Not Sure What to Do with 4 1/2 Year Old Who May Have ADD

Updated on May 11, 2009
J.L. asks from San Mateo, CA
63 answers

My 4 1/2 year old has trouble staying on task for anything. He is very bright when I have conversations with him, but at school, he can't follow more than one instruction, can't sit still for more than a minute to listen to the teacher, dinnertime lasts for over one hour because he'd rather tap on the table, make silly faces or get up and down. He may have ADD. Have any of you had similar experiences and if so, did you hold your child back a year or put your child in a special program?

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C.B.

answers from San Francisco on

I have had similar experiences with my child. It is best to keep sugar intake to a minimum, also no artifical sweetner. Try to minimize food dyes and preservitives in his diet. This behavior has been shown to improve greatly with dietary changes. Schedule regular physical activity throughout the day....(this should help with the wiggles). A newsletter, that I have found helpful is Schwab Learning. Hope some of this helps.

C

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V.G.

answers from San Francisco on

I have 2 daughters, 10 & 8. My 10 year old have been diagnosed with ADD and LD. Until now I am still searching for the right approach for her condition. My advise for you is to have him tested as early as possible by as many specialist as you can afford. Every doctor have different approach and opinion on ADD. The last say is still up to you.

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A.M.

answers from San Francisco on

We are so quick to diagnose energetic children with a syndrome, add, adhd, etc... He might just be a normal 4 year old who isn't ready to sit down and be focused yet. I would definitely consider a play-based pre-school where he can move around as he needs to, and NOT send him to kindergarten right away. My daughter is 5, nearly 6 and she still is not quite ready for much focused activity for more than 15 minutes. She is extremely active and atheletic. She is very smart and our approach is to provide a lot of structure with less pressure, which is working well for her. We set limits, for instance at dinner we require her to sit for at least 5 minutes, eat a few bites, and then leave the plate at the table for the evening, where she can return and sit and eat later. No desert or snacks w/o eating dinner, but she doesn't have to sit with us when she really needs to get up.

Possibly your son just needs something he isn't getting - and it's very hard to figure out what that is, i would experiment with different kinds of interactions. Sitting at the dinner table might be literally intolerable for him. it might be a food alergy, or more freedom to run around and not be focused - hard to tell, and even harder to diagnose - especially without an in-depth neuro-psych. Many doctors are predisposed to add or adhd, and will overly medicate, this is very dangerous. In my experience, both my children needed a lot of physical activity, and wrestling, a lot of play. We got a small trampoline for them to jump up and down on, which is constant, even during dinner at times. We do spelling and math on the trampoline to a rhythm. Both my children are adopted and have some kind of special needs, perhaps they are slightly add or adhd, but we made a decision to work with their natural attention and energy.

I just read the other posts, and FOOD is emphasized and I completely agree. LIghtening up on sugars and juice, increase in home made foods, and natural remedies are very effective we have found with both our kids. Also, i just want to emphasize that we live in a driven culture, where we are pushing children at very young ages to do things that many adults have difficulty with. Most healthy children need, above all, to play. From your post, my take away was that your son needed to move around more, and play. It seems very normal for a 4 year old boy. Sitting for an hour at the dinner table might be a bit more than he can handle, and his refusal to eat might be tied to that.

I also agree with the person advising holding back on entering Kindergarten. I have talked to so many people about this topic for my rather tall pre-schooler/kindergardener. We did choose a private Kindergarden which was a part of her pre-school and still have the choice to place her in Kindergarten next year as a result.

I hope that helps.

3 moms found this helpful
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S.B.

answers from San Francisco on

My son was diagnosed with ADD at 3 1/2 and the doctors gave him Ritalin. He changed into a quiet withdrawn kid who would sit in the corner looking at a toy or book almost drooling half asleep. It was so horrible to see our son like that. We stopped the meds and did some research ourselves. We ended up rubbing vitamen e oil on his tummy at bedtime every night. We eliminatd artificial flavors and coloring especially red dye (research that one). He was still active but happy and we never regret how we kept his spirit alive. He is now 16, honor roll student, has all advanced placement classes and a GPA of 4.0!!! He goes to CAL Berkeley after graduating. So please don't label your child and try to take the natural approach. Keep us posted!

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K.S.

answers from San Francisco on

He sounds to me like a typical 4 1/2 yr old boy... does he only go to school part time and maybe he's getting overstimulated? maybe more social time away from school with other boys his age will help him be able to relax at school. Is he a fall baby? My son was born in Sept and was the youngest in his preschool class last year. He could have started Kindergarten this year but he wasn't socially ready yet. He didn't do so well last year when he was the youngest but this year he's the oldest at preschool and is doing very well. Dinners take a long time for us also, I'm always reminding my son to sit down until he's finished. I try to make sure the house is quite, no toys in sight so he doesn't have distractions, and we try to enjoy our family time at the table... doesn't always work that way though!

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M.S.

answers from San Francisco on

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2001/0...

Jamie--this link will take you to an article by Lendon Smith MD, a doctor with three decades specializing in childrens' health. He has wonderful suggestions for non-med options for approaching ADD behavior. I hope that you and the other moms will give it a look. I know many moms who have found the approach helpful. (the article was on Dr. Mercola's website www.mercola.com. Excellent source for alternative health/nutrition information. Good luck.

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S.M.

answers from San Francisco on

Wow! I read the other Mom's advice and to be honest I'm appalled.
I think ADD is WAY over diagnosed - and what does that mean anyway?! Don't we all have trouble concentrating when we'd rather be doing something else? Sounds like a normal 4 year old to me.
I was diagnosed in high school w/ ADD. They put me on dexadrine (a mild form of speed.) I was totally cracked out on it - I could study, but I couldn't eat or sleep. I also developed brown bags under my eyes and was a flaming you-know-what to everyone. In my opinion people are way too quick to label their children (and themselves.) Honestly I think I just smoked too much pot and I'm not very good at paying attention to things that are boring. I still find myself tuning out when I get bored or have too much on my mind. The key is learning how to deal with that.
My advice:
1. Give your kids some extra attention and be patient with him. Keep things positive - none of us like to do boring things. I'm sure he can stay on task with things he likes to do.
2. Decide how long dinner should last and come up w/ a reward system if he finishes on time. That worked wonders for me. Sometimes we'd be sitting at the dinner table 2 hours! I told the kids I would put pennies in a jar for each of them if they finished in 30 mins. Once they got their pennies up to the top they would get a special treat. Worked like a charm.
3. Be creative! Don't tell him he's bad for not sitting still - outsmart him by making games up to help him stay on task.

