Wondering If Son Has Adhd or Just Something Else

Updated on January 30, 2009
B.D. asks from West Point, VA
33 answers

Hello,
Maybe someone can help, with some wisdom. My son is 4 years old, here is a lit bit of history i have been with his father since he was 15 months old. I adopted him around 2 years old. He only knows me as mommy, he didnt talk at all when i came around, very wild child. My husband(now) worked alot. My son had night terrors, had stomach issues when i potty trained him. This has led up to now he is very figeted(sp?), can not sit still, since he has talked i can not get him to be quiet( me laughing - he ask about everything)its almost like he cant help but talk. He always has to have his fingers on stuff, feeling it. I really could be here all day wondering about examples of things he does that i can not firgure out. He is always cover his ears. He is very senitive to sounds, when we go to public bathrooms when he flushes, he covers his ears. I have had him checked for ears, nothing, nothing. I will tell him something and he doesnt listen, every boy right, yeah right. When I am talkingto him and corrected him, he doesnt look me in the eye. my husband has asked him why doesnt he sit still, my son said " it hard for my bones to be still". I have to constanted repeat things to him. I understand he is a kid, but the things he does and says doesnt make since to me. He always wants to play rough and I think he doesnt play well with others. He is so wild all the time, when we go out he acts like he has no home training. I stay home so im with him pretty much always. I stay on him all the time, dont run, dont touch that, sit and be still please, be easy with that,repeat directions over and over with him. He acts like he has no home training. The doctor said they dont test for that till he is like 5 -7 years old. i think he has adhd, any thoughts on how i can be sure and how can i help him, he goes to school this year.really could use the advice.thanks

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M.U.

answers from Washington DC on

Have you had him evaluated for autism? The not looking in the eyes and sesitivity to sound are 2 flags I notice ... just offering a possibility. Good luck, boys will be boys :)

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S.K.

answers from Washington DC on

[I'm feeling very lucky this morning...]

Sound's like you've gotten lot's of good advice so far. I know nothing about anything(!), but I have heard that if it's any form of autism, the SOONER he's evaluated and given therapy if he needs it, the BETTER. Good luck!

-S

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A.D.

answers from Washington DC on

Hi B.,
My son was wild and I realized it was Red Dye 40. It is in almost EVERYTHING!! I took it away and he totally changed. It took a good 2 weeks for it all to get through his system. Now, he is still a boy and he does get crazy at times. His teachers always comment on how different he is. Before you let a doctor put him on meds, try altering his diet and get his allergies tested. Good Luck!!

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D.J.

answers from Charlottesville on

Before I answer a little about me: I have 2 boys & 2 girls - my "baby" is now 15 1/2 yrs old. They are all active children. One thing I have found is that boys are different from girls and each child is different from the other.

In regards to ADHD: I had one child tested because he was VERY active - much like your son. Turns out the quiter one has it instead - he was more of a bookworm and highly intelligent. One of my nephews was diagnosed with adhd and I believe I have it to although I was never diagnosed. After doing careful research we believe my father probably was also. None of us has ever taken medication for adhd. I grew up in a disciplined environment and raised my children the same.

A few things most people don't know about adhd - children who have it tend to be either highly intelligent or highly creative. Most children can learn to function without drugs if they learn self-discipline and have a structured environment and routine.

In my day they didn't know about ADHD. What my parents believed in was hard work and keeping kids busy so they didn't have time or energy to get into trouble. And it worked. We were allowed to be children. We ran, climbed, played, had chores, etc.

Children today are expected to SIT and BE STILL so much of the time and there are some who just can't do it, especially at a young age. I have worked with children from the nursery up to teens for nearly 40 yrs now and there are some that simply have to be in motion. My advice would be to get him outside to play, even if you have to take him to an indoor McDonald's to play area, and let him work off some of that energy. Continue to provide structure and discipline (not punishment!). As he matures he will learn to control some of that energy but in a constructive manner. Even ADHD children need structure, routine and self-discipline in order to function MORE than they need drugs that will just slow them down and interfere with their creative genius.

In other words, it doesn't matter now whether your son has adhd or not - he needs opportunities to release that energy in positive ways and he needs to learn self-discipline which will come in time if he is provided structure.

One good resource for you to read is "Bringing Up Boys" by Dr. James Dobson. It came out after my boys were grown, but I read it anyway. I laughed & cried & had to agree with all he said in the book. You can get it online at www.focusonthefamily.com, amazon or your local bookstore. He also has many other GREAT books and is dead on with what he says.

I want to encourage you and your husband to stay with it. Sometimes you may need to tag team and it's important that he take over the "rough play" aspect so he can teach him when it's okay (with dad) and not okay (other chilren). My sons are happy, healthy productive citizens who enjoy hard work so there is a bright spot at the end of it all.

