Need suggestions on my 8 yr old

Crystal - posted on 12/13/2009 ( 17 moms have responded )

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Hi everyone. I need some of you older moms to help me out here. I have an 8 year old that really struggles in school. Not just with the school work but with focus, attention, listening and following intructions. even the simplest seem to frustrate him. I have him involved in basketball and boy scouts to try and help him and build his self esteem and confidence at the same time as helping him with his focus. I have him seeing a counselor weekly and also have him involved in other community organizations for children. His father and I are married and both actively involved, however his father is gone a lot for work. He is under evaluation for medication..do you think putting him on meds is too much..what are your suggestions here. and please no attacks about my parenting skills and that because to date I am doing EVERYTHING I can to help him. Thanks ladies

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Amie - posted on 12/13/2009

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Our oldest (9 yrs) has ADHD. It is a horrendously long story about how we got around to medication and where she is at now. Here we go:

In kindergarten we suspected, she was a little bit more active than the other kids and wandered off a lot. But her specialist would not diagnose a child that young. We were fine with that.

In grade 1 we got the diagnosis after her 1st year of school was behind her. We tried natural ways to help her. It did not work for her. For some kids it does, for others it doesn't.

In grade 2 she started on Ritalin (which works FINE and is CHEAPER than other drugs out there for kids with hyperactive and attention disorders). She started on 2.5 mg (half a 5 mg pill) twice a day. When she went through a growth spurt at the end of the year she was upped to one half pill and one full pill a day. She also plateaued during grade 2. She was showing improvement with her grades because she was focusing so well but because the meds didn't don't do the entire job for them. She was assessed for a Learning Disabilities school and got approved. She started in grade 3.

In grade 3 she went half days to the LD school and half days to her regular school. Her medication was once again increased to compensate for her growth. She was on 5 mg's twice a day now. She was improving vastly. In the LD class it was the same as when she started with her meds. She learned quickly. She takes tremendous pride in her work though and loves school. It sounds like your son would as well if he could get around the struggles. =)

She is now in grade 4 and doing fantastic! Her medication was changed this year at our request after she went to a new specialist. We had a falling out with her old one. He was happy with regular ritalin. We were not. It was starting to affect her sleeping (as in she was getting almost none) and her appetite (it was disappearing). So we went to a new specialist. He has put her on slow release Ritalin 20 mg. It is working wonderful for her. She is sleeping great, her appetite is back full force and she is still maintaining the focus she needs for school. She is doing so well she is in her 2nd and last year of the LD school. (most children stay in split schools for 3-4 years) She will be mainstreamed back at the end of this year. =) Her grades have improved so much since being in the LD class that she is now exceeding in some areas and is meeting in others. Whereas before she was not meeting or beginning to meet. (Our schools no longer have grades, they have scales and it's stupid) She is on track to be off her meds completely within the next 2 years. We were hoping sooner with how well she was doing but after talking with her specialist he wants one full year of regular school for her before he starts to wean her off. So in total she will have been on her meds for 4 years at this time. Which is about the average for children. Some need it for less time and some need it for longer but the average time for medication is about 4-5 years. According to her specialists, psychologists, teachers, etc. that we've had to keep in contact with on this issue.

Everyone involved with our daughter though has been absolutely great. They've worked hard alongside us to ensure our daughter's future is a bright one. We worked hard to get a proper diagnosis and make sure she got what she needed, in all aspects of her life. Her regular school teachers have always been kind and understanding. Her LD teachers are the same way and have given her some great tools to help learn around the disability. Which means while it is still there and probably always will be, she has the tools with her now so it will not be a burden or obstacle to her learning in the future.

Medication can be beneficial. When given and monitored correctly. Our daughter goes in for regular appointments with her specialist every 3 months. When he needs additional feedback he contacts others who are involved with Nicole. Even though her teachers change each year (as do all childrens) each teacher is always brought up to speed on Nicole's situation at the beginning of the year.

It's been a long road for us but I wanted to tell our story fully so that if you do choose to medicate. DO NOT feel bad for it. It is YOUR son and you will do what you feel is in his best interest. If he does well on a natural path then that's terrific! If he needs that added boost of medication then so be it. It is not a bad thing. =)

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Rosie - posted on 01/19/2010

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i have made an appointment for him with a different team of psychologists recently. i have seen some of the social problems associated with ADHD and other children i know that have it, and his social problems are different. he has no empathy, his little brother could fall down the stairs and all he would do is say-mom, lucas fell down the stairs. he rarely uses different tones of voice to express himself. he won't say, hi or bye to people he knows, like his grandparents whom he spends tons of time around or even his dad, or his one and only friend. he doesn't want me to sign him up for any type of sport, i still don't know if i should make him, because i believe it would be beneficial, but i don't want to push him. the first psychologist and her team made it seem like these were normal behaviors for kids with adhd, and i just went along with it, thinking he'll grow out of it, or that it was just normal for adhd. i have a friend with 2 autistic children and her first she didn't seek help for him until he was 4 almost 5. he's now 6 and very behind. if it turns out my child does have aspergers, i will have taken 4 years off of his treatment. all because i believed my first psychologist. and if he is "normal" than i have spent 4 years wondering if i made the right choice by listening to them, all for nothing.

