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I think my daughter has ADHD


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I usually lurk but I'm looking for advice from people with similar educational philosophies as me.


My 8 year old daughter is incredibly bright, creative, funny, and impulsive. I've always known she's distractible, but we've been able work with it til now. We're trying to do 3rd grade work and she can mentally do any of it but she can't focus, she can't sit. Math lessons take an hour, unless I work with her every minute. The careless mistakes are adding up. She can narrate stories for hours, but getting a whole paragraph out of her on paper is pulling teeth. In group activities she's the kid who has to throw up her hand and say something, but half the time it's "um, um, um, I forget". 


I love her and don't want to change her but my techniques for helping her concentrate, keeping her on task, and redirecting her aren't working any more. My husband and I aren't particularly enthusiastic about medication so I'd rather have that be a last result. 


Can you point me to resources about how to help her? Books on ADHD? Do I need to change out her curriculum? She's been doing an online typing program this week and doing so well with it, do I need to do more computer-based school instead of book-based? She will read for hours but I'm not sure she's retaining knowledge. She's suffering now because what she needs to be doing mentally and what she's capable of actually producing don't match.


Both my husband and I are extremely intelligent and also distractible / have followthrough issues. I'm 95% convinced my husband has/had ADHD (we were both homeschooled so we never ran into formal diagnoses) and I am either high functioning Asperbergers or just really weird nerd girl, I don't need labels for us but I do want to make sure I don't excuse my daughter's issues by thinking it's completely normal.


Thanks for your time.

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Your sig says dd6. Do you have two kids or is your sig old? Just checking, because your 6 yo was pretty advanced. :)  My dd was like that and yes ADHD. 


As far as what you can do right now:


-work on working memory. It will help with that forgetting thing

-read about Executive Function and learn supports, ways to build it, etc.

-check her for retained reflexes. They won't make it go away, but integrating them might *help*.

-learn about structure and embrace structure. Structure in life, in school work, in writing, etc.

-yes on the typing, definitely do that

-Begin some Social Thinking materials like We Thinkers or Social Detective or...  You can also see where she fits in the social communication profiles to get some ideas. https://www.socialthinking.com/Articles?name=Social%20Thinking%20Social%20Communication%20Profile  Some of the Social Thinking concepts will start off really basic, like group plan, people have feelings, etc. You don't have to be on the spectrum to benefit from the instruction.


The studies right now are showing parents are most satisfied with the outcomes when they do behavioral work THEN meds. That was compared to meds first or meds concurrently. There are things that can *help* ADHD, like omega 3, removing food colorings and food allergens, integrating retained reflexes, working on executive function, building working memory, etc., yes. The *advantage* of doing evals at some point is that GOOD evals, really detailed evals, will tell you things you didn't know, not just affirm what you've already figured out. You could look for someone on the Hoagies Gifted list, for instance. My dd was eval'ed the first time around 11/12, and honestly it was late. We should have done it earlier. She was functioning multiple grades ahead on almost everything. Because we went with a neuropsych (which in general is considered overkill for straight ADHD), we got lots of extra testing on things like word retrieval, motor planning, etc. We got advice we are STILL using all these years later on how to handle her high school and college studies. Like literally, just yesterday I said to her see, the psych from when you were 11 was RIGHT!


So I'm STRONGLY in favor of evals, detailed evals, evals with someone who will spend some time talking with you about how to APPLY the results. Could change a lot for you or empower you in ways you don't expect. 


As far as the meds, I agree they're sort of end of the line, after you've made the other changes. Thing is, you're also seeing a lot. Just as someone who has btdt, I would say make the leap before you were thinking. Make it earlier, rather than later. We waited a bit too long, honestly. You're going to hit some walls, and the meds really make a radical difference. 


Just for your trivia, my dd is now successful in college but using her disability accommodations. We spent a lot of years (middle school, high school), building her comfort with using accommodations. Our psych told us that dd was bright enough and whatever enough that she would be FINE but that she would need to use disability services and need a reduced load. She ended up with a very good ACT score and got her school's highest scholarship. SST o you would think stellar student, right? But she also gets weekly meetings with a disability services person who goes through her schedule and makes sure she's getting things done and on top of everything. It's a thing you can get, when you have this kind of paper trail. It's the difference between keeping her very generous scholarship and not. She would be TOAST without these services. They gave her a room with less people, limited distraction testing environment, all sorts of things. So the evals and the meds changed her life.


Thing is, once a dc is 18 or they're at college, your hands are totally tied. If your dc isn't used to using their services, requesting accommodations, using the right terms, OWNING THEIR DIAGNOSIS, they're not gonna go to college and say oh thanks for that lovely label! You won't be able to do it for them, and those things don't happen unless the STUDENT requests, the student is willing to use them. And lots and lots of kids with disabilities refuse to use the services. They're not comfortable speaking up, don't want to seem different, want to try without.