Best wishes to you.

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K.H.

answers from Washington DC on

Dr. Sears (there is the original Dad and now his sons too) has a great book on discipline and a good website, AskDrSears.com. I just searched for ADD and ADHD on his web site and found great information and ideas for figuring out if a child has ADHD and how to handle it. I also like the book, "1, 2, 3, Magic" which most public libraries have.

Some kids are more intense than others. Some are really sensitive to noise. I have sons on opposite sides of that spectrum which as you can imagine does not make life easy. When my oldest was really wiggly, I took him to a ball field, any weather, and told him to run the bases 5 times. He did it happily. We also used the Feingold Program and found out that artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives, as well as tomatoes, apple and grape juice, and a few other natural foods were a problem for him. He would go from sweet and calm to angry after eating ketchup. As he grew bigger, we still eat natural foods and he can have tomato products.

Exercise, real food, enough sleep, and a calm mom with consistent discipline has worked the best for us It's not perfect - wiggliness turned into a very busy schedule with many interests and still a lot of up and down emotion - but life is rarely boring. Hang in there!

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S.R.

answers from Washington DC on

The thing you mentioned about the sensitivity to sounds, reminds me of my ex's nephew. He has Asberger's Syndrome. It is a high functioning autism. The children are highly intelligent. I don't want to alarm you, it is just a thought.

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R.S.

answers from Washington DC on

I can't think of the precise name of it, but there's a sensory sensitivity that some children have that make them very sensitive to sounds and odd about other sensory input, that sounds pretty similar. If your pediatrician isn't amenable or is brushing you off, you owe it to your son to find a new one.
It sounds like his activity level is pretty normal. It's the sensory aspects that I'd have looked into.

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L.T.

answers from Charlottesville on

My daughter was like your son in almost every way. Discipline didn't do a thing I noticed that reminders didn't do a thing. we did a food allergies test when she was 18 months old and found out she had food allergies so after 2 weeks of not eating those foods she became a normal child she follows commands and discipline works. I would go for the blood testing and ask for a full panel you may need to look around to find one to do it but they are around. Oh yes she is now 3 years old.My husband and I often wonder if a lot of children who are on meds really need them, maybe they are eating food they should not be eating! Best wishes

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C.D.

answers from Washington DC on

You are a wonderful mother to be searching for answers and caring this much for your son. Everyone who has posted can relate to your son in some way, either through their own child, or through working with children. I fall on the latter. I have worked in the field of Special Education for 12 years and have loved almost every minute of it! As I read your description of your son's behaviors, Asperger's Syndrome is what came to mind- the sensitivity to noise, covering his ears, explaining literally why he can't hold still, always wanting to touch things, loving to talk :), potty training issues, not making eye contact, not playing well with others, and displaying some behaviors that look like ADHD... However, I am not trying to diagnosis your son. From just reading your description, no one should. Since he is 4 years old, I would recommend getting your local school district involved in Early Intervention. As a parent, you and your son have many rights through the federal government for testing, and if necessary for services too. Also, it wouldn't hurt to run this idea past your pediatrician, and maybe another one too. This is just one idea of what could be impacting your son. I am just so grateful that this little boy is in good hands. And whatever the outcome of your research is, continue to embrace your son for it!

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S.G.

answers from Washington DC on

B.,
First of all, big hugs to you and kudos for reaching out to get some answers.

When my son was three, we started him in preschool. From the first week, they gently started to tell us that things were different for our son. We knew that - he was scared of loud noises, could not sit still, screamed for no reason occasionally - but they really pushed us to get outside help for him. We did have him evaluated and he does have sensory integration issues. Similar to what you describe with your son, he doesn't feel some sensations unless they are very strong (likes to play rough) but other sensations are much too strong - like tags on his clothes and some foods that smell too strong to him. Here is what I've learned...

Start your learning process - There are many amazing websites on Sensory Integration as well as great books (http://www.comeunity.com/disability/sensory_integration/s.... One my pediatrician recommended was Is It a Big Problem or a Little Problem, which helped. I will say that I was too tired at the time to read books and cruising websites was much easier for my brain and my schedule.

Evaluation - Get him evaluated by the local school system - they all have a program to evaluate kids before the start school, but they go by different names. In Montgomery County, it's called Child Find. If you have the resources, get him evaluated by someone who specializes in Sensory Integration. We tried a pediatric neurologist, but they couldn't find anything. The Occupational Therapist who worked with my son was literally invaluable. If you live in Montgomery County, email me and I can give you all my resources ([email protected]____.com).

