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#1 of 15 Old 07-06-2013, 02:29 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My daughter, 6, going into 1st grade, has just been diagnosed.  There may be some visual processing issues too - we're waiting for the final meeting with the person who did the testing.  This isn't a surprise to us.  She's a wonderful, bright, sweet, kid, and not unusually energetic or active, but she can't concentrate on something that doesn't interest for even 10 seconds, and she is a whole lot more impulsive than her little brother, 5.  

 

It's also a transition time for us because although we really like the charter school where she did kindergarten, it's far away and all her friends were from the complete other side of our little city.  It doesn't feel right to be creating a social network totally dependent upon the car.  We have been working for months to create other options.

 

That school works really intensely and individually with kids, mixed age classrooms.  She did great there.  Our other two options now are a good local elementary school (bike ride away, we had to transfer in because the one on our street is awful), with a dual language program, or another charter with a dual language focus.  We are not a dual language family, but we live in a part of the country where not-knowing Spanish is a hindrance.  

 

Now I'm just so confused.  I really wanter our kids to be in a dual language program, and I really wanted to be able to do a lot of our commuting on bikes.  I really don't know what we can and should do to help our daughter yet.  I know nothing about ADHD except drugs, drugs, drugs, and I am not hot about that idea.  She stayed at grade level last year, and excelled in math, so she didn't have a hard time academically.  She's pretty bright.  But was that just because of the type of school it was?  I just don't know.  

 

My daughter had a horrible birth - nearly bled to death and had respiratory faillure - so we knew she was at risk of neurologic problems, although she has generally done well. I don't know if this is because of that, or if maybe I had some similar issues.  When I was a kid, my teachers would allow me to set up my desk to do a big drawing every day, although my 3rd grade teacher told me to be discrete because she wasn't going to let any other kids do it.  Then we moved, and school just sucked and I hated it.  I don't want my daughter to hate school.  That's the most important thing, but if there are other things I should know I really would appreciate it.

 

Any advice appreciated.

 

I'll cross post this in a couple places.

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#2 of 15 Old 07-06-2013, 03:51 PM
 
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My son was diagnosed this year in 4th grade. We are so happy to have a diagnosis! He is on meds because this was affecting his learning and his behavoir. When I was trying to decide what to do people asked me if I would get him glasses if he needed it. I said yes of course. They said then it's no different. My friend explained it to me as having a brain that is constantly changing the channels and how frustrating must that be? I'm not here to try to sway you just sharing my experience. There's no right or wrong answer here only what is right for your family. As to the schools that's a hard decision. Mine go to a magnet school which is about 4 miles away but is like your charter school. It makes it harder to have playdates with kids at his school. But my kids are happy and have kids in our neighborhood. We are just hoping he will do ok there for 5th grade. It's a struggle somedays just being a parent. 

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#3 of 15 Old 07-07-2013, 08:25 AM
 
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My son was diagnosed this year in 4th grade. We are so happy to have a diagnosis! He is on meds because this was affecting his learning and his behavoir. When I was trying to decide what to do people asked me if I would get him glasses if he needed it. I said yes of course. They said then it's no different. My friend explained it to me as having a brain that is constantly changing the channels and how frustrating must that be? I'm not here to try to sway you just sharing my experience. There's no right or wrong answer here only what is right for your family. As to the schools that's a hard decision. Mine go to a magnet school which is about 4 miles away but is like your charter school. It makes it harder to have playdates with kids at his school. But my kids are happy and have kids in our neighborhood. We are just hoping he will do ok there for 5th grade. It's a struggle somedays just being a parent. 

 

The problem with that argument is that near-sightedness is a physical issue that is corrected with lenses. There is no physical imbalance with ADHD, it is not a lack of Adderal or Ritalin. There is no laboratory tests to determine ADHD (or any other mental disorder), it is merely an arbitrary label from a menu of behaviors as described in the DSM. Medication for ADHD is far from risk free.

 

As a parent we all have to make choices, and choosing medication for behavorial issues like ADHD is one of them. I chose not to medicate my DD who, now as an adult, has learned to work with her issues. While I would not wish ADHD on any child, especially seeing the difference between her and my other two children, School was definitely a challenge for her, but she got through it, although decided not to go to college. I do feel that she has used the condidtion to shape her life into something postive and what works for her. 


