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They actually call it ADHD without hyperactivity, so I will just call it ADD as it seems counterproductive to call it Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder without Hyperactive.

 

My child cannot focus. He seems to be capable of focusing on things that are interactive, computer or even discussion. I do not want to medicate unless there is a biological benefit to it. I would rather accommodate. Is there a long term biological benefit to medication? Or is there any other therapy? 

 

I am thinking I need to keep course work interactive. Would a virtual academy be good for this as he would be interacting with the computer, something he loves. Or would this be counter productive? Would I be better off continuing to find interactive ways to teach him, from conversations to computer games and apps and TV shows and movies? He has mentioned wanting to go to regular public school eventually and without an accredited program for high school in the meantime, nothing he does will transfer to our local public schools. 

 

Please give me all the suggestions and ideas you have. Thank you.

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Well I have looked a lot of this. 

I think there is a lot you could consider. I really like some of the webinars at additude magazine to get better informed on how to help a child manage ADD. There are great resources on executive function, sleep, study skills, and medication. 

 

 

There is a very informative series by Russel A Barkley. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BzhbAK1pdPM&list=PLzBixSjmbc8eFl6UX5_wWGP8i0mAs-cvY his focus is primarily on the current thinking of ADHD and medications that are and are not effective. 

 

There is a part of the presentation on Executive function that is just awesome. So well thought out how he describes it and later how he explains parenting strategies for it.

 

 

If you want two different opinions on ADD you can look up youtube seminars for Daniel Amen. He personally believes that there are 7 different types of ADHD. He has a non traditional idea that using a SPECT scan of the brain can determine what parts of the brain are most affected by ADHD and that medication does work for certain types of ADHD and that you have to know what is going on in the brain. He also is the author of the warrior diet and sells books so be mindful of that. He strongly believes the first thing you do is take out all the crap any kid could eat and drop the sugars out like bagels etc.  

 

There is also the broken brain series where they feel strongly that gluten and dairy affect ADHD by Mark Hyman.

 

Both strongly agree that carbs, lack of sleep, and poor behavior management make the condition worse. 

 

Personally my sons pediatrician told me that with many cases of ADHD and ADD that medication is life changing because there is real brain neurochemistry involved.  Read and get informed and then go from there. 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by exercise_guru

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Can you share how old your child is, or general age range (lower elementary, upper elementary, middle, high?) I did different things at different ages to try to manage attention issues. Over-all, I've sat with my son for many subjects. What I did as I sat there to focus his attention or keep him engaged was different in elementary than it has been in middle school. 

 

My son has pretty severe attention issues, along with some other things. His ability to attend to non-preferred tasks without ADHD medication has improved since he started ADHD medication. In other words, he functions better without ADHD medication now than he functioned before he started medication. How much of that is due to age vs. having to make himself attend to participate in activities he enjoyed otherwise vs. something else, I don't know. There has been improvement. My son still struggles.  

 

I don't know ADHD meds are a treatment in that they make long term biological/neurological changes. I can't think off-hand of any research supporting that, though I haven't looked closely. However, you may find that a child with medication is better able to learn and practice behavioral techniques to manage his attention issues.

 

When we found the right ADHD medication (short acting Ritalin here), it did amazing things for my son's ability to start work and focus. His ability to start and focus on math was particularly improved. If you decided to trial a medication, you would know nearly immediately, based on my experience, whether it helped. If it doesn't, or if side effects are an issue, you can always go off. Depending on age, that may be your best option. 

Edited by sbgrace

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I can't tell from your original post... how old is he, and does he have a documented diagnosis, or do you think he has ADHD from the symptoms you see?

 

(Note, I refer to it as ADHD, since that is the common name now. A diagnosis would be ADHD- inattentive type. There is also an impulsive type, which can go along with inattentive but is different than hyperactive).

 

I'm not sure what you mean by "biological benefit." Are you asking whether the meds actually make long-term changes in the brain? Or are you asking how they work?

 

To address one of your questions, you say that he has trouble focusing on things on the computer, so I would question whether a computer based school approach would really suit him. But there are many models of online instruction nowadays, so the real answer is... it depends. There are others on the WTM boards who have used online classes who can provide opinions about specific choices.

 

I was resistant to medicating for my child's ADHD, because at the time we were homeschooling, and I thought I could work with him and accommodate. But after years of effort, it became obvious he needed more, and once we started meds, it did make a big difference in his ability to focus on his schoolwork and on his interactions with family members. I do believe meds are a best option for many. (I also have children with inattention and ADHD who are not medicated, so I also believe it's not automatically the best choice for everyone).

 

There are other things you can try. Diet, as mentioned above. Mindfulness training. Therapy with a psychologist. They can be effective. However, some people find they need meds, even with those other interventions.

