ADHD Diagnosis - FINALLY some answers!

  1. OK, brief intro. My son is 11 and in the 6th grade. He's one of the younger ones with an Aug. 29th birthday. He has also always been in gifted education and in the fifth grade (after some more evaluation at his records) he was switched from a once a week pull-out GT class to an all day, every day gifted center.

    Now, this has been GREAT for us, but we realized that our very bright son, just wasn't bored in school, but probably had ADHD. NOW, after reading and learning I realized we should have known since birth practically and DEFINITELY should have known WAY< WAY before now, but when it's your first kid and when you think ADHD means they can't concentrate on anything, you just think your kid is being lazy or obnoxious. But... It's not so.

    We went through a battery of tests after a really bad experience last spring where a psychologist basically spent ten minutes with us and said, "Yep, ADHD" and gave us a drug and told us to come back in a month to see if it worked.

    This time there were several questionaires, a child interview, a parent interview, teacher evaluations, and a day of testing for my son.

    Well, it is 100% sure that Adrian has ADHD and probably nothing else (no mood disorder, behavioral disorder, etc). He just has a pretty GOOD case of ADHD (no doubts about its impact on his life)- combined, meaning both attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder.

    We are SOOOO much happier with HOW this was diagnosed over the 10 minutes interview we experienced in May. With this diagnosis, we now know he really needs a drug to help him and he needs to WORK on things he knows he'll always have problems with and they gave us resources and things to DO to help... unlike the other psychologist who said, "research has shown that only drugs work and behavioral work is pointless."

    If there is a 70% chance he'll have ADHD through college and a 50% chance he'll have it for life, I want to know that we're doing more than just "popping pills." But, despite that, this psychologist also feels that he has so many other positive factors, that he will be very successful in life even with a pretty strong ADHD problem, but that Adrian needs to always be aware he has a TRUE disorder.

    We will now need to take this to the pediatrician's to get him on a drug therapy and then take it to the school to get him an IEP. Besides the usual, helping him with staying on task, making sure outside distractors are minimized, etc.,it's EXTREMELY important that he get help with testing, not now necessarily, but in the future when he needs to take timed tests. Despite us coaching him on HOW to pace himself, he just doesn't have the ability to regulate time well. It's what kept him out of the Gifted program initially here because on the TIMED intelligence tests. On those he scores in the 80th percentile or so (need to be around the 96th or higher we figure to get into GT schools), but when you look at his results, there will be 60 questions in a section, say, and he'll attempt 50, get 49 right, but leave 10 blank because he ran out of time. On the NON-timed intelligence tests, he scores in the 99th percentile. HUGE discrepancy there!

    For this ADHD testing, they had him take another intelligence test to see his intellectual "potential" and compared that to intelligence tests that target processing speed and then gave a test that shows academic level for age. TYPICALLY these three should all be about the same, but if a child has ADHD the processing scores should be significantly lower. For my son his overall IQ on the Kaufman test was 135 (99th percentile for that test), but his WISC III processing speed subtest scores were 108 (55th percentile) and his WISC III Academic Achievement tests were back up to 99.9 percentile in math and science stuff, 90th in spelling and 96th in verbal. THIS discrepancy is what has been causing the havoc. He has all the "smarts" in the world, but he processes slow and can't keep to task.

    So... when it comes time to get into high school (he really wants to go to Thomas Jefferson High School of Science and Technology - it's a magnet school and it offers some AMAZING programs in math and science which my son ADORES, but... it's the #1 rated school in the nation and difficult to get into!!!), but there is an entrance exam. He will need some time accommodations. Same with ACTs/SATs in the future. I just want him to be able to SHOW what he can do instead of getting all caught up in the "ran out of time" thing. Plus, right now, it TERRIFIES me of imagining him having to organize himself to make it through college. So... he needs all the help he can get at helping him be more focused.

    I'm really hoping the drug therapy will help him a lot in other ways than academics too. It's REALLY trying that he TRULY can't remember more than one step directions. He and my two year old are at the same level there, honestly and the older he gets, the more they EXPECT (and we expect) that he can think for himself and look after himself, but right now??? He can't remember or attend to ANYTHING.

    I just thought you all might be interested since some of you might be dealing with this down the road. I'll be doing more and more studying and learning because I have a feeling this will be here for LIFE and it's not "just a boy who can't sit still". It's a boy who can't remember ANYTHING, has impulse control problems and more, and someday he won't have mom to remind him to put on his backpack for school! LOL

    I'm just mad at ourselves that we didn't figure it out earlier, but the psychologist said that his smartness was a protective factor because it HELPS that despite the ADHD he can still succeed, but that it's showing more and more behaviorally because other kids are settling down while Adrian is all still revved up.

    I SUPER hope that this helps him. He is such a NEAT kid and so curious and so funny, but the ADHD is getting in way of making and keeping friends and it's hard to CONSTANTLY being after him to do this and that and this and that... everything repeated at least three times and in only one step directions. I think it will help his confidence level too as he realizes he just needs HELP to get it together and not that he's a weirdo for not being able to do the things everyone expects him to be able to do.