Attentiveness - depending on your resources, consider investing in the Listening Program. It helps train your child's brain to filter out unimportant noise and focus on important information (like your voice commands). This helped our son immensely. http://www.thelisteningprogram.com/

Diet - consider all the things that people have described below. Gluten free, casein free diets have worked miracles for families on the autism spectrum. You didn't mention it, but does he like to chew on things (particularly his shirt sleeves now that it is winter)? If so, you may need to treat him for a yeast overgrowth. When our kids get stressed out and have candy (like traveling at Christmas time and eating candy from their stockings or gorging on Hanukkah gelt), they can end up with a yeast overgrowth. You can search the web for information on this to see if it matches with what you are experiencing and find remedies as well. (One site I really like is http://www.enzymestuff.com/conditionbacteria.htm). Depending on what you learn about autism, and if you are open to considering some of the biological aspects, there are a number of Yahoo groups on autism and one in particular for enzymes and autism. They are very active with lots of dedicated parents who help answer questions.

Discipline - Once you've worked through some of these ideas, I would come back to the suggestions about discipline, particularly a token system for rewarding behavior. It seems like the issues your son is having are not related to discipline (it sounds like you have really dedicated yourself there).

Give yourself some time - I felt like I fell off a cliff when the preschool used the words sensory integration issues. The crazy part is that when you do some online research, you'll realize you've fallen into a huge community of parents struggling with many of the same issues.
All the best.

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K.F.

answers from Washington DC on

Honestly, it just sounds pretty normal...I don't think you should jump to conclusions and make an ADHD diagnosis too soon...my son also touches things, etc...but that is part of learning when they are young, and can develop into a habit when they get older..I have to tell him ALL the time to stop walking around the table and stop touching everything...and kids sometimes have a hard time looking adults in the eye - they are distracted, etc...also - my daughter covered her ears with toilets and was and still is a little sensitive to noise. She has grown out of that a lot since she was 4, but now that she is 7, she can stand the toilet noise, but other loud noises irritate her, but her hearing is fine. I saw one poster mentioned milk allergies - my son had issues when I first took over as well and was always constipated, sick, etc...and I switched to soy milk and he is much better. I also cut out junk food and sugars - they are less hyper and have a healthy energy - but they still get rowdy sometimes - they are kids! And my daughter needs constant attention - she talks a lot - but I think in some ways kids that are adopted or have a bio-mom that isn't around are subconsciously affected by that - not by their genetic make up. Another HUGE factor is media - if there's a lot of stimulants around the house - tv, video games, music, etc, then it does not let their minds rest...it is too chaotic for them to use their imagination, etc - and it can sometimes lead to other behavioral issues...I would suggest limiting tv (even background noise) to 1-2 hours a day...and video games or other electronics to 30 minutes - 1 hour a day....and discipline! My kids never seemed to 'get it,' until I started using discipline. You can tell your son to stop touching things or listen or what have you, but it doesn't matter unless there is a consequence associated with that action...so no matter how much 'home training' he has, it won't work unless you follow through with a punishment or negative reinforcement of some kind...for instance, you tell him to calm down and not run in the house....so if he starts to run int he house, give him a warning, and if he doesn't stop, make him go to his room or do a chore or stand in the corner....then redirect his attention to something more constructive...my daughter was coughing and not covering her mouth while we were watching a movie...my husband told her to cover her mouth...she coughed again, and still no cover...so he repeated - and after the third time she coughed without covering, I told her to cover, and said if she didn't, I would make her go to her room and not watch tv...so wouldn't you know it - she covered her mouth the next time! Kids need reinforcement and you have to repeat things a million times....BUT - with constant persistence and action/reaction, they will get out of bad habits and into new ones....good luck!!

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C.S.

answers from Washington DC on

Even at 4 years old, it is possible that he has ADHD, plus maybe a little autism as well, or something that causes him to be overly sensitive to physical sensations, like sound. My kids have ADHD and were overly sensitive as children. Grew out of some of it as teenagers, but still have ADD.

Your family doctor may not know enough about this. I would think about taking him to a pediatric neurologist.

Keep loving him and keep being understanding that he is doing the best he can.

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A.B.