Have fun and enjoy your child. I personally think putting kids on drugs is crazy and should only be used as a last ditch effort. Some kids (like adults) are chemically imbalanced, but there are other ways of fixing problems like that. Acupuncture/acupressure is a great way to balance your body naturally. Start at the source - fix the real problem - don't put a band-aid on it.
Good Luck :)

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S.A.

answers from Sacramento on

While I'm not going to say your son doesn't have ADD, at 4-1/2 and particularly a little boy, it would be very difficult to tell. I have a 7 year old boy who doesn't pay good attention in school and was socially immature, although he is very bright and was academically above grade level. We decided to give him a second year in first grade to catch up socially and emotionally. Most people hold their child back in kindergarten, which we could've done, but we waited to see if he matured enough on his own in first. Our son also has other issues (language delayed because of a hearing loss that wasn't detected until middle of kindergarten). He remains less attentive than other children, but I believe we are overmedicating children while their brains are still developing, so I will not use medication. There are methods of reaching and teaching children who may have ADD without medication. I believe we are labeling (and medicating) way too many little boys who may just be active and possibly a little immature.

Little boys are more active by nature. In fact, there is now good research that shows they learn best when they are moving around. I used to practice as a school psychologist and I don't believe in separating children in special day programs unless they have severe problems, which your son doesn't sound like he has. Has he been assessed for language? What look like attentional problems can be a symptom of language processing problems or language delay. If so, he would benefit from language therapy (which schools can provide starting at age 3). Make sure to get his hearing checked as well.

I hope that helps.

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V.G.

answers from San Francisco on

Hi Jaime,
I too have a 4 1/2 yr old with the same tendencies, but he doesn't have ADD. He has been diagnosed with a mild form of Sensory Integration Disorder or SID, which is almost an epidemic these days. It effects the child's senses and therefore really effects the way they process the outside world. My son is VERY bright and has amazing language skills so it was hard for us to believe at first, but his has such a hard time calming himself that we had to seek help.

I would recommend going to an Occupational Therapist and having your son tested, they have a great group at CPMC. Just having the power of knowledge they provide is immeasurable! No drugs, just tips and tricks to help steer kids in the right direction.
Good luck!!
V.

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T.K.

answers from San Francisco on

Many children like this go on to excel in life. It is important to get a good team of psychologists and educational specialists to evaluate what might work. There are kindergarten readiness evaluations. One of the centers that has done good work in the Palo Alto area is Morrissey Compton Education Center Inc. They have a well qualified staff there to evalute and to answer specifically ways to address your concerns. They work closely with the parents and are there to help you to evaluate right school programs for your child.

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S.K.

answers from San Francisco on

Dear Jamie,

I suggest that you see a developmental pediatrician with your child. The sooner you get your child assessed, the better. I live in the Philippines and getting our children diagnosed by a developmental pediatrician is a common practice. The pedia may probably recommend occupational therapy for your child. Depending on the situation, it would probably be twice a week for three months for starters.

Take care!

S.

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T.K.

answers from San Francisco on

My son had the same symptoms at that age, it sounds like ADHD which is attention deficit hyperactive disorder. But only you doctor can tell for sure. Get him in. I kept my son back in first grade when we changed schools. That way he wouldn't notice his friends had advanced and feel bad. I think i did the right thing because he is so bright he was starting to loose his self-esteem from being told to sit down , don't touch, STOP!!. I opted to give him ritalin which worked for awhile. My son has struggled thru all grades and is now a teenager and refuses to take the med's. Stay on it, read up. with a diagnosis of ADHD/ADD you have the law on your side. you can get special school programs.Be sure to meet his teachers at the beginning of each year work with them.

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T.M.

answers from San Francisco on

Hello - my son has ADHD. I agree that people can be quick to diagnose. Have him tested by someone who specializes in that area. It may be just a label to some but for me it helped to know that he could not help that behavior - my son was exactly as you described your son is. I was immediately better able to be understanding. The Dr. who tested him had terrific suggestions for dealing with ADHD that worked so well that now only 1 1/2 years later you would never even know he has this affliction. He is now 8. About the only symptom that occasionally still sufaces is forgetfullness. Many tried to tell us to medicate but I am SO glad we chose not to. It often affects appetite (disturbing eating patterns and causing even more mood swings) and is just not necessary in my opinion.
Most helpful were simple things like a dry erase board to keep track of otherwise simple tasks like: get dressed, eat breakfast, brush teeth, gather homework, jacket, snack etc..
Same for p.m.: get pj's on, brush teeth, pick a story etc..
Often times those children with ADHD (or ADD) are particularly bright, which seems so confusing - we could not figure out why he could not remember to 'close the gate' and we would get angry when the dogs kept getting out!
Oh, I could write a novel :) Please feel free to write back, I am happy to chat - I know how you feel~! Our son is purely a pleasure amy more and all with out medication!

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M.M.

answers from San Francisco on

You should have him tested and the sooner the better. It may be ADD or even other learning disabilities. My soon showed signs of having ADD, but finally has been diagnosed with visual perception deficit. Children who have this are often very bright, but their frustration in not being able to process information like most kids causes all kinds of symptoms. There is an organization in this area called MATRIX that has been of great help to many. Their helpline number is 1-800-578-2592. They really can steer you in the right direction.