    Anyway, that's it... now's the process of getting him on a good medication that doesn't make him drop weight. He's already THIN, so losing weight is a bad thing.

    Kind of a ramble, but I'm hoping our experience might help some other parents who wonder, "maybe yes? maybe no?" with ADHD... it takes SOOOO many different forms.
  2. I can "read" your sigh of relief and concern in your post! Thank goodness you were able to find the appropriate help you needed to find out what was going on with your son. I can't imagine the stress your family was going through just to get to this point. I work in a university and have worked with many college students who live with ADHD every day. Suffice to say, even though they have ADHD, they are extremely bright and extremely capable of succeeding in school. I should know--I advise them! :yes: With the appropriate health accomodations (drugs, therapy, etc. as needed) along with appropriate accomodations in school (additional testing time, alternate exams, support of the appropriate offices on campus, etc), they can succeed and do well, academically, socially, and physically!

    Thank you for sharing your story!
  3. Can I ask, what exactly is ADHD? Is it some sort of "imbalance" in the brain? I hope you don't mind me asking....

    I hope everything works out for your son.:flowers:

  4. That's EXACTLY what it is, a chemical is either too low, or the receptors aren't sensitive enough to the "supply" for a particular area of the brain. So, for treatment, they give kids a type of stimulant (I know sounds contrary to what they SEEM to need! LOL) to STIMULATE this area of the brain so that they signals or the firing of this area of the brain is more similar to a "normal" brain.

    I know there has been SOOOOOO much debate about whether or not ADHD is over-diagnosed and if it's a real problem or if it's just that people expect kids to sit still more than they can... There probably IS some of this, but... if you have a kid with ADHD, a GOOOOOOOD case of it, you KNOW it's not "made up"! LOL
  5. berryblondeboys, have you heard about the Feingold Diet? It is a diet, which is supposed to help with ADHD. It is supposed to be an alternative to medication. I have read about it in a blog and the writer, a mom of a child diagnosed with ADHD, said it worked almost as good as the medication her son was given.

    I have no personal experience with this, but maybe it is worth looking into, esp since I have read in your other posts that you and your family make an efford to eat healthy and natural food!

    Your son sounds like a very smart and driven kid, so I am sure you will be able to manage with this disorder, now that you have certainty! It also sounds like you have found a good doctor. Good luck to you and your family!
  6. Ah, thanks... I wish this could be an answer, but we don't eat prepared foods. he's never been allowed caffeine, never been allowed much sugar and we cook all meals from scratch at home - an dnot by opening a box of hamburger helper, but HOMEMADE. He'll occasionally have some packaged snacks, but those don't seem to make any difference.

    Now, that these things CAN make a difference in some children? This absolutely can be true... ALL foods can be triggers for certain behaviors!
  7. as someone who has suffered with ADHD the better part of my life i can relate to your struggles and i am super happy you are so committed to helping your son. it can tear families apart if both parents aren't in agreement over courses of treatment, and i speak from experience.

    ADHD is a lot about a lack of seretonin in your brain and your nerve responders just aren't working properly. the very best ADHD analogy i EVER heard was this:

    imagine everything you know, your speech, your memories, your motor skills...they are all filed away neatly inside your brain. everything is alphabetical and super simple, you need to pick up the phone your brain's secretary just goes to the 'p' section and pulls out phone etiquette and pops it into your head and poof you are good to go.

    but for a person with ADHD it's as if someone went through those file cabinets and turned them all upside down. it's as if you have every memory you need but they've been scattered about. and suddenly someoen says, okay tell me about apples! and you are lost! you know what it is but you can't find the words because your brain is busy searching for the apple index card somewhere amongst the huge pile of information you keep!

    i know i forget words and stammer sometimes because i am waiting on my brain to find the appropriate information that i KNOW is stored inside of me but i just can't access it

    i was on various drug treatments for a long time and they helped and hindered me and i can happily say that ADHD treatments have come leaps and bounds since the 11 years i was diagnosed. unfortunately for me after 8 years of ritalin (prescription speed) i have jitters and fidgets and am a rather anxious person. my body is just continuously producing adrenalin and it sucks.

    but people think kids with ADHD are lazy and really they aren't. the best thing in the world for me is sitting with big dividers up around me so i can't look around and i can't wander. i just have to remember to keep my brain in check.

    and berryblondeboys i would suggest looking into test accommodations for special needs children. often children with ADHD are given 1.5 - 2x extra time for exams and essays and the option of notetakers in school and tutors if available/necessary. i know that i personally suffer from severe test anxiety as an offshoot of my ADHD, if i have 3 hours to complete a test i will get so upset and worried that i might run out of time i'll finish the entire thing in about 65 minutes. i once finsihed the PSAT in about that time which is ridiculous because it should take much longer. but if i have 5 hours for a 3 hour test it eases my mind and i can take my time and answer questions carefully instead of rushing through panicking like crazy.

