New Diagnosis of ADD on the Horizon/Many Questions
Hiya All! I am again relying on the wonderful Medhelp community. I have both sought help, and gave it here....and I honestly wouldn't go anywhere else.
My dgtr is 10 years old, will be 11 in June. She is currently in 4th grade. Throughout her entire school career thus far....she has struggled pretty significantly, especially in math. The idea of "ADD" has always sort of loomed in our minds, and a few teachers in the past have mentioned it in passing, but when we would ask if we should have her evaluated, the answer was always, "not necessarily yet"....and she would always improve with a LOT of hard work and some extra help at school...so we wouldn't think about it again for a while.
Well, this year, her grades have PLUMMETTED. I mean F's. Straight F's in Math this term, and pretty lousy grades in Spelling and Reading as well. ONE of the issues I have is that this teacher puts 100% of the grading evals into TESTS only. Therefore, she is not evaluated in any other way, homework, projects, reports (which there are none, btw). I think this is one of the main reasons we have seen such a drop this year in her marks. Not related to the issues with my DD, but I don't agree with that. She scores about average or slightly below on standardized testing (ie PSSA's). Her reading is very fluent, and her reading ability is above her targeted level, but she struggles with the comprehension aspect of reading a bit.
However, after numerous meetings with the teacher and guidance counselor, we finally decided to rule out or in any kind of learning disability, most specifically ADD, as she does exhibit quite a few characteristics. We filled out the Conner's forms, as did the teacher, and she had a psychological eval thru the county at school on Thurs. I spoke with this woman in length on Friday(who, btw, was fabulous). She recommended continuing on, having her officially tested for ADD by a "board certified child/adolescent psychiatrist". The school also has her set up for testing within the school in the fall. Great. We're on our way....and I'm anxious to get an answer, b/c I want to do right by her, and NOT see her struggle all thru school. The woman from the county of course couldn't tell me anything "officially", but said she strongly feels that there is an issue there...and she would guess ADD, not ADHD, and possibly a Math LD as well.
As we go thru this process, I will hope to remain active in this forum ,and hope you all can share your experiences and guide me along. For now...a few things I would LOVE some insight on. First, I'm assuming the obvious difference between ADD and ADHD is the hyperactivity component? My dgtr does NOT exhibit any signs of that whatsoever, and so far, everyone who has evaluated her agrees. I'm slightly familiar with some of those characteristics, and I haven't seen that in her too much. It's almost opposite...like she is detatched, doesn't care.
My BIGGEST struggle right now is with grade retention. Of course, the school has to recommend that, as her grades ARE lousy, and they have a responsibility. My biggest concern with that is...she is already a whole year ahead of her classmates. We waited a full year to start her in K, as she wasn't ready the 1st time around. It would essentially be like retaining her twice. The girl would be eligible to DRIVE in the 8th grade, for goodness sakes! I just cannot see how that isn't a HUGE factor for her developmentally? I can't see that there wouldn't be some pretty big impacts on her for that reason. Developmentally...socially and physically, she is ahead of the game. That is also the teacher's and the woman from the County's opinion as well. Heck, she is only 10 and already is menstruating! (Ouch).
Now, I want to be open minded and flexible and do what is right for her. It is really looking like there is going to be some kind of learning disability. Do children with a learning disability truly benefit from retention? Especially BEFORE a lot of adaptations and strategies have been put into place? What we have done thus far (as far as school strategies) has been minimal. I would love some feedback on that.
Second....ADD vs. ADHD. If someone could give me a brief comparison? I'm also curious to know if the recommended medication regimen is different for these two diagnoses? That's a whole other topic in itself...this is going to be a rough road for us with decisions..I'm SO fearful of putting my child on any kind of medication. I'm VERY familiar with these meds, but of course from an adult perspective. We give Adderall, Ritalin, Concerta to patients at work all the time, but that doesn't help because I know that they work totally opposite for children vs adults. It will be a challenge for me to put some of these conceptions I have about certain meds aside.
The other thing I would like to do is to just share a bit about my dgtr to hear your opinions. Now, I KNOW none of you can truly evaluate her by reading online, and that's okay...I'm not going to the bank with your insight...I'd just LOVE to have it as a personal resource. NO one knows ANY topic better than someone who lives it in some capacity.
She was ALWAYS very very "clingy" and timid as a young child. Where my 3 yr old son cannot WAIT to go to daycare every morning...she NEVER EVER got used to it and quit fussing in some way in the 2-3 years we had her in it (part time). She was always afraid to be away from us...even sleepovers at Grandma's, or other very familiar things. Almost like a severe and prolonged form of separation anxiety (which is interesting, b/c I've lived with anxiety ALL of my life). She also exhibited very anxious tendencies as a young girl. Now, in the past few years, she has really BLOSSOMED in that sense. She will go anywhere with anyone, whether we are there or not. She only seems to get anxious in anxiously-appropriate situations (flying, etc). We've been very pleased with her progress with those kinds of things.
Doing homework with her....sigh. Let's put it this way...I'd rather stick a hot poker in my eye...TWICE. It's a batle, WW3. NO ability to focus and HORRID attention span, which she has had forever. Even fun activities like a board game...she cannot retain her concentration long enough.