My son is 12 now and has finally just been diagnosed after I fought with the school system for years to test him. Don't let your child go through the frustration and damage to his self esteem that mine has. Call for assistance! If you catch it now, school may not turn out to be the hell it has been for my son. Good Luck!!
Ruth M

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K.S.

answers from San Francisco on

I have sucessfully raised an ADD son. He is now 22 years old. At your son's age, I would be very careful about putting a label on him. Boys are typically more spacial and energetic. These days so much more is expected of a 4 year old. He may like the attention he is getting a the dinner table or you may have a budding muscian on your hands. Try offering rewards for positive dinner time behavior. Also, he may be very very intelligent and the teachers are not challenging him. Beware of teachers that wanna put a label on your little one. GOOD LUCK

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D.W.

answers from San Francisco on

Hi Jamie. First of all, 4 1/2 is too young to be diagnosed with ADD or ADHD - a good pediatrician will tell you this. I have three boys - 18, 4 1/2, and 1 1/2 -they are all very active. Boys are supposed to be active, play sports, want to play rought, etc. Do not let society tell you that just because he is energetic that he has ADD or ADHD. My oldest was diagnosed with ADHD at 7. I went to my doctor with my own concerns - not anyone else's. He was not only active, but got in to a lot of trouble at pre school, elementary school, and at home. I have heard that teacher's are "diagnosing" their students with ADHD just because they are active - keep in mind that teacher's are not certified to make this call. Some boys are just more active than others - but right now your son is too young to be diagnosed with ADD or ADHD. My 4 1/2 year old is very active - as are most of the boys in his class - but they are not ADD/ADHD. Let him be a boy and talk to your pediatrician about your concerns.

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J.K.

answers from San Francisco on

We have gone through this with one of our children. Kindergarten was the place these issues started to show.
1) Go and talk with your pediatrician.
2) Talk to the teacher. Some teachers are willing to work with behavioral programs with positive incentives. D0 NOT ACCEPT ANYONE TELLING YOUR CHILD HE IS BAD. If you do have this response you are not in a good place for your child.
3) Have your child tested for ADD. The earlier you get guidance the better.
4) If medications are talked about don't accept it without doing your own research with regards to side effects etc.
Our son spent two of the worst years on medication both stimulant and then non stimulant. We then found a company called Native Remedies. They had two products called Bright Spark and Focus. We talked with our pediatrician about them. She gave us the go ahead. It is definitely helping him. You can find it on nativeremedies.com
5) One other posibility is that your child may be bored and not challenged in the school setting. I believe you said he was very intelligent. This happens with very intelligent children. Talk with the teacher to see if she could give him more challenge to see if this is the case.
6) another possibility is that at four and a half he may not be ready for a very structured school setting yet and needs more time before being put in there.

Most of all he is only 4 1/2 the most important thing is to let him be a child and play. He may learn a lot more right now with structured play with you involving letters and counting done in a physical way instead of sitting still at school.

Good Luck. I hope some of this helps. Boy! I wish I had known about 'Mamasource' three years ago.

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S.G.

answers from San Francisco on

When my son was 5 and 6 yrs. old both his kindergarten and first grade teacher swore he had ADD. I spoke to a friend of mine who is a psychologist and she told me teachers often want to diagnose kids with ADD because they don't know how to make them sit still. The truth is, some kids are more active than others. Your child can sit still with you because it's one on one but in a group he may simply find it difficult or even boring. I put my son in karate to help with his self discipline as well as self esteem. He's ten now and a second degree black belt. He's getting good grades and feels good about himself. Unless your child has been diagnosed by a licensed child psychologist, don't assume he has ADD and don't let anyone tell you that he does.

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B.J.

answers from San Francisco on

I wouldn't recommend either holding him back OR putting him in a special program until you actually have an ADD diagnosis. Many 4 year boys are active. It doesn't necessarily mean they have ADD or ADHD. Have him evaluated by a nueropsychologist first and then follow his/her instructions.

G.P.

answers from Modesto on

I know how you feel. Children with ADD will do anything for attention. There are medicines to calm the child. Have your child be seen by a psycologist to be tested. They will recommend a doctor. Once the doctor sees your child, they can tell you what is wrong with your child. Children do have short attention spans. Google can let you know also. Type ADD and information will come up. I hope this helps.

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T.M.

answers from San Francisco on

Have you tried looking at his overall diet? There is a connection between processed foods, a diet containing sugar and processed sugars (including aspartame, sucralose & Splenda)and the big one, food dyes and ADD/ADHD and other behavioral issues. Try to eliminate those items from your childs diet and over time, you should see some obvious improvement. We have all heard the importance of a good breakfast, but sometimes not sure what that consists of. A small body cannot process more than 8g of sugar per meal. If mornings are hectic try looking for a cereal w/no more than 8g sugar (Trader Joe's carries many - look for cereals sweetened w/fruit juice or cane juice), a small piece of fruit and a few nuts. It may seem like a lot to do all at once. If you eliminate one thing from the pantry at a time, wait a few few weeks then eliminate the next. I wish you luck!

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K.W.

answers from Sacramento on

I don't have any suggestions for the difficulties concerning interaction...but, I'm going to go out on a limb to suggest one thing...just from experience. Since your son already has a tendency toward an autoimmune disorders (like ADD, ADHD, asthma, etc.), I would be very careful about administering his future immunizations. I have found that, with our family, since we have a tendency toward auto-immune diseases, my children react to the many doses of immunizations that are required in today's society. Their tendency toward more 'inflammation', which is what is occurring with auto-immune diseases, just continues to get worse when they are given doses of so many diseases in such a short period of time. For more insight to this phenomenon, feel free to look at nvic.com. Just 'food for thought'.
K. W

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B.M.

answers from San Francisco on

Hi Jamie- we are in a similar boat, and our son is the same age. We called the local school district and asked for an evaluation. You may also talk to your pediatrician. Whatever you do- don't let your pediatrician prescribe medication on that first visit. Ask to be referred to a specialist, like a child psychologist. Talk to his teacher or caregiver. They may have some good insights for you. I am considering holding my son out of school for an extra year, but I'm waiting to see what the specialists say. In our case that's a psychologist at Kaiser, one at the school district, plus a speech pathologist and an occupational therapist. It's good that you're asking these questions now. I know it's hard. Hang in there.

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S.S.

answers from San Francisco on

I suggest having him tested by a child psychologist who has had experience with ADHD. Psychologists have more time than psychiatrists usually, so you would probably get a better testing session. I would not hold him back. If he is intelligent he needs the stimulation. Also, by enrolling him in school you can get help there with behavior management, staying on task, etc. The school can work with you. If you think it's severe, call your local school district now, don't wait, and ask what kind of services may be offered for your son, possibly before he starts Kindergarten. Good luck!

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R.L.

answers from San Francisco on

My son was diagnosed with ADD but not until he was 17. In hindsight we realize a lot of the signs were there when he was younger but it wasn't until his Junior year when he was really academically challenged that it came out.