    i know i've rambled but i really relate to what you are going through. if you have questions about ADHD please PM me, i've looked into it a lot. sadly i am one of the unlucky ones who will struggle with it for the rest of their life!
  8. Did you ever consider meeting with an ADHD coach? I have heard good things about them. They can be kinda pricey, but they will help him organize, make lists, time management, etc. Also, a good book to read is Driven to Distraction. I have read some of it and it seems like a good book. I have ADHD and I am in college. I have found that organization and time management are extremely hard for me. I know plenty of people who have ADHD and have bachelor degrees or are getting them. I was only diagnosed last year, but I have had an IEP since HS. I would definitely look into getting an IEP for your son, so he can get extended time on his exams. If you want to talk or have any questions, feel free to PM me.
  9. Hi, my son has ADD, but there were so many other things going on for him as well. Visual processing, eyes not tracking( working as a team) and taking forever to do tests or work.
    I did medicate him for two weeks. Concerta was the drug. He did better in school, but got rages after it wore off, severe headaches and depression. his legs cramped up so he couldn't play basketball. He begged me to stop taking it. I then took him out of school to home school him and he felt better, not as much pressure. Socially he was great, tons of friends.
    He still had motivation issues as well as anxiety. I did some more probing and found out that he had OCD. Not too bad, not washing hands or counting, but magical thinking and that is what slowed him down. Now cognitive behavior therapy is helping. I always have to tell him 3 times to do something and he never remembers.
    I now will write it down for him and hand it to him.
    Please don't just rely on medications for too long , and if he tells you about not feeling right after taking them - listen to him.
    Omega fish Oils are VERY helpful even with the medication. DMAE is a nutritional supplement that really helps with concentration- Pedi Active from Natures Way. Available at most health food stores. I also started letting him drink coffee( he was 16 when I let him) as it is a stimulant naturally.
    With all of the accomodations and extra time, he should do fine. Get a 504 -it follows them into college and allows extra time , tutoring and note takers.
    Good luck with him and PM me if you need anything or have questions. i have spent almost 17 years trying to help my son so I have lots of research and great books!
    Please Check out Arrowsmith School- google it, as they have had much success in helping kids with learning and processing issues. They are out of Toronto, but each state has a school that teaches it.
  10. I am so glad you have a diagnosis and a doctor you feel confident with.

    Both of my sons have some undiagnosed issues with paying attention, gross motor skills, speech and some other things. I've taken them to neurologists who have done preliminary testing for ADHD and they say the boys don't even come close to having issues of ADHD. They display some symptoms of PDD or Asperger's, but their socialization is excellent so those have been dismissed as well.

    So I know how frustrating it can be to know there is an issue of some sort and have no clear answer! Fortunately for my boys, fish oil supplements (Coromega), diet adjustments (no artificial ingredients or colors, almost no refined sugar, nothing from a box, etc.) and standard therapies (speech and adaptive phy ed) have helped tremendously. I hope your son does well with the actions you are taking with the diagnosis!
  11. Oh glad I found this thread! My son was diagnosed with PDD/Asperger/mild Autism when he was 3 years old. Now he is 6 years old and thriving in a self-contained special education class in public school. Three months ago, the pediatric neurologist suggested he has ADHD as well and recommended Concerta. I said no, that I needed time to think on this...our follow up appointment is tomorrow (12/27).

    I'm really nervous about ADHD meds. My son is so sweet and gentle and kind...I don't want him to become this raging, moody, angry kid that I've heard about from other parents with kids on ADHD meds. My son doesn't need the meds for academic reasons (he reads on a 4th grade level and does 2nd grade math)...but he does get easily distracted and becomes fixated on things.

    I guess it couldn't hurt to try the drugs for a few weeks to see how he adapts...right? Our school system has a support group for parents of kids with ADHD...I attended a meeting last week and came away with tons of info. I'm going to ask the doctor to start him on Adderall first and then we can work our way up to Concerta. Wish me luck everyone!
  12. We had Adrian on Adderall RX for about two months this summer and it made ALLLLL the difference in the WORLD with his disposition and using time wisely and even remembering. However, he lost his appetite COMPLETELY and dropped ten pounds in a couple weeks. that's when we took him off the drugs and waited our "turn" with the experts for a better diagnosis and other treatment plans.

    I personally am not a pill popper nor do I believe in popping pills for the sake of making my life easier. But... I also know there are times and places that they are essential. As stated, we don't do sugars or artificial sugars (limit them), we make everything from scratch and we eat foods high in omega 3. Diet has not helped. We do all the coaching for ADHD that is recommended - writing things down, teaching them a routine so that they don't need to "think" about hwo to do it, but it becomes second nature, making sure we have eye contact before giving instructions and so on. While I'm sure all of this helps, it's not enough. He NEEDS drug therapy just as a diabetic can't always control sugars with diet alone. But I will be careful and watchful. We didn't have any mood problems with Adderall, but I remember my brother reacting that way after coming off Ritalin - holysmokes, he would scare us to DEATH with his rages.
  13. UPDATE - the pediatric neurologist gave us a prescription for Focalin XR 10mg. Today is the first day my son has taken it because I want to see how he is on the meds before giving it to him on a school day. I had to open the capsule, and empty the beads onto a teaspoon with his cod liver oil. Then he washed it down with a cup of water.

    I don't see any difference in behavior today. We were home all day and he was quiet and entertained himself...which is "normal" for him. I'll see what happens tomorrow.