Wondering What to Do - ADD?

Updated on March 11, 2010
D.H. asks from Henrico, VA
9 answers

Hello Moms,
My middle child, 7, 1st grade, has had some problems in school and on the bus, although we are in a good cycle for the moment. And he is much better than he was in kindergarten. His teacher is concerned about his self-esteem. He tries to do what he is supposed to, but often seems unable to focus (and gets in trouble, 'on red' for the day - usually 2x a week on red, 2x on yellow, and 1 day on green) and this makes him feel bad about himself. He is very smart, excellent in math and reads well (not exceptional, but he reads bedtime books to his younger brother with very little help). He doesnt have many of his "own" friends, his friends are his brothers and their friends.

So, his teacher and I, and my husband, filled out a questionnaire and submitted them to his Dr.. Talked to the Dr. and he falls into the ADD category, not the most extreme case by any means, but consistent with the 'combined' ADD. He gave us three basic options: do nothing, if he's not getting into to much trouble and its not that big of a problem; go to a psychologist for a more thorough set of testing; or try some medication - requires a few more medical tests before he could start it.

We are really hesitant to go the medication route, but would if it could really help him. He improved so much over last year, I keep hoping that it is something he will just grow out of - it seems to me the schools really expect too much (especially from boys with their extra physical energy) with regards to sitting still and working quietly. At the same time, I don't want him labeled as the troublemaker - which he has already started to get that label - whenever stuff happens at school or on the bus, he will typically get blamed - sometimes rightfully, but I also think just because they assume its him. He doesnt usually speak up for himself, he just takes his punishment and moves on - even if he didnt do it. When put on the spot he can have trouble expressing himself - almost stuttering - and it takes time to hear him out, and bus drivers, teachers, etc. don't typically take that extra time to hear his side.

Would seeing a psychologist be beneficial? I got the idea that although it may define his specific issues better, the treatment would be the same (medication). Are there other treatments out there for ADD? FYI, they have a very good diet, all whole grain bread or pastas, greek yogurt, apples, bananas, carrots, clementines. The only junk food we have in the house is ice cream which they get 2x a week. Microwave popcorn for snack - but not the bags, we do it ourselves with the kernels. No soda ever. Milk, water, and watered down apple juice and orange juice to drink. I pack all their lunches and they buy choco milk at lunch. Our diet does get worse during soccer season (starting - and yes he plays) cause we eat out more often, but we do subway more often than McDonalds.

Sorry so long - where should I start? Or should I do nothing til things get worse (or better)?

D. - Mom to 3 active boys, 9, 7, and 5.

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answers from Lafayette on

I ahve cared for on several occasions young children who were diagnosed with ADD or ADHD. I have found that these children have been in trouble so many times at home and at school , they develop low self esteem. I frequently use a positive approach and it helps more than you can imagine. It nearly brings me to tears when I think of how they feel on the inside. One child at my daycare center actually thought I was not complimenting him: as if he couldn't possibly get any kindness. I would say "Great job, I like the way you play you're so quiet." Everytime you see him doing anything positive, let him know it. A little kindness goes a long way. Good Luck!!

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answers from Portland on

This sounds EXACTLY like my now 11 year old son. I put him on medication after several times of hearing him tell me he was "not smart like the other kids" because he didn't get his work done, and finally hearing "It's ok Mom, I never go to recess" when I went to see him at lunch one day and found him in the classroom, alone, working on class work. Not only did he believe it was normal for him to be seperated like he was, but he thought he was dumb. In all actuality, he gets most things quicker than most kids... he can get A's in every subject with very little help, if he can just focus long enough to complete the assignment.
He's in 5th grade now. This year has been the biggest struggle. What I have learned though, is that had I not made the choice to get him help early on, he would not be getting the help he really needs now. We set up a 504 plan for him this year, which is a federal education aid that says schools not only HAVE to accomodate his need (lengthening due dates, shortening assignments, allowing more quiet time/areas for him to work, etc.), but it allows them to receive extra federal funding to give him the extra help he needs, including helping pay for a "helper" for him... someone to help keep him on task, check in with throughout the day, etc. He would be failing several subjects if not for this... and some awesome teachers.
The problem is, these are the "good" ADD kids... not the trouble makers... so they get overlooked as having an issue. I have yet to have any teacher know that my son is ADD without me telling them because he will sit all day long, follow directions all day long, never argue, etc... but never get anything on paper, get a book read, etc. because he can't mentally focus on it.
Get your son the help he needs... I reccoment a small dose medication, but even if not that, get him into a counselor and see if maybe a behavior plan can help it.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Sacramento on

