January 26, 2018 at 12:47 pm #75028
My 8 year old son was diagnosed with ADHD last year by the agency providing his behavioral therapy. Yesterday we took him to a psychiatrist to look into meds, and she wouldn’t diagnose him with ADHD because he’s not doing poorly in school. And that’s because he’s super smart and school is easy for him, despite his inattention, which has so far been missed by his teachers. His symptoms appear most at home, where he’s impulsive, aggressive, disruptive, etc. Because he manages to hold it together at school (with a lot of effort, I’d say), she claims he doesn’t have ADHD and won’t give him meds.
Despite some success with behavioral therapy aka parent training, meds were really our last hope of having a somewhat peaceful home life. To be blunt, it’s been hell lately, and I’m feeling hopeless. Has anyone run into this? Did your child get prescribed meds only if he was getting bad grades in school?
I don’t want to waste time with another psychiatrist if we’ll get the same outcome. This one talked over me a lot and didn’t give me much time to respond, and didn’t really seem to hear me. Thanks.
January 26, 2018 at 2:19 pm #75053
It does have to impact his ability to access the curriculum. Grades aren’t the only thing though. How is his behavior? Does he get fussed at a lot? Can he sit still?
I hope at least the psychiatrist had you and teacher fill out rating scales. If not, ask for the Vanderbilt scales. He’ll know what they are. You kind of have to see the same thing across settings. (Although some kids really work hard to hold it together at school and then let their hair down at home.
School Counselor and guy with ADHD
January 26, 2018 at 4:18 pm #75118
Hey, Rob. Thanks for the insights. You hit the nail on the head — he’s one of those kids who works really hard to hold it together at school, but falls apart at home. We’ve had no complaints from school, and when I asked the teacher about his behavior and attention she said he’s fine. She was really taken with how bright he is, and she recommended him for the gifted program, which apparently put him out of the running with the psychiatrist we saw yesterday. She claims ADHD kids aren’t gifted, but rather, the gifted kids present as ADHD because they’re bored. I beg to differ!
He does display ADHD symptoms outside the home — like yesterday when he walked into traffic unaware (he’s 8!!!) and during play dates with friends. But she didn’t give me enough time to elaborate on those, and only focused on how well he does at school. Our home life is a disaster. I get the focus on school, but what about the whole child? He has waking hours outside of school where his function is impeded.
I’m calling around trying to find another child psychiatrist today — it’s not easy. Thanks again for the reply.
January 26, 2018 at 4:21 pm #75119
The criteria for diagnosis is that the symptoms are invasive in two different environments. Usually, for kids, that’s home and school. If there’s absolutely no problem at school, then you may continue to run into this issue.
However, as Rob said, doing well in school is a LOT more than grades. Behavior, social experience, and emotional sensitivity and issues are an important aspect as well.
Whether it’s ADHD or not, in the end, you need help. You shouldn’t have to live the way you are right now. You may need a second opinion with a psychiatrist or with the evaluation and diagnosis. Make sure you find someone who is very experienced in pediatric ADHD. Follow your gut, and keep working at it.
ADDitude Community Moderator, Author & Mentor on Parenting ADHD, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism
January 26, 2018 at 4:22 pm #75120
Rob, you would know this: Does the teacher have to fill out the rating scales in order for the doc to give an ADHD diagnosis? She didn’t require it, just blew me off because I said he’s doing fine in school and had no complaints from the teacher. Who knows, maybe he’s doing worse than I thought and should have the teacher fill them out anyway. Any advice?
January 26, 2018 at 4:30 pm #75121
Thank you, Penny, for the encouragement. I will keep going with this, because you’re right, we can’t keep living the way we are now. If he’s not struggling in school, I hate to raise a red flag for no reason, but at some point I may have no choice. He’s one of 20 students in class, and of course only the squeakiest wheels get grease. He definitely doesn’t stand out as a behavior problem in school, but I can see his neurological differences from a mile away.
January 26, 2018 at 4:32 pm #75124
I hope I can find a psychiatrist specializing in pediatric ADHD, but I’ll be lucky at this point to find ANY ped psych. I’m in a populated area, yet there are few psychiatrists who see children. Many agencies that list child psychiatry as a specialty don’t actually have a ped psych on staff. Frustrating to say the least. I’m going in circles!
January 27, 2018 at 12:27 am #75152
Well, I just checked out the Vanderbilt scales online, and I bet my son does a ton of that stuff in the classroom — fidgets in seat? Makes careless mistakes? Loses stuff? Forgetful? YES. I’m sure of it.
