I need some advice from parents with kids that have been diagnosed with ADD. Our son is 7. He is a very smart boy and loves to talk. His problem is he can't focus for very long and it gets worse when there is to much going on around him like in his classroom. When he gets tested one on one he usually gets very good grades. If he has to take the test in his classroom he might as well not take it. His teacher is great and gives him alot of extra help but she has 25 other kids. We are considering putting him in private school. I wanted to get some input from parents that have kids with ADD and what they did that helped them. We tried medication but that was the scariest thing we ever did, so that is not an option. He does have an IEP but he still has to take tests in the classroom.
The scariest thing I can conceive of is making my kids go through the same thing I did as a child. Low self-esteem from being constantly told to try harder, getting to the point where it wasn't if you would fail but when you would fail. That is the life of an unmedicated child with ADHD.
I am sorry but I am on meds, my kids are on meds, the oldest being 23 and none of us have suffered because of the meds. No, suffering was my childhood and I wouldn't wish that on anyone.
I was 38 when I first went on Adderall. I was scared it would change my personality. It changed nothing except my ability to focus on the mundane.
The students I have in public school often have it listed as part of their IEP that they need to take their tests and quizzes in a different setting with fewer students in the room. I send them to a designated room that has qualified teachers there who administer and monitor students during tests and quizzes. Students with IEPs can also go there to get one on one help during class if they are overwhelmed by a large group setting. Your son's school should be working with you on this.
I have also taught in a Catholic school. It was wonderful, and classes were small, but they didn't have the resources to send students to work with students one on one. The particular school where I taught was geared more toward high-achieving students who did not need IEPs. This school did not work well with students who needed additional support. **I do realize students with IEPs can be very high-achieving. I have quite a few students in my classes right now who are doing very well. :)
I hate to sound like I'm pushing medication, but how many did you try? It really can take some trial and error to find the right one. I just urge you not to rule that out because of one bad experience, if that's all it has been. Medication can make a tremendous difference when you find the right match.
That said, we're also in early stages of getting our son treated with neurofeedback. ADDitude magazine did an article recently about it if you want to track down more info. It's about a 50/50 shot of working and is expensive, but if it works, the results can be dramatic. We're hoping to decrease our son's medication by trying this treatment (he's too extreme to ever go off medication).
I do recommend sticking it out at public school. They're better equipped to deal with kids with special needs. Our son was at a private preschool and when his ADHD symptoms became apparent, they just kicked him out. A parent complained about him and that was that. Private schools can drop your child in a second, leaving you scrambling for alternatives. Public schools can't do that.
I also agree with others about pursuing an IEP or 504 plan. Just contact the district psychologist's office and request the formal evaluation. They're required to do this under law if you request it. It can make things much easier for your son with test-taking and other situations for which he may need help.
My daughter who is 8 has ADD as well. Was diagnosed with it when she was 5. We fought the medication route for a long time but after doing a lot of research we gave it a shot. Let me tell you that for us, it was the right thing to do. I'll share something that the doctor had explained to me. (not just by one but by two) There was a study done on 3 groups of kids that were all diagnosed with ADD. They were divided into three groups, one that did just behavior modification, another did just meds and the third did both. After several months, I think like a year, they reevaluated the groups to see which had the most improvement. The result showed that the group that did both improved the most. If you think about it, it makes sense because in order for the behavior modification to work, you have to be consistent with it and everyone in your childs life has to be on the same page at all times. Doing on medication can only help so much, it's not a cure all. Now with any other thing, trying meds is a trial and error type of thing. Sometimes you have to try several different ones until you find the right one. They work different for each child. Not trying to push meds on you, just explaining what we did. For us, we saw a huge improvement. She went from a level reading 1 to a level 4 within a month after being on the meds. Her grades improved dramatically. She still has issues but she is able to focus so much better. She isn't as easily distracted as she once was. We try to be as consistent in everything with her as much as possible. Redirect her when needed, try not to overload her with things and give her plenty of time and directions as needed. We got lucky in the fact that she is in an excellent school, a public school in fact. It's a small school district but they are well equipped with all the resources required. If the school your son is in isn't helping as they should or are unable to do that, then give your son a chance in a smaller school where they might be able to offer more one on one. Again, the only advice I can give outside of medicine is just to provide stability, consistency with him, maybe try counseling as an outlet for him. Good luck!!
Added - I just wanted to back up what everyone else has said about an IEP. My daughter has one as well and that is why she has soo many resources available to her. It helps create a plan of action for the whole team of teachers, counselors, etc to work on with the child. It's a huge help. So I would definitely check that out. Please check what the private school has to offer a child with ADD and compare that with what the public school has. You may find out as others have said, that they may not have the resources available.
