ADD Or Anxiety?

Updated on November 15, 2012
A.S. asks from Glendora, CA
9 answers

How is ADD determined? Is it just upon parental observation? I am talking ADD without the H. I have spoken with my daughter's teacher but she does not know for sure either. My child is having an extremely hard time with her school work while in school but can generally do things just fine at home. It is like a night and day difference if she writes at school vs. writing at home. That being said, she does have trouble now and then, and when she does it is like she is working on something and then just "loses" how to do it in her brain and then starts getting worked up... then there is no retrieving it because she is stressing on it so bad that she can't think. She is very squirmy while doing homework but if she is drawing (which she loves to do) she can sit still just fine. She was not like this in kindergarten (she is now in 2nd grade) and she has gone from being at the very top of her class to the middle or low middle achievement wise because of how poorly she is doing in her work. It is like she cannot concentrate at school at all. As I have written before, she is very much a people pleaser and is very concerned with what everyone else is thinking or doing, like ALL of the time. So my question is, if I bring up ADD to my Dr, how will he determine that she has it? Or doesn't? I homeschooled her for half of the year last year and she was way above benchmark so I know the ability is there.

ETA - She has had some issues with being bullied... and most of these issues in her school work began last year after a girl called her "dumb" for no reason... She gets extremely upset if people are mean to her, laugh at her etc.

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answers from Miami on

Does she have a hard time sitting still or focussing? Have you thought of switching to a montissorri? Might be the public or private reg school is not good for her to learn. You say she does well at home? Are there other distractions at school? Any kids picking on her? Is the teacher picking on her? The montissorri school will evaluate where to put her grade wize and will let her work at her own way. We switched my daughter and it was the best thing we ever did.. She keeps saying she wishes her Montissori school will build a high school so she doesnt have to leave in a few years.

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answers from St. Louis on

The thing with ADD is we can do damn near anything, if we are interested. Kindergarten is interesting, grade school is not. If I got a teacher that engaged me I was the top of the class but they are few and far between.

I am not saying your daughter has ADD, only an evaluation will tell you that. Your pediatrician won't be able to diagnose and if he did I wouldn't trust his evaluation. You need a psychiatrist or psychologist to diagnose. My kids have always seen psychiatrists because they can write prescriptions and they get their therapy through the school or at home.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Wichita Falls on

There are a series of tests and evaluations she will be sent through. Anxiety and ADD have different symptoms and different treatments. Don't be surprised if she is sent to a specialist such as a child psychologist, there's nothing wrong with that. They have the best tools to figure out why your child is having difficulties and the best way to address them.

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answers from Seattle on

ADHD (hyperactivity is always present... It's whether its mental, usually seen via daydreaming, etc., or physical) is NOT just about not being able to pay attention.

It's a multifaceted disorder with a LOT that goes into it, much of it "good". Anxiety nearly always plays a role, as well as sensory processing, giftedness, etc.

Something that doesn't get highlighted a lot is that along with the distraction (HYPOfocus), comes INTENSE concentration (HYPERfocus) in anything we're interested in.

That "anything" can literally be anything.

A lot of coping with ADHD is making boring things interesting in some way. Great teachers can do this. If you have a great teacher, the subject ceases to be boring. So ADHD kids can (and often do) totally excel with one teacher, but flop with another.

Being an ADHD house, my house is SET UP for ADHD kids. In fact, Ive now had as many as 6 ADHD kids under my roof at one time with none of the "behavior problems" so linked to the disorder.

AHEM. If your daughter is this way at home, but everywhere else is assic ADHD, then you probably just set up your house ADHD style naturally or in response to your daughter in a way that brings out her strengths and minimizes her weaknesses.

Not saying your daughter is ADHD... But it's a fairly common thing.