I just wonder if his teacher is observant enough to notice these little things when there are 20 kids in the classroom, and she doesn’t strike me as the most…astute person on earth. But when posed these specific questions, maybe she’ll be able to recall some of these behaviors. On the parent side, he does all of them. He was DXed combined type by the psychologist at the behavioral health agency.
I’m going to call back the psychiatrist we saw yesterday and see if she’ll administer the scales to me and the teacher. I didn’t care for her at all — she downplayed all of my legitimate concerns — but it could be the quickest way to get help. I took 2 hours out of my work day to make calls and couldn’t find a psychiatrist accepting new patients. But I’m not giving up.
January 27, 2018 at 12:30 am #75153
I forgot to mention that before he got the ADHD DX he had unspeficied Disruptive, Impulse-Control, and Conduct Disorder as his DX. Now he has both concurrently.
January 27, 2018 at 12:46 am #75154
Crap. I was wrong about the scales. Even though he probably has the symptoms in school, he needs to “fail” at least one performance question, and I doubt he will. 🙁 I hate the fact that he can control himself when there are social pressures negates him from an ADHD DX that can get him help. We’re dying over here!
January 31, 2018 at 8:53 pm #75487
So, I’m having an impossible time finding another psychiatrist in my area, let alone a “good” one specializing in ADHD, so tomorrow I’m going to call the same psychiatrist back with some new information and ask her to administer the Vanderbilt scales. There was some stuff I couldn’t think to tell her at the time, like social challenges in school and sports, and careless mistakes in schoolwork.
I just hope his teacher has the aquity to notice his issues in class, with 20 other kids probably doing the same thing. We have GOT to get this kid on meds, or else our whole family is going to crash and burn. Wish me luck!
January 31, 2018 at 8:54 pm #75488
Also, his SLP noticed a social language deficit during his evaluation. That should be a clue.
February 8, 2018 at 4:30 pm #76014
My son had the same issues when he was younger. He was not an academic problem or behavioral problem at school, but home life for our family was horrible. I tried to get him evaluated and get a 504 plan in place because I knew he would struggle more in middle and high school, but have always been denied. Anyhow, as far as medications, our pediatrician prescribes for him. There have been ups and downs and med changes over the years, but the medication in conjunction with having an awesome therapist that we found ourselves has made great improvements. He’s almost 14 now and we’ve been doing this since 1st grade. Hang in there!! I completely understand everyone seeing the best in your kid and having him save the tough behaviors for home. It will get better. Keep at it mom!
February 8, 2018 at 4:51 pm #76017
I went through a program that prevented medication for my boy. I will say diet has a HUGE effect on behavior. There is a book called Disconnected Kids that you can grab online that will help you understand what he is going through, possibly at home exercises to help him, and/or the therapy center we went through for the full program. It helped my boy tremendously.
February 8, 2018 at 5:04 pm #76018
I’m new to the ADHD world this year in working with my 2nd grade son, and I have attacked it like a scientist, taking out variables, checking piece by piece what is going on and implementing things that I know won’t hurt him (sleep, nutrition, mindfulness training, positive parenting (check out Positive Parenting Solutions!), etc.). It’s hard to be told no when you feel that something could work quickly- I’m so sorry you are struggling. I’m wondering if you can try more avenues in the meantime; perhaps if you go to the psychologist and let her know how you have made changes in your home and evaluated those things that are known to mimic or impact ADHD, she would be more willing to listen? Hopefully it was just a rough day for her- she probably sees tons of people who want an easy out to deal with their children’s behavior rather than putting in a little more work- just try not to take it personally, and a second or third opinion never hurts! Best of luck to you!
February 8, 2018 at 6:27 pm #76027
I always took honors and AP course throughout all of high school and I always made straight A’s. I was extremely gifted in Art, but I could also do intense Math and science problems as well.
That’s why most people don’t believe when I tell them that I have ADHD. I was unknowingly struggled with it my whole life and I wasn’t even diagnosed until I was 23. I always had major problems with blurting what ever was at the top of my mind that very moment. I always interrupted people unintentionally, despite how hard I tried to sit back and keep my mouth shut. I was mindfully trying to sit still and be quiet, and I just couldn’t no matter how hard I tried. All of my teachers and friends thought I was an attention hog, but the truth was, I was constantly embarrassed that I couldn’t just still still and be quiet. It’s like everything in my brain was running at hyper speed.