Medication is so beneficial for kids with ADHD. People don't tell kids who can't see well to just squint more; they give them glasses. Medications offer the same benefit to kids with ADHD. Just ask any parent whose child with ADHD who has worked through it all and found the right medication. Our son has been on ADHD medications for three years and like all parents, we were concerned about starting them initially. However, when we found the right one (did take some trial and error), it completely changed his life and our entire family's. He went from the kid who was kicked out of preschool because he couldn't focus or control his body to a 1st grader who won the school's responsibility award. He had one friend in preschool and now has a big group of friends. His teachers now talk about how smart he is, not about all of the challenging behaviors associated with ADHD. The only side effect we've seen was a decrease in appetite initially, but that went away over time. (ETA: What's really reassuring about ADHD medications is that they are in the child's system a very short time. If you hate anything about them on day one, just stop. That's it. Even with extended release forms, they're out of the system by dinner time. You're in control and can say this medication is not ok for my child. Do keep in mind it can take trial and error to find just the right med, but you don't have to put up with any side effects you find unacceptable.)

We do a combination of medication through the psychiatrist and meetings with a behavioral therapist as needed (although just rarely now that our son is on medication).

As you get started in dealing with this condition, I recommend a subscription to ADDitude magazine for practical tips on dealing with ADHD on a daily basis. The website is also really useful. Also join CHADD so you can connect with other families dealing with ADHD. Both of these resources can give you accurate, science-based information.

Best of luck to you!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Grand Rapids on

My son and my husband both use Adderall (at different doses of course) and both see their own therapist. My son has low self esteem from getting in trouble so much, especially at school, and the therapist is helping him see his strengths. It's easier for him to talk to the therapist and he listens better to him anyway, cuz, ya know, he's not mom and dad. LOL My husband also has self esteem issues, but he was not diagnosed until 23 and he has many other things too, but that's a whole 'nother discussion. What works for one, may not work for another, but it's best to get started early and tackle it head on. If your son has a mild case, maybe you could just start with the therapy and see if any of their coping techniques work before going ahead with the extra testing and medication.

I feel like I should add that the school thought my son wasn't all too bright at first. He's in 1st grade and the school does the Scholastic Reading Counts quizzes. By the first week of November, he had 0 points. I couldn't figure this out because he was reading chapter books like a madman at home (reading actually calms him and he can concentrate for hours!). The teacher said maybe he didn't know how to use the computer because he just sat there clicking the mouse over and over. Thankfully, we had just had him tested for ADHD the week before and I knew he was clicking the mouse because the computer was too slow for him...he thought that clicking would make the web pages load faster. He did the same thing during the testing. At first I was a little angry that they hadn't told me earlier that he had 0 points, but instead of getting mad I explained very nicely how he knew how to use the computer very well, thank you. Made the teacher kind of embarassed. (Yes, I know I shouldn't be proud of that. ;-) ) He started medication the first week of December and as of yesterday, he has 108 points. He also used to get in trouble every day, all day (the "noise box" it's called) and now he only gets in a couple times a week and it's very rare that it happens more than once a day.



answers from Fort Walton Beach on

Hi D.,

We didn't go the medical route either. We detoxed our home, so there was no stimuli, and my youngster is on an absorbable multivitamin/mineral complex along with Omega 3s. Her doctor removed her diagnosis and we have had no problems since. Removing stimuli and making sure the nutrition is there will build the immune system so much that if she is exposed to this stuff elsewhere, her body is able to fight it off.

