Would like to Hear from Moms/dads Who Have Kiddos DX with ADD.

Updated on May 31, 2014
S.R. asks from Kansas City, MO
13 answers

At what age did your child start showing signs? What are the most prominent signs? Before your child was DX what did you do to try and help with their behaviors? I am almost positive my son who is 5 has it. We started noticing behaviors around age 3 and it has gotten worse ever since. We have done everything possible as far as discipline, positive reinforcement, redirect....etc...nothing works! He is a horrible sleeper! It is almost like he gets a fresh set of fully charged batteries installed in him everyday! He has a hard time following direction because he is easily distracted. He goes and goes and goes everyday all day. He is forever getting into trouble at daycare. I have called and TT his teacher and the director at his daycare and they just tell me "oh he is a normal little boy". Well IMO yes he is a boy but no he is not normal. Everyday is a challenge with him. Everyday he gets into trouble at home. He is so defiant and likes to argue..... we had an apt with the psychiatrist about two months ago and she wanted to start therapy first before she did an actual evaluation on him. Well today we have another appt and both DH and I are going to go ahead and suggest the evaluation. This is getting to be so cumbersome! Please share with me your stories and what you have experienced. TIA!

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So What Happened?

DX is another way of saying diagnosis. I was in nursing school for a year and picked up this habit. Looking back my son was very active as well in utero, as a matter of fact I begged my OBGYN to take him 2 weeks early via C-section (I had already had one) because he was hurting me. He has always always been a very active child and yes we have him in sports to try and eliminate energy. The only thing this does is make him want to go to sleep at 8pm instead of 9pm, all the behaviors are still there prior to bed time. While you gave me very vital information none of you really talked about the behaviors of your children. That is what I wanted to know. I wanted to see if there was any comparison to my son's behaviors. Yes we will continue to see the therapist but today we are going to suggest medication. Just to try it to see if it makes a difference. And yes I totally agree with you when you say we are with him more, we see his behaviors more than anyone. I am hoping for a positive meeting today!

More Answers

J.S.

answers from Richland on

My oldest was diagnosed at five but you can tell the minute they walk. Thing is though even with hyperactivity it is a disorder of executive function, they can't regulate information coming and going like a normal kid. Doesn't mean they can't control themselves.

They are the hardest kids to get under control but once they can control themselves, and that is key, self control, they are the easiest kids to keep under control. My older two were the kids everyone wished they had, even before they were diagnosed and medicated. I am sure others will say I am wrong but they key is very! clear structure! This is how it will be and until they get it it must be your hill to die on!

Meds did not change my children's behavior. All meds did was allow their brain to function properly in school so they could store and retrieve information like a normal kid. If you can't tell I do not accept ADHD as an excuse for bad behavior.

Sherry, some people like to use DX for diagnosis though I can't imagine why

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J.G.

answers from Chicago on

Sounds to me like you need to pick up the book easy to love, difficult to discipline.

Kids are easily distracted until about age 8, btw. That is normal. Arguing isn't a sign of anything either. Kids that argue may be spirited, but it isn't a disorder. And defiance? A misbehaving kid is a kid in need.

Please pick up the book I mentioned above. If everyone read it, we'd have a lot less kids being DX, and we might as a society better understand development and the basic motivators of little people.

I should also add that my oldest cannot sit still. She can sit and read for hours, but her foot moves, she squirms, she, etc. I cannot stand to read to her because she is constant movement. She had never slept, and she just goes and goes and goes...even though I run her everyday. But since reading the above book, her overall behavior has drastically improved.

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M.J.

answers from Sacramento on

Our son's ADHD was apparent at 2 years old, but, of course, we just figured we were lousy parents and couldn't control our child. By three, he was in a lot of trouble at school and was hyperactive and aggressive x1000. We tried new parenting techniques and nothing worked. We finally asked the pediatrician for guidance and he immediately knew something was wrong and sent us to a child psychologist. Tried his tips. Got nowhere. Moved on to a behavioral therapist. More tips and an ADHD parenting class (no diagnosis, but the therapist thought it would be helpful). Got nowhere. Our son was kicked out of preschool.