 

 

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They... 

 

They who?

 

I take it you just got evals or a diagnosis? If you got a psych eval, the psych would be answering these questions, so I'll assume you got a ped diagnosis. That's your first problem. Ped can be totally wrong and miss all kinds of stuff. So start by getting evals and getting personalized help. That's what a psychologist does.

 

Structure is good. Lack of accountability is bad. It's mystifying that you think some form of cyberschooling is interactive. Are you employed at home or unable to work with him yourself?

 

No, you will not need an accredited program to transfer to the ps. They'll look at test scores and place. Since he has ADHD, you could request the ps do evals and set up either a 504 or IEP when he transfers. What you were doing before won't matter.

 

It could be that he's asking to transfer because he senses he would do better with more STRUCTURE. Most kids with ADHD thrive on structure. It's your #1 buzzword and accommodation and thing to make happen. 

 

Beyond that, your interventions and game plan are make sure there are no retained reflexes, food allergies, environmental allergies, or other physical problems causing the behaviors, get a psych eval so you understand what is going on in his brain, and consider a trial of methods. The data is that most parents are more satisfied with results if they get behavioral supports and training for parents FIRST, then begin meds. 

 

If you can't make a psych eval happen privately, you can go through the ps and get the evals done for free. With only a ped diagnosis, you really can't be sure that you caught everything or even have the correct diagnosis. It's a really good way to end up on unnecessary meds and not getting the root problems.

 

Adding: The more severe the presentation, the more likely you've got more going on. You can be doing genetic testing, OT evals, vision evals, APD screening, all sorts of things to track down what's really going on.

Edited by PeterPan

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The main bio benefit to medicating I've heard of is to prevent failure that can lead to depression etc.

 

There are a variety of other approaches (avoidance of certain things like sugars, dyes, preservatives, etc. and inclusion of others like supplements, exercises etc.) that may or may not work depending on the causes of the AD(H)D.

 

I personally think that computerized games and learning (or perhaps electronics in general) etc. may increase issues with ADD, but that is my personal observation, no research to give you on it.  Though you could perhaps look at Glow Kids book before deciding whether to move in a more computerized school direction or not.  And there's another book about Resetting kids and screens, but cannot recall its title that might be worth looking at.

 

When I was a kid an experiment was done with small animals in cages with TV's on such that the animals could not see the TV itself, just be exposed to the electromagnetics from it, and some of them seemed to zone out in a very ADD-like sort of way, others seemed to go more hyper...  but most seemed affected by it (lizards, birds, hamsters, etc.). Then, when I was in uni, there was a problem with the research mice not acting normally due to what turned out to be electric ceiling fans affecting them.

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They actually call it ADHD without hyperactivity, so I will just call it ADD as it seems counterproductive to call it Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder without Hyperactive.

 

My child cannot focus. He seems to be capable of focusing on things that are interactive, computer or even discussion. I do not want to medicate unless there is a biological benefit to it. I would rather accommodate. Is there a long term biological benefit to medication? Or is there any other therapy? 

 

I am thinking I need to keep course work interactive. Would a virtual academy be good for this as he would be interacting with the computer, something he loves. Or would this be counter productive? Would I be better off continuing to find interactive ways to teach him, from conversations to computer games and apps and TV shows and movies? He has mentioned wanting to go to regular public school eventually and without an accredited program for high school in the meantime, nothing he does will transfer to our local public schools. 

 

Please give me all the suggestions and ideas you have. Thank you.

As others have mentioned it would be helpful to have some more information.

 

1.  How old is your child?

2.  Are you living in the United States or another country?

3.  Has he had an official evaluation and if so, who did the evaluation?  Pediatrician?  Neurospychologist?  Local Public school psychologist?  Someone else?

4.  Are you currently homeschooling him and have you always done so?

 

With regards to medication specifically, some kids do much better on meds initially then are eventually able to function without them.  The meds help them to finally tackle coping strategies and get those ingrained before they are able to stop taking meds.  Others are able to use things like Cognitive Behavior Therapy and other strategies without using medications.  Still others find that meds cause side effects and may not even actually help.  And others find that meds coupled with other strategies are a long term solution.  In other words, as with nearly every other learning issue parents may find their child facing, it really depends on the child.  This is not an exact science and there is no one perfect answer, unfortunately.  It can take quite a bit of time to tweak out exactly what will work best and what works for now may not work forever.

 

One thing that absolutely is important is consistency and structure.  They may not want the structure but they need the structure.  And they may not be able to create and follow that structure without support systems in place.