answers from Washington DC on

He probably does have ADHD. My son acted very much like that. Delayed speech, no eye contact, not listening, etc. He's 10 now and only was diagnosed last year, two weeks before his birthday. (He was considered borderline, then). Anyway, we chose not to medicate. We have been homeschooling him for five years. He had speech therapy from ages 3-7. I still wonder if it was a waste of time. When my son was 3, before a "diagnosis", we spent a great deal of time, no lived, at the park, visited friends who also had children and didn't mind him screaming and running around the house with their children, and took him to every facility where it was acceptable for children to jump and bounce (Chuck E Cheese, rec centers, etc.) We spent a lot of time with relatives, too. But, when he was 6, we realized a typical school setting wouldn't work, and we chose to homeschool. It's been great for him. He doesn't have as much of the hyperactivity anymore, but attention is still a problem. But, in a one-on-one environment, I can get his attention. He goes out now for music lessons and is a part of a leadership program. He has hands-on activities for almost all subjects, which he loves. And, he now has a younger sister who is just as hyper as he was (she's 5). I stay tired. Dad stays tired. But, the kids are very creative, they learn differently than most, and have a lot of artistic abilities (dance, music, Lego design, etc.) None of this would have been explored in a classroom setting. They're not the greatest athletes, but they have the stamina and will. We were told by one child psych not to push team sports. We chose golf, bowling and track. Prior to that assessment, we had put our son on pee wee softball team. Big mistake. He played with the grass the entire time, well except when he was at bat. Then we got eval and realized why. That's when we did golf, etc. Much better. Now, he's trying basketball, which is still a little hard for him, (lots of nonverbal communication and distractions all around) but he's improving. We did not put him in competitive league, but basketball through our church network. Challenge your bright busy little guy with activities and see if that helps. Read also about Picasso, Ansel Adams, Henry Winkler, Albert Einstein, and many more twice-gifted artists. Many were "different" and gave us the greatest treasures the world has ever seen.

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P.G.

answers from Washington DC on

I am late to weigh in, but you have two very important prior messages which echo my opinion as well. (I am also certified in special education, but speak even more from raising a boy who seems very similar to what you are describing). Your son's symptoms are not just ADHD. He definitely has aspects of sensory integrative processing problems, but taken with his other issues of asocial patterning, 'wild' manner, I would heed every suggestion of the special ed teacher who suggests asperger screening and early intervention school assessment. There are many programs now in place which were not available to us 20 years ago... Your son talks to you, answers and apparently interacts albeit in a usually "overdone" way. This is not typical of autistics, but is with the milder aspergers syndrome. Our son could not stand bright lights, noises (unless he was making them!), the touch or textures of anything including many foods, socks on his feet, hats on his head, sweaters, did not sleep more than 4-5 hours per night, raced around the house, yard, as a toddler opened every draawer and tool every book of shelves out of curiosity, etc. The early years were nothing short of exhausting, and especially as we had other only slightly older children. With your incredible patience and strict behavior modification techniques used to reign in his early behavior, he will be able to thrive. Social problems at school will become his/your biggest hurdle, but you will make it together if you stay constantly in touch with his school. It was a long road, but our son is a happy college student living on his own. He never used any accommodation though he was assessed as qualified for untimed testing due to perceptual issues of graphic presentations and inability to categorize printed material. But HIS not electing to use any, means he took an array of AP courses in highschool and all standardized tests for college entry and did very well, all measured against his "normal" peers. Start with an assessment with the CARD unit of Kennedy-Kreiger (Center for Autistic and Related Disorders) and your local school early intervention program for a profile and suggestions. Take little steps but stay constantly engaged; you will get there!

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M.J.

answers from Washington DC on

Good morning B.,
As i read your post I was reminded of my daughter. she is autistic. She has sensory integration issues along with it, which is common. She has been in programs since the tender age of 3. She is now turning 19. It took me a long time to find a doctor who would listen to me and pay attention to my daughter. One man actually told me i had too many children and was not spending enough time with the children i had..i only had 3 was pregnant with t3 4th... silly man.
Hannah did not make eye contact. she would fall asleep standing up rather than let me rock her in my arms, (didn't want to be touched)later when she began talking she asked me, "does it hurt everybody to be hugged?". After that we started asking if we could hug her so she could prepare herself for a hug. In first grade they brought all the firetrucks and ambulances to the school and turned the sirens on...wow all the other kids were laughing and shouting they loved it. Little Hannah was screaming and crying and covering her ears. the principle thought that was an "inappropriate response". His response was inappropriate. He didn't call me or anything. I found out from my little kindergartner.

My advise to you is take your son to Kennedy Kreiger in Baltimore. They have a great staff. They will test your child and give you a very accurate diagnosis. They then will give you phone numbers of people in your area that can help you if they are too far away. The cost is about $2000 without insurance. But most insurance will cover the testing. Everything you have described points to autism spectrum. it is a large spectrum. He has intelligible speech so he is probably closer to asperger. My daughter didn't speak until 31/2 and still has trouble with speach. She is in functional living classes. her iq is right on the border line just under normal.
I have a bipolar child, an adhd child and an autistic child....always always always if the doctor will not listen to YOU...find another doctor. Go to a different doctor who is more willing to listen to a mother's intuition. NO we may not be right every time, but most of the time we know when something isn't right with our child. Always get a second opinion.
good luck
mj

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J.P.