Like your son, my son has always been very bright but it was homework that was his downfall. Kids with ADD have a difficult time focusing and staying on task, especially with repetitive tasks.

Once he was diagnosed the school did set up a 504 plan for him which gives them accommodations (by law) for their disability. In elementary school I don't think it is as essential to have a formal plan in place since they generally only have one teacher but it's good to have a teacher who understands the child's needs and will make accommodations, because some teachers are not as willing as others.

Definitely have him tested for ADD if you think it is a possibility. ADD is more prevalent in boys and tends to run in the family. I wish we had known sooner about my son.

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J.E.

answers from San Francisco on

My 5 1/1 year old is also same as your son. His tension span has always been no more than 2 minutes at a time. He is bright and knows his alphabets, numbers, but only uses it when he wants something from us. Dinner time has been a torture, it usually last about one hour or more. he cant sit still, constantly on the move, doesnt like to eat, makes silly faces like your son, doesnt listen much to anything I say unless I blow up and just loose it. I feel like he only responds to negative reinforcement. His teacher feels that he is a very young 5 year old child. He is in junior Kindergarten class. We made a decision to hold him back for kindergarten in the fall of 2008. His birhtday is in August. It 's been hard at times!!!

I have not made a decision to have him tested on the ADD issue.

I am also a SAHM with 2 kids boy age 5 1/2,girl 2 1/2. Hope this helps.

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A.S.

answers from Sacramento on

Jamie~ My oldest son, who is now 10 years old, suffers from ADHD and I didn't want to put him on any perscription medications. SO I changed his diet to an all natural diet, no artificial flavors or colors, red and blues are especially bad for kids with ADD. Also I would have him drink a protien shake with instant coffee in it before school and that really helped. Coffee can have the same affects as ritilan without the nasty side effets. And his dr was totally okay with it. Good luck, A.

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M.S.

answers from San Francisco on

Hi Jamie,

My 3 1/2 year old daughter had similar behaviors, but did not have ADHD. Turns out she had sleep apnea. 25% of the children diagnosed with ADHD have been misdiagnosed and actually have sleep apnea. Sleep apnea occurs when there is an obstruction in the throat (usually their tonsils and adenoids) and they stop breathing several times an hour. My child stopped breathing 21 times and hour! Anyway, does your son snore? If he does, I would strongly recommend you ask an ENT to prescribe a sleep study (we did ours at Stanford) to see if this may be the problem. Hope this helps. - M.

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S.K.

answers from San Francisco on

First you need to get him tested; your pediatrician or your preschool should be able to recommend someone, but it is best not to make any decisions until you get some reliable medical data. Read up as much as you can, on the internet and in books, before the test so you can ask the right questions before and after testing; research really does help a lot.

Once you have the data, then you can go over the options and decide the best course - which could be anything from medication to biofeedback to changes in diet to a change in schools. Weeding through the options, and deciding on the best course, will probably be the hardest part!

Holding the child back a year is rarely the recommended option - ADD kids are often very bright, and holding him back a year will make the schoolwork even easier, which will just exacerbate the boredom issue.

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S.R.

answers from San Francisco on

Get him evaluated by the school district for Special Ed. They have techniques to help kids become "school ready." Also, I would recommend any of the excellent books by Thom Hartmann which can be found on Amazon or on ThomHartmann.com (look in the ADD link on the left hand page). Finally, if you can get him into any kind of physical activity with a 1:1 teacher, that would help a lot. I did ice skating with my son. What was great about it was the the environment was very distracting and she skated backwards, kept his attention with colored pens (had him follow the pen). He was learning a skill (skating) while also learning how to focus on one thing in a distracting environment. It helped a lot. But the not being able to follow more than one direction is a learning issue and must be addressed. It will only get worse unless you work on it.

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K.G.

answers from San Francisco on

Hi Jamie,
My 4.5 year old son also takes forever to eat dinner (well, any meal quite frankly). He says it's boring! He'll tap on his chair, trace shapes on the table with his finger, make silly faces -- pretty much anything other than eat. Personally, with our son, I think it's a combo of his age and knowing that he is pushing our buttons. However, he can sit still at school and follow instructions. His school gives the kids plenty of time to be active, which helps, too. How is your son sleeping? Is he getting around 11-12 hours of sleep per night? If not, he may just be overtired. I agree w/many previous posters that it's way too easy for teachers, pediatricians, and parents to jump to the ADD/ADHD conclusion. While these conditions are a possibility, it is also quite likely he is just being a 4.5 year old boy. His inability to follow instructions seems, in my non-expect opinion, to be the biggest concern. I agree with a previous poster that he might have a learning difference that is impacting his ability to follow directions and contributing to his behavior. Try to get a referral to a developmental clinic from your pediatrician. It really seems to take a specialist to make these kinds of diagnoses, if there's one to be made at all. A year ago, I would have sworn that our friends' then 4 year old had ADHD. However, he actually had a developmental issue, which they have worked on w/ a specialist. He's a bright boy who is still very high energy, but his mom doesn't let him get away w/ too much. His dad does, and he is definitely more hyper when only his dad is around. He will be going to K on time (he just turned 5), and, while I think he'll be one of the more active boys, I do not think anyone will think he has ADHD. A professional opinion, especially from a specialist who sees these kinds of behaviors every day, is key. I also agree re: avoiding meds at this age. Get a diagnosis (again, if he even has one) and then look at all of your options. Best to you and your family.
K.

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T.B.

answers from San Francisco on

i wouldn't be too quick to "label" your son. He is 4 1/2. They are like puppies right now. He wants attention it sounds like. If he is done eating, let him be done, even if he doesnt eat, kids eat when they are hungry. my son was labeled with ADHD, by his preschool. I beleived it and put him on med's he was too young (same age). he is fine now. he is graduating high school and does learn better in a small environment but he doent/didnt have ADHD. Just be patient, it may be a phase. Pray about it and dont stress. I beg you dont go to the dr saying he is ADHD, they will say yes he does and needs meds, remember dr's are customer service they have contracts with pharmacutecial companies and jsut want to sell drugs. see alternative medicine physician (licensed) if your really concerned. society wants to medicate us and the side effects change who we are and our natural bodies rythyms and functions. i will pray for you.