Got the golden ticket to the psychiatrist. We were extremely reluctant to try medication, but finally made the leap of faith. Day ONE on Ritalin was a "wow!" Amazing. Our son had the same personality, spunk and energy (at a normal level, but definitely not a "zombie"), but his behavior was within normal levels and he was happy. Our son is 11 now and has friends, does great in school and fits in. Medication is no cure-all, but when it's active (morning to mid-afternoon), he leads a normal life. Things are still a challenge when the medication isn't active, which is why therapy is useful. You learn some coping strategies when things are haywire. As our son has gotten older, though, I can say things are better. He has had his ups and downs (and more conditions have cropped up over the years), but overall, we're in a good place now.

Definitely get that evaluation. And don't hesitate on medication. There are lot of ignorant naysayers out there who will pressure you otherwise, but listen to the medical experts. Don't waste time on diet or detoxing your home, which have no scientific basis for helping ADHD one iota. The medical experts really do understand this condition and what works, so listen to them carefully.

And I laughed at the "oh, he is a normal little boy" comment. If I had a dollar for every time someone said we just had an active boy, I'd be rich. People who haven't dealt with ADHD have no clue how dramatically different it is from dealing with a neurotypical active child.

Good luck! And if you do get the ADHD diagnosis, there's a very helpful, active ADHD board on Facebook. Also join CHADD and subscribe to ADDitude magazine for useful information and support.

ETA: Just like Elyse, our son was crazy active in utero, too. He kicked and punched me non-stop. He didn't sleep, so neither did I! When I had our second child (who is neurotypical), I was amazed that she wasn't active 24/7. Cakewalk in comparison.

I disagree, though, with Elyse on ADHD medication worsening OCD. That's counter to what we learned through our psychiatrist. Our son also has OCD and the ADHD meds have never affected it.

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K.L.

answers from Dallas on

I can tell you from nephew: He was the most obstinate child ever. He also would good with 5-6 hours of sleep and it was like he slept ten. Zmy sister would tell him to go do something and he'd come back 10x and nit remember she said anything. He was kicked out of three daycares by age 3.5. My son is quite similar unfortuantly. My nephew tried CBT but it did nothing so he had to be put on meds.

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E.E.

answers from Denver on

My oldest son has ADHD and showed signs in utero. Seriously.

I couldn't take stairs ever after the 1st trimester, because my center of gravity would shift so quickly and dramatically that I would lose my balance. Even when he was no bigger than a bean in there, when I was supposed to feel like "a butterfly landed on me", I felt like someone was playing drums inside me. At the end of my pregnancy, it felt like he was trying to beat his way out. He was so active in utero, I was worried he was having seizures inside me (he does not have seizures now EVER, so it's unlikely he was having them in utero - he was just going to town). He's a great reader now, and though he starts out sitting, he can end up on his head...reading.

When I was pregnant with my youngest son and doctors commented that he was "very active," I'd laugh - because compared to my oldest, he was Zen baby in there. So...I'd say it shows up VERY early. I'd also suggest you take determining what's up and what to do about it VERY SLOWLY.

ADHD rarely shows up alone - it can be co-morbid with OCD, ODD, and endocrine issues. So therapy is crucial. Some doctors prescribe meds without trying therapy - when in fact, many people CAN learn to moderate and manage ADHD without meds. So it sounds to me like your psychiatrist is doing the right thing - she's getting to know your son before evaluating for ADD/ADHD, and she's not in a hurry to medicate.

Our oldest son is on Intuniv. But he started after 3 months of intense therapy for OCD and ADHD related behavioral issues. I am at ease that the meds help and are the right thing. But our regular doctor wanted to start him on the usual meds (not Intuniv) right away, with little info other than the "form evaluation" - and his OCD hadn't ramped up yet.

The usual meds would have made the OCD MUCH MUCH worse. So, that would have been a TERRIBLE thing to do to him. They also would have counter-acted endocrine therapy he requires. So...yes, I suggest you go SLOWLY in getting a diagnosis and deciding what to do.

My son beat the OCD with therapy, though we have to vigilant about it. The ADHD no longer seems like a big deal. He'll probably be able to drop the meds eventually.

Just...your son is 5, so take your time. Yes, ADHD is real, but your son's care-givers don't see a problem - and I bet they are around lots of kids and have lots of experience. Teachers tend to be VERY good at spotting ADD/ADHD.

The psychiatrist knows your concerns. If your son has ADD, the psychiatrist will get there. If not, she might help you work through how to manage the issues you are having with him. I suggest talking to the therapist about how you might interact differently with your son, and for now, go from there.