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#4 of 15 Old 07-09-2013, 02:45 PM
 
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I have a 10 YO DD with ADHD.  She was diagnosed in 1st grade.  While she was working above grade level in math, she was having some issues with reading and major issues with classroom behavior.  To the point that other kids didn't like playing with her or having her in their group in the classroom and so her self esteem was really slipping.  And that was what helped us decide to have her take medication.  We did try some homeopathic options first, at the recommendation of the child psychiatrist that helped make the diagnosis.  We were really comfortable with her and loved her slow approach to medications.  Then we tried some simple, fast acting options to see how that impacted her and it was like getting a new child.  From there we went to a long-action medication so she only takes one all day.  At no point did we see a change in her personality, but definitely did in her behavior.  I confess that her constant talking/singing/jumping drove me to distraction and I was so grateful when she could sit and talk to me!  Her reading increased 2 grade levels in 2 months.  Her teacher described it as "reducing the noise in her brain and allowing her to concentrate."  And she was less bossy and demanding with the kids in her class, and less disruptive with their learning, so suddenly she had friends. 

 

So, for us the medication was a great thing.  If we could have gotten to the same result without medication, I would certainly have done it.  And we tried some of the behavior modification techniques that her doctor recommended, but they had no impact.    I know that she feels like we made the right decision because now, 4 years later, she will ask for her medication if we forget.  Even at 6 she would say that she felt better with the medication.  For me, that meant a lot and validated our decisions.

 

I think the key is finding a doctor that you trust and very open communication with her classroom teacher.  And the ability to communicate with her teacher would factor into school choices in a big way.  And if you decide to go the non-medicated route, you will need to make sure that the school is supportive of that and will implement whatever other actions you take or programs you want to try.  Kids are at school so long that whatever you do needs to be transferable.

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#5 of 15 Old 07-11-2013, 07:06 AM
 
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first let me talk about medication since its such a hot topic. my dd doesnt have ADHD, but quite a few of her friends do. for them though ADHD is not a stand alone diagnosis. and not all the ADHD is the same. all of them have something else too. an excellent test is the caffeine test. chocolate covered coffee beans, a cup of coffee or red bull. for some of dd's friends who took the medication actually asked for it. it helps them so much because they are able to actually do what they want. One of them took the NaNoWriMo challenge and the only way she could do it was by taking the medication. 

 

the kids who didnt take the medication had a lot of support - from family, the school and community. 

 

both families really worked with diet too to see what their child was sensitive too. red dye, any dye, gluten, dairy - different kinds of sugar. that did not impact enough to act like medication but there was some relief from tantrums at home.  

 

Gosh i can so relate to you about not hating school. my dd was one who hated school 3 days after she started K. it was only towards teh end of 5th grade that she really started enjoying school. she still hates the academics but its her friends and teacher that made school for her. 

 

dd was able to tolerate school because we did lots of fun activities outside of school. didnt mean she took a lot of classes. what it meant was she had free time to pursue anything she wanted as well as play with her neighborhood friends.

 

another thing to keep an eye on. just coz its a neighborhood school, doesnt mean the local kids go there. 

 

the thing is you already know one school works. if her present school doesnt work for whatever reason, could she go back to her old school?


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#6 of 15 Old 07-11-2013, 10:38 AM
 
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My 8 yr old was diagnosed right before first grade, after a horrible kindergarten year.  His self esteem was in the toilet and his academics were slipping.  He had a lot of trouble making friends due to his hyperactivity and impulsivity.  We did choose medication and it's been the best thing for him.  He prefers days he takes his medications bc it helps him feel more in control and to do things he wants to do but before he was unable to do.  And to me, it's the same as medicating for seizures, depression, anxiety, etc.  The ADHD brain is different than a non ADHD brain, and that's not saying it's a bad difference, but if the child is being affected negatively by it and not able to self regulate(which is really hard even as an adult at times), then I think it should be looked at.  We in addition work with a play therapist and a behavioral therapist.  It is our hope that as a teen or young adult, he may be able to self regulate enough to get through college/adult hood.  My husband also has ADD and took meds as a kid.  He doesn't take them anymore, stopped around 20 but he now uses he ADD in a positive manner to work for him. 


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#7 of 15 Old 07-11-2013, 10:26 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks all for the replies.  

 

I guess I made the original post sound more anti-medication than I meant to.  I don't want to jump right to that route, but I couldn't say we wouldn't ever try it.  I have concerns about it.  I worry, "Oh no, she's going to think there's something wrong with her if we tell her she has to take medicine."  I so much don't want her to label herself, or for other people to label her.  And ultimately, she's going to have to learn how to manage herself the best she can.  I don't want to do something to address the current problems that doesn't help her build for the future.  Not that medication would mean that she can't do that, I just hate that the meds are the first thing I ever hear about.  How do kids learn to deal with it and become productive adults?  Where does a family get information about learning other strategies?  

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#8 of 15 Old 07-11-2013, 11:04 PM
 
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For those of you who don't think ADHD is a real disorder I urge you to check out Russell Barkleys research on ADHD and check out a few of his lectures on youtube. They are most enlightening.

