What to do in the meantime before meds

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    • #110843

      I have a 16 year old daughter who is on the brink of a diagnosis of ADHD inattentive type. We have been on a very long very difficult road to get this far, with school jumping up and down every step of the way telling me to get a diagnosis for Autism. The more I research Adhd the more I’m thinking this is it. I suffer from symptoms as does my husband. My 13 year old son is likely to have inattentive, my nephew (sister’s son) has combination type and I am very sure both my father and father in law had Adhd. So this runs in the family whereas Autism does not. I did the questionnaire last time I was seeing the psychologist and with my answers I gave her 9 out of 9 for inattentive.

      The school has her doing an INSTEP program which allows her to do certificate 2 and 3 training in order to gain her high school qualification and to go a different pathway through to university. She is a bright girl who wants to study animation and digital media but they have her doing a course which is “the easiest way to get her WACE certificate” and it just doesn’t float her boat. What makes it worse is that she is at boarding school so there is not homework at home with me, its all done at school. My daughter has been offered tutoring but has turned it down flat, thinking that she doesn’t need it because she can understand the work but really she could just check in with the tutor to discuss what she has to do and then plan and prioritise the workload so that she doesn’t fall behind.

      Yesterday I received an email from her very concerned INSTEP teacher, telling me that my daughter refused to work and was watching videos on the computer throughout the session. She was supposed to be studying for a test today. I get that this course is not her choice but she can do something that is once she has finished.

      We cannot see the referring paediatrician until the 25th of this month. I believe she needs to be on medication and the psychologist believes that should the meds work then she would have ADHD. I’m praying it does, that we hit the nail on the head first time and she can actually be able to turn this dilemma around into triumph.

      Would anyone have any suggestions as to what strategies we could use in order to help her in the meantime? Its this distraction thing and the focussing is worse than ever. She’s tired of the knockbacks and the school telling her that she can’t do this that and the other thing but to fail a course that she isn’t interested in will only set her back further.

      Thanks in advance

    • #110850

      Hey there, inattentive-type girl here. I had plenty of issues in high school and was long suspected of having autism (and depression/anxiety), and even thought so myself. It never really fit – I was introverted, so I just didn’t like socializing and therefore didn’t care enough to learn how to do it well, so it wasn’t an issue of fundamentally not understanding. So different causes, but superficially similar presentations.

      As for issues with school, I’m not sure what INSTEP is – Google tells me it’s a special ed program, a tech enrichement program, a dance studio, etc. Is it some sort of alternative course of study? Anyhow, one issue I had at my private high school was that because no one could identify the ADHD, I was pegged as possibly autistic/having a learning disability/not actually being smart enough for this school, so I got thrown into mandatory study hall with all the dumb legacy brats. I SEETHED. I knew I was smarter than them. I resented being there and it made me want to blow everything off out of spite. Could that be why your daughter is flagrantly boycotting work in that one class?

      Most of my problems were inattention and having severely underdeveloped study skills. I had a breakthrough with my chemistry teacher. I flunked a test and he had me come to office hours – he was worried that I wasn’t grasping the material, but the real problem was that I couldn’t study to save my life. We did some more one-on-one stuff and he gave me some extra time on the tests and I started getting A’s.

      I know your daughter has turned down tutors, but one-on-one tutoring is really, really helpful for ADHD kids because there’s nowhere for you to drift off to and you’re being constantly directly engaged by the tutor. If the school is trying to throw a tutor at her, by god, take advantage! It will be even more helpful once she gets meds, which will help with absorbing and retaining some better study and coping skills. You’ll probably have to coax her into this, but as someone who’s been there, it’s really helpful, even if it was an affront to my pride at the time.

      Also, does the school have a gym or offer individual sports? Some non-team thing like track, swimming, or fencing would be a good outlet. Exercise really helps ADHD people focus.

    • #110857

      Hi Fluttermind, Thanks so much for your answer. INSTEP is a program that is run in schools for those kids who don’t (or in my daughter’s situation are not allowed to) want to do ATAR which is basically university entrance examinations. INSTEP allows the kids to go into a college (not uni) situation and gain certificate level qualifications in order for them to go on to further study. It is an alternate route into university and often deemed for the non academic type kids. It’s often the case that you’re considered smart and there is always this “but” added in to justify reasons why they are not with the “smart kids”. There are other type programs such as VET that young adults can do in order to make their way successfully into tertiary education.