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Crystal, I know this post is old but its been brought to the top again so I thought I'd put in my two cents. As a former teacher I have a small amount of experience with kids and ADHD and medications. I'm no expert and don't have a child with it so you can take or leave my advice.

As far as medication goes, if it helps your child focus on his school work, I don't have a problem with it. I have a problem with parents putting their children on medication without trying other interventions first (because sometimes a kid is just bad and ADHD is an excuse for the parents) but it seems that you have done all you can do. It sounds like you are not making excuses and are trying to do what is best for your son.

With medications, don't just take the first that is prescribed. Try it out, ask his teachers to observe him, but if it is having negative effects take him off and try another. The negative effects to ADHD meds I've seen are complete loss of appetite, loss personality, depression, etc. I had one child who lived with a different parent every other week and took her medicine every other week depending on who she was living with. The weeks without meds, she had a good sense of humor and interacted with her friends but never got her work done. The weeks with meds she got her work done, sure, but she was withdrawn and depressed. That was obviously not a good med for her as it took away her personality. I hated that more than her not completing her work.

I had another child whose parents were totally against meds, which is their choice, but their son was wild. He was totally disorganized and had trouble keeping and making friends. Instead, we had a system for him which rewarded him for good behavior at both home and school. Mom really helped me keep up with this. If he got a certain amount of marks for bad behavior or not doing school work, no reward. He was an animal lover so the big reward for doing well three weeks in a row was bringing home our class hamster for the weekend. He worked hard for that. What would your son work hard for?

And Amie, I agree with you about social problems and ADHD. Kati, ask your ped or pyschologist why they are ignoring the social problems and if it has anything to do with the ADHD. Mother's gut instinct is so important so you may be onto something but take note of the fact that social problems do indeed come with ADHD.

Amie - posted on 01/17/2010

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Kati I just wanted to let you know that it's not unusual for kids with ADHD to have social problems. More often than not it is boys with ADHD that have these issues but girls have them too. That was one of the things we were asked about as well and my daughter's teachers. How she interacted with other children at school and in other social settings. She is a social butterfly though so it wasn't something we had to work on. Is he in any after school activities to help him boost his social skills? There are a lot of good programs for kids. Mine is involved with Navy cadets, our boy is a scout, they both take Tae Kwon Do. Our girl also takes cooking classes, range and is in band. It might help get him out of his shell if he's not in any.

Rosie - posted on 01/17/2010

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i suggest getting at least 2 opinions from different psychologists. my oldest son was dignosed with adhd in first grade. while he had every criteria to be called adhd, i still felt there was something else involved with his behavior. he is on conerta and with out his concerta he is a complete wild child. no focus, no restraint for anything he says, very hyper. while i do believe he is adhd i also believe he may have asperger syndrome because of all of his social problems. i asked his first psychologist about all the social behaviors i was seeing and they just dismissed me. so i've sat here for 4 years trying to convince myself that he's just a little different, or it has to do with his adhd.

while i'm not implying that your son has aspergers in anyway, my point was that they aren't always right the first time around. and if your son ends up having to take meds. don't let anyone make u feel like u are a bad mother. once you've tried everything and all else fails then you need to do what is best for your son.

Kelsey - posted on 12/15/2009

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I just took a couple of screening tests and talked to a couple phsycologists. My mother just beleived what they told her. If you have really good insurance, they will always find something to diagnose you with. My mom was convinced that they were right but over time as my life got better and the sympoms started fading, it was obvious to us both they were wrong. I went to a new doctor who then told me I had severe depression.

Amie - posted on 12/15/2009

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Kelsey I just wanted to ask. Maybe you live somewhere else so it's different there. But here the parents play a big role in the diagnosis as do any adult that has a lot of contact with the child in question (teachers, etc.) Was it not the same for you?
It is not just one test that is used in a diagnosis. If that is what any doctor is telling a person a lot of corners are being cut and drugs are being pushed. Though those types of doctors seem to be heavily funded (read: huge bonuses) from big pharm if they 'promote' their drugs and prescribe them.

Jodi that's terrible! That would seriously drive me nuts. LOL! The strawberry thing in particular. We have a lot of food intolerance's and allergies in our family so naturally that's where we went first. She's healthy as a horse though. Apparently this has skipped all of my kids... so far. *knock on wood*

Kelsey - posted on 12/15/2009

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Just wanted to add that those screening tests are helpful but not fool proof. I think you know your kid better than a screening test. If anyone has an ability to correctly diagnose your son it would be you. Alot of ADD symptoms are general symptoms that can be caused by many things. I would look at a screening test online such as on webmd and judge the answers for yourself and in the process ask yourself what might be causing them. With my experience I just cant stress to you enough how wrong doctors can be. Phsycology is just so complicating.

