes me what kids these days have to go through in their personal lives topped with all the additional pressures of learning things that were traditionally taught in a grade or two higher. Slap a label on 'em and give 'em a pill and we don't have to worry about other factors. (Ok- told you I shouldn't probably comment!) My kid's cousin's mom sort of had the same thing going with her child who's the same age as mine. In short, he's also a younger child, born in October, and she ended up putting him in "young fives" vs. K. It has really worked out well and she has no problems anymore. He likes school, does well and gets along with the kids. I sorta wished I'd done this too back when we were having "problems". The whole first grade experience was pretty bad. Fortunately, my son didn't seem to think too negatively about it as I guess he didn't realize what a dink his teacher was being, but I was stressed out because she was really treating him lousy. She was an older teacher too and I got the impression she just didn't want to deal with it, so she was very short, punished him in various ways, and said derogatory things to him. Nothing that was outright wrong or individually would warrant a trip to the principal, but cumulatively, it bothered me. Second grade- totally different. Great teacher. And as insane as it seems to sound when i mention it to most parents, my kids start "going to bed" at 7:30 p.m. We read books for 1/2 hr, then they're in bed (and tired) by 8. This has made a HUGE difference! I think not getting enough sleep was a factor last year. They wake up on their own sometimes, ready for the day, and come back happy and with no complaints from the teachers. Not to say they're perfect, but what a difference. I've also found that more contact with friends after school or on wkends helps to "calm" my son. It's been extremely hard to do this as we moved, rented, built, moved again, and all during that time, my mom had cancer and just recently died. So we've always been travelling, but even with all of that, he is so calmed by actually having a social life. (We aren't in a subdivision by the way.) And when I thought about it, back when I had a new baby and NEVER got out of the house (at least I didn't with #1) and then actually managed to start seeing friends again, how refreshing! It affects all parts of your life and just makes you more content. Also, by limiting his computer and t.v. time and forcing more "normal toy" play (get the puzzles out, play army, ride a bike, swing from the monkeybars), he's more "calm" and "content". His dad's a total computer nut and is into gaming big time. Well, son #1 is too now, and can spend hours at the screen! (Even my 4 yr old has a hard time being pulled away from Lego Star Wars right now!) It's great that he's got those computer skills, but think there's a limit too. Discipline- I was about pulling my hair out repeating myself all the time! I found, though, that I would tell him something (like please go wash your hands before dinner) and then he'd just continue what he was doing. I wouldn't really pay attention while I was telling him. I'd tell him, then I'd go back to what I was doing, then realize he hadn't done what I'd asked, repeat myself, go back to what I was doing...etc. After about going nuts, and a comment from hubby, it only made sense that's what was happening because he knew that he had about 3 more shots after the first request from mom. Now, I ask whatever it is and all my attention is on him. I don't look down, go back to what I was doing, or wander away. Not like an evil dominator or anything, but that's just seemed to help. If he (they) don't listen the first time, then whatever it is they were doing/ wanted to do doesn't happen anymore. If this happens in public, then we go right home and they stare at their bedroom walls awhile. This hasn't happened only a couple of times...and thank goodness as it could really mess a trip us whether it's shopping with a full cart of groceries or being in the middle of a meal at a restaurant! Never had to deal with that though! We started the "bribery" route, but found that was only getting us into deeper trouble. It was almost like training him for his reward, you know? I think it's so easy for the ADHD label to be placed on kids. Maybe my son does have ADHD...I honestly haven't had him evaluated. Now, though, I have no plans on it. Making some changes seems to have helped us (and I realize this is just us I'm speaking for) and the teacher factor too...which I realize is a more difficult to control. Our lives were so crazy for awhile there and now that things started calming down, I think my son has too. I realize this has no medical info/ advice and it's just me recounting personal experiences/opinions, but I hope that you find this helpful. Smile
                  Scout7


                  CPT Curmudgeon

                    Yeah, that was me, to a T. Especially the Legos thing. I had a LOT, and played with them a LOT. Also (and I'm still sorta like that to this day) the whole not doing what I don't like thing.....Big time, especially in school. I'm also like you in terms of the school thing. HS.....About a C average, same first time through college. SAT scores said I should've been doing much better, too. Second time through college, almost a 4.0 (because it was something I was really really interested in). Habits are key. There's a really good book that is geared towards adults, but may help with your kid (and you)....I can't remember the title, but I'll look at home.


                    Prophet!

                      I agree with Claire that it seems like you're doing everything that you can to get the best possible solution. Now for a different perspective..I went to a boarding school for highschool that's filled with "troubled" kids..most of them were on ritalin...i got to know them, most of them don't want to be on ritalin because although they settle the two extremes, they pretty much make them almost passion-less, which i thought was worst for them because they might miss out on something other than school that might spark the discovery of their true talents. Now that i thought about it, they used to fake taking their pills and would give them to me (i was bad then too Smile ). Now I've actually gotten in touch with most of these kids and they are all doing great, they may not be rocket scientists but they're happy being filmmakers, novelists, philosphers,etc.


                      Needs more cowbell!

