Author Topic: Help with ADD/ADHD  (Read 685 times)

MaybeBabyMustache

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Help with ADD/ADHD
« on: May 24, 2019, 09:09:43 AM »
My husband & I have long suspected that our 13 year old son had ADD/ADHD (as did his teachers). We took him in for an evaluation at 5, and he was on the cusp of a diagnosis, but it was too close to properly diagnose. It appeared that things got better in elementary school (and, he did mature, of course), but now that he's closing down 7th grade, my more objective observation is that we've been in denial & the problem is just now more visible given the heightened demands on kids in middle school (multiple teachers, significant homework, lots of planning & organization, etc).

I'm feeling terrible about the way we've been parenting him to date, because it's clear that our expectations are out of whack with his skills & capabilities. He's now very insecure about his lack of ability to get good grades, remember his jacket, etc. It's not helped by the fact that he has a brother who is one year younger than him, and is very high functioning/high memory, etc.

It's been a long time coming, but we are ready to proceed with a formal diagnosis & better help & support at school. His counselor is also recommending this, so he can get the help he needs.

I have a few questions, so would love guidance from anyone who has been down this path:
-What are the next steps?  I will set up an appointment with his pediatrician, but what should I expect from there?
-Are we too late to get him the help he needs to be successful in high school & college?
-How can we help him with his confidence?
-How do we better adapt our parenting to suit him & appropriate expectations? How does this work when you are also parenting a sibling without the same issues.


kimmarg

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Re: Help with ADD/ADHD
« Reply #1 on: May 24, 2019, 10:52:32 AM »
I have absolutely no experience or ideas for you but I'd like to offer my support and say good job in getting your kid and your family the help you need!

Spiffy

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Re: Help with ADD/ADHD
« Reply #2 on: May 24, 2019, 01:47:30 PM »
No, it is not too late. I knew from a pretty early age that my son was not like other kids.  All of his gross motor skill developed late. He was a very late talker, but a very early reader. He pretty much started talking when he was reading to us at age 4. Yes, he was reading and hadn't memorized the books, we tested it. Once he started school he was fine. Super smart, really high test scores, incredible memory. Even though I knew in my heart that he had high functioning autism, I didn't get him tested. I figured that since he was doing very well in school in the GT program, why bother labeling him. Then he hit high school and things went to pot. He never turned homework in on time, even when he finished it he just didn't think about turning it in. All his papers were always a mess. Just disorganized in every way. Grades went down and I knew I needed to do something. We had him tested at our local university and they sent the result to the high school. He has high functioning autism and inattentive type ADD. Now he gets a little extra help at school. The teachers know to get his attention if they see him staring off into space...he gets a quiet room and extra time for tests if he needs it. It has helped a lot. His grade have gone up and he is happier. So yes, get your child tested!

Mrs.MLM

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Re: Help with ADD/ADHD
« Reply #3 on: May 24, 2019, 06:40:15 PM »
It's not too late! I was diagnosed last summer at 34 years old. It was such a relief. I wish I had found out when I was in middle school.

I've found this website to be an amazing resource: https://www.additudemag.com

slb59

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Re: Help with ADD/ADHD
« Reply #4 on: May 26, 2019, 05:59:22 AM »
We just went through this with my son. He was on the cusp of a diagnosis in kindergarten, but the pediatrician wanted to wait since it was May, and his first grade teacher was really good at motivating him, so we never followed up to say it was still a problem. Heís finishing third grade now and Iíve also been beating myself up.

Itís hard to figure out the steps, but sounds like youíve got it started. Step one is to go to your pediatrician. Around here, that looks like an initial consultation and they give you papers called the Vanderbilt assessment scale. If youíre as close to the end of the school year as we are, you might want to google them and take them in to have his teachers fill out now so things arenít held up over break.

Once the pediatrician gets the completed forms, they look at how parents and teachers rated the kid and use that to make a diagnosis. They can get them set up with meds and a treatment program at that point. My son has anxiety and sensory processing issues and was hearing voices, so our pediatrician wanted us to go to a psychiatrist for medication and a treatment plan. Depending on how much is going on with your son and how experienced your pediatrician is with adhd, your pediatrician might be able to handle it all.

Once you get your diagnosis, your next step is to call the school counselor and see about a 504 meeting. That lets your teachers and you talk about what works best for your son so all teachers have to follow it. For us, itís reminding him of directions while using his name to get his attention, working with him to develop a checklist he and the teachers can use to remind him what he needs to do at transition times like switching classes, and letting him have mints or gum during tests to help him focus.

By the way, while youíre waiting, caffeine works similarly to adhd drugs. We have our son take caffeine gummies with breakfast and lunch (they wear out much faster than medication) and he, we, and his morning teacher all noticed a bit of a change. Itís not perfect, but any help at all is a huge improvement.

Good luck! Itís a lot to navigate at first, but having the right toolbox to work from with your kid makes all the difference in the world!

Psychstache

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Re: Help with ADD/ADHD
« Reply #5 on: May 26, 2019, 06:10:25 AM »
Hey, OP. Good on you for wanting to be sure to address these kinds of issues with your kiddo.

-What are the next steps?  I will set up an appointment with his pediatrician, but what should I expect from there?

So, there are a couple of quirks. When it comes to receiving services and supports at school, there are 2 different programs for students with ADHD:

  • 504 (named after section 504 of the Americans with Disabilities Act
  • Special Education (from the Individuals with Disabilities Act or IDEA)

Eligibility for these programs will depend on the degree of need the student has. If your child only needs to have certain accommodations provided, then 504 would be sufficient. If they need more specialized instructional supports, then special education would be more appropriate. These are federal law, but each state has some leeway in what interpretation looks like, so you would need to look at your state's dept of ed to get more specific information about eligibility.