I know she's only 8, hehe. I'm just telling you now is the time to eval because now is when you get the right words, intervene, and get her used to self-advocating. It's empowering everyone. It doesn't have to be about meds. Our evals were 6-8 hours of testing, not the 1-2 of a clinical psych, so we got tons of info back to change/improve how we worked with her. It was a PIVOTAL MOMENT in our homeschooling. 


Yeah, I'm rereading this. You need evals. Get somebody really good. See how you'll fund it (insurance, privately, through the ps, whatever) and see what your options are. We can talk you through it. You'll be glad you did. I would get the evals and work on the bodywork concurrently. Then, after evals because your interventions for working memory, EF, etc.

Edited by PeterPan
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I would say the number one thing is structure. 


My 6 and 8 year olds have ADHD, and they absolutely thrive on consistent structure and routines.  Now don't get me wrong, they can't maintain the structure or routines on their own for love or money, but they are remarkably happier, less stressed, less impulsive, more productive, less argumentative, etc when there is A LOT of external structure in their days (and school work and meal times and rooms and chores and seats in the car and screen time and on and on and on).  They know what to expect, they know where they should be and what they should be doing, they become very familiar with the same daily routines done at the same times in the same ways.


I have found that consistency is king.  We school year round, because for every day they "take off" they are going to whine for a week when we start back up.  We have very consistent rules, expectations, and consequences.  Again, if I let them watch TV just one day during breakfast, then I will have to listen to begging and harping at breakfast time for the next month.  Similarly, we keep bedtimes and meal times very consistent.  My boys, like many ADHD kiddos, have a hard time sleeping, and keeping them up an extra hour to watch a show or go to a party or drive around looking at Christmas lights seems like a minor thing, but it can throw off their sleep cycle and significantly effect their daytime behavior for days or weeks.


Just as important as structure for us, though, is medication.  My boys LOVE their Focalin.  It lets them think.  They can focus on activities that are important to them.  They can finish their school and chores quickly so they can have more play time.  They can make and keep friends.  They can function in fun group classes.  They can positively interact with the family as opposed to the constant stress/conflict/disappointment of their pre-medicated days. 


They're still the same kids, but now their non-neurotypical brain chemistry is not holding them hostage.  Before, a lot of their actions were being done to them.  They didn't want to be the annoying kids who were constantly calling out during class, but their impulsivity was controlling them.  Everyone, including myself, got frustrated with them, but mostly they were victims of how their brains were wired...or mis-wired.  Now they get to choose how to behave, because the medication has allowed their brain to slow down enough to pause and think and plan and see the connects between cause and effect.  At this point, they can feel the difference between medicated and unmedicated, and they choose medicated hands down.



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From what you wrote, it seems that 'impulse control' might be her problem?

If you do a search of 'exercises for impulse control' and read about it?

You'll get an understanding of the basic exercises/games that can be used to help develop it.

Which you can adapt and make up your own.


It can also be helpful to use a reward system, where she earns points for impulse control. 

So that she get something when she earns enough points.

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Everything here is awesome 

It might be a good idea to just do an eval. They cover all areas and it can help narrow down where the challenge really is. For example when I filled out the forms of behavior for the ILS I was working on auditory stuff but the sensory area had 10 out of 12 check marked. Where other areas had zero. I remember something similar with the adhd testing there was not hyperactivity etc. It's good to kow so that you are climbing the right tree.


I have two children that have distractibility. Both tested negative for adhd but it was enough that it affects there lives. It's likely there may be some ASD. I wull look inyo that eventually. In any case both have profoundly improved there attention through music lessons. I have made it very positive and over the years having them focus on music has helped them train themselves to focus on academics. There is a study that playing a musical instrument for 3.5 years changes the brain. I will try to find the study. My daughter has played piano for 6 years since she was 8. It's been up and down but huge benefit over time. My son started guitar at 9. I wanted to start sooner but I could get him to focus until after 4 months of ILS.




For my son he is no longer distracted with schoolwork or really at home so it probably was not adhd but for his treatment for CAPD we did the following things


ILS 100 hours over a year with retained reflex exercises


Vision therapy. Which I believe was the key because now he doesn't have avoidance behavior for handwriting and copy work.


Structured guitar lessons for the last year with fun practace and percussion drum work. I couldn't afford interactive metronome but his guitar teacher is a percussionist so we now practace drums and guitar. When he started he couldn't focus and stay on task for a lesson or hold the guitar. Now he is laser focused and passionate when playing the guitar. His teacher is patient and works with him but the difference is significant. It has been a lot of work and emotion for me but I believe these things have trained him to refocus and avoid distraction. Most.likely because my son has CAPD by itself from ear infections as a toddler.


