I hope no one minds me popping in here from out of state to take advantage of your knowledge!
I'm hoping to get a little input from some parents, particularly of boys, about ADHD. My son is in a Montessori preschool and has been for the last nine months or so. He will be 5 at the end of Novenber. I'm getting sporadic reports from his teacher about I attention issues. He's advanced academically but she complains about him being easily distracted, talking to other kids when he shouldn't and not getting back on task easily.
ADHD hasn't been mentioned but I'm sort of preparing musket for it
At what point is what I consider fairly normal little boy behavior an "issue" that needs to be addressed? And are there strategies that anyone can recommend that might help with his attention and focus?
He's not a behavioral problem in other ways. He's not at all aggressive. He is always kind to other children, according to the school and he's easy to deal with at home.
Thoughts anyone? Thanks
Our currently 11 year old son had similar issues in pre-school and kindergarten. From the end of kindergarten through early into third grade our pediatrician requested that we and our son's teachers complete the Connor's Evaluation forms based on our observations and interactions with our son. By the end of first grade our pediatrician had a strong belief that our son had ADHD. He did not feel that there was a need for medication at that time. Ultimately, towards the end of third grade, when it became apparent to our son's teachers and us that our son's ADHD was limiting his ability to effectively utilize his intellectual abilities, we chose to try medication.
Our Doctor prescribed a low dose of Vyvanse. It was a miracle. Our son's teacher literally said that it was as if someone had turned on a light switch in a darkened room. His reading level shot up multiple grade levels in the course of a few weeks. A child who couldn't sit still to either listen to or read a book was now reading hundred plus page books with ease and comprehension.
A word of caution, deciding to medicate your ADHD child can be met with many unsolicited opinions: a holier than thou attitude "a holistic dietary approach is all that Johnny or Janie needs" or disdain such as "the French don't medicate their children why aren't there the same percentage of children in France with ADHD". When our son was in first and second grades, we found that eliminating artificially colored foods from his diet made a significant difference in his ability to concentrate. Ultimately, he needed more that just a dietary approach. What we found is that for our son, his medication allowed him to become fully engaged in his classroom: academically, socially and emotionally; as well as leisure activities. He is a gifted athlete in tennis, soccer and baseball.
IMHO - What works for your child is the only important factor.
Best of luck.
What you describe could be normal behavior for a boy that age. Much depends on what the teacher means by "attention issues" and "easily distracted." Children with ADHD tend to be advanced academically but they also tend to have very poor socialization skills. Talking with other children when he should be working does not seem to fit this characteristic. Neither does being easy to handle at home. Still, if you are concerned that your child may have ADHD, it might be advisable to speak with the school administration and/or arrange for testing.
It could be normal. My dd was the same in Kindergarten. She was diagnosed, but not until she was 9. She does well in school, when she focuses. Because of my own difficulties finding a medication that felt ok, we are not going the med route with her.
We have had a great experience working on the 504 plan and also learning to support her. I'm not saying she will never try meds, but so far, we're thrilled with how much of an impact this is making on its own
There is no need to rush to medication at that age. Some ADHD kids have poor socialization skills, but not all. It is a wide umbrella term. "Talks too much" was often on my report card. As long as you are in communication with teachers, you can always have him take the Connors next school year. The behavior you are describing can be quite normal for boys his age. BTW both our child psychologist and psychiatrist were not rushing this diagnosis...they said wait. If it causes serious problems then, of course, you need a plan of action.
IMO here's what should drive your decision making: Are his difficulties with attention/distractability impacting academic performance and/or social situations? If not, I'd suggest a wait and see approach. He may out grow the behavior as maturity kicks in, or it may get worse over time (or, at least cause him more difficulty).
If he is doing fine academically and socially, why seek professional help at this time? But, be sure to communicate with teachers and really have accurate information. And, kids who really do have ADHD will often fall behind academically, rather than excel. Time will tell.
Normal behavior of five year olds is annoying and inconvenient to many teachers. They often describe it as abnormal in the hopes of getting rid of this normal behavior.
I don't agree that children with ADHD tend to be advanced academically. I think parents worry so much about ADHD because it affects academics. Also, some kids with ADHD have normal social skills interacting with other kids, but difficulty staying quiet or paying attention in class.
But I do agree with the wait and see view on a preschooler, especially a boy. That's very young to be expecting attention to academics. Some kids, if they are motivated, can do well in school even with ADHD. It can be challenging though, because the school curriculum has become increasingly advanced for the early grades. Kindergarten has the same curriculum previously used in first grade (or higher). Some children are not ready to read until well into first grade, but schools won't wait for them to come around.