In addition to getting the medical eval, I would talk to your schools counselor and/or admin to let them know what you are doing and ask to speak to their 504/sped coordinator to get more information about the evaluation process. This is a lengthy process, so you need to start soon and get the ball rolling (educational evals for eligibility can take months in my state).

-Are we too late to get him the help he needs to be successful in high school & college?

No. Special education services are mandated for all students with disabilities enrolled in public education from ages 3-21. 504 accommodations are required by law at all institutions, including colleges.

That said, the eval process can take some time so you want to push to move forward as quickly as you can. You will need a 504 plan of Individualized Education Program (IEP) in place in order to gets supports like extra time on exams and access to supports in the classroom. For testing, specific requirements for testing (PSAT, SAT, ACT) can be found on the test makers websites (such as Collegeboard)

-How can we help him with his confidence?

I think that any quality evaluation that you have done should include some form of assessment of his executive functioning skills. Current research suggests that deficits in executive functioning is at the heart of ADHD. If he is eligible, I think have a series of conversations over time about the fact that he has ADHD and that will create some unique challenges for him. Talk about the results of his assessment and what that means about his strengths and weaknesses. Talk about how the brain is resilient and malleable and that he can grow skills over time, but sometimes it will be an uphill battle. Talk about how this isn't an excuse to not be successful, but to allow himself the self-compassion that things will not come as easily to him sometimes as others.

This is a great Youtube channel (that is very kid friendly) about what it means to have ADHD and what to do about it (also a great resource for parents):

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-nPM1_kSZf91ZGkcgy_95Q

-How do we better adapt our parenting to suit him & appropriate expectations? How does this work when you are also parenting a sibling without the same issues.

I think get a better understanding of how the ADHD impacts him. Figure out his unique areas of strength and weakness in his profile, and tailor how you address those challenges. It make be making lists/visuals that can serve as reminders. It could be working on emotional regulation skills by teaching practicing cool-down strategies. It could be rearranging the physical environment in your house. It depends on the individual kiddo.

For siblings, I think as long as life does not become solely warped around the child with ADHD, then it will work itself out. I think a great lesson is that fair does not mean equal. My in-laws tell a story about their oldest child getting mad because her younger siblings got to have glasses after going to the eye doctor and she didn't. They had to explain that her brother and sister needed the glasses to see and she didn't, because her vision was fine. Everyone gets what they need to have access to opportunities. Much like above, it is a series of conversations over time and checking in to make sure no one feels unheard.


Here are some resources I like for parents for students with ADHD:

The aformentioned Youtube channel: "How to ADHD"
https://www.understood.org/
"The Whole Brain Child" by Siegel and Bryson
Dr. Jack Naglieri, Dr. Thomas Brown, and Dr. Russell Barkley are the researchers to follow for ADHD/Executive Functioning

You got this.

MaybeBabyMustache

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Re: Help with ADD/ADHD
« Reply #6 on: May 26, 2019, 06:38:44 AM »
This has all been incredibly helpful. Thanks so much for the stories & next steps. I spoke to a friend who is a high school guidance counselor yesterday, and she gave me good insight on the difference between an IEP & a 504, which was really good context. She is also helping me with some advice on math placement (my son's recommended next class for 8th grade is geometry, and we are trying to decide if he has the study skills & habits to proceed with what is realistically a double jump.)

@Psychstache - huge thanks for the resources. I will definitely be checking all of these out.

KBecks

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Re: Help with ADD/ADHD
« Reply #7 on: May 26, 2019, 07:12:11 AM »
At the pediatrician, you will take some surveys about your son's behavior.  Your pediatrician will likely offer ADHD drugs right away.  This is up to you whether you want to use them.  You should also look into finding a very good counselor.  Emphasis, very good. Ask around.  Drugs + counseling is considered the most appropriate treatment for ADHD.

I was not willing to accept an ADHD diagnoisis from a 15-minute doctor visit, so we had an $$$ neuropsych report done, which was 1/2 day of testing.  Five years later, we hade a second $$$ neuropsych report done, which revealed some working memory issues for our child.

Regarding drugs, we were originally on extended release capsules. They are $$$$. (Read $200+ a month.) This is ridiculous.  Just this last year we switched to a generic of one of the common drugs -- generic Ritalin. He takes it in the morning before school and from the school nurse at lunch time.  We are now running closer to $40/$50 a month, which is MUCH better.  We are easily spending $250 a month on counseling, which is why you need a great counselor, and you want that counseling to be useful. Our first counselor was kind of a waste. Our son was in peer group counseling for 2 years for more social skills and that was good and a little more reasonable. We are looking at a math tutor over the summer. 

We have tried to keep our child on the lowest effective dose possible, so he takes a lot less than other kids.  Watch for signs of side effects -- loss of appetite, poor sleep, irritability and emotional outbursts, etc.  If you are on the wrong med, there are many other meds to try, so don't settle for something that does not work well for your kid.  Ideally, your kid will feel like himself on and off the medication, with no side effects, but his attention and performance will be more suitable for classwork while on meds. 

Also check out some books.  Smart but Scattered.  There are other good ADHD books.  There is also a GREAT planner -- check out The Work Smart Academic Planner  (blue cover) on Amazon.

« Last Edit: May 26, 2019, 07:15:16 AM by KBecks »