Deep breaths, go slow, try to trust that the psychiatrist and doctors can help you work this out. Good luck!

e

ETA: Consequence-based discipline/parenting-techniques do NOT work with kids with ADHD. "Cause and effect" wiring is...not the same for them.

I agree w/ the commenter below that hearing "he's a boy" gets to be...silly....but let's just say, it was NEVER teachers who said that about my son. No one who was with him on a daily basis thought his challenges were about "just being a boy".

ETA2: Looking at other comments, it also looks like our experiences are different, so I'd go back to going slowly and making sure what you do is right for you and your child.

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K.D.

answers from Jacksonville on

Looking back, my daughter showed signs of inattentiveness in pre-k, at 4 yrs old. Really, I could probably say even some signs as an infant. That may sound crazy, but at daycare she would hyperfocus so much on a certain movie that she wouldn't eat, sleep, or do anything when that movie was on. Hyperfocus is a trait of ADHD. She was diagnosed just before she turned 7. For us, we chose to medicate for school and it has been wonderful. She's still hyper at home, but we deal with it, as it's just "her"!

J.S.

answers from Hartford on

Yeah, looking back on my eldest daughter she has had ADHD since before birth. When she was born, when she was a toddler, through preschool and elementary school. I thought it was normal, though, and didn't really "see" it because her younger sister by two years is autistic (and also has ADD). She wasn't diagnosed until 6th grade, 11 years old.

Since that diagnosis, we've taken her off of artificial food dyes and high fructose corn syrup. We reduce caramel coloring and palm oils. We eat as cleanly as possible and that seems to help a lot. We keep her as active physically and mentally as possible... she's incredibly intelligent.

Even with the major improvements with diet changes she's sensitive/allergic to certain things (she actually throws up Red 40) it's still very clear that it's not the root cause. It's definitely genetic. There are family members on both sides who have it. Her daddy, I believe, is undiagnosed with ADHD. Anyway. Since we already had a great Pediatric Neurologist for our middle daughter we got the formal evaluation for my eldest through her.

What's funny is that we had gone to her for years... and she said that she kept wondering when I was going to ask her for an ADHD evaluation for my eldest. ;-) After several months of making some behavior adjustments and setting supports in place, and lots of improvements, we realized that we were going to have to go the med route. We have great luck with Concerta, very low dose. It worked right away and she was amazed at how suddenly she wasn't fidgeting and could focus and concentrate. Her teachers all called me amazed at her improved behaviors and ability to participate better in classes. Her self esteem started improving and she went right back to being the most popular girl in the class.

I hadn't realized how much it affected her self esteem. I wished, and still wish, that I had noticed sooner that it wasn't just her being energetic and exuberant. That her problems at school and at home weren't just parenting issues... that I wasn't parenting her the way she needed... but were related to the ADHD. I've carried a lot of guilt over this. All the trouble she's gotten into over the years because of impulse control problems, her oppositional defiance, her difficulties organizing and focusing and concentrating... they weren't and aren't her fault. I wasn't failing at trying to teach her.

I say that 5 yrs old is NOT too young for his first evaluation with a pediatric neurologist. If your gut is telling you to do it, then do it. My gut was focused on the neurodiversity in my autistic daughter and wasn't seeing similar patterns with ADHD (transition issues, focus issues, OCD).

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C.S.

answers from Rockford on

We just went through the neuro psych evals with my 6 year old. From what I was told formal testing before 6 is not really accurate/suggested. My son was found to have auditory discrimination disorder which can cause a child to behave in similar ways you are describing your son. We too started having problems in preschool. On days my son can't calm himself down and goes on and on and on are days that he's been overly stressed/stimulated. I don't personally believe in medicating kids this young before trying other behavior modifications at home and school (IEP/504 Plan) but every one is different. With my son I have to be extremely consistent, stick to a routine for 90% of the time and follow through if I use threats otherwise he'll eat me alive because he knows that I didn't follow through. He also gets OT for social skills (the arguing OMG the arguing), fine motor and sensory. It sounds like you have a sensory seeking kid for sure. Remember some of his behavior IS normal but I find sometimes it's heightened as is my focus on it because they are so challenging ALL.THE.TIME. Good luck to you and your son.