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J.S.

answers from Sacramento on

Hi Jamie,

My oldest son, who is now 14 had very similar problems at your sons age. We decided to hold him back a year in kidergarten, and it made all the difference. We found that a lot of his actions were brought on by anxiety he felt about not being mature enough to deal with all he had on his plate at 4 1/2, and in school. The year of maturity made all the difference. I have heard this is common with boys. Hope this helps!

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A.E.

answers from Stockton on

I don't have any boys, but did have one of my daughters who was very similar to how your son is. I went to a natural health food store and talked with someone there and they told me to start her on fish oil. I then talked it over with her doctor and he said that it would be fine and to let him know how it helped. Several weeks later she was able to sit through dinner and through storytime. She is now in second grade and has finished each year at the top of her class and does very well in school. Also, you might want to check into something called the Feindel Diet. I have several friends who have their children on this and it seems to work. There are a lot of kids that are sensitive to certain foods, food coloring, especially red. So maybe take notice of the foods that you are feeding him and see how he reacts to foods that have red food coloring in it and also corn/fructose syrup. There are also sensitivities to foods with a lot of preservatives in it and foods that have been processed, like lunchables. Sometimes there are small differences that we can make in our food choices that have a huge impact our our kids health. I have seen this work in my own childrens lives and as well as others around. And if doesn't seem to help, then you can always tell your doctor that you tried it and move onto something else. Hope some of this helps.

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S.L.

answers from San Francisco on

Hi Jamie-

You should probably have your son evaluated by a psychologist, but more importantly, I think your first step would be to have your son checked out by an ENT (Ear, Nose & Throat) specialist, especially if your son snores, sleeps with his mouth open, wakes up during the night, or grinds his teeth in his sleep. These are all symptoms of sleep apnea, and the symptoms of it can mimic ADHD in children.

I sooo want to jump on my soap-box and tell every parent I know about this, because most parents have no idea what sleep apnea is (we sure didn't!) I have nine year-old twin boys and after a long struggle with ADHD-type symptoms (we had just taken one of our boys to see a psychologist to find out if he had ADHD) their orthodontist (of all people!) discovered that they had enlarged tonsils, and asked if the boys were displaying ADHD-type symptoms, because sleep apnea symptoms can mimic that.

And the fact that you discovered this when he is only four is a blessing too, because apparently, over time, sleep apnea can cause a bunch of developmental problems, both physically and mentally, because of the lack of oxygen to their brain and other vital organs while they sleep. I can attest to the psycological symptoms... I had one boy who was totally hyper-active, and one who seemed to be in a total fog, and had short-term memory problems. (It was interesting to see how the lack of sleep affected each one differently, given that they are identical twins). The ENT said that sleep apnea can also stunt their growth (because children do the majority of their growing while they sleep) and that it can even effect the development of their jaw. Because since they are sleeping with their mouths open, the jaw is not held in allignment like it would be if they were sleeping with their mouthes closed, and the upper and lower jaw might then grow at a different rate, causing either an overbite or underbite. Crazy, huh?!?

Sorry to go on and on about this, but I am so passionate about this problem, because if it has not been for our orthodontist, we would have never known what the cause for the behavior was, and the next step might have been to seek ADHD medication (shudder!)

Good luck with your son! If you are in the Menlo Park area, I can recommend an amazing ENT if you are interested.

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J.N.

answers from San Francisco on

You might want to make sure that it is ADD. Have you consulted with anyone outside of the school system. Have your son assessed by a Regional Center in your area. The nearest you would be in Concord. It could be that there is more going on. All services provided by Regional Centers are free and voluntary.

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L.M.

answers from San Francisco on

Dont' immediately think ADD. You son may just be active. My youngest acted the same way, I'd often be at the table forever with him. I got him involved at a local martial arts school, Richard Lee's East West in Alamo. They focus on respect and discipline and have classes everyday for the little ones (afternoon). They also have a kinder kung fu twice a week. If you are in the area, check them out. I started my son at 4 years old, and it really helped him learn to focus and pay attention. By kindergarten he was able to sit for the time required in the classroom, but still took forever to eat (but at least he ate). If that's the worst of it, be happy. Give martial arts a try, maybe he just has lots of energy and needs to use it up.

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L.M.

answers from San Francisco on

Hi Jamie,
I was in your shoes only 1 short year ago. I am a SAHM of a 5 1/2 year old boy and twin boys that will soon turn 3. Wow! 4 1/2 years old - that's pretty young to expect a little one (esp. a boy) to sit at length and pay attention/stay on task. We had the same concerns with our oldest and I even confronted the pediatrician. She told me that this is very normal behavior for a 4 year old and therefore will not consider testing until late Kindergarten to 1st grade. We almost held our 5 year old back from Kindergarten (as advised from preschool teachers) but trust me, much can change in 6 months to a year. He is thriving and doing well in school. His Kindergarten teacher can't believe that we considered waiting a year!! Just a side note, we did alter his diet. I purchase foods that are free of artificial colors (esp. red #40), flavors and preservatives and when possible we stay away from processed foods (such as processed cheese). I can see a difference in the behavior of all my boys when they are given snacks that have artificial ingredients vs. a more healthy alternative like fruit leather or Mott's applesauce fruit snacks. Time is the best factor - give him another year to mature and then reevaluate. If he does have ADD then there are lots of holistic alternatives as well as traditional. And, different types of school settings are an option if you decide to go the private school route. Best wishes to you and your little ones.

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C.F.

answers from Redding on

Dear Jamie, I had a son with ADHD and it took years for me to accept that he had a problem. When I finally took him to a DOCTOR there was an immediate relief for our family. He was put on medication and all of a sudden he was able to sit and listen, pay attention at school, and sit and eat a meal quietly with the family. He was even able to do his homework without the constant frustration. There is a new drug out that works very well for ADHD children. Contacta psychiatrist who specializes in child and adolescent care. In the Redding-Chico area we are lucky to have Dr. Lynne Pappas. Don't be afraid to ask for help. It will be worth it for all concerned. Good Luck and may God bless your little family. Remember, ALL things come from God including the intelligence he gave to special doctors to help us in our lives. C. F.