answers from Washington DC on

your son sounds like he has some classic ADHD symptoms, and maybe also some sensory proccesing issues (loud noises, fingers always needing to be touching things). The good news is that you are already aware (you are so right about "every boy" yeah, right!) and while they may not actually "treat" (i.e., with medications) ADHD until they are older (usually), there are things you can do to help him learn to cope. Get a referral to an ADHD specialist, and also to an occupational therapist (part of an OT's job is to help with the sensory stuff, which may help him cope better overall.)
Good luck, and don't let anyone blow you off by saying that this is all normal. ADHD is a very manageable issue, if you are committed to helping him find the best ways of coping (and he sounds like such a wonderful little boy!)
As the mother of a boy that is mildly autistic, I can reassure you that your son sounds like he is probably not autistic (is he always asking you questions? does he try to involve you in his play? is he interested in other kids?) but severe ADHD does make it difficult to pay attention to you, or even slow down long enough to look you in the eye (which CAN be an autistic trait, but it does not mean he is autistic)
Again, good luck!
J.

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T.M.

answers from Norfolk on

Hi B.!

Wow, I can't believe how much your son is like my daughter. The problems she had were exactly the same as your son, only it took 2 years to diagnose her. She was diagnosed with Sensory Integration Processing Disorder. It is actually something that happened in her brain, maybe even at birth. They suspect that it was made worse by major emotional trauma that our family went through when she was 2. We began treatment with Occupational Therapist and she has improved SO much! They reassured me that it was nothing I did wrong. Believe me, I struggled with guilt for so long thinking if I was a better parent, she wouldn't be acting this way. We did try the Feingold diet where you eliminate all artificial colors and flavors and it did seem to help. We stick to it almost by the book to this day. But, it wasn't the whole problem. That' when I finally went to her doctor (who hadn't been helping me figure it out) and said look, I'm switching to another doctor so that I can get some help here. I took her to a different doctor and she diagnosed her in the first 15 min. just by watching her. I couldn't believe it! She said that the Occupational Therapist would confirm it. It took two 2 hour sessions of testing (which my daughter loved their tests BTW) and they confirmed it. Now that I have the information, we are living a whole new life.

Just check it out and see if it applies. It can't hurt and your son will love the therapy if they think it will help him. It's basically constructive play. Here is a web site you can check out: http://www.spdfoundation.net/ I hope that this helps you in some way. We don't know how our kids really process their emotions until they are old enough to tell us. Which could be like 7 or 8 years old. Some kids, like my daughter, process things so differently from other kids and I just didn't know it.

I will be praying for you because I know how hard it is. My daughter never slept through the night until just about 6 months ago. She is almost 5! She covers her ears still, but has gotten much better. She used to freak out if she heard a sound and couldn't identify what it was (like when the refrigerator kicked on, or the heater.) Once I explained what the sound was, she was better. Also, when she's in large groups of kids or people, like parties or preschool, she gets very agitated when everyone is talking to her at once. She won't talk on the phone to anyone, even her grandparents who she loves and misses so much. If she does try, then she holds the phone about 6 in. away from her ear. It was things like this that didn't make any sense until she was diagnosed.

Please let me know if I can be of further help to you. Even if you just want to ask some specific questions about his behavior. I am sure he is a wonderful, beautiful boy. He just needs someone to understand him. Take care and let me know what happens ok.

Blessings,

T.

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T.C.

answers from Washington DC on

some kids aren't the sitting still type. this one may just be a litter more kinetic than other kids and doesn't like to sit still. i guess he gets a lot of exercise to get his energy out? maybe you can't expect him to sit still without expending some energy first. also, it seems to me that this is how a 4 year old acts; maybe you're expecting too much from him in terms of sitting still and 'acting right' without being reminded to. some boys take a long time to get this down.

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D.U.

answers from Washington DC on

He sounds alot like my nephew was at that age. He was later diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrom at Kennedy Krieger in Baltimore. He wasn't diagnosed until middle school. Before that he was labeled ADHD, but the treatments for that really didn't help much. Since being diagnosed with Asperger's things have greatly improved and now he is in the Navy where he always wanted to be. Asperger's is a high-functioning Autism, but don't let that scare you. I don't like labels in general (my mom now wants to label everyone in our family Aspergers), but they can help to understand what your child needs. Here is a link to more information.
http://www.udel.edu/bkirby/asperger/
Hope that helps.

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L.E.

answers from Washington DC on

sounds like he might have ADHD....my daughter has it, and she turned 7 this past december....was diagnosed at 4.5yrs old......we lived in DC at the time and the school she was going to go to refered us to the CARE center in NE DC...its a state kid of testing place...they run through a bunch of educational and psychological tests and then let you know the results....she now has an IEP(Individual Educational Plan) that she uses at school....gets OT twice a week at 30 minutes each time...you son seems to be worse than my daughter, but see if you can get a referral to the CARE center or similar program near you....if you want to ask me other questions in regards to this, just email me at [email protected]____.com

hope i helped you some

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R.F.

answers from Washington DC on

I am a Special Education teacher and a mother of 2. I have a young boy who is a 18 months old and an 8 month old. I have been teaching for 10 years.