 

heres a link:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SCAGc-rkIfo

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#9 of 15 Old 07-11-2013, 11:36 PM
 
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My mother dealt with three mostly borderline ADHD kids and a child with epilepsy mostly through food management she avoided processed anything no artificial food dyes no caffeine and with vitamins (i'm sorry i don't have a link) it didn't remove the issue but it helped a lot. Sugar is also a big bane for anyone trying to control ADHD or the OCD many people Aka my boyfriend end up diagnosed with in conjunction to it.

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#10 of 15 Old 07-12-2013, 06:08 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Letitia View Post

Thanks all for the replies.  

I guess I made the original post sound more anti-medication than I meant to.  I don't want to jump right to that route, but I couldn't say we wouldn't ever try it.  I have concerns about it.  I worry, "Oh no, she's going to think there's something wrong with her if we tell her she has to take medicine."  I so much don't want her to label herself, or for other people to label her.  And ultimately, she's going to have to learn how to manage herself the best she can.  I don't want to do something to address the current problems that doesn't help her build for the future.  Not that medication would mean that she can't do that, I just hate that the meds are the first thing I ever hear about.  How do kids learn to deal with it and become productive adults?  Where does a family get information about learning other strategies?  

I was diagnosed with ADHD at age 40 and started medication. The "blockage" in my brain is much smaller and I'm a much happier person. I wish I had been diagnosed as a kid. I always KNEW there was something wrong with me. My son (adopted) was diagnosed three years ago. His brain absolutely works differently and needs special support at school. He's been taking a non-stimulant medication, Intuniv, for nine months now. It helps with impulse control, which is wonderful, but doesn't touch his attention issues. For him, stimulants aren't an option.

The magazine ADDitude is an excellent resource, as is their website. Very balanced.
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#11 of 15 Old 07-12-2013, 09:03 AM
 
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before i knew kids with ADHD i was very judgemental against the diagnosis and always thought one didnt need medication. 

 

then i saw my friends kids and dd's classmates get the diagnosis.

 

and then the medication. what blew me away was that the kids were in charge of the medication. THEY were asking for it. it was they who demanded how long the effects could last. 

 

for many living in regular society and trying to do the social thing was way way too hard. reading labels, keeping 'fun' foods out was taking an emotional toll on them.

 

as an outsider, a friend you can see the effects on the child - when they go off the medication for a week or two. WOW!!! i mean it is a wow moment when they first take the medication. 

 

some of my adult friends dont take the medication. 

 

but they did as a child. THEY decided to go off the medication, so they figured out how to come up with coping strategies and then worked it out. but they needed the initial medication to 'have a happy and normal childhood'. they experimented when they had time on their hand and life wasnt so busy or stressful. mind you though you can still spot the kids with ADHD. i see that in dd's class. the only reason why i know they are taking medication is coz i am friends with their family. 

 

so what i am saying is that my attitude towards ADHD is so different now that i know some kids and adults with it. 


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#12 of 15 Old 07-12-2013, 12:00 PM
 
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Thanks all for the replies.  

 

I guess I made the original post sound more anti-medication than I meant to.  I don't want to jump right to that route, but I couldn't say we wouldn't ever try it.  I have concerns about it.  I worry, "Oh no, she's going to think there's something wrong with her if we tell her she has to take medicine."  I so much don't want her to label herself, or for other people to label her.  And ultimately, she's going to have to learn how to manage herself the best she can.  I don't want to do something to address the current problems that doesn't help her build for the future.  Not that medication would mean that she can't do that, I just hate that the meds are the first thing I ever hear about.  How do kids learn to deal with it and become productive adults?  Where does a family get information about learning other strategies?  

 

I think it definitely helps to try non-medication answers first.  There are lots of threads under the parenting w/ special needs sub-forum that give ideas of what other families have tried and what sorts of results they experienced.  I would definitely recommend reading a few of them to see what you want to try.  It also pays to shop around for a doctor who will support trying things other than meds first.  I was SO glad to have a psychiatrist that wouldn't prescribe meds until we had tried non-med options first.

 

I think some of your other concerns might be a bit premature, though.  I know that my DD knew that she was having more trouble with some parts of being in school than her classmates -- she was really relieved when she could put a name and a cause behind it.  Not so much "something is wrong with me", but more "there is a medical reason that I do X.  It's not because I'm stupid or lazy or my parents don't believe in discipline."  (Unfortunately all things that other kids said to her in K and 1st grade.  Ugh.)  Since I regularly take asthma medication, she could look at this the same way -- prevention for a bigger problem.

 

I don't know if DD will choose to remain on meds through her teenage and adult years - that will be up to her.  I've known people to do both.  And I have a couple of friends who would probably find life much easier and be more successful if they had continued with their medication into adulthood.  More and more people are doing so at this point -- it's not "just a kid's issue" anymore.  If she chooses to change, reduce or eliminate the meds as she gets older, that will be up to her.  Her body, her choice.  I am confident that she will have more coping skills, more options and more information as a teen or adult than she did as a 6 year old.  As a young child, she was just learning more self-control and expected behavior, especially in the classroom.  As a, say, 16 year old, she will be far beyond that stage and able to implement more independent strategies if she chooses.  At 6 she didn't really have any control over how much exercise she got each day or what she was served for lunch or how many hours of class she could take in a day.  In high school, college or adulthood she can control much more of her environment and can choose to transition off meds with many more coping strategies.