I would often hyper focus on activities that I found interesting (which was a majority of school subjects) and I’d neglect every other responsibility around me. If I thought an essay topic was cool, I’d completely forget that I had events to go to or that another huge paper needed my attention that night. It’s like I couldn’t break away. I was CONSTANTLY late for everything and then become very aggressive and ashamed when people tried to call me out on it. Even with 3 hours to get ready for something, I’d still be late because I’d get distracted by something. I CONSTANTLY lost my keys, phone, bookback, computer, the list goes on. Once I just accidentally left the front door to my house open all day because I was distracted as I was leaving.
People saw my good grades and assumed that I was fine. They called me an overachiever. What people didn’t realize is that other smart people around me made straight A’s and managed to study for a third of the amount of time I did. I struggled to concentrate so I’d have to reread passages over and over and over. If a homework assignment took someone else 2 hours to complete, it would take me 6. I was constantly exhausted and anxious all the time.
Keep fighting for your son to get diagnosed despite the fact that he’s making good grades. It sounds like he’s very determined and he’s coping the best he can. Eventually though, as life becomes more hectic and more responsibility is pushed onto him, he could become overwhelmed and extremely anxious. It will start to show in school too.
Had I known that I had ADHD when I was younger, I could have received mental help, coping advice, and possibly some medication. Kids who are diagnosed later in life often feel they are are defective without a reason while they are growing up, and those feelings often stay with them into adulthood.
February 8, 2018 at 6:54 pm #76028
My 5 year old Son has ADHD/ ODD.
I told my Pediatrician my Son was acting strange at 3 to 4 years old ( He started my car his older Adult Sister was supervising him.)
I took him to the Pediatrician, She said to me he’s too young.
I told her what he’s doing like, he cannot sit still for a minute, bullies, start fights and arguments, writes on the walls/ distructive,does evil things to my Cat( pinch, pull her tail and chase her around the house) and jumps off my furniture like he’s on drugs, shakes and runs in the walls uncontrollably.
The School called my home almost everyday.
They put him into an IEP/ 504 plan.
Try asking the school about an IEP/504 plan.
My Son is smart and gets good grades, but still he shouldn’t suffer because he gets good grades.
The IEP also helps with behaviors, true my Son gets good grades, but it’s his behavior.
- This reply was modified 2 weeks, 1 day ago by FoxMadame. Reason: Incorrect spelling
February 8, 2018 at 8:58 pm #76035
First off, Wow! I cant imagine your frustration. I have 3 children, all with ADHD. My Daughters were struggling at school but not with their ability to do the work. They would daydream and take a long time to complete work. Luckily we have a great Dr in our town who specializes in children with ADHD. One of my daughters has more of a struggle emotionally with hers and she would internalize it all day at school. Once she got in the car at the end of the day, she lost it. Every single day. No matter what I would tell her teachers and even the counselor at school, they never saw her struggles at school. I ompletely understand that part. I would most defiantly seek another opinion. Even his pediatrician could help. We did ine of my daughters that way until we were able to have her seen with the specialist. Hang in there. I know it is hard, but once the ball starts rolling (and lots of tears will roll too). It will get better.
February 8, 2018 at 9:11 pm #76037
Slightly different situation, but let me tell you a story, Kelly, about my brother-in-law as a child.
There was a situation where my BIL was deemed to not be intelligent because he followed all the rules (go figure – they were written on posters on the walls, and he could read them, and followed the rules). After realizing this at a parent-teacher conference, she came home and told him, “Jeff, I know this is going to sound really weird to you. But tomorrow, I want you to go to school, and break all the rules. You don’t have to wait until you’re called on to answer, you don’t have to stay in your seat. Don’t be really bad or mean, just don’t worry about the rules that are only on the walls.”
The next teacher’s conference, he was the brightest child in her classroom.
Maybe your son needs to be given a little permission to *not* hold it together 100% while at school. If he’s not putting so much energy into being super in that environment, a) that alone might help him in the home environment, and b) if that doesn’t happy, they’ll at least see some of it, too.