I read some of the other responses and I see that someone mentiond Aspberger's Syndrome. This could be very correct. My other thought when I read your letter was Autistic. I do not think he has ADHD. Most ADHD children do not have all those symptoms. There is not much to do at this point as he is too young. But I will tell you that every school district has what they call early intervention. You can get him tested before he is 5 and it is free. You need to contact your local school district and ask them for the information on early intervention. They will usually come to your house and observe and do some testing, it is more like playing, but they compare the child's responses and actions on a scale. They are trained professionals, ususally teachers or counselors. My two children are from my husbands first marriage and we have had them since the baby was 23 days old and the older one was 11 months old. They were both born from a drug mother and I have been closley watching them myself and we have already been in touch with early inervention. They were willing to come out when the baby was just 2 months old. They only know me as mom as well and we just recieved sole custody on Friday. I know how hard it has been for me and I commend you for what you have done as well.
Please feel free to let me know if you have any more questions. I would be more than willing to help you. The sooner you figure out how to handle the problem the easier it will be for your child when he goes to school and gets older.
One suggestion I have is just to be patient. I know sometimes it can be hard but if he is autistic they are very sensitive and can sometimes become angry. Model the behavior you want and just keep asking him questions like you do. He may eventually learn how to manage it, and sometimes kids grow out of autisim if it is not too severe.
Good luck.
R.

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R.B.

answers from Washington DC on

There are many things that can cause this manifestation... he may have adhd..(not the end of the world and treatable with diet/exercise/meds/strategies-- but
the first thing is..
deal with this consistently and only when it matters
Emotional issues.??. obviously he has a back ground you do not know about completely.. read up.. on how to help him express himself..

Check to see if he is getting enough sleep

Get his attention first before you ask him to do something.. call his name, until he responds. or go up to him and touch his shoulder and then ask him to freeze and listen.. set up a pattern--
Don't stay on him all the time..-- teach him a strategy for stopping and starting activities
Make sure he has regular exercise or at least a good way to get his energy out before going to a situation in which he has to be quiet and calm.

Read ADDitude magazine for ideas.

It is natural to not look at someone in the eye when they are being reprimanded or corrected... help him practice looking at you in the eye when you are discussing things that he likes to talk about.. Then slowly transfer to all the time that you need him to look at you..

He could be sensitive to loud sounds.... that is ok... keep a journal of the things that bother him.. prepare him every time the loud sound is coming.. it's going to be loud... but it will be over soon-- so he knows.. it may help him to prepare in the future and so it won't bother him as much..

Just keep on doing a great job..
PS>.. Is he in a preschool program.. i suggest every day for a little while..
every one worries about teaching kids to do things.. they also need to learn how to stop doing things.. it is hard if it has never been taught.. consider Montessori for a little while.. then he can transition to regular classrooms.. but don't wait for school to start.. it will be a nightmare.. :)

Take care.R

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B.W.

answers from Portland on

Yes, they don't like to diagnosis ADHD until 5-7. At 4 it is still a little hard to determine if it is typical boy or above & beyond in some cases. A lot of things you mentioned are sensory processing issues it is possible that your son has sensory processing disorder that is why he is having these difficulties. ADHD & sensory processing tend to go together, so but sometimes it is just sensory related and when you treat the sensory it gets better. Here are a couple websites that talk about SPD www.sinetwork.org & www.insynctherapy.org If you have further questions feel free to contact me I am a pediatric occupational therapist and most of the kids I work with sound similar to your son.

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M.S.

answers from Richmond on

Hello,
My son acted the same way when he was 4 yrs old. I didn't want to believe that he had a problem. I kepted telling myself that once he starts school, he will be more structure and he will have to listen to someone else besides his father and mother. When he was in 1st grade his teacher called me in for a conference about his behavior at school. I explained to her that he acts the same way at home. He doesn't sit still, he's up and down, he has to be doing something all the time and he is for ever talking about anything that comes to his mind. His teacher said that when he's in school he does the samething and she has trouble getting him to focus on his classwork. She recommended us to get him checked. Well we finally did and he was dignoised with ADHD. We give him medication while he is in school,during the weekend we let him be himself, even though it's a challenge. Since he's been on medication he listens,focuses more and been getting awesome grades at school. Just be patience with your son, he doesn't understand that he is doing anything wrong.

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E.K.

answers from Washington DC on

Hello,
I haven't read the other responses, but it sounds like your son may have a form of Autism, or similar sensory related issues. What worked for my son to help his diagnosed autism was a diet change, vitamins/minerals and supplementation. I have restricted his intake of gluten and dairy, its hard but it works. I also use Melaleuca's vitamins and supplements, I can tell when he hasn't had his vitamins.
Try the diet changes, I use Almond milk because my kids don't like the taste of soy milk or rice milk. I try to make gluten free breads as often as possible.
I hope that this helped.