Reading was not a problem for my ADHD daughter. Early reader. Also, very socially skilled - though talks excessively in school, and definitely impulsive. And as school gets more serious, she has a tendency to 'check out' if anything isn't extremely interesting to her. This is her/our struggle. I feel that ADHD is a spectrum. If it affected her more, we'd consider meds, but I think it is manageable without
Don't feed the ADHD machine. Most boys calm down over time
Many kids with ADHD, especially the brightest ones work around their difficulties and manage to keep academics up but these work arounds and coping skills can take their toll on self esteem and their sense of social ease. This intensifies when academics get harder in later grades. My son undiagnosed till college told me that he couldn't figure out why he seemed to have to work so much harder to stay afloat. He never felt good enough even though he got good grades, feeling one step away from it all falling apart. Social anxiety and low level depression are often a by product of this struggle
Not sure I would have medicated my son in the early grades but it would have been good to know what we were dealing with and look out for signs that intervention was neccessar
Agree, mod. Yet 5 is very young to diagnois and medicate
krugle1 said:Agree, mod. Yet 5 is very young to diagnois and medicate
I didn't read anyone advocating meds at age 5. As Orzabelle stated, ADHD is a spectrum. Do some doctors, teachers and parents over diagnose to address unpleasant or unwanted behaviors? Yes. To infer that children who have been diagnosed with a disease after years of consultation with doctors, teachers, social workers and other parents as being fed into "a machine" shows a lack of respect for other parent's parenting skills and the care. The decision to medicate is not one that we made lightly. We only made it after it became apparent to his teachers and us that his ADHD was limiting his academic success and resulting in a loss of self esteem.
I think that not knowing how to behave appropriately in a classroom setting at age 5 is not unusual. You also want to pay attention to the child's ability to function in all of the context's of their life (school, home, social...) I would give it a couple of years for him to learn how to participate more productively at school before considering that there may be an ADHD diagnosis. I think that if a child is still disruptive in third grade you should have an in depth evaluation done. UNLESS you begin to feel that there are consequences that are affecting your son's well-being, happiness or self-confidence. If this is the case then I would get help at that time.
I have ADHD, diagnosed within the last year. Let me tell you, it took a major toll. I was an underachiever, smart, but not succeeding, except in things that I was so good at that I didn't even have to try. I didn't finish college until I was 28 (though we had no $$, and weren't a 'college' family anyway - my dad didn't finish high school). I found it very easy to do well once I was old enough to have learned how to do so - the tricks I needed to employ, like writing things down in my own hand if I was having trouble processing them, and making list after list after list. I teach college English now and I do so from the perspective of someone with ADHD. I bust my rear to engage and connect. But I'm still the same person I always have been, in my own mental world much of the time, impulsive, talkative, disastrously disorganized, way too much energy and enthusiasm.
Basically, I do think that meds are sometimes prescribed too easily, but adhd is real. In retrospect, I don't think I needed medication (though I'm giving it a try now, just to see, but that's whole different story and I don't yet know the ending). I needed the support we're giving my daughter now - I do think that may have been enough for me, and I hope it is enough for her. If not, we're open to medication someday.
I'm learning so much, and also mourning the years when I had given up on my education and thought I was flawed in some deep way. I also realize now that there are many strengths that come with this overfocus I have - it means I can sit and work on the same novel/s for years. I'm also engaging, and out-of-box thinker, an extremely fast learner at many things. Some say that adhd is a trait rather than a disorder, and do believe that. Unfortunately, it's a trait that is in conflict with expectations in our society.
All that said, I don't think a diagnosis at age 5 is a reliable one. Does it run in your family? Do you and/or your spouse have it? I'd wait. 5 year olds are nutty.
Amused said:I didn't read anyone advocating meds at age 5. As Orzabelle stated, ADHD is a spectrum. Do some doctors, teachers and parents over diagnose to address unpleasant or unwanted behaviors? Yes. To infer that children who have been diagnosed with a disease after years of consultation with doctors, teachers, social workers and other parents as being fed into "a machine" shows a lack of respect for other parent's parenting skills and the care. The decision to medicate is not one that we made lightly. We only made it after it became apparent to his teachers and us that his ADHD was limiting his academic success and resulting in a loss of self esteem.
Agreed. The level of disrespect shown by some of those who oppose medication is breath-taking in its audacity.
There is over-diagnosis and over-medication in some cases. There is also under-diagnosis and under-medication.