February 9, 2018 at 8:41 am #76074
Will I have found it very important to help clients understand how they learn that many times is very different to how their teachers may be teaching or how we as the observers learn. When the client understands this they can eliminate almost all their frustrations regarding interactions with others and improved their ability to understand difference rather than becoming frustrated or feeling lost. P. S. Most teacher don’t seem to get this learning difference issue, I did not say learning disability, but learning difference. In my opinion, a learning difference can cause a youth to feel no only lost but useless and devalued. Will
February 9, 2018 at 8:42 am #76076
P. P.S. I was ADHD as a youth before it was diagnosed. Will
February 9, 2018 at 11:01 am #76103
Keep in mind, ADHD is a medical diagnosis. You need to find a medical doctor in your area, like a pediatrician, that can diagnose ADHD and prescribe medication. The best evaluation I’ve come across is the IVA-plus computerized evaluation There are other tests of variable attention available as well that will help nail down a diagnosis. This will clearly show if your son has problems with attention and is not subjective like many of the questionnaires.
My son is 2E (twice exceptional), meaning he has a gifted intellect + ADHD + learning disability in writing. When he was in kindergarten, his behavior was all over the place, but academically he was at the top of his class, reading at a 3rd-grade level and solving math problems in his head. The school dismissed the early signs of ADHD and blamed it on “bad parenting” instead, basically because they didn’t want to have to deal with accommodating him at school.
He was properly diagnosed with ADHD by a medical doctor when he was 6 yo and started on medication shortly thereafter. Medication was truly life-changing for him. Despite the fact that he’s really smart, he never would have made it through school without medication. We did a lot of other therapies as well…behavior therapy, neurofeedback, CBT, diet mods, etc, but nothing was as effective as the meds, although I believe some of these other therapies done in conjunction with meds were effective.
You’re up against a fight with the schools. Keep fighting…it will pay off in the end. Do your homework and read everything you can about ADHD esp on the ADDitude site. Remember, you are your child’s best advocate. My son is now dual enrolled in college and a junior in high school with a 3.9 GPA. You are probably going to have to do a lot of the support at home, but try your best to get the school to do their part. Just remember to stay positive and never give up trying to get the appropriate help for your child. It’s hard work…Good Luck!
February 9, 2018 at 11:25 am #76111
I have no advice, but just wanted to tell a short story. When I was around your son’s age, I was constantly told I was “gifted” and was simply “bored” in school. I, honestly, don’t remember being all that bored in school (except maybe during history lol). This was in the mid-80s, so girls were never diagnosed as ADHD. Fast forward to high school, where a teacher literally yelled at me, in front of everyone in the class, “Take some Ritalin!!!” because I was always so hyper and in trouble. I didn’t get diagnosed until I was 20 and starting college because by then the academic demands were too much for my made-up coping skills. I wanted to yell at every person who ever said it was just because I was “bored” with the “easy” schoolwork. So, then once I was “challenged” in college, everything fell apart; whereas, if it really was because I was bored, then college should have been amazing.
I would get a second opinion and hopefully get your son the help he deserves. Best of luck to you both!
February 9, 2018 at 12:01 pm #76117
Teachers, Principals and other school officials will
blame it on “bad parenting” that’s wrong and stupid of them to think that.
ADHD is heredity and school officials make excuse or cover it up.
They’ll call you every day if possible and say your Child is behaving nasty.
Teachers are not trained to assist an ADHD Child they don’t know what ADHD is and never heard of it.
I agree with Bradleysmom.
Educate yourself about all you need to know about ADHD. There’s many more disabilities out there as well. My Son has ADHD and ODD.
Good luck with You and Son.
February 9, 2018 at 11:44 am #76114
Not true that you cannot be ADHD and gifted. My son has both. ADHD is a medical condition, gifted is a measurement of intellect just like an IQ score and they have no effect on each other in terms of co-existing. Many kids who are smart don’t get diagnosed because of this misconception. I would suggest a second opinion as well. For us medication means the difference between good grades and amazing grades, between being in school and “coping” or being in school and thriving. Your child should be allowed to achieve their full potential and another doctor who specializes in ADHD will be able to advise you better than someone who is a generalist. ADHD can look different from one kid to another.
February 9, 2018 at 2:15 pm #76148
Honestly? Despite our sons multiple challenges with ADHD and ODD we had a heck of a time getting a diagnosis, and even then our school held out for an autism diagnosis before they’d issue the IEP. Meds were a whole other issue after all that, too.
I find that if you keep pushing and keep restating your facts (and keep careful records, a notebook can be your best friend) that eventually you’ll get what you need.
One thing that helped us in the end was finding a resource guide through our local children’s hospital (ours is called Resource Link, look for something similar). You will meet up with a counselor who will do a whole intake on your child then determine the kinds of help your child will benefit from. After our fifth strike out with a doctor for medication, I called Resource Link again and she got us an appointment with a med-friendly doctor the next day.