We actually had to move my daughter who is ADD from private school to public because they were not helping her. I don't believe they are as structured by the state or county as the public schools. Anyway, she ended up getting straight A's the last quarter after she moved. She has an IEP in place and that helps. She has some work modified, gets extra time taking tests and if needed, can be removed to a quieter room to take tests. Your son may or may not qualify for an IEP, but can maybe get a 504 Plan in place and some modification can be made with that. So check with the schol and see what they have in place for kids like this. My daughter leaves her class and goes for special help in math, its more one on one. My 9 yo son is ADHD and meds have worked WONDERS for him, but we've honestly had to try about 5 different ones with different mg's to finally find one that works. So don't give up on the meds. We tried my daughter on it and she didn't do well but I'm having her retested on Thursday and will try meds again hoping she can focus better at school and home. Good luck!!!!
My brother has ADD, and my parents chose to put him in a very structured private school. (a Catholic boys school - not a military academy or something like that) It was the best choice; he really flourished there. He was also on medication and I know that helped.
Can you explain more why the ADD medicine was the scariest thing you ever did? If he had a bad reaction it's possible he needs a different class of medicine. I'm not trying to push meds, just wondering if you might want to talk to the psychiatrist who prescribed the meds to see if there's something else out there.
I speak from two different viewpoints: one, my son was diagnosed with ADD too late and suffered through many years being told he was lazy, looked out the window, too much, etc. etc. Had I realized he was able to be helped and someone identified a way to help him it would have been great. He is now twentyone, not only ADD but bipolar and medicated making his way through college! And doing pretty well.
Next I work with children with ADD. Oh my goodness what I wouldn't do to help them. I try and try and wait and wait. There are students who are so unable to focus or concentrate because their parents are afraid of medication, that they hate what they are doing and (some of it is fun! like art and music for instance). So they roll around, or run around, or bounce or or...well, the point is I can't do much other than go home with a stomach ache because I try and try and they are frustrated beyond belief. Perhaps you had a bad experience or information about medication. Believe me he might be grateful to have a chance now in life instead of when he is twenty one and despite being very intelligent, my own son is learning some things for the very first time.
My son has ADD and Aspergers too. He also is very bright in GT and all the higher classes. He also has a 504 plan cause test taking with his general class population is difficult to say the least. With the 504 we say what accomadations he gets and he gets to take his test in smaller settings among other things. I know you said medication was awful but there are differnet meds but every kid is different. I'm not pushing meds by the way but it is a good option for a lot of kids.
You say your son was diagnosed with ADD because he loves to talk and can't focus. But he is smart. He is only 7 years old. I can't believe how many kids today are labeled this way. It seems all the doctors want to do is drug up these kids and the schools want them drugged up so they sit still. Could my son (now 12) be diagnosed? Probably so, I could tell his doctor that he can get distracted easily, etc. etc. But that is not his problem. He is sensitive to what he eats. Look at www.feingold.org. A lot of kids just need a diet free of artificial stuff. Yes, I am sure there are kids out there that truly have some problems and may need meds. but I think the majority could be helped by diet modification.
If he has been officially and medically diagnosed then the school should have an IEP in place, does he have that? That would give him extra support through a resource teacher and other benefits, like testing alone.
Please check with the teacher and the school and make sure he's getting all the services he qualifies for.
Have you looked into the CHADD association?
Have you looked into the policy of the school
through the School board?
I would suggest you look into the policy of the school
to determine how the school handles children with ADD..
Your child is not the only one who has problems with focusing.
our son is 15 & is unmedicated ADD. He is happy, is thriving, & involved in many activities thru school & Scouts. His grades are all across the board, but that's okay as long as we know he's doing his best. Most of the time, he's on Honor Roll....but it does fluctuate.
In 1st grade, the school counselor taught us behavior modification. She also gave pointers to his teacher....who was a fairly new teacher. Between all of our efforts, the year was a breeze & set the stage for success (or so we thought!).
When he was in 2nd grade, his teacher was a challenge for us. She was nearing the end of her desire to teach...& we could tell it. Zero patience, zero tolerance. Our son had Friday Activity....hmmm, about 4 times for the entire year. Simply because of her lack of willingness to work with the counselor's recommendations. Rough year for all of us.
From 3rd grade on, though, life turned around. We had our methods, our son was willing to be redirected, & the teachers were great. I truly believe the most important aspect of going unmedicated....is the child's attitude & willingness to work toward goals. Not all kids have this gift & ability....& I'm very aware of how Blessed we've been.
Sooo work with the counselor, get an IEP, & stay in continuous contact with the teacher. As for the public vs. private school...I'm on the fence. Public school has been an excellent experience for my younger son. Private school was a much better choice for my niece & nephew who are both on meds for ADHD + other learning disabilities. I truly believe each child requires an individual decision for this!