The ADHD diagnosis is a fairly long one. First everything medical that mimics the downsides of ADHD gets crossed off (diet, allergies, sleep dep, illness, etc.). Then there's a many hour psych eval. Pediatricians / GPs should never ever ever be diagnosing neurological issues. That's for a specialist (developmental Ped, Ped neurologist, Ped psychiatrist, Ped psychologist, etc.).

So expect a bit of a journey.

In the meantime ... Check out

& You mean Im not lazy, stupid, or crazy?!? By Kate Kelly & Peggy Ramundo.

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answers from Minneapolis on

Children need to be evaluated by a qualified psychologist who specializes in this area. Your pediatrician should be able to recommend one.

(I'd be extremely concerned about an elementary school teacher who does not even know how children's potential issues are evaluated...)

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answers from Los Angeles on

Schedule a doctor visit. Your daughter's pediatrician will give you some questionnaire forms for you, your husband, your child's teacher and anyone else she might have contact with (sports coach, etc.). You will then be asked questions by her pediatrician which should determine whether it's ADD. Surprisingly, ADD in girls is discovered later normal since it usually doesn't present itself until school work gets a bit more challenging. My daughter had no problems until 5th grade and she was placed in a GATE classroom. Basically, she could easily keep up with her classmates until things moved a tad faster in class. She could no longer rely on instructions being repeated or taught again as they went from one thing to the next rather quickly. At any rate, it could be that your daughter is borderline ADD but I would have her checked out regardless, especially if it is something that concerns you.

I wish you the very best and am sorry that your daughter is having trouble. She's lucky to have a mother to help her along the way who is as sensitive to her feelings as you seem.

Take care,



answers from Los Angeles on

There are a lot of different things that could be causing your daughter's issues, so I would not jump to a conclusion about diagnosis until you've done some significant research.

Stress spirals seriously hamper the brain's ability to function. If she is stressed out at school, this alone could be causing her problems. This website talks about that:

In addition though, the fact that at school she has a lot of difficulty but at home she does better is a clue that the issue may be environmental. It could be the school is too noisy and she has sensory issues around noise, or even that she has contrast sensitivity and the lighting at school makes it difficult for her to see what she is trying to read. I have contrast sensitivity and I get headaches under fluorescent lights. My son has this and he really struggled with reading until we got him the glasses to correct the problem. Most commonly this is called Irlen Syndrome:

I am a mom of a special needs child and I have gone through years of research to figure out why my son struggled. At first the school said he had ADD, and they pushed me to put him on meds, but I refused. Instead I did research. Turns out he had auditory processing disorder and contrast sensitivity. He is doing great now that we figured things out and found therapies to help.

I would highly recommend you read The Mislabeled Child. This book goes through all possible diagnosis so you can become familiar with what the possibilities are. ADD is so over diagnosed. I would not even trust a professional giving the diagnosis unless you did your own corroborating research. We had a neuropsychologist tell us our son was so cognitively impaired he would never be normal, and she completely missed the fact he had auditory processing disorder which completely invalidated all the testing she did. This was a UCLA-trained PhD who is on the faculty teaching, so no dummy. DO YOUR HOMEWORK and figure out WHY your daughter is struggling!


answers from Dover on

Just like with ADHD, ADD is a diagnosis based on the teacher, you, and a qualified physician. Your daughter would need to be evaluated by the doctor and both you and the teacher would have to answer questions as part of the evaluation.

It could be that in the class room she is distracted by what is around her or maybe she needs more one on one interaction to keep her on task.

Talk to the teacher and see what options you can come up with...things she or a para-professional can do to help your daughter, strategies your daughter can implement. If those don't work, what is next? Use the school and it's resources to help you with this. It is what they are there for.



answers from Los Angeles on

You are describing me as a child. TO A T. I was finally diagnosed at age 37 and now that I am medicated, the difference is massive. Definitely get her tested, even if only to rule it out. Have a read of the post I ran earlier this year about kids ADHD from my perspective. Hope all works out well.

Most importantly, tell your precious girl she is neither naughty nor dumb! Tell her often :)

Wishing you the best!

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