Hope I helped. Let me know if you'd like to know more.




answers from Houma on


Don't apologize for being too lengthy! You ARE on the right track. I do understand! It's hard for anyone who has never dealt with a child suffering from this to understand not only how this makes your child feel, but how it makes you feel as a parent to know that this is your child and there is no EASY solution to make it better! I have 3 boys ages 15, 9, and 2 1/2. It's definately a challenge, but I love every minute of it!

When my 9 year old was about 6, we started seeing the signs like you described. It was mind boggling and frustrating at the same time. We had no idea what to do. We tried everything we could think of from rewards for better behavior to punishment (writing lines, no tv, etc...) Nothing worked! Mostly because we were not educated on his condition. My son is VERY intelligent, however, it was so hard for him to concentrate, that he couldn't apply himself. Grades were falling and his peers were getting agravated with him and he was starting to get VERY low self esteem issues.

Right before he turned 8, we finally felt like we were at the end of our ropes, so we went to his pediatrician. Of course, they had to have him diagnosed by a psycologist before putting him on any meds. So, we went. It was a joke! The psycologist did more digging into our family than help him, but in the end she said that he had a pretty bad case of ADHD and medication was recommended. We tried it.

The medication...what a disaster! He had every side effect possible; severe stomach cramps, headaches, insomnia, even eye ticks which were making him miserable! They changed his medication 5 times. It only got worse each time and it did seem to help a bit, but not enough for him to have to deal with these side effects!

To make a long story short, we took him off all meds and decided to give it another shot, now that we had more knowledge about ADD and ADHD. Now we have strict schedules and routines that seem to help a lot! Every week I print out a very detailed homemade schedule and behavior chart made just for him. Sometimes even let him help create it. It helps him to remember what he needs to do, but also keeps him on task so that he stays out of so much trouble. Also, the same at school. It's easier not to get in trouble if he always has something to do. Repitition and schedules really help and that is mostly what a psycologist will tell you.

Be prepared for lots of emotions along this road, for your child and yourself. It is only natural, as a parent, that you start to feel overwelmed. Don't be afraid to ask for help or a break for yourself too if you need it. Trust me...at times you will! Whichever route you choose, good luck! A LOT of patience and love can see you through this.

Just a little last minute thought from experience with this...fussing and/or always correcting and pointing out what he/she is not doing/not doing will make self esteem issues worse. Be sure to praise him/her for good deeds or calm behavior as often as possible. Hope this helps a little.

From one loving mom to another,


answers from New York on

Hi, I have 2 kids and a husband with ADHD and I would recommend that you have your son tested by a psycologist that specializes in ADHD. This is a very specific disorder with specific criteria. Although the school is often involved in the diagnosis of ADHD they often are not as informed as parents would like to think that they are. Teachers are not ADHD experts, they are experts in education and ADHD is a medical diagnosis. There are many many treatments options including medication, you and your sons doctor are the only ones who should decide what is best for your son. If your son does in fact have ADHD, please research and educate yourself as much as you can. I recommend that you go to the CHADD website it is the national ADHD website, also Edward Hallowell, PHD has written a very good book Driven to Distraction. As far as treatment, My son does take medication and it is the best treatment for him at this time. But medication was not a good treatment option for my daughter so we use other treatment techniques with her. Every child with ADHD has their own individual needs even within the same family.



answers from Dallas on

It does sound like you have your household on a good diet. But before you go the medication route you could try taking gluten out of his diet. Gluten sensitivity can cause symptoms that look like ADD. We are on a gluten free diet at our house due to my son having a Celiac ( a Sensitivity to Gluten). It is a very hard diet to follow at first but is attainable. Gluten is present in Wheat,rye barley and some oatmeal also some cornmeal.
Medical study's have been done to link ADD symptoms and gluten sensitivity.

Good luck and have a wonderful day.



answers from Dallas on

Hi D.,
Me peronally I don't like the medication way of life. Your childs diet sounds good but you might want to research a gluten free or celiac free diet. My son was diagnosed with a senosry disorder and has behavior issues and concentration as well and I've really worked at watching what goes into his body and I really try to limit the Gluten. He is improving with each year!

My prayers are with you!

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