Always curious when someone posts an opinion you don't like, it is deemed disrespectful?
krugle1 said:Always curious when someone posts an opinion you don't like, it is deemed disrespectful?
Yes, "Don't feed the ADHD machine" was disrespectful.
As someone with a brother with Schizophrenia, I am not even near anti-meds.
If you survey parents on my street who have boys, many will tell you they were called in when the kids were young and given the ADHD talk. None were a postive diagnosis, but simply had a hard time in their younger years. They are all now in high school and doing very well.
My kid was one of them and, to this day, I resent the hell out of the schools and teachers making it my kid's problem, not one of too much structure, too little outdoors, etc., etc.
It is a Machine. Act up in school, and it starts grinding.
It's a common belief, it seems. I am a little turned off by doctors like Amen, who found a way to commodify ADHD. And yes, meds come out very quickly. They are full of side effects. Not worth it for my dd. I'm the guinea pig. They definitely make a difference. The first few times I took Ritalin (last year), all of the noise in my head turned off - the two songs playing, the twelve thoughts. The side effects weren't worth it for me, but some people don't experience them so strongly, so they are worthwhile.
I am certain that there is a good chunk of misdiagnosis - it sometimes isn't adhd, but straight up anxiety, or one of many other learning disabilities.
But plenty of times it is. There is a lot of interesting research out there, showing clear biological differences in ADHD vs. control brains. This is just the first one I grabbed. http://www.uofmhealth.org/news/archive/201409/slow-mature-quick-distract-adhd-brain-study-finds-slower
I think many of us who have come to realize that we were suffering in school because of ADHD have a lot of emotions from feeling so defective as students. Whether or not disrespect was expressed on this thread, there are a lot of people who are so vehemently opposed to people taking medication for this disorder...it does feel like disrespect. Even in the mental health profession, there are individuals who believe that it does not exist.
I find Amen so annoying that I cannot even listen to what he has to say. And, I hate all those PBS programs that talk to audiences about mental health. There probably is some legitimacy to it, but I find it repelling.
Agree, gerryl. He gives me the creeps. He's found the perfect way to capitalize, and he delivers it just like a televangelist. (He went to med school at Oral Roberts University - yikes)
Oh no! Did he? I had it in my mind he was some how connected to Columbia.
Speaking of ADHD, he seems pretty tightly wound, jumping all over the place himself.
Our son has been fortunate to have the teachers he did. In speaking with numerous parents of students -some with children who have been diagnosed with ADHD and most who have not - from all of our district's elementary schools, I can tell you that some of his teachers are some of the most beloved teachers in our district. I can also tell you that seeing tears in the eyes of your child's former teachers when you tell them of you child's successes after the decision to medicate erase any suspicion that those teachers were looking to dull or control an unruly child in their classroom. Rather, they saw the potential, the inate curiosity, the occasional spark of genius, the desire to learn that was being hampered by the student's inability to maintain focus.
Bad experiences, just as good experiences color people's opinions on most matters.
Our positive experience with modifying our son's diet to exclude artificial coloring causes me to believe that for some children and adults, medication is not necessary. However, our extremely positive experience utilizing the lowest dosage of one of the ADHD medications also gives me the confidence to know that in our son's case our decision to medicate was life changing.
What I find disrespectful is when someone makes an assumption about people's choices without one iota of knowledge about the specific circumstances. As I stated in my original response to the OP - What works best for your child is the only important factor.
But that's the point of MOL, throw it out there and see what you get. If one can't take the response, then one shouldn't post.
krugle1 said:But that's the point of MOL, throw it out there and see what you get. If one can't take the response, then one shouldn't post.
Exactly krugle1...if you say jerky insensitive things, expect to be judged on them.
mod said:Many kids with ADHD, especially the brightest ones work around their difficulties and manage to keep academics up but these work arounds and coping skills can take their toll on self esteem and their sense of social ease. This intensifies when academics get harder in later grades. My son undiagnosed till college told me that he couldn't figure out why he seemed to have to work so much harder to stay afloat. He never felt good enough even though he got good grades, feeling one step away from it all falling apart. Social anxiety and low level depression are often a by product of this struggleNot sure I would have medicated my son in the early grades but it would have been good to know what we were dealing with and look out for signs that intervention was neccessar
+1 Great nuanced view of the struggle. My child was not always able to stay afloat and was not able to tolerate effective ADD meds. I found family involved counselling to be the most helpful approach, although it was difficult to find a good therapist.
Thank you, Susan
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