Jodi - posted on 12/15/2009

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Quoting Amie:


Jodi, I have a friend whose son is the same way. Something to do with the red in the tomatoes. She explained it to me once but it was years ago now. He's since outgrown it though (he was 4 at the time, he's now 12). Here's hoping your friends son will as well.



LOL AMie, this kid is 11 or 12 (I can't remember if his birthday is before or after Jayden's), and he still can't have it.  My stepson is nearly 11, and he can't have any red colouring after a certain time of day or he is bouncing off walls, but fresh tomatoes don't count for him.  But diet is always worth a try if you haven't given it a go first :)  However, diet can be complex.  Funnily enough, too many strawberries cause really bad cramps in my mothers toes, if you want to get really particular about food intolerances!!! Just that, nothing else!

Kelsey - posted on 12/15/2009

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Im not an older mom but still think my thoughts might be helpful because I myself had trouble in school and was misdiagnosed with ADD as a child. Of course not knowing your child I could not say whether or not I think he truely has ADD, but just thought I would tell you that it is a common misdiagnosis and to be careful. There are many reasons he could be struggling and too often doctors will put a hard to judge child in the ADD group. There is only one medication for ADD that is not an amphetamine and is quite new. Im not going to say ADD meds are always a bad thing, but they are extrememly powerful and in my opinion should be a last resort sortof thing. Im sure youve already done this, but be sure to ask yourself if it is really an attention problem or if it could be something else like lack of motivation that could be due to anything such as being picked on, depression, bipolar, etc. I hope this helps. I remember what hell things were for me when I had similar issues.

Amie - posted on 12/14/2009

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Sounds like everything on the path that it needs to be Crystal. I'm sure you'll find the answer that fits your family best within the coming months. =) Our daughter is a Navy Cadet. The rigid structure that comes along with cadets has helped her maintain her focus when her meds have worn off. (the ones she was on lasted only until the end of the school day, if then and the ones now only last until maybe supper time if we're lucky) She still has her days but she is much better than she was in the beginning.



Jodi, I have a friend whose son is the same way. Something to do with the red in the tomatoes. She explained it to me once but it was years ago now. He's since outgrown it though (he was 4 at the time, he's now 12). Here's hoping your friends son will as well.

Jodi - posted on 12/14/2009

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Well, looks like you've got it covered Crystal. But do look into the diet thing just in case that makes a difference. It does for some kids. For instance, 2 of my kids can't have certain food additives in the evenings because they just go off their tree. But one of the kids has a friend who can't eat tomatoes (or anything with tomatoe in it) because it affects his behaviour, go figure :)

Crystal - posted on 12/14/2009

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No he is just now beginning testing for these conditions. and if I understand the therapist they include a auditory as a mandatory part of the testing. so yeah he wont receive anything until they have finished all the necessary testing. he is however getting special services at school as far as tutoring, math, reading, etc on a behavior plan.

Jodi - posted on 12/13/2009

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Crystal, has he actually been formally diagnosed with anything? I don't believe in medicating a child unless they have been through the tests for diagnosis. As far as I am aware, if it is true ADD or ADHD, diet won't necessarily work, but if it isn't, it is often either diet, or behavioural techniques that can help :). Also, have you had his hearing tested?



Just throwing thoughts out there that may be helpful, you haven't mentioned what sort of testing he has already have.

Crystal - posted on 12/13/2009

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Thank you both so much..we did try karate a while back and that was a no go..but it has been about a year so may be worth another try and my son gets all those things as well Laura...as part of his educational iep plan. But nutrition..never thought of it. so I will definitely be looking into that.

Jodi - posted on 12/13/2009

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Crystal, you sound like you are doing a great job, and everything you can for him. I haven't had the same problems as you - my son certainly gets easily distracted, but its the normal boy thing, and only caused a problem in his class around that age. He is 12 now and has outgrown it.

Have you tried dietary changes? Many things in the diet can cause this sort of behaviour (and it could be anything), so if you haven't worked on his diet yet, think about seeing a nutritionist to make some adjustments.

Isobel - posted on 12/13/2009

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My son is having issues too, though he is a little younger. I went into talk to the teacher and she's putting him in a work group with more girls (to separate him from the buddies that are distracting him), he's getting extra help for reading, writing, speech therapy, and soon for his fine motor skills *wow...that's quite a list, isn't it?* anyhoo...Tai Kwon Do has also been VERY helpful! He loves it and it helps him with being able to focus and concentrate as well as following discipline



good luck

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