Overwhelmed and Exhausted Single Mom of 5 yr old with ADHD

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    • #73812

      My 5 yr old son has struggled for a while with his attention and aggression issues. I had to pull him out of PreK early from the daycare/school he attended was not able to handle him. He currently goes to speech therapy twice a week, occupational therapy once a week, and starting behavioral therapy next week. I feel completely lost. He is now in kindergarten and has gotten suspended 4 times for being aggressive with school administrators (yelling, kicking, biting, spitting). When he has good days they are really good but when he has bad days they are really bad. I tried all the ADHD vitamins which I feel like helped a little. I finally decided to put him on meds. They have him on 1/2 mg tenex twice a day which helped with the mood swings but he is still having extreme tantrums at least once a week. I am getting him formally evaluated soon but like everything, it is a process. I have seen different psychologist and psychiatrists and they have thrown out everything from autism, bipolar, ODD, ADHD….I am just lost and I dont have anyone in my life who can understand what I am going through. I would love recommendations on what other parents did that helped. Gluten Free Diet? Homeschooling? Medications? Type of Therapies?

    • #73814

      Have you looked into the gaps diet? It’s radical but some say it helps. If not gaps, then a basic dietary suggestion would be to eliminate sugar and all processed foods, eat only whole grains (that doesn’t include “whole grain” processed bread bought at the grocery store) full fat raw dairy, quality free range and grass fed animal products, and fermented foods (see the wapf diet which is along the same lines as gaps). One of the results of these diets is improving gut health which can affect brain and neurological health, not to mention overall physical health.

      Have you read the book(s) by Russell Barkley? I read the kazdin method which is not exactly the same program recommended by Barkley, but it’s similar.

      Does your son get a lot of physical activity each day?

      Also, have you ever heard of a physical therapy called the Mustagova Method? It’s not common but it seems to have helped my daughter calm down.

      One other idea would be a magnesium supplement or Epsom salts in the bath or both.

      Lastly, check out “parenting passageway” which isn’t ADD related, but offers good parenting advice in general, along with the website “aha parenting”

      Do not give up! There are solutions out there that you will never hear about from drs whose only suggestion will be to medicate. I’m not saying that medication is never called for but it doesn’t get to the root of the problem.

      Oh, and I almost forgot, get rid of all video games and drastically limit tv. And NEVER tv before bed. Make going to bed early and getting enough sleep a big priority!

      Good luck to you!!

      • #73951

        Thank you so much for the recommendations I really appreciate

      • #74931

        Sorry to hear what you’re going through, it’s not easy but hang in there and keep up the good work. We are currently in the middle of “fighting the system”. At age 3 we suspected my son had problems and the pediatrician dismissed are concerns. Age 4 the behaviour problems such has mood, tantrums and lack of impulse control continued and seemed extreme. We asked for a second option and again was dismissed. Fast forward to grade 1, our son is now 7 and having major behaviour and academic problems at School, they told us we had to go to a pediatrician for treatment. This pediatrician tried 2 stimulants; ritialin had no effect, Vyvanse which looked like a bipolar 1 manic episode, couldn’t stop talking, body was racing and vibrating, stopped sleeping. He was then switched to Risperdal which was like night and day for us. He was still full of life and like he “should” be but without all the behavioural problems. We were then referred to a specialty clinic to rule out autism and at this point they decided to take him off this and put him on a 3rd stimulant Biphentin. This has created rage, violence, extreme negative self talk and threats. Autism has been ruled out but it looks like we might be getting closer to working diagnosis of anxiety and ADHD but the problem we seem to face is that they are trying to treat the ADHD instead of treating this as a dual diagnosis. I’m not an expert but I would encourage you to continue to research, reach out to anyone and everyone you can. I know you’re proably frustrated, tired, and if you’re like I was thinking you’re going crazy. Keep up the good work until you and your child our heard and get the results you need. Believe in yourself and keep advocating for your child, you’re their voice. Good luck from one frustrated mother to another.