C.C.

answers from San Francisco on

My daughter (ADHD-Combined) was diagnosed at 8, but showed signs pretty much from day 1. For us, what finally provoked me into having her assessed was that she was getting into trouble ALL the time at school. She's a bright child and was getting good grades, but was melting down several times per day at school, wouldn't/couldn't focus in class, was forever being sent to the principal's office because she hadn't finished her work in class... on and on it went. At home, her behavior was certainly challenging, to put it mildly. As a toddler, she would have 5+ knock-down, drag-out tantrums per day. She wasn't doing it to get her way, she was just SUPER frustrated by EVERYTHING. She was just unable to cope, at all. The tantrums became less as she got older, but even as an 8 year old, will still melt down when frustrated. Like your son, she has never been a great sleeper (wiggling from the time we put her in bed until midnight or later, and then waking up with the sun).

All in all, it's hard for people who aren't around your child 24/7 to realize that what they're seeing isn't just high spirits, or a child having a cranky moment, but instead a child who literally cannot control themselves, and careens from one activity to the next incessantly...

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S.S.

answers from Chicago on

What is DX? My son is adhd. I have many stories and yes we knew at 3 he was different. What are you using for positive reinforcement? What are the privileges/consequences? Are you tracking what he eats? What sets of the behaviors etc? Medication helps but won't be prescribed this young and it also won't stop miss behaviors.all 5yr old argue. They all go go go. The trick is to set up the environment to help with that. Is he on a lot of electronics? Do you have him in sports to use up the energy? Julie is right structure is the key. So same rules every day. Same consequences every day.

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M.P.

answers from Peoria on

Our son is not on the hyper side, but rather restless and he is definitely distractable. He has a hard time paying attention in class when he is not engaged.

One thing that you should be aware of is that there are other things that can mimic ADD behavior. How much sleep does your son get each night? Is it at least 10 hours? Sleeplessness can easily mimic ADD. There are others but I mention this one because you said he goes to bed at 9:00.

Good luck at your appointment.

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T.T.

answers from Seattle on

My son was diagnosed with ADD at the beginning of 1st grade. Looking back, I see that he always had it, but drs. are hesitant or unable to diagnose earlier than approx. age 6 since it can be hard to distinguish from normal challenging behavior for young children. For the first three years or so my son never slept well. He would only sleep in 2-3 hour stints through the night and wouldn't even nap during the day for more than 15 minutes or so until he turned 1. He got angrier much quicker than other kids and threw horrendous fits beyond the normal terrible 2s and 3s. The fits peaked about age 4, with it getting slightly better, but still challenging, at age 5 and finally entirely getting better about the day he turned 6. He was mostly only throwing them at home, not at daycare/school. He has also always had sensory issues. I.e., I've always had to cut the tags out of his clothes because they bother him. Last year in kindergarten whenever I volunteered in his classroom I noticed he didn't participate too much in class discussion and often seemed to be spacing out, but overall he got good marks in kindergarten and seemed to adjust well. In first grade I immediately noticed that he was getting very little work completed, he was very easily distracted and again was spacing out all the time. I did research and found he met many ADD symptoms. So at the first parent teacher conference of the year I asked his teacher if she thought he had ADD and she had no qualms about telling me that he should definitely be tested for it. The teacher filled out a form for us to provide to the dr. and after discussion with the dr. he was diagnosed with ADD. The dr. and teacher told me that it's most common to be diagnosed at 1st grade, because it's the first year of school where a lot of concentration and focus is required where kids with ADD or ADHD run into issues In kindergarten there was a change in activities every 20 minutes or so. So, being able to focus for long periods of times wasn't as much of a requirement in kindergarten and the reason we didn't really know what the problem was until 1st grade. I was initially completely against medicating, but he needed help and we ended up deciding to give it a try on the lowest dosage. It was like night and day. His teacher immediately noticed the difference. Once on the medication, he completed all of his school work every day. I know some will have opinions against medicating and I respect that, but for my little boy it has made a world of difference in his accomplishments and self confidence so I wouldn't make a different decision. Apparently, there can be issues with taking the meds earlier than age 6, which may also be one of the reasons for not diagnosing it earlier. My son has ADD without the H (so, no hyperactivity). In regards to behavior issues, when he was younger and before we knew about his ADD, I talked to his pediatrician and she recommended the book "The Explosive Child" by Ross Greene. I found this book really helpful in better understanding him, keeping myself calm/patient and changing my reactions. I found it really helped.