 

Which is not to say that I believe that meds are the only solution or that all children with ADHD should take meds.  Merely providing reassurance that, if you do choose or need to go that route, it doesn't need to be a negative thing and could be quite positive for your child and family.

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#13 of 15 Old 07-12-2013, 05:19 PM - Thread Starter
 
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EandA's mom - thanks, that's a very helpful way to reframe it.  

 

It's my understanding that ADHD is actually one of the best researched and most defined "mental" diagnoses.  While what people see is behavioral, there are specific blood flow patterns on PET scanning.  There's also testing like my daughter had, which isn't based on observations of her behavior.  I don't question whether it exists or not.  I just see references to people learning how to deal with things without the meds over time, and wonder how they do that, what we should be starting now.  

 

We already eat a very low-sugar, no processed foods diet.  We really do cook everything we eat from scratch, except bread, which is mostly store-bought. She's not hyperactive, and we've never seen big bursts of behavior issues following certain foods, but I guess to be totally sure we'd have to do an elimination diet.  Ugg.  

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#14 of 15 Old 07-13-2013, 08:36 PM
 
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My husband has ADHD and my son may or may not -- he can't be diagnosed until his hearing is corrected and we know how much is fallout from that. Medication for ADHD saved my husband's life, our marriage, and probably my children's lives, given how forgetful and destractable he was as a stay at home parent and behind the wheel. I'm all about medication for ADHD -- there are some supplements (DHEA, some Cholines) you can look into that can help, (and caffeine can be another option) but stay open to the idea.

 

There are several different types of ADHD -- hyperactive, inattentive and mixed. Knowing which one your daughter has will help. You may need to get a full neuropsychiatric evaluation in order to do that, which sadly may or may not be covered by your health insurance in the U.S. But it's worth doing at some point, because it will make dealing with schools easier and once your daughter is in high school (and at the point where, sadly, many doctors seem to presume all ADHD kids are druggies or drug-dealers) it may be necessary if she choses to get on/stay on medication.

 

I am most familiar with inattentive ADHD with hyperfocus, which is the form my DH has. His biggest problem has been with executive processing -- the ability to take a jumble of tasks you have to do (wash the laundry, fold the clothes, take a shower, go to the bank, get the oil changed, start dinner) and prioritize them and order them so that you can get all them done. So like, I would take the list and think "Okay, shower first, then put the laundry in. I can go to the bank that is across the street from the oil change place, but I might not have time to do that before the baby needs to go down, so I'll put that off until tomorrow, get home, dry the laundry, fold it, and then start dinner." DH, before meds, would do things like put the laundry in and then take a shower and get pissed because there was no hot water, because it was all in the washer. Then he'd fold the clean laundry, run out of time, rush to the oil change place, forget the bank deposit even if that was the number one thing to get done that day and start dinner at like 6pm, even if it needed to cook for an hour. NOT because he was stupid or didn't care, but because prioritization and planning like that are HARD for him and he literally cannot see those conflicts or predict how much time things will take. (He's gotten way, way better on meds though.)

 

So. He does a lot of checklists, a lot of Top Three stuff, and a lot of coaching and breaking things down. Talking through prioritizing can help. Anything that you can do to teach your daughter those skills -- in a gentle, caring manner that acknowledges that her brain is not good at this, and it will take a long time -- will help. But keep it so, so simple. Fancy systems are hard. Skills like "Put everything in your backpack" over "put everything in a color-coded folder for each subject". It almost has to become muscle memory at the beginning, but the more she can start building those habits, the better off she'll be. Medication will help her brain behave more neurotypically, but learning these skills will still be a challenge for her. The more support she can get from you the better. :)

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#15 of 15 Old 07-14-2013, 01:23 PM
 
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thank you so much Belleweather for reminding me. ugh i feel so bad OP for not remembering the different kinds of ADD.

 

i totally forgot there exists a genetic component to ADD.

 

my dd has some of it which is kinda like what you say about ur dd OP. check out some books from the public library and read up on them. 

 

http://serendip.brynmawr.edu/bb/neuro/neuro00/web1/Jones.html one thing to look out for is Executive function stuff. which is a little early to tell on ur dd. usually it shows up in 4th grade based on hw. 

 

http://www.ldonline.org/article/24880/

http://www.chrisdendy.com/executive.htm

 

there are a couple of good books on this. Smart but Scattered

 

also check on Auditory Processing Disorder. 


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