    • #73876
      Penny Williams

      Studies show that stimulant medication coupled with behavioral therapy/interventions is the most effective treatment for ADHD. Because of that, it’s what the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends as well. Here’s a great overview of treating ADHD with medication:

      A Patient’s Primer on the Stimulant Medications Used to Treat ADHD

      Tenex is a non-stimulant often prescribed for kids with ADHD. It’s enough medication for some kids, but not enough for others.

      My son could not have any chance of success without his stimulant medication. By ensuring he has the opportunity for success, we are supporting his mental and emotional health. OT was hugely helpful as well (especially when he went back at age 11).

      Of course, there’s more to treatment than just medication. Positive parenting approaches go a LONG way to improving symptoms and behavior as well. I highly recommend Ross Greene’s book, The Explosive Child. What he teaches works.

      Become the Parent Your Child Needs

      If behavior is a problem in school, request a formal evaluation (in writing, to the principal), and be sure to request a Functional Behavior Analysis (FBA) and resulting Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP). There’s more to success at school than just academic achievement and grades — behavior plays a huge role. No child should be suspended for behavior that is the result of a disability. That needs to be part of his BIP.

      Lastly, exhale. This is a marathon not a sprint. Pick a couple priorities to focus on first. Accept that you can’t “fix” it, but you can and will learn how to cope and craft a life of future joy and success for your son.

      ADDitude Community Moderator, Author & Mentor on Parenting ADHD, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism

      • #73952

        Thank you for the suggestions. We are in process of getting IEP and BIP but they haven’t completed evaluation yet and it doesn’t help that he keeps getting suspended.

      • #74025
        Penny Williams

        They should go ahead and do the FBA and BIP. Not all kids with BIPs have IEPs or services.

        ADDitude Community Moderator, Author & Mentor on Parenting ADHD, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism

    • #74606

      Hi, i would recommend some suggestions that is, For aggressive kids, time out such as placing them in a corner does not help when they are violent.. as they will come back to us quickly..

      Hence, depending on whether he is able to understand your emotions.. You can turn your face sad & angry whenever he does small annoying things (this can be seen as a disciplinary measure / punishment )

      whenever he turns aggressive, hold his hands & legs and put him away from you in a safe place .. i do this by locking him up in a safe room for say few seconds / 1 minute only. But keep yourself calm and let not his aggression get into you.. Do this once / twice continuously and see the result.. you may have to do it some 4-5 times and see what type of result does it yield. At other times, explain why you did that and what he needs to do instead of showing aggression.

      I noticed that lacking in vital nutrients does affect them. Hence, morning start with hot cup of milk with vitamin enriched chocolate powder like junior horlicks.. lack of sugar or too much sugar both are bad for them.

    • #74645

      You situation sounds exactly like mine when my son was 5, right down to the single mom part. And I wholeheartedly agree with everything Penny said. Stimulant medication coupled with behavioral therapy is a terrific way to go. It’s at the bare minimum, the best starting place to give your son a great starting point.

      It’s a marathon, but it does get better. I’d focus the school on the FBA and the BIP. The IEP is important, but the behavior sounds like the main priority right now. Focus on one thing at a time. I became the squeaky wheel for about a year. And by squeaky wheel I just mean, I made sure my requests were made by formal emails or letters and I made sure to cc the principal and/or special education director. The BIP was EXTREMELY helpful. IMO suspended a 5 year old is not helpful. It doesn’t teach anything besides “if I’m bad, I get a day out of school”.

      Hang in there Momma! You got this!