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S.T.

answers from New York on

When my son was in preschool his teacher (who we respected having known her with our older child) suggested we have our son evaluated for speech therapy. During that evaluation they also advised us that he needed help "attending". We had no idea what they were talking about and went along with it. They sent special ed teachers into his preschool for speech and for help attending. when he got to public school in kindergarten his teacher constantly complained about him. He doesn't sit still, he doesn't listen to me, he does whatever he wants, etc. Since I had already asked for the pre-school services to transition to kindergarten and was told the school would handle it all I was surprised that there were no services at that time and at the first conference I asked about it after listening to the teacher complain about my son. She commented that he wasn't stupid and didn't need special ed. I was confused.
In 1st grade his teacher (another teacher we loved that our older child had in 1st grade) suggested that we have him evaluated for ADHD after getting his vision & hearing checked. i cried in that conference - thinking it was the end of the world. His vision & hearing were perfect. So we headed off to a pediatric psychologist (living int he shadow of NYC there were a few to choose from but it was still an hour away from us at a children's hospital). Within 15 minutes of testing they diagnosed our son with ADHD and suggested medication.

By this time it was the end of 1st grade and he had effectively lost kindergarten & most of 1st grade. We began medicaiton for him the day after Mother's Day. I felt like a failure - what kind of mother drugs her child? Meanwhile, my son is now finishing up 9th grade. The medication was a life saver for him.

We have changed medication a few times over the years - as he got older and more articulate and could describe side effects. His 1st grade teacher noticed within a few days that he was more calm, able to concentrate on one thing, not easily distracted... He also had needed speech therapy and help with reading. Both of those aspects improved as his ability to focus increased.

Some time around 3rd grade he wanted to stop taking the medication becuase he felt it made him different and no one else had to take medicine every day. so for a few months he didn't take his medicine and he noticed that he had a more difficult time at school. That's when we tried a few different medications until we found his current one.

He's never loved school - but he's got a B+ average. This eyar he's taken a basic engineeringi class and a Intro to computer class. he's been accepted into an IT academy in our high school and will also continue to take engineering classes. By the time he gets out of high school he'll be certified in a few different computer skills and will have earned about 15 college engineering credits from RIT.

Is there a children's hospital in your city? If so ask for a referral for a doctor who evaluates children your age. In the past they didn't like to diagnose a child with ADHD until about 7-8 - but I think they've developed better methods of evaluation. Therapy is not a bad thing either - for all you know he doesn't have ADHD but defiance or oppostiional disorder and those can be better treated with therapy. But if he does have ADD or ADHD therapy will also help since he can understand himself better.

My son was a perfedt infant - always happy, slept great, just a pleasure. But when he became a toddler and would just do whatever he wanted without disregard for what I said, I didn't know waht to do with myself or with him. From about age 15 months through age 5 I would often be in tears over this child, who I was certain, would get arrested by age 15. Well he'll be 15 in July and he's such a good kid. He's kind to old people, he helps in Sunday School with the 4 & 5 yr olds (he's a rock-star to them), he does well in school, plays sports in recreational leagues (he likes to have fun - doesn't have a big competitive drive), and does his chores. But I had to read a lot to figure out waht works for him and how to parent him. He and his sister are VERY different kids.

People withi ADD and ADHD are often the high performers, corporate execs, highly successful sales people, etc. They're creative since they're easily bored. But those pre-school years can be trying.

Go online and get some books, learn everything you can about how to be a parent to an ADHD kid. It's a differnet style. To clean his room I had to give instructions in specific steps: First - "pick up all the books and out them on this shelf with the binding facing out" - when that was done then I'd say "now put all the legos in this blue bin and stick the bin back on this shelf", when that was done "lets look under the bed to get everything out and figure out where it goes".... as long as he could follow my directions he wasn't frustrated. Now taht he's in HS one of his jobs is to clean the bathroom. So I made a checklist and then as he got to each step I'd tell him how to do it. Then he's cross it off the check list.

Once you udnerstand how their little minds work you can end your desire to schream at the top of your lungs, and he'll become a child who can figure out how to do things.

It's not an awful diagnosis and he is a boy - testosterone does make them take more risks, want to climb trees, want to jump off high roofs, etc. You'll both get through this! I promise!

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