 

For example, my daughter cannot sense the passage of time.  Without an internal sense of time she has no idea how much time as passed.  5 minutes feels the same as an hour.  Therefore she had to have significant external support systems in place to get her tasks accomplished and to get anywhere on time. 

 

Thanks to PeterPan and others on this board she and I started timing how long it would take her to accomplish tasks.  We would write down averages and keep that in mind when planning things.  That included even taking a shower.  (Ask me sometime about the over an hour shower where I called the police because I had no idea where she had gone to.)  Then we worked to create lists of things that need to be done, in the same order each day, along with a zillion alarms on her phone to keep her on task. 

 

Let's say she needs to go to a class at 3.  That morning it is on her list that at 3pm she must go to this class.  Otherwise between yesterday and today she will not only not remember her class is that day, she will maybe think the class is several days away.  No real sense of days passing, either.  Various alarms will go off during the day for other things but since she has to leave the house that afternoon there are specific alarms for that task.  Maybe at 2pm an alarm goes off to remind her that she needs to go to class at 3 and must start getting ready.  2:30 is another alarm warning her that she needs to get her shoes and her notebook and pencil and that we will be leaving in 15 minutes.  At 2:40 is another alarm with a 5 minute warning.  At 2:45 is another alarm that says LEAVE RIGHT NOW.  There is another alarm that will remind her when she gets in from her class that she must put away her notebook and pencil in their designated place so they won't get lost. 

 

I could do all of these reminders for her but she wants to learn independence, she needs to learn independence and frankly since chemo my brain needs external alarms too, for me to stay on task.  The external structure takes time to set up but was absolutely a must for her to function effectively.  At the same time, she is also my child that does better with a flow to her day instead of a rigid schedule.  Therefore, every single day, including on weekends, she gets a list of everything that needs to be done that day, including chores and anything on anyone else's schedule that might affect her.  She and I work through that list together but she has control of what she does next on the list.  Maybe she is working really hard on her essay and needs to push back the art project and her math lesson.  O.k.  They are still on her list.  She has that reminder.  I can also remind her later on.  Right now, though, she really is inspired and wants to work on her essay.  She will flow into other tasks later on in the day.

 

Now let's talk about on-line classes and virtual academies.  Will that work better?  That can really depend.  I found on-line classes that only meet once or twice a week were inordinately hard for the kids to handle at first.  They were not in the structure of a daily live classroom with constant reminders from teachers and pack animal flow from one thing to the next.  I had to be their brain on nearly everything, helping them pace out assignments, remind them what to do each and every single day so they weren't scrambling at the last minute, helping them learn how to take notes AND listen to the teacher AND keep track of responses the teacher was expecting during class time and I also had to help them communicate with their teacher when they were confused or the teacher was disorganized.  Frankly it was HARD.   I was scrambling.  And the expectations were for NT kids.  Keeping up with output expectations was a HUGE hurdle.  And it was ALL on my shoulders to help them stay on task and organized but the assignments and the schedule were being created by someone else.  I had no control over due dates or how the material was being taught.  If I felt that a child needed more time and a slower pace I could not provide them with that.  We were stuck with the on-line teacher's due dates.

 

 DD now does really well.  We have been incorporating on-line classes mixed in with parent led or self-paced classes for a few years now.  She has developed some very useful strategies for staying on task.  I still help but more and more she is taking over.  DS is still learning.  He is soon to be 14 but he still needs significant support to stay on task.  DS did better with the early levels of Time for Learning.  The tasks are clearly laid out.  There is a checklist he could follow.  He could clearly see his progress and where he had to go to next.  No need for notes.  No need to keep track of what the teacher was assigning.  Each lesson is a small piece done daily.  He did well with that format.  (upper elementary, though, for various reasons regarding the way they presented content did not work for him).  He would hyper focus, though, and if I was busy with other things I might not realize how long he had been on.  He might log on and stay on doing assignment after assignment and forget to eat, drink, move around.  He needed external supports to maintain a healthy balance.

 

As for needing accreditation of homeschool courses for being able to move into a public school classroom, that should honestly not matter.  What might matter is if your child is already in High School.  If they have not been in a brick and mortar or on-line school that you have a transcript for some High Schools will insist on placement tests to confirm your child is ready for High School level material and can start where their age says they should (or where a parent says they should).  Others will insist that if they homeschooled they must start at 9th grade whether they are in 10th, 11th, or 12th by age or not.   If you have grades/a transcript of some kind (you can create this yourself) that is often accepted, though, especially if they are starting 9th grade and some don't even care about that.  Many classes for High School start over, assuming not a lot of prior knowledge.  Math would be a definite exception.  If a child is in 4th grade math but starting 9th grade then that could be a huge issue.  Lack of ability to read and write would also potentially be an issue.  Content knowledge in subjects like History and science, though, is usually not something they worry about.