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B.W.

answers from Sacramento on

I read thru the responses and wholeheartedly agree with Traci B. This society has told us that if we can't sit still, are active, that we need to medicate you to do so. What happened to rules & consequences? I have 3 boys, highly active and make me want to pull my hair out, but the minute those consequences come into play, they settle down.. wow.. what a concept??? Now, that doesn't work for every child, and some kids do have add, but at 4 1/2 and a boy, he's just full of energy. I like the martial arts idea. I'm thinking of that for my boys. Not only does it teach them respect and self control, but also builds their confidence. Try it out, if it doesn't help, then maybe he does have it, but I'd try all other routes before medication. I'll pray for you also.
B.

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N.R.

answers from San Francisco on

Good Morning! Part of it is he's a boy!!! I have two the oldest is 12 now and the youngest is 9. My oldest is the one who I still have issues in school with staying on task, we have had him screened for ADD and came up boarder line. He is an October baby and we did start him in Kindergarten a year later than he could have started to give him more time to mature. It was the best thing we ever did. He is now one of the oldest kids as a opposed to the youngest. It is frustrating but be consistant and follow through with any kind of punishments ie no after dinner treat etc....I found having a routine really worked him. Talk to your doctor and do listen to other parents and their experiences but trust your gut. Good luck! N.A. in Livermore

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J.R.

answers from Sacramento on

Jamie -

Please, please, please listen to what your gut is telling you. Mine is telling me that you have a very active 4 year old little boy. Having a daughter first - I think - does not prepare you for the differences between boys and girls. Boys are very active and slower to mature than girls. Active boys have a harder time in school because, well, most teachers want the students to be little soldiers. Some teachers will ask parents to medicate their kid so they can have it easier on time in the classroom. He may be bored in the classroom because at home he has lots of activities, lots of interaction and can do what he wants. He may look at the activities as busy work and can do them all quickly - so he can get to the next better activity.

I am not saying that there may never come a time that you won't need medication or that ADD is bogus - what I am saying is that you should wait - wait - wait. You may need to send him to kindergarten late but it is okay. Keep working with him. Trust your instincts.

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J.B.

answers from San Francisco on

Jamie,

I have to very active boys. I had them both tested for ADD when they were young because of the things you listed about your child. One was diagnosed ADHD and the other was not.

The one that was not diagnosed grew out of his symptoms with every year getting better. Often when they are smart and active they just need to have more things to get there energy out. I would not hold him back in school and try to be patient. I would also get your child involved in sports of some kind to release some extra energy.

My child that was diagnosed with ADHD has also improved with age- he is now turning 13. I had him on medication for many years and it was a life saver. He now has been off it for a year and he is doing very wel..

Good luck. Finding the right doctor to make a diagnosis can be key.

J.

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C.Y.

answers from San Francisco on

I have a grown son now who had ADD all his life. I was given great advice one time to treat him with a postive attitude, always encourage him and tell him he can do anything he puts his mind to accomplish. I put him into lots of afterschool sports, like baseball, soccer, swimming, got him into art and paid for him to learn the piano. When he gotten into public school, I set him up to take a test to see if he needed a little more help then most children and he did. He had a hard time learning to read. I would not let put him anything any program that would separte him from other children. Instead I got him a computer and got him the Mario learning to type program and had him pratice everyday for about 15 mins. He learn to type, then I went and bought him all kinds of fun learning game programs and I felt he could get help that way also. Let me tell, my son knows more about how a computer works then I do, I have ask him to help me out. He get artists and he does know how to play the piano. I also gave him houseshores, like take the garbage out and clean the cat litter box, clean your room and help put dishes away and help clean the bathroom. He had to my hushand with cleaning the yard. To earn a money he could wash our cars and the dog and we would pay him for that, but we taught him to save, open him a saving account and would take him to the bank. Now he takes of himself. He works, pays his bills, helps out around the house, he even pays us rent and seems to understand that this is part of life. So help your son to believe that he can reach the stars and he will, get him into the special classes in school and put him into as many activities as you can. In the end he will make you proud, also go into the web and get into learning disability site, there is a lot of good information there.

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D.W.

answers from San Francisco on

It can be difficult to know exactly what is going on with a child at this age, but if you are concerned that there may be issues that will hinder him in Kindergarten you can seek an evaluation from the county education office. It is in their best interest to identify their special needs students as soon as possible, and they will listen carefully to concerns, perhaps do an observation, or more. We had this done when my son was 4 and while we did not have any permanent notes entered onto his record at the time, and no significant special needs were yet apparent to the psychologist, she did give us some excellent input on how our son seemed to tick, what to watch for, etc. Other families in our county have had very good experiences with the county special education office as well. You won't be marrying yourself to anything unless you choose to; you will simply receive some valuable input.

If you have concerns about your son's maturity level beyond any potential special needs, I would hold him back, or at least see how he feels about it. My other child, my daughter, is a September birthday and we went back and forth on starting her, and her expressed preference was to attend Kindergarten at her preschool, which would have left us free to repeat K at the public school or move her into first grade, depending on how we felt after that year. Well, finances basically forced our hand, and she went to public school K. At the end of that year, she was again considered iffy for promotion, strictly based on maturity level, and she choose to stay with her friends and move on. Honestly, we have regretted not doing the private K when we could have. While she is fine acedemically, keeping up with expectations and with her friends seems to leave her in constant stress. She is a perfectionist, and as one of the youngest, it is very difficult for her to shine. I honestly think she would have felt much more confident encountering it all one year later. So my sense is, if you have any doubt, and your child is OK with it, I would hold back.

Be mindful, by the way, that attention span has a large developmental component. If your son can focus on legos for hours, but not dinner, then ADD isn't really likely, as I understand it. ADD was a question that came up with our son, but the experts quickly threw it out (he was eventually diagnosed as Aspergers but that really is a whole other topic - I am not seeing anyting in your post to signal Aspergers as something you need to look at).

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C.A.

answers from San Francisco on

It depends on the child. If you have your son tested and they find out that he has ADD, your son may be eligable for an IEP.(Independant Education Program) This will enable your child to have one ahour a day, AT school, one on one help...FOR FREE! My daughter has an IEP. She was diagnosed at 9 years old. She is now 17. Your child will also get extended testing time and the choice weather to take a test in a less distracting environment. There is a group in Novato that has all of the doctors in one offce. Call Dr. Michele Soloner at ###-###-####. She is a gem and a God send!
Good luck and don't wait!
C.