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J.C.

answers from Lynchburg on

When I read your post I thought "That could be my son!" He has even said that it's hard to be still because "It hurts my bones." He too wants to play rough, and he hurts others when he does. Not sure the solution; we thought it was stuff he learned at the preschool he's going to, and we're keeping him out of it next year in large part b/c of the bad habits he's practicing at home and there. I know he started doing better the past couple of days. We've had a reading time after lunch and before bed (Mr. Popper's Penguins-our whole family really likes penguins for some reason, so it's a lot of fun). Also, I started making some on-the-floor playtime with my kids, and that has helped. It gets him moving, but learning to play nicely. He's also getting attention that he's been craving since his sister was born. We also put on music and dance in the kitchen. Oh, and we gave him a harmonica that he actually plays really well. We're trying to get his energy used in a constructive way. Hope what I've said helps, even to let you know that you're not alone!

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D.L.

answers from Norfolk on

My daughter is only 1-year-old, so I don't have too much information to share. The only thing I can suggest is that if you feel that your son may have adhd, be persistant with his doctor. You are his advocate, are with him the most, and know him the best. If the doctor absolutely will not test him until he is 5, maybe ask his doctor if they can refer you to a behavior specialist or something (if they truly exist). One thing I heard once and it stuck with me (because my 5-year-old nephew hates the sound of public toilets flushing) is to carry a pad of post-it notes with you. You can put a post-it in front of the automatic toilet sensors to prevent the toilet from flushing automatically. I know this probably isn't too helpful, but nevertheless, I wish you the best!

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W.F.

answers from Washington DC on

The issue with sound sounds more autistic to me than adhd, but then again, this may all just be part of his personality. Take a look at an autistic website.
Good luck, he is very lucky to have you in his life.

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N.R.

answers from Richmond on

Hi B.!

This sounds just like my oldest son when he was that age! LOL It is so hard when you know that you are training him properly but it doesn't seem to show. It's okay! Part of it is age and the fact he is a boy too. But he may also have some food allergies. My son, we found out later, was allergic to cow's milk, red dye and msg. Now you can only imagine how hard it was to figure this out. LOL I found an ADHD web site that showed us a diet to try. It took away all of the foods on the list for 2 weeks. Then one by one we would reintroduce a food back into his diet. If he reacted then that food was elminated for good. All 3 of those foods made him act so wild. I remember when he went to school. It was hard and we later found out that they would remember not to let him have milk for lunch but then they would let him buy ice cream! Crazy!!!! Milk and MSG were awful for him. He just could not stop himself back then.

I also found that children with add/adhd are lacking essential fatty acids and other nutrients as well. So we found a good quality Omega-3 (fish oil) and supplement to give him and oh what a big difference it made in him! (Let me know if you want and I'll share with you which ones we chose and why.)

He is now 13yrs old anddoing so much better. He was diagnosed with dyslexia when he was around 9yrs old. Dyslexia mimics adhd and many times the children are treated for adhd with medication and it does nothing but make them a zombied dyslexic. ( I'll gladly share this information with you too.)

One thing I did connect with that you shared in your request is that in your training with him you will tell him to "stop", "get out", "don't"...etc. This is what I use to do with my son too. And no type of disapline seemed to work with him either. One day I realized that when I'm doing something and he calls for me, "mommy, mommy, mommy...!!!" Seems like 15 times before I actually hear him and respond some times. It's like I tuned him out while I was doing stuff cause he hollers for me so much all the time. I realized that is exactly what he was doing to me. All I found myself doing most days was teling him to "quit that, don't do that, stop that, get out of there, get off of that, etc." So he as tuning me out most of the time. He would hear the sound of my voice and would figure that I was just telling him to stop so he ignored me. Sometimes I don't even think it was on purpose.

I changed it around one day on him. I stopped telling himto stop and started praising him for all of the good things he did before he got into something. This took a lot of work on my part. I was so use to leaving him alone when he did good and was quiet that I had to train myself to look for times to tell him "good job buddy! Wow, that was a great job eating your dinner! Man, you were hungry, huh? Awesome! Way to go! Super-d-dooper!" I also had to constantly keep him doing something. He loves to help me (which caused me so many more hours of work sometimes), he wanted me to need his help with things. I sent that child n more special assignments that you can ever imagine. LOL I'd tell him it was a special assignment that only he could do. And I'd ask him if he was ready to listen to the directions. This would slow him downcause he never knew what it would be. Once in a while I'd send him to the pantry to get us a treat. (usually cookies or a snack cake) Other times I'd have him go get me anything. Paper towels were one of my favorites or toilet paper. Then I'd tell him I was timing him to see if he could beat his last record time. He now had a reason to use up some of that energy each day. And without giving him any of the allergic foods he was so much calmer and wanted to please.