True adhd is brain chemistry these therapies might help but I doubt I would see the improvements I have without medication so I guess it's not adhd. I just stay vigilant and observe. if the distractibility comes back or is affecting their academics then we are going to revisit the brain chemistry stuff.


Also you might not like medication but if it works and you can time the most critical learning tasks when the medication is the most effective it might be worth looking into it.


For ADHD supplement info you could look into diane craft and her biology of behavior. I learned a lot from that. I changed my kids diet. I give them omega 3 and I was going to try supplements but haven't found I needed them.


If anyone has any other diet recomendations and resource I would love to read those as well.


I think the first steps are to start peeling the onion. Try to note areas and situations you are noticing the behaviors. Observe where you see positive things happening. This will help ensure you get the correct diagnosis and help your child needs.









Sent from my SM-N910V using Tapatalk

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Thank you all so much! I have so much to start looking at. Really, really appreciate it.


Yes my sig is old, my daughter is 8 now. She's still advanced but she has trouble doing the work. Can't sit down and write the paragraphs that are in her head, takes forever on math even though she has the know-how.


We also have a not-quite-year-old daughter as well and I know that's not helping. I get distracted with the baby, or with my job, and next thing I know it's 11 and DD8 is still staring at the same page she's been on all morning.

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I highly recommend getting the book, Getting Ahead of ADHD by Joel Nigg. It is on Amazon here:  https://www.amazon.com/Getting-Ahead-ADHD-Next-Generation-Treatments/dp/1462524931/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1513645051&sr=8-1&keywords=getting+ahead+of+adhd+nigg


It provides the clearest explanation I have seen about what ADHD actually is, and reviews all current treatments and what studies say about their efficacy. Great for figuring out both your options and your priorities. 


Also, I can't agree with Wendyroo's post enough. Virtually everything she said has also been true for my sons. 

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I have found https://www.additudemag.com/ Additude Magazine to be a great resource. I have learned a lot from their webinars. This might be a good place to have a look. 


I think there is much stigma on ADHD. My pediatrician told me that at the beginning of his career he thought children were over-medicated and rarely prescribed ADHD medication. Then he related a few stories to me of cases he had worked with. He told me that he feels in most cases that proper-medication is life changing. They have found that many of the support structures help but don't touch the underlying challenges of ADHD especially the brain  squirrel chasing thoughts. Once the brain can focus it can learn. I am not encouraging you one way or another just sharing my experience.  

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I believe you want a neuropsychologist. You can google for one in your area.


FWIW my 12 YO would likely qualify for an ADHD diagnosis...she is highly distractible and impulsive. I am not able to be ever-present and help her focus. She works well with a timer and removal of distractions (in her case, with lots of noisy little brothers around, this means she works by herself at a desk in our guest room--there were too many distractions in her room, and if I'm near, she ises me as a distraction). Initially she had a reward of computer game time if she got stuff done before the timer went off, with a consequence if she didn't, plus certain rules like you can only come ask questions at certain times (otherwise she'd think of random questions to come ask every 5 minutes). We started this midway through 4th grade and it helped a lot. She still has days when her schoolwork takes twice as long as it should because she's daydreaming, but most of the time she gets it done within a reasonable amount of time.


It depends on the kid though...my 3rd grade DS likely has fairly severe ADHD and I could never send him off to work on his own and expect anything to get done. Timers do help, as does some sort of incentive at the end of the work. Otherwise I rely on creativity, like having him do math in the evenings after the two youngest are in bed. Somehow he's more motivated to do it and focus on it since it's delaying his bedtime. And sometimes I just want to rip my hair out.

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I do have kids with ADHD (and some without). Lots of great advice above. Some things I have found helpful are short lessons. We only work as long as the kiddo can concentrate, and then take a break. My lessons would never take an hour. 10-20 minutes max at that age. Then we change subjects or take a break. Charlotte Mason has a lot to say about the habit of attention, and I think her points are great whether a kid has ADHD or not (and my ADHD kids did end up on medication). 


For getting words on paper-that can be a multi-step process for many kids. We found BraveWriter to be a great resource. We do free writing a la Julie Bogart twice a month or so, where you pick a prompt, set a timer (we start with 5 minutes) and then the kid writes anything that comes into their head for 5 minutes. No style points, no spelling corrections, no handwriting comments. They need not stay on topic. If a kid isn't ready to do that yet (and it sounds like your daughter may not be) we will start with me scribing what the child says, so they can see the process. Then they usually tell me when they want to write their own (in our house that took up to a year). Once you are done, the kids draw a picture if they want, share with the group if they want, and then put it in their binder. I never look at them. It really helps break down writing block. And if the writing goes in the garbage, that's okay to. It's an exercise about making the writing the kid's own. I'm amazed after several years, what they can churn out. 

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