                        There's a really good book that is geared towards adults, but may help with your kid (and you)....I can't remember the title, but I'll look at home.
                        I'd love to check that out! Joni, no offense at all taken. And, in all honesty, I thought his issues the last couple of years were mostly due to his teacher, but I ADORE his current teacher and the Montessori environment has helped a lot, but I think that is also due to more one-on-one attention. We've never had any of his teachers bring up ADHD and I hated to even suggest it (like you, I think there is definitely some overdiagnosis going on and in my years of subbing I saw some kids who were drugged to the gills and really zombied-out). Dane is the oldest kid in his class (it's a mixed classroom of kids from 3-6, though most of the younger kids are already 4 or almost 4). Even in preschool he was one of the eldest, as he has an early Feb. birthday, so there aren't too many kids older. So I know it's not an age issue for him. Sleep definitely has an effect, but most nights he gets 10-11 hours and is still the same distracted, overactive child at school. The thing with ADHD is that it's a brain chemical imbalance, like depression. Behavioral modification and other changes in a person's environment can certainly help (and I am going to do more research into dietary adjustments, too, though he has always been a pretty healthy eater and we don't buy a lot of junk food), but the meds aren't intended to "drug" a person, but to help their brains to have "normal" function and balance. It seems like the kids who have negative issues from the meds are the ones who probably don't "need" the meds or who are being given higher doses than what they should be. And they have found (especially in males) that treating ADHD makes a person less likely to later have issues with drugs and/or alcohol, since their bodies aren't craving something to help them cope. k

                        I shoot pretty things! ~

                        '14 Goals:

                        • 6 duathlons (1 Olympic distance)

                        • 130#s (and stay there, gotdammit!)

                        Scout7


                        CPT Curmudgeon

                          I will say this much. ADD medication is NOT supposed to make your child into some sort of zombie. It won't stifle creativity in any way. It won't make them look at whacked out, or stoned. At least, it's not supposed to. If it does, I'd consult your doc immediately. Also, most kids who take stuff like Ritalin at an early age are much less likely to take illegal drugs later on in life. Beyond all that, I do agree that labels are easily thrown about. What concerns me is when people who have no specialized knowledge or training make recommendations (teachers, priests, guidance counselors, etc.). They have no business making those types of calls. If the teacher is concerned, then mention specific instances, but do not speculate on cause. Also, there are several different variations on ADD / ADHD. I'm actually pretty much a slug. I would sit on the couch, flipping channels, because I couldn't decide what I should be doing, so I end up doing nothing. Meanwhile, it's all building up inside....This sort of nervous energy, so to speak, that would eventually come to some sort of head, and I'd be bouncing off the d@mned walls. REALLY BAD when I worked from home.........


                          Needs more cowbell!

                            I agree with Claire that it seems like you're doing everything that you can to get the best possible solution. Now for a different perspective..I went to a boarding school for highschool that's filled with "troubled" kids..most of them were on ritalin...i got to know them, most of them don't want to be on ritalin because although they settle the two extremes, they pretty much make them almost passion-less, which i thought was worst for them because they might miss out on something other than school that might spark the discovery of their true talents. Now that i thought about it, they used to fake taking their pills and would give them to me (i was bad then too Smile ). Now I've actually gotten in touch with most of these kids and they are all doing great, they may not be rocket scientists but they're happy being filmmakers, novelists, philosphers,etc.
                            Interesting. Any idea what sort of doseages these guys were on? We definitely would be completely against having him take so much that in any way diminshed eliminated his spirit or creativity (which the lowest dose that helps him to not be all over the place mentally and physically should help). Right now our concern is just getting him to a place where he can focus on learning and not get frustrated when he can't accomplish the things he wants to do. At the moment he is struggling to stay still and concentrate in school...the ultimate outcome of that could be very negative if he were to have to be held back...kids who are held back deal with enough stigmatization as is. Add to the fact that he is already at the older end for his grade and I foresee more issues...a kid who is well over 19 when he graduates HS. I remember those kids growing up...not a single one has not been a complete mess as an adult (one classmate got heavy into drugs and wrecked a motorcycle...now has some brain damage. Very sad). And this is definitely something that he may not need in time...we're not even sure it will work at this point, but we're definitely going to try things and hopefully find something to work. We also are planning to only use the meds during the school day and probably not during weekends or breaks, since his biggest challenges are in the school setting. k

                            I shoot pretty things! ~

                            '14 Goals:

                            • 6 duathlons (1 Olympic distance)

                            • 130#s (and stay there, gotdammit!)


                            Needs more cowbell!

                              Beyond all that, I do agree that labels are easily thrown about. What concerns me is when people who have no specialized knowledge or training make recommendations (teachers, priests, guidance counselors, etc.). They have no business making those types of calls. If the teacher is concerned, then mention specific instances, but do not speculate on cause. Also, there are several different variations on ADD / ADHD. I'm actually pretty much a slug. I would sit on the couch, flipping channels, because I couldn't decide what I should be doing, so I end up doing nothing. Meanwhile, it's all building up inside....This sort of nervous energy, so to speak, that would eventually come to some sort of head, and I'd be bouncing off the d@mned walls. REALLY BAD when I worked from home.........
                              We talked about that a bit with our son's doctor yesterday...in some ways I think there's almost a backlash and now most teachers won't even suggest ADD/ADHD unless the parents push. But that's probably a good thing, in some ways. It should be medical professionals who make the ultimate diagnosis, which the assistance of the parents and teachers. And I know that our son's ped isn't about to push pills at us unneccessarily--he's pretty conservative about treatment options for things. As far as the variations...if I had to estimate, I would say our son is 2/3 ADD and 1/3 HD. He's active, but he's also a boy. He's not all that much more active than most boys his age--more fidgety all day long than bouncing off the walls. And he's not a kid who is blatantly ADHD...it's definitely more subtle, but enough of an issue that it's making learning difficult for him, even though I know he's a little smarty pants. k

                              I shoot pretty things! ~

                              '14 Goals:

                              • 6 duathlons (1 Olympic distance)

                              • 130#s (and stay there, gotdammit!)

                                Kirsten, good luck with figuring this out. Keep us posted on how he's doing. I'm very interested to hear what effect the meds have on your son!
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