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A.B.

answers from San Francisco on

I think you should check out the Feingold Diet because many many symptoms of ADD are dramatically mitigated by changes in diet - but some of the things that result in behavioral/concentration difficulties are really unexpected. My sister's oldest child (now 8) sounds like what you're describing, and they have a HUGE improvement in behavior and concentration when they follow this diet. www.feingold.org

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K.C.

answers from San Francisco on

Hi Jamie,
I have a son who will turn 5 in 2 weeks! *ya-hoo*
My son showed...still shows ...many of those habits. I'm also in a playgroup with several other boys his age and they all exhibit similar behaviors as well. So,first thing, is that you are not alone. NOT ALONE AT A ALL! There were so many times that I would think there was a problem...or I was doing something wrong;but as soon as I got with the playgroup and we would talk, I would find out I am not alone and would make me feel a zillion times better.

A couple things that I do that seem to help are pretty easy. First, I make sure he has had some excersize. I think there is sooooo much energy in those little boy bodies that they cant control it. We have a local gym that is for toddlers called BIG&STRONG...maybe you have something similar in your area. In the beginning of the class he could not listen to the teacher...but by the end I think the routine of it sunk in and he was great.

Second, I have found that if you break tasks into smaller things, it seems that he can focus easier. Instead of eat your dinner, I might say eat your carrots...I dont know...maybe focusing on a smaller component and not the whole huge plate of food is easier in some way??

My son is in preschool now, 2 days a week, and seems to be doing really well. I actually think he could handle another day of preschool...but I think that going slow is best. THere is plenty of time for school and I think it is important that the experience be positive one, so they learn to 'like' school. *wishful thinking*

Is your son in any kind of class...preschool...sports activity? I think if you start small...build on routines they do get better with the staying focused.

Hope the disjointed ramblings help somehow.... :)

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M.C.

answers from San Francisco on

Jamie
I know what you are talking about. You should probably have him assessed, but please do not stop there.
I have been working with my son, now 8 years old that has been struggling with the same issue, and we are using a therapy called The Journey. It is Introspective Cellular Release Work and can have beautiful effects on Attention Deficit Disorder. When we have stored emotional baggage, what can easily happen is that unknowingly, all or some of our energy goes to hold all those emotions in order, (because they remain stuck in our cells until we actively release them) and nothing or little is left for other things like concentrating, reading math etc. Its not fair to the child to stop at an ADD diagnose. They have the potential, it just has to become available to them in form of freeing them from their "old" emotional blocks.
My suggestion to you is to look up The Journey on their website to find a practitioner in your area at www.thejourney.com

My prayer for your son is that you will help your son find the solution so that he can soar in his highest potential that you so very well know that his possesses.

Jamie I know what you are talking about. You should probably have him assessed, but please do not stop there. I have been working with my son now 8 years old that has been struggling with the same issue, and we are using a therapy called The Journey. It is introspective cellular release work and can have beautiful effects on Attention Deficit Disorder. When we have stored emotional baggage, what can easily happen is that unknowingly, all or some of our energy goes to hold all those emotions in order, (because they remain stuck in our cells until we actively release them) and nothing or little is left for other things like concentrating, reading math etc. Its not fair to the child to stop at an ADD diagnose. They have the potential, it just has to become available to them in form of freeing them from their "old" emotional blocks.
My suggestion to you is to look up The Journey on their website to find a practitioner in your area at www.thejourney.com

My prayer for your son is that you will help your son find the solution so that he can soar in his highest potential that you so very well know that his possesses.

If you would like to talk to Me more about it please e-mail me at [email protected]____.com

Blessings, M. Ask-Hed

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D.B.

answers from San Francisco on

Hi Jamie,

Check out the book, "The Out of Sync Child". You may find some answers there.

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T.C.

answers from San Francisco on

I have 2 kids with ADD, 12 and 14 years old. Just started medication within the last year. Talk to pediatrician to see what they think. Psychiatrist diagnoses ADD and it is done with evaluations filled out by teachers and parents.

Young kids often exhibit high energy and I think it is less likely to be ADD unless the hyperactivity is really extreme.

FYI, my kids are distractible not hyperactive so take my advice with a grain of salt!

Good Luck!

Tricia

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T.L.

answers from San Francisco on

From my experience boys are just more active than girls. ADD is over diagnosed. Many years ago boys were learning trades starting very young and there energy was burned outside. Classes didn't last so long and they spent more time taking care of the house and land, etc. Kids in general these days don't have anywhere to burn that energy. Life has become so convenient for us that it's hard to find a good balance. I would suggest getting him involved in sports if he isn't already. Good Luck and God Bless.

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K.P.

answers from Sacramento on

He sounds just like both of my sons, who are normal active little boys. I am a teacher, and trust me, little boys who can't sit still are normal. If you honestly believe he has a learning disability, wait until he gets in school and ask his teacher what she thinks. She will have a better idea of what he is like in comparison to the other boys in class. Plus, a lot of kids, including mine, act quite differently at school than at home.

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S.A.

answers from San Francisco on

Ask your school to have the special education teacher and psychologist test your child and see if he may be a candidate for their services. If he does, it will make the biggest difference in his learning. If your child is not in the public school system, they still will help you out. S.

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K.E.

answers from Sacramento on

We started our son in Kindergarten at 4 1/2 and he was not emotonally ready, so we kept him out for the rest of the year and restarted him at age 5.

If you think your son has ADD, there is a wonderful parent support group called CHADD. You could find a local chapter. As with any child, consistant rules and parenting, good diet, (less sugar and fast foods, regular schedule, (enough sleep)and less television all help. When he is in school, good communication with the teacher is a must. We developed a daily journal with daily notes from home and teacher. Please do not rule out a psych eval and educational testing as provided by the school district by your request and referrals to a Psychologist. We were anti med at first, then I thought if there was a medication that would help my child, he should have the benefit of that. (and he did). Keep doing what you think is right for your child. You know him best. Sometimes it is difficult for his Grandparents to understand what he and you are going through. Try to get them on board with diet and house rules when he is at their house.
Best of luck and find the local chapter of Children and Adults having ADD.
K. E.