Oh my goodness....lmao. As I am getting ready to submit my post...I see in red letters..."8,000 character limit exceeded". Who in the he** does that? Me, apparently. ;0)
Sorry so winded...here is the rest. What's funny, is I actuualy tried to keep it short
Example....I'll be working with her on her homework, her pencil will break, I'll tell her to sharpen it, walk away for 15 minutes and the kid will have EVERY pencil in the house sharpened! ACK! She needs a lot of "hand holding" from us to complete her homework....and wants us to sit and work WITh her instead of her ever even TRYING to do it independently. She will sit and stare at the paper and require many many verbal cues to get started, to continue working, etc etc. If she has two assignments, instead of completing one, she will switch back and forth. She is very disorganized. She will forget text books, even if I write her a note reminding her. She is forever forgetting to turn notes into the school (even dumb fundraiser stuff)...her most commonly uttered phrase is "I forgot". You can tell she is easily distracted. If she is doing her homework...I catch her looking out the window...looking in the other room, etc. I make sure she always does her work in the most quiet place, but it is life...and with a 3 yr old around...there are going to be distractions!!!
So, in a nutshell, that's her. I want to do what's right for my child, and I know we're on the right track. I have no issues if she has a learning disability, actually to the contrary, I think I'll be relieved. Because I KNOW she has the ability to do this stuff, she just appears "lazy" and unmotivated.....like she doesn't care. And, I FEEL horrible because I KNOW she is feeling defeated bringing home big red "F"'s on her tests week after week. :0( This girl THRIVES on praise, and while we pick out anything we can...it becomes difficult with those types of grades. She knows, b/c we have told her that we don't EVER care if she has A's or B's, as long as she is doing the best she can....which is another aspect of this....HOW CAN A PARENT KNOW THE DIFFERENCE???? Like with just pure lack of motivation b/c she would rather be playing on the pc, or doing something more fun? It is SO hard!
I know that if she has ADD, or another type of LD, that what we're doing with her now will never work. Like the lady from the Co explained to me....it isn't anything to do with intelligence, it is all about how people RECEIVE AND PROCESS information. If they cannot do those things...they will never retain and learn info. She told me to imagine a child reading the first question on an exam, one that is quite lengthy. Another student squeaks his chair, or taps his pecil. She said "Forget it....they're done", and explained that it would be back to square one in reading the question. :0( That was a perfect way to explain it, and quite honestly, it broke my heart thinking that that kid was my daughter. :0(
Thanks for any input, especially on the retention issue!!!!
Ah, if only she had been a hyperactive little boy, this would have been caught years ago. Sometimes I think that quiet, smart, girls (with ADD) get overlooked the most - at least until something like long division shows up (wait till common denominators rears its ugly head next year). The good news is that it sounds like your school is fairly on top of things. The one thing I didn't hear mentioned (and it should be mentioned loudly) is special education testing. More about that later.
In my district, retention was only done for a couple of reasons. In fact, we had a check list to follow to see if the child fit the criteria. Even then, it still was one of the hardest decisions to make (although, sometimes it was really evident it needed to be done). Basically, you retained a child if you thought the child had ability, could do the work, but was choosing not to. This was the old shake up the kid (and sometimes the parents) routine. It doesn't fit here. The next reason really applied to the earlier grades, but sometimes to limited English speaking kids in upper grades. Basically, they had just missed out too much education in their prior situation, and needed catch up time. Kids (who frankly didn't have the intellectual ability) who were not able to do the work, were not retained because it would not have helped.
Your daughter falls into a bit of a gray area. If she does not get help for her ADD (and it really sounds like she does have ADD or ADHD), then retention would not help. If she does get help (and I am talking a lot more than just meds here), then it could help. But there are some complex issues here. Maybe the most important being her psychological state. If she were to be retained she really needs to understand why, and more importantly understand what ADD is and how it affects her.
The age factor is not a major issue. It is not unusual for boys to be held back a year just so they are bigger when they play football. I would probably rather have my daughter going into college (or even high school) as the oldest child rather than the youngest child. Point being, there really are advantageous in a lot of grade levels (probably not 5-7th) to being older.
What matters is how it is handled. If you cannot find a great 4th. grade teacher, then I wouldn't do it. Sometimes kids go to a different school, so they don't have to put up with their peers on the playground. This is effective, but really rough on the child for awhile.
The really important question is, "is it needed?" If (assuming she has ADD), you can get her on medication this summer. And the sooner the better, so you have a chance to experiment with the correct dosage (due to her physical maturity). Then you need to get her a math tutor for the summer. About an hour a day (cause some of that will be lost time). Maybe a half hour (at the most) of homework while she is still on her meds (in otherwords, not at night). I would try and do this before lunch. At least 3 times a week for at least 6 weeks. They need to start with mid 3rd grade and cover all of the 4th grade. A good highschool kid (with direction) could do this. Not Kumon at this point-maybe later. If you can do this, she has a good chance to catch up and won't need the retention to do it. You may want to repeat the same process during the next summer. I would also get tutorial help for her doing the school year, no matter what course you follow.
I would definitely try to get her into special education. If she had been, that math teacher would have had to have given her more time on tests (may not have helped, but even a few more correct can make a difference). She quite probably could have gotten help on her math during the school day (granted would have had to miss an elective subject such as art or music or ?). Many times it also can lead to your daughter getting a teacher (if their is a choice) that works well with ADD kids. Most importantly, it will give her rights that a teacher cannot take away.
You might want to read - "Driven to Distraction" by Hallowell, and "The Gift of ADHD", by Honos-Webb. I think they deal more with ADHD, but they are classics in the field. Speaking of reading, start reading everything you can find. You now need to become the expert in the field.
Finally, and most importantly, your daughter really needs to know what is going on! Hopefully you will find a "board certified child/adolescent psychiatrist". I highly recommend looking for one. If they have or develop a good working relationship with your daughter - keep it going so that the psyc can help her understand what is going on to her and with her. Its not that you can't, they just need to hear it from more than one source. Of all the things I have written about this is the most important. Your daughter has to accept, then learn how to conquer this. It is doable!!! It will be expensive. It will be the best money you have ever spent. Best Wishes.
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