And yes, there are doctors out there who won’t prescribe meds until a last resort. We even had one psychologist say to us (direct quote) “I don’t really believe in ADHD. I think most kids can overcome these issues with proper discipline, a good diet, and the proper supplements. But please don’t tell my boss that, because I’d probably get fired.”
Guess what I told her boss on the phone the next day?
Unfortunately, all the issues that every day people have with ADHD and other chronic mental disorders will be shared by some of the professionals who are supposed to be caring for your child. Educate yourself and learn to spot these people. And don’t feel bad about canceling appointments or even saying to these people “I don’t feel like this is a good match” and trying something else. Ask for your child to be moved to another classroom, etc. These are all important parts of advocating for your child.
Also, our son was whip smart when he got his ADHD diagnosis and his first and second grade performance levels were really good, but as the work becomes harder at school, his performance goes down because he has to work extra hard at social interactions and things like that. If he could just get along like other kids, I have no doubt he’d consistently get the best grades in his class. But it really takes away from his ability to learn, all this other stuff he’s doing to maintain mentally. He now gets above average grades even with the IEP, but struggles to learn especially now that math is getting harder in the fourth grade. One thing his teacher doesn’t understand at all is how he gets perfect grades on his spelling tests, but when he writes any kind of answers or papers, his spelling is atrocious. Well, spelling a word is wholly different from stringing them together. Executive functioning makes that much harder than just spelling.
Ok, sorry, I’m rambling (guess who else has ADHD?). But just because your son is performing well at school now doesn’t mean that he will continue to. And if the school and doctors don’t understand that and can’t see how his unraveling at home every night might affect his academic performance, then you need to move along or try to educate them. I’m sure they’d rather get ahead of this thing, then fight a fire if his grades start to dip. Maybe you could look up some anecdotal evidence online to show them that it can happen that way.
Best of luck!
February 9, 2018 at 6:00 pm #76187
I am a teacher with add. I am also gifted – school was super easy. But I had the triangle of success. Sleep, nutrition and excercise – growing up. Mom is a dietician – so low sugar, no junk food, early bedtime, and ballet/swim every night.
Now as adult – poor sleep, poor nutrition, no exercise – my add is out of whack!
also – check on friendships – that may be a difficult area. Make sure your NO means NO everytime. If you give in to whining, begging, fits – it teaches them – that those things work. NEVER GIVE IN. They will play you like the lottery because they know it works some of the time. Make sure they exercise, have structure (school is lots of structure which we need), low sugar, at home.
Work on incentives – use calendar – buy toys ahead of time – put on top of fridge, and work toward earning them.
make sure kid sleeps early – tired kids are grouchy whiny and out of control. Early bedtime – if they snore – talk to dr. it’s sleep apnea and they aren’t getting deep restful sleep.
many add kids are gifted – Richard Branson – virgin airlines, the guy who invented Kinkos, etc.
February 9, 2018 at 6:49 pm #76191
I had difficulty getting a diagnosis for my son. I ended up paying out of pocket for consultation at the Amen Clinic (run by Dr. Daniel Amen of PBS fame). We did the full SPECT brain imaging. We started with natural supplements and within the year transitioned to medications. We are still struggling to achieve a balance with the medications, but remain connected to a psychiatrist that understands the disease and is knowledgeable about treatments. it was an expensive option, but finally gave us answers.
February 11, 2018 at 1:52 pm #76227
Sorry to hear that you are facing roadblocks! Don’t give up though if you are sure there is more going on. I was about the same age as your son when my parents started asking teachers, doctors etc. for testing but were always met with the same response. “Her grades are too high, she does well in school to have attention problems. Fast forward 20 some years. I am now 32 and was just diagnosed last summer. After years of struggling (and getting a university degree along the way/ they said that wasn’t possible with ADHD) my parents gave me the idea to get tested through a Learning Disabilites centre. Somewhere that specializes in learning disabilities, ADHD,
Etc. After meeting with a psychologist and going through extensive testing I finally received the ADHD diagnosed and the paper work to prove it! Haha. So when I went back to my doubting doctor he had no choice but to look at the test results and agree that this was in fact a problem for me. 6 months later I am on a medication that helps to control my symptoms, and in combination with that I have made some lifestyle changes. And I can honestly say it has been a complete life changer. So if you think your son needs more help, keep trying! Find an agency or psychologist or someone who is willing to do the testing. My only regret is I wish that someone would have told us that when I was 8 years old 🙂
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