Hmmm. It's good that she's independent enough to put on her pj's, brush her own teeth, wash her hands, slip on her own shoes, etc. I don't think that's out of the ordinary that she's doing all that, but good that she's independent minded and tries to take care of herself.
What specifically is she doing that's causing the problems?
i have to ask this - are people correcting her right in front of you? LIke if you're sitting right there are people so moved to correct her behavior that they do it right there in front of the mother or are you usually out of sight of her so they have to come locate you to take care of her while they try to correct her?
I'm sorry to ask so many questions but your post kind of leaves some blank spaces.
Preschool worked out okay, but it cost too much money? If she did well in preschool, that's certainly a positive, and when you get her evaluated be sure to refer to the evaluater to her preschool teacher - they may have some questions about what works and what environments she is successful in.
I think what you have to do here, is be pre-emptive. When you go out socially, don't go off with the adults and try to eat a leisurely meal out of sight of your daughter until her behavior becomes so bad you have to attend to it after the fact.
You'll probably have to be the mom who sits at the kiddie table at Thanksgiving, and who has her child with with her at the restaurant and not down at the far end of the table where the other kids are. So that you can react immediately and other people don't have to be constantly correcting her.
I know no one wants to hear that, but I had a son who was a wanderer and extremely inquisitive, and he would slip away from the gathering and go elsewhere if I didn't have my eyes on him 100% of the time. I was always jealous of the other moms who could sit facing AWAY from the kid's table and enjoy their meals with adults!
This too shall pass. Before you know it she'll be going to prom, and you'll be wistful for the old days when she was so cuddly.
You sound just like me. I'm freaked out on having anymore kids.. my son took all my energy and patients away.. =( Everything you described plus more.. that's my son.. unfortunantly I had no choice and I had to put him on meds.. and now I can say he's doing wonderful.. You don't always have to put your kids on meds or maybe she doesn't even have ADHD.. wait a lil longer and hopefully it's just a phase and she grows out of it.. and if she doesn't then you can take the second step helping her with a therapist then if that doesn't work you can take more steps.. Good luck and I hope she does grow out of it soon.. =)
My son was just like your daughter at that age. Then, when he was 4, a teacher at his Montessori school mentioned ADHD. My pediatrician said he wouldn't even discuss the possibility with me until he's 7. When I told a psychologist what he said, she agreed with that wholeheartedly.
My son is very smart, walked early, read early, etc. And he has very acute senses and gets overstimulated easily. He is constantly improving, though.
I home school, so we don't have the issue of his having to sit for long periods and fit into a school environment, but I think at age 11 he would probably do much better than he would have at 5 or 6.
I would be very consistent with discipline (reasonable and short) and understand that she can't yet control herself. I would try different things with my son (giving 15-, 10-, and 5-minute warnings before we left, bribing him with something special if he left nicely or behaved well, etc.) and everything I tried worked sporadically, which told me that sometimes he could keep it together and sometimes he couldn't. So I'd just pick one thing and keep doing it--even if it doesn't appear to be consistently effective. While out, I would leave immediately when he misbehaved (friends understood). At home, I made a time out area--we have a bench in our entryway and 4 wide stairs that go up into the living room area. That was his time out area--he didn't have to sit on the bench, he could move around in that area and during his 3-minute time out, he would move from the bench to the floor to the steps and back to the bench. And that was ok. And I never made it longer than 1 minute for each year old. At the end, I'd ask him why he was there. He could always tell me. But that didn't mean that he wouldn't do it again. He eventually stopped doing certain things as he matured.
Also, I learned to choose my battles (otherwise I'd be telling him off all day). He could jump on the sofa in the family room, he could take the cushions off the sofa and build forts, etc. I made an area where he could just be him and be comfortable. He couldn't do those things in the formal living room, though--and I think that helped him to realize that he couldn't do those things in other people's homes, too. But I believed he needed a space to be himself without being told off every time he did something.
Also, I learned to time outings so they were successful. If a birthday party was 3 hours long, we went for the last hour only (told the host ahead of time). I would read his cues and when he looked like he was getting wound up, we'd go outside for a walk--or we'd just leave. It's better to leave them wanting more than to carry them out kicking and screaming during a tantrum. And leave QUICKLY--get your stuff together, get her shoes and coat, quietly say good-bye, and then scoop her up and leave quickly. She may cry and fuss on the way home, but I'd rather deal with that than to have it happen at the party.
I would get frustrated and I read many books (Raising Your Spirited Child, The Discipline Book, The Everything Book of ADHD, etc.), but I didn't seek a label--I just wanted to help him with the behaviors. At age 11, he's still an intense "spirited" child, but he can keep it together while we're out--when he does have a meltdown (which is not very often) he saves it until he's home with me (where he's safe and loved unconditionally)...and that's ok.
It's not ADHD .... at this point anyways. Get the book SOS Help for Parents by Lynn Clark. I think all your answers are in there! It helped me tremendously with my 2 and I am sure it will do the same for you. it's about $15.00 and you should be able to get it at your local bookstore or it can be ordered from Boarders Books online.
Good Luck.. i'm certain that book will help!