    • #74905

      my son has just been diagnosed with ADHD and what the what was said about time out is so true my son is 7 yes old i am a single mum of 2 and am on the receiving end of the vilont outbursts and feel like a failure as he shows me no respect at all

      • This reply was modified 4 years ago by Lilmissy.
    • #74918

      When it comes to school it is imperative to let the staff know, teachers know, that your child can’t and won’t fit into the standard student box. My son is now 11 and the only thing the school cared about was his behavior and NOT his academics. They even tried to convince me that he wasn’t ready for school and to enroll him later. You have to fight for your baby. As a mother of a child with ADHD, ODD, & IED, I had to learn that my fight will be one that will last his entire school career. It is important to let that teacher know that her success does not come along with teaching all the regular kids but in be I g able to handle the extraordinary ones. Things will get better as long as you learn you child’s triggers. I wish you the best of luck and stay strong. Your child will be grateful you didn’t give up like today’s teachers are so quick to do. In most cases with ADD, behavior is the only excuse a non committed teacher can give in order to give up.

    • #74951

      I saw a behavioral therapist yesterday that pretty much laid it out that my son has autism. I had heard the possibility of him being autistic from 2 of the people I had seen but no one had laid it out black and white. Even though it was hard to hear and I have cried like 7 times since yesterday I feel like at least I am finally on the road to really helping him. I think I denied the obvious symptoms (rocking, repetitive words, sensory issues, head banging) bc I didn’t want it to be true.

      • #74953

        You’re a good mom. I’m glad you care enough to get your child help, your child is lucky to have you. I hope you have or can get some support to take care of yourself in the mist of this.

    • #74960

      You are doing great! You are your son’s biggest advocate and voice. What was said earlier about this being a marathon not a sprint is
      Very true. I would like to suggest an affective needs program (yes affective starts with an “a”).:) Find a school that has one because not all of them do. It is about repetitive and effective consequences and rewards. It is about changing behaviors with the repetitive consequences. It is an excellent program! Also look into ABA therapy. Now that you have a diagnosis of autism, most (not all) insurances will pay for the ABA therapy. ABA therapy stands for applied behavior analysis. Basically this specialized therapist comes to your home and works with the two of you. This is great because it gives you some relief and strategies at home. My son is 11, almost 12 and in sixth grade and I wish I would’ve known about the affective needs program when he was in kindergarten. My son has ADHD and autism. Lastly I would highly suggest looking into local autism places to find a support group so you do not feel alone and isolated.
      You are not alone!

      Stay strong mama!

    • #74963

      You should be able to get a 504 plan for him. “The 504 Plan is a plan developed to ensure that a child who has a disability identified under the law and is attending an elementary or secondary educational institution receives accommodations that will ensure their academic success and access to the learning environment.” You will need docmentation from his doctor stating he has ADHD and that his behavior can be affected. You should be able to state in his 504 plan what steps the school is to take if/when he has an outburst. The 504 plan will protect him from being suspended for the behavior covered in the 504 plan and make the school legally responsible to respond in the way stated in the plan. Obviously this won’t solve the underlining behavior, but it will give you and your son more protection while you focus on his needs.

    • #74976

      You are so not alone! That was my son and my first two years of school experience (PreK and kindergarten). It is so incredibly frustrating, and I had many tearful nights. We had the severe ADHD and ODD diagnosis. We had to fight the stigma that he knew what he was doing and could help it. We started with Tenex with some positive results, and had to explain to the school that it won’t stop the outbursts, but he would be calmer when he had them. We changed to Intuniv, which is the long-acting version of Tenex, and it has been amazing. I agree with an above post that you need to request an FBA to help determine why the behavior happens and to give the teachers education on how to manage or prevent the behavior from happening. Eventually, to my disagreement, we were made to go to a Positive Behavior Support room, with other children who have extreme behaviors. At least he is with staff who understands him (and he seems to do better in a smaller classroom), but they are supposed to work on bringing him back to the gen ed room. Stay strong, go with your gut! Lots of hugs!🤗

    • #74904

      Oh, mama… huge, huge hugs. I so get the overwhelm. Single mom here, one VERY severe ADHD kid turning 17 in six days. Raised him alone practically from the get-go. Here are two recommendations for books– I’m sure you don’t have time for books right now, but a couple paragraphs at a time maybe?
      Dunno if your kid fits descriptions in this one, but mine sure does:
      And also this lady:
      https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_1_10?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=louise+bates+ames+books&sprefix=Louise+bat%2Cstripbooks%2C149&crid=2TD8QS4BN806D who doens’t give advice so much as describes age-appropriate behavior, developmentally. She saved my sanity, literally, when my son was three.

