I suspect my girlfriend's five-year-old son may have ADHD. I'm not sure what to do about it.
My girlfriend and I have been together for 8 months. We each bring two children to the relationship (a girl and boy each). All our children are under the age of 11. The behavior of the five-year-old is really wearing on both of us and our family. I have long suspected that he might suffer from ADHD or some other disorder, but my girlfriend kept saying, "He's five." Well, yesterday was particularly difficult day, as many of them have been, and it seemed like my girlfriend was finally coming to the realization that maybe there is more to his behavior than being five. After the chilren were put to bed she asked me if I thought something was wrong with her son. I said, "It's possible". We started talking about Bipolar Disease and ADHD. My girlfriend is adamant about one thing - she doens't want him taking medication. But I think we're too far away from knowing anything to make judgment call like that yet.
This morning I got up and read the criteria for hyperactive-impulsive type ADHD. I can answer a very strong 'yes' to every question about the boy.
Fidget and squirm in their seats: yes
Talk nonstop: yes
Dash around, touching or playing with anything and everything in sight: yes, particular at stores when we are shopping
Have trouble sitting still during dinner, school, and story time: yes.
Be constantly in motion: yes
Have difficulty doing quiet tasks or activities: yes
Be very impatient:Yes. Everything has to be RIGHT NOW
Blurt out inappropriate comments, show their emotions without restraint, and act without regard for consequences: yes
Have difficulty waiting for things they want or waiting their turns in games: yes
Mealtimes are some of the worst. The other three children will focus on eating and may talk amongst themselves. He, however, constantly gets out of his chair, won't eat, will complain non-stop about having to eat, etc. When he does eat, it's usually at a glacial pace and he throws fits about having to eat. If the other kids get raucous with their chatter then it really blows up, as it overstimulates him to the point where there is nothing we can do but remove him from the table.
Meltdowns are common. I mean, full-on bawling, sobbing, crocodile-tears, end-of-the-world meltdown. The meltdowns are often the result of not getting his way, being told something he doesn't like, being directed to do something he doesn't want to do, or something not being a particular way.
Example: he couldn't get the zipper on his coat to go "all the way" to the top. He had zipped it as far as the zipper would physically go. When we informed him that was as far as the zipper would go, he had a meltdown.
He has a really hard time taking turns with anything and sharing anything with other kids. He will take toys right out of the hands of other kids. If there's something special to do, he has to be the one to do it. If he has to share, he pouts and cries and sometimes melts down. He hates other kid's birthdays because it's not his birthday.
He's incredibly impatient. If we take a photo on our phone or with a camera, before we can even blink he's yelling at us, "I wanna see!" If we don't immediately show him the image on the camera, he repeats his cry louder, with more whining, and starts crying. This happens with a lot of things - if his command isn't obeyed instantly, he repeats louder, more forceful, more whiny and eventually with tears.
We try not to take him to sporting events that his big sister is involved in because he will spend the entire time melting down, pointing at the basketball court, wanting to do whatever it is she is doing, and sobbing that we're not letting him do it. We can explain to him all day that it's basketball for 11-year old girls and he's not a girl and not old enough, and he doesn't care. We've learned that if we have to take him to one of these events, we have to distract him the entire time so he doesn't pay attention to what's going on.
He often says he "hates" things. We can hear this phrase ten times in five minutes. If the family is watching a movie he doesn't like, he'll say, "I hate that movie." This happens with a lot of things.
If we direct him not to do something, he will get very angry and stand there with his fists to his side, his brow furrowed, leaning toward us and will make a very angry noise, essentially suppressing a yell, in his throat. His face will turn red and he looks like he's going to pop. Occassionally, when in a disagreement with his 11-year-old sister, he will hit her.
He will hold on to emotions for a very long time. For instance, if we don't allow him to do something, like open a particular door, or whatever, he may start crying FOUR DAYS LATER and blurt out, "But I wanted to open the door!" We parents will then stare at each other, recall the event from days ago, roll our eyes and each other, and then tell him to let that go, because we're not discussing it anymore.
He's a loving kid. He tells both of us, "I love you" a lot. He's very affectionate. I don't want him to seem like a monster. He doesn't have problems making eye contact or talking (in fact, he can't be quiet) and I don't suspect anything like PDD. When it's just his mom and I in the car, for instance, driving to town, he can sometimes be quiet and will just sit there staring off into space making no noise. But most of the time he's a constant stream of verbal diarrhea and physical motion.
I'm at a loss what to do next. His behavior really wears on my girlfriend (both of us really, but it's extra hard on her because it's her child). I don't know what steps to take or if this is just behavior he will grow out of.