There's so much more that I want to share with you. I don't want to overwhelm you though. I have been in your shoes and there was no one to help me with any of it. It was all trial and error so I want to help you not feel all the pain that I did.

I pray that this will be a blessing to both of you and will assure you that you are not alone. You are doing a GREAT job Mom! Keep up the good work! I promise it will get better.

Take Care,
N. :) SAHM homeschooling 3 boys and married to my wonderful husband for 15yrs. I love to help other moms reach their goals! Don't forget to teach your children how to dream!

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T.C.

answers from Washington DC on

Your son may or may not have ADHD; you might also read up on sensory integration disorder, since the noise sensitivity sounds like it could be in that ballpark. But I'd like to echo the advice you got about providing structure. I have two daughters, ages 8 and 12, who have both been diagnosed with ADHD and if that's the case structure is even MORE important than ever. At this point all you can do is to look for strategies to do that, and this is a good website for coming up with some: http://ldonline.org/parents
It's not too soon to establish a points system, which you should aim at rewarding good behavior rather than punishing bad behavior; if your son has problems with impulse control, no amount of punishment will change things. But reinforcing the behaviors you want is possible. You set it up so that he needs so many "points" to watch a half hour of TV, or play a video game, or whatever it is he likes doing; he then earns points by doing things like letting you read the newspaper for 15 minutes without interrupting, or picking up his toys, etc. There are lots of other ideas out there you can try and adapt to your situation if you log on to some of the parenting forums...My last piece of advice is that if you do decide your child needs screening, get it done at a first-rate institution like Children's Hospital in DC or Kennedy Kreiger in Baltimore. The skill of the people doing the screening matters a LOT. Good luck--

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S.R.

answers from Washington DC on

My first thought when I read your post was that it could be a sensory problem (as one of the responders said). As I have no personal experience, my only advice is to consider all possibilities, not just ADHD. It could be that but it very well could be something else. Don't give up, just keep trying until you find the answer. Good luck!

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S.H.

answers from Richmond on

My 12 yo stepson has ADHD but isn't hyper (there are 3 categories of ADHD and 1 is not hyper - he is combo). What you are describing is VERY similar. He can't sit still, can't stop talking, can't follow directions. Believe me, it's frustrating and difficult so I empathize with you. Don't let people tell you that ADHD isn't out there, that it's over prescribed, etc. I was a skeptic as well until dealing with my stepson. Do some research on the internet. I've found webmd to be pretty informative. Try to come up with some print outs, etc. to take to his doctor. Highlight the parts that describe him. You've got to get an appointment for a Dr. that can test him. I would not want to wait until he's 5 or older. My stepson wasn't tested until he was in 1st grade - after 2 years of kindergarten - so he's still behind a year in school and struggling. Earlier intervention would have most assuredly helped him. Also, look into some of the autism spectrum disorders. It might not be ADHD or only ADHD. Most importantly, don't accept a Dr. that just sticks him on a med and walks away. I'm still having that battle and I've been working on this for 4 years! Good luck.

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A.D.

answers from Washington DC on

Let me first say that I feel your frustration! I have ADD and have a 24 yr old w/ it and an 11yr old daughter. All of us have mild cases. Not quite to the degree you are describing, but I can understand how what I have seen in my own kids could be worsened.
First. Don't just use the word of you general Dr. Go to a specialist in this field. We go to Kennedy Kreiger in downtown Balt. They are the best in their field and they are so thorough, and understanding. We have had some "issues" with my older son, when he was younger and so much was unknown about this, and even now with my daughter with their recommedations of other sorces to help with these "issues" what ever you may run into, they can help you find the correct sorce. Medication is something that we find to be useful, though we didn't really find it unbareable and totally nessessary till 1st or 2nd grade. If you arn't close enough to downtown (even if your in Ft Mead area I'd make the drive). You can call, ask to speak with someone and get a couple of names from profesionals in your area. This has also been done for us before we actually moved to Baltimore.
You should also get involved with a group called CHADD, and log onto a site called ADDitude. I just logged into ADDITIDE magazine and it came right up. This site has really been beneficial with so meny issues pertaining to everyday life and finding doctors and counslors, and sharing advice aswell as parenting tips etc.. I also get the magazine, but the website is great, log onto that first and read through it, you'll be amazed!
Contact me if you still need help, best of luck. By the way, my older son is now in the military, and is a fire fighter on his days off. He finds the routine and structure of both venues to be what he needs, he really does function well in that kind of an envirnment. Your husband may be able to understand. Again, good luck!

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