      You’ll find your way. My son didn’t go to kindy, but in first grade I was getting calls from the teacher like, I kid you not. at least three times a week. She didn’t have kids. My kid upset her apple cart in SO many ways. I think she had never seen an ADHD kid before.
      I did not want meds. I did not. At near 7 I finally caved and was willing to try them. They’ve been a lifesaver. He can slow his brain down, more or less (he’s that severe), enough to mostly think things through.
      Any questions or dialog, please feel free. I’m going to bed in a sec 🙂

    • #74929

      I thought students with suspected disabilities also had some protection from suspensions when the issue was related to the suspected disability. I found a website that seemed to confirm:


      You probably would want to double check that this is still current and applies to your school (It’s been a while since the situation I knew about.)

      Best of luck!

    • #75051

      I have been where you are and there are many others. My suggestions: test for allergies, watch Jonathan Mooney on YouTube (he’s ADHD and dyslexic)-share with teachers, & other parents, listen to Dr. Sandford Newmark (an ADDitude contributor) https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=4M9jD5a4CFE, AND https://m.youtube.com/watch?t=11s&v=26e5PqrCePk&itct=CBYQpDAYACITCPKUgN2o9tgCFdM6qgodE84OEzIHYXV0b25hdkj5ooGOn6m05CY%3D then
      have the school evaluate him (including behavior & have a BCBA make a report & recommendations that include them attending (IEP or 504 plan) meetings working with teachers. I am in Alabama but typically most states have one. Our disabilities advocacy program to simply 80 8P. Also check for a parent resource center in your area. Here in Alabama ours is called Alabama parrot education center. They were most helpful to me!

    • #75250

      im at my wits end with my 7yr old n his ADHD n don’t know what to do he is on Equasym xL 20 mg he has improved with his school work but the down fall is weight loss and not sleeping and vilont outburst i feel draind as he constantly fights with his little brother scream n shouts and swares and hits me i don’t know what to do plz help

      • This reply was modified 3 years, 12 months ago by Lilmissy.
    • #75271

      Hello to all the ADD moms, parenting adhd kids,

      The best thing that helped my son (8 year old currently, diagnosed at 7) has been Karate. Karate (Taekwondo) has been a great outlet for his frustration, and has helped increase his self confidence. We have him on Adzenys 3 mg and sees a therapist twice a month. We have tried the elimination diet, but has been too difficult to stick to it. We just try to give him more protein and veggies, but I can’t monitor what he eats at school or church. What else helped me has been trying to be thankful that he is a healthy and vibrant boy. I know it’s hard, but try to cherish everyday with him, and love him for who he is.

    • #75277

      I have been exactly where you are, asking for help prior to K, but then the problems really escalated after K, with my daughter being sent home repeatedly for the same aggressive behaviors. Each kids is different, but here is what worked for us. We threw a ton of money at the problem, but my philosophy is that she isn’t going to college if we can’t get through the early years of school, so we spent college savings. Also, you are a good mom for trying so hard to figure this out and you will get through this!