 

There are several online sources for classes that might be of interest, by the way, but I will post later if you want specifics.

 

This is long. Sorry.  

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My dh has ADHD - Inattentive and decided to go on medicine a few years ago. He wishes he had done it years before. He was self-medicating with alcohol and caffeine prior to starting meds. He had been unemployed for several years and once he started meds, he was employed, again, within 2 months. So there are certainly benefits to the meds. 

 

He will tell you that living with ADHD  -- unmedicated --  does have its benefits. He frequently enjoys the "hyperfocus" part and enjoys completing projects of interest. If he is forced to complete a project (i.e. school work), the hyperfocus doesn't kick in because it isn't "his" interest. 

 

85 - 90% of the students I teach are diagnosed ADHD (all three types) and have seen the changes one has when taking meds and not taking meds. There is a new blood test out that can help in deciding which one would likely have the most benefit for your particular child. We have had a few students go through it, so far so good. 

 

You can continue to accommodate your child and be successful (diet, regular exercise, mindfulness training, sensory/OT,) for some students. You may be able to help your son in being able to do more on his own but in the end you may consider meds when he is older. At school, we are seeing success with the addition of a mindfullness program, this year. Many of the parents have noticed a difference. 

 

In the past 2 years I am strongly suspicious that my eldest daughter has ADHD. Being extremely active in competitive gymnastics (20+ hours per week of intense work-outs/sensory inputs) helped tremendously. Now that she had to leave the sport due to injury I am seeing a bright teen that is more like her dad than she would like to admit. Since she's almost 18, I will support her in her choices and I will try and guide her, but given her age, I have to follow her lead. I wish I had considered it earlier, it would have been easier than now. 

 

I would recommend that you read articles/books by Charles Barkely and George McClosky (executive functions). 

 

I wish you the best. 

 

 

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They who?

 

Structure is good. Lack of accountability is bad. It's mystifying that you think some form of cyberschooling is interactive. Are you employed at home or unable to work with him yourself?

 

No, you will not need an accredited program to transfer to the ps. They'll look at test scores and place. Since he has ADHD, you could request the ps do evals and set up either a 504 or IEP when he transfers. What you were doing before won't matter.

on.

Why do you need to be condescending?

 

Computer programs, like Prodigy, are very interactive and my son loves it! This isnt our main math, but it sure does kill some of the time he would be annoying me during school hours! So yeah, computer school can be engaging. I imagine when Beast Academy Online comes out, it will be engaging too. 🙄

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I can't tell from your original post... how old is he, and does he have a documented diagnosis, or do you think he has ADHD from the symptoms you see?

 

(Note, I refer to it as ADHD, since that is the common name now. A diagnosis would be ADHD- inattentive type. There is also an impulsive type, which can go along with inattentive but is different than hyperactive).

 

I'm not sure what you mean by "biological benefit." Are you asking whether the meds actually make long-term changes in the brain? Or are you asking how they work?

 

To address one of your questions, you say that he has trouble focusing on things on the computer, so I would question whether a computer based school approach would really suit him. But there are many models of online instruction nowadays, so the real answer is... it depends. There are others on the WTM boards who have used online classes who can provide opinions about specific choices.

 

I was resistant to medicating for my child's ADHD, because at the time we were homeschooling, and I thought I could work with him and accommodate. But after years of effort, it became obvious he needed more, and once we started meds, it did make a big difference in his ability to focus on his schoolwork and on his interactions with family members. I do believe meds are a best option for many. (I also have children with inattention and ADHD who are not medicated, so I also believe it's not automatically the best choice for everyone).

 

There are other things you can try. Diet, as mentioned above. Mindfulness training. Therapy with a psychologist. They can be effective. However, some people find they need meds, even with those other interventions.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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Templeton, if you are still reading this thread, I hope you've found some things that are helpful. I, for one, would be happy to engage with you further, if you want to ask more questions, and I'm sure others are, as well.

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Why do you need to be condescending?

 

Computer programs, like Prodigy, are very interactive and my son loves it! This isnt our main math, but it sure does kill some of the time he would be annoying me during school hours! So yeah, computer school can be engaging. I imagine when Beast Academy Online comes out, it will be engaging too. 🙄

 

I can't speak for Peter Pan, but the virtual academies commonly used in our state (Peter Pan and I live in the same sate) are not interactive. Cyberschool is not the same as a computer program that is designed to gain and keep attention. Kids can really get lost and flounder without adequate support in some virtual academies. Even motivated students can struggle with the layers of hoops to jump through that are not at all responsive to individual students. Other students are fine.

 

Computer programs are a whole different ballgame than cyberschool. 

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