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R.R.

answers from Modesto on

Hello Jamie,
I would not suggest holding back. I have a son who is ADHD. I have known this since he was nearly one year. It was confirmed between 3-4. I would advise looking into a school program with one-on-one instruction. This may mean having to place your son in a Special Ed classroom, as is mine. Try to overlook the stigma that Special Ed may bring to mind. My son is very bright as well and extremely creative. However, had I not had him ED certified (emotionally disturbed as this is a brain/emotional disorder) he would not have been so academically successful. Keep in mind that this placement is not forever. The teachers/directors of the program have the ultimate goal of mainstreaming students back into regular classrooms. While in the ED classroom however, they benefit from the group/individual counseling, one-on-one instruction and development of appropriate social skills. If I can be of any more assistance please do not hesitate to email me here or at the address below.

Good Luck!
[email protected]____.com

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V.W.

answers from San Francisco on

He is a 4yo boy!!!!!! You cannot compare him to your daughter.... My son will be 6 next month and I feel he is now where his sisters(he has 3 older sisters) were at about 3 1/2 or 4.... His teacher says he is wonderful in class.... Ask any teacher - the boys have more energy... he is curious - that is very different from not staying on task...

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L.H.

answers from Redding on

I don't have any answers for you but am anxious to hear other's responses. I have a very similar situation with my 5 year old son. He is a triplet with a brother and a sister. His brother and sister don't display the same behavior and are able to sit and concentrate on activities for much longer periods of time. In addition, although my son is intelligent, he doesn't seem to pick up on things quite as quickly as my other two. They were not premature and were all very healthy at birth. Sometimes I think I may be comparing their behavior too much because they are the same age but they are three seperate people so maybe I'm being too quick to worry. In the case of my son, I'm having a meeting with his preschool teachers to see if they are noticing the same behaviors in class and to find out where he falls socially and academically with the rest of his class. If he indeed has ADD then I want it diagnosed early but I've heard that 5 may be too young for a proper diagnoses. I wish you all the best.

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W.S.

answers from Sacramento on

I have a seven year old who was recently diagnosed with ADD, I held him back a year, but I'm not sure that it made a difference. His teacher had a daughter who has it and she seems to understand what he needs, my son's pediatrician has a son with it also so he was very helpful. We decided that medication would make a huge difference and it has.

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J.Y.

answers from San Francisco on

He sounds like a healthy, bright 4 1/2 year old MALE child to me! Our society seems to want boys to behave like girls nowadays. He may not be ready for group settings. If he is very bright, his mind is probably racing, as is his energy and the two combined do not create a quiet little child who sits still or can focus. Please don't worry about him, yet. My advice would be to keep him extremely active, perhaps a group sport or something would teach him some listening, focusing, group participation skills but he doesn't sound ready for traditional "school" programs.This will likely calm down in a year or two and, if it doesn't, you may want to look into some alternative education like charter schools that have a different approach to education. Traditional school settings work for most, but not all. It doesn't mean there's something wrong with your boy. It means that the school can only cater to certain behaviors and personalities. I used to teach and I would have loved your boy but most of the other teachers would find him a pain. Keep looking for what is right for him not make him fit into what is right for his environment.

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C.J.

answers from Sacramento on

Jamie,
I have a 3 year old son who has just been diagnosed with impulse control issues, a precursor sign of ADHD. He is very active, does not eat well, cannot focus or concentrate in preschool. We just always assumed he was just an overly active young boy. The problem is his behavior is effecting his preschool learning. We have Kaiser for our insurance and so have been able to meet with a child pyschologist about his behavior/mannerisms. I admit that I never really knew what ADD and ADHD were all about. I thought the terms were interchangeable. However, there is a big difference between ADD and ADHD. Just from reading your question it sounds like your son has ADHD. Generally, doctors do not like to label children so young (<5 yrs) as ADD or ADHD unless the symptoms are extreme and it is effecting their home life, school life, etc. I definitely recommend you make an appointment with your pediatrician to have him examined. They will provide you with some forms or questionnaires for you and his teachers to complete. These diagnostic forms help the doctors determine if he is exhibiting sympotms of ADD or ADHD. The medication usually prescribed for ADD and ADHD are generally the same - they are stimulants. However,don't be confused by that because children with ADD or ADHD taking these medications actually become less impulsive and active and allows them to focus and concentrate. If a child appears sedated then most likely the dosage is too high for them and needs to be adjusted. There has been a stigma attached to these kids as being "drugged to lethargy", but that is not true. Children on the proper medication, and at the proper dose are highly functioning and active but not hyper or impulsive (ADHD). For children who have been CORRECTLY diagnosed with ADD or ADHD, medication can be very effective. Our doctor told us that most pediatricians/child psychiatrists will not prescribe medication for children less than age 5, unless their symptoms are so severe that there is a chance they could hurt themselves by there hyperactive, impulsive actions.
I definitely recommend you talk to your pediatrician about any available services to assist you with this. Most doctors don't want to push medication on parents or children. There are other options such as behavioral management techniques, and working very closely with your children and school staff. However, you need to inform yourself of the advantages and disadvantages of medication and learn about various behavioral modifaction techniques. Our child psychologist recommended a book called, "1,2,3 magic". It is recommended for all children not just children with ADD or ADHD. ADHD is a neurological disorder. The children/adults cannot control their impulses as easily as other children. Their attention gets distracted from the task at hand because their prefrontal cortex, which controls the executive functions is not operating like a normal persons.
I, like you, am frustrated. It pains me to see my son struggle in life, or to constantly hear from his preschool teacher that he is not able to complete the tasks. Children with ADD or ADHD are very bright. They are not stupid.
Good Luck.

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J.V.

answers from San Francisco on

At 4 1/2 it is hard to diagnose ADD or ADHD. I have a son that is ADHD and a daughter that is ADD. Through out school they did need a little extra help to stay on task but I did not have to hold them back or have them in a special program. Don't be so quick to allow someone to label your child. I would start doing a lot of reading and surf the internet, there is so much info out there about ADD and ADHD. There is a wonderful movie called FAT CITY workshop, that may be available through the school district or a public library. You can also check out this website www.disabilitytraining.com/learn. Good Luck and don't get discouraged!

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