      1) Behavioral psychologist was key. It was hard core and a lot of work but was worth it.
      2) Find out your rights. We found a disability advocacy agency. They had free workshops re: legal rights but then we paid them to attend the 504 and IEP meetings with us. The school was more cooperative after that. You could also hire an attorney. I know you probably don’t feel like you have money for this but it is worth it.
      3) Our school provided a one on one aid for her who followed the plan set out by the behavioral psychologist. It was a struggle to get everyone on the same page, and we went through 2 aides before we found the right one, but it was great once it worked. She could be in a regular classroom and the school was great about incorporating her aid into the classroom so she wasn’t singled out. She recently “graduated” from her aid.
      4) Medication was also a life saver. We waited a long time to see a developmental pediatrician but it was worth it for the right medications.
      5) We also did diets and vitamins. We went to a complementary medicine doctor, which was covered by our insurance, although some of the tests were not. You could google “complementary medicine” or “integrative medicine” to see what is in your area, or hire a nutritionist. I think the right combination of diet and vitamin probably varies by each kid. But for sure, no artificial dies or colors. Those are real triggers for all kids with ADHD, I believe
      6) She is doing so much better now but struggles with reading. We recently had her evaluated by a developmental optometrist who said she has convergence issues that are making it hard for her to read. That might be why she freaked out at kindergarten when she was expected to read.

      It is a lot but I would start at 1 and 2 and move on from there. It might be a difficult few years but you both will get through it!

    • #75283

      Recently I found this very helpful because time out doesnt help in my sons case he may actually bang the door or damage the things.If he becomes violent and one may think that he will not come easily to his nortmal self then we do some activity that he enjoys like ot ball massage,playing hide n seek etc,Initially he is reluctant but after i start he forgets about the outburst.sOMETIMES i hve to do it for 2 to 4 times a day.Hope this will help.

    • #75296
      Ruth Ann

      My son has ADHD and is extremely dyslexic. He is now 13. I have found different diets to have little or no effect (barring an out and out meal of sugar). What I have found most effective is me. When I start doubting myself as a mom. When I start becoming discouraged. When I let my frustration become larger than my love. When I am responding (rightfully) in anger… He tends to escalate more easily when he sees me escalate. My 16 year old is ADD and ODD so the above feelings are well known to me. The best solution I have found is confidence in me. When I trust that I am a good mother and truly, truly, truly believe that he will come out all the other side of this BECAUSE I am a GOOD MOTHER the atmosphere calms. It is going to be a marathon but you MUST believe in yourself. You are here so he will be all right. Keep trying, keep going to the doctors and trying the meds, keep working at it and most of all, keep believing…. He needs you to believe in him MOST. Prayers to you….

      • #75402
        Penny Williams

        Yes! You are spot on. When you mirror your child’s intensity, it only adds fuel to their fire. Remaining calm not only helps them regulate better or sooner in the moment, but it also shows your child that you are their anchor. It builds valuable trust.

        ADDitude Community Moderator, Author & Mentor on Parenting ADHD, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism

    • #75298

      Thank you everybody for your advice i will take on board whats been said and hopefully me and my son will get there and i see a light at the end oh this black tunnel im just glad of this web site to know there are people who do understand what life is like when ADHD plays a big part of your family’s life and the hurt and hart break and pressure it can bring
      Thank u.x

    • #75299

      You’ve already gotten plenty of great advice — hang in there, mama! I’ll just add that eliminating gluten and diary from my ADHD son’s diet has dramatically reduced his volatility, irritability, hyperactivity and ODD symptoms. It’s hard at first, but it gets easier and the results have been worth it. The effects of gluten take a few months to wear off, but dairy was out of my son’s system after a week, and by Day 8 he was like a different kid. Good luck!!!

    • #75459

      sleep, exercise, nutrition are key (along with meds)
      if these are not balanced – they’ll be a mess
      kids need 10-12 hours
      if they snore – it’s not restful sleep it’s sleep apnea so talk to dr.
      exercise is key – Michael phelps was put in swimming for add (mom’s a principal)
      what happened when he didn’t have olympics (sleep, excercise, nutrition)? he self-medicated
      same as dennis rodman after he didn’t play basketball

      so on top of everything – make sure he’s going to bed 7:30 (no computer/tv 1 hour before)
      and getting at least 11 hours of sleep
      no sugar breakfast that includes protein
      and try gonoodle.com for dance exercise for 15 minutes before school/or run/jump/situps, ets.
      plus if he goes to bed – you get a break
      same schedule on weekends so the body gets a habit

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