      My daughter attends a private high school and from the get go they flagged her as having Autism “oh she’d be right on the tip” they said and they would add the word weird and my daughter’s name in the one sentence, make derogatory comments such as “Look at that engagement” when she was playing with her little sister and “We don’t care about the label we just care about the funding” which really got my heckles up. Even the woman doing the educational assessment took me aside to discuss the possibility. The year 11 and 12 psychologist at school announced she’d be putting a funding application in before the end of last term and we hadn’t had everything settled.

      No one seemed to really listen and take note, not even the paediatrician but I am thankful his colleagues are the kind who really go into this very carefully. She has had language assessments and I think both the speech therapist and psychologist picked up this American sounding accent – which if this is a trait then all Americans have Autism and that is so not true at all! Kids here in Australia seem to have a bit of a twang to their speech these days, much more evident that when I was growing up and I think it has just been so I tuned into our culture that our accents seem to be slowly changing.

      I’ve had to fight tooth and nail to be heard. I have had to really tell them that her development was completely on track growing up and I know this because I have training in early childhood development and made darn sure my kids were developing the way they should be. I cannot help it if my poor daughter was rounded on in the playground two weeks into her first year of primary school due to the fact that another child was doing inappropriate things to her in an out of bounds area the day before and she was punished for it. This to me doesn’t say she had poor social skills. It says to me that she was a people pleaser like me.

      And just because she might be talented at drawing doesn’t mean she has autism as many children have strong talents and don’t have any disorders.

      Your experiences sound very similar to my own and my daughter’s experience at school. She has always had issues with homework and even instrument practise. I would do fun things like play connect four where we would take turns putting our tokens in if she played a line of music correctly or not. I remember she laughed so much at this that she didn’t end up playing much but it made things fun and kids with adhd LOVE fun!

      I agree! A tutor would be very very helpful but she is resistant and stubborn and will not do it. However, I was thinking that if we can find a teacher that she connects well with to spend ten minutes with her a day perhaps or half an hour after school to really go through study skills with her and to get her to show her level of understanding, then we will know where we stand where studying is concerned. I know I was crap at studying!I failed my university entrance exams bigtime! And I had classic ditzy symptoms.

      She’s quiet sometimes and really chatty at other times and her teacher tells me she is a great conversationalist. Well if this is her strength, why can’t she play to that in order to aid in studying?

      We have been diagnosed with dyslexia and dysgraphia but they effect the mental blocks and actually putting pen to paper and writing things down. She does have a lot of difficulty starting.

      I will get onto head of boarding and talk with her about really encouraging maybe a different mentor to help her through. She ,Ishtar not like the current one but surely there is a choice. Her English teacher last year was fantastic and her marks actually went up in that class.

      As for exercise, she walks to the shop if she has pocket money but that is about it. She is also studying Marine studies at school which includes swimming however, we have had to fight on this aswell. The outdoor ed department are literally out of their depth (pardon the pun)because they have never had anyone with her kind of swimming ability before and we again have had to fight tooth and nail to really get them to let her do the course. Once again choosing something like Marine took us all by surprise as I never thought she was really interested in this subject – no restricted interests there!

      I just confirms so much! May I ask which meds you’re on? I’m not sure what we will be prescribed. The paediatrician is really wary of giving adhd meds without proof but we do have reports sent to him now so fingers crossed he will let us give it a shot. The current I.E.P is doing NOTHING to help her focus and has nothing in the way of social skills development if they think she is lacking such. She doesn’t need it.

      I will call the head of boarding and talk with her about the tutor situation just so that we can try and do something about this. And roll on the 25th where we can start on meds and really get her on the right path. I want to have emails and phone calls from school telling me what a positive difference it is making. It will warm my heart to know that we have finally got something right.

      Thanks so much again.

    • #111311

      You know she’s smart, and she knows she’s smart. So maybe start there. “I know you’re smart. I know you don’t need a tutor to understand the material. So don’t use this person as a tutor. Just use them to strategize with. By all reports people with ADHD do really well with that, so it’s worth a try. I can see that the frustration of your situation is wearing on you, as is understandable given the situation. But this could actually make a difference for one, so give it a shot.”

      Ps I was the same way. In high school it was doodling, in college it was videos or games. I never found a class that fully engaged me. I usually got the concept and immediately got bored because I know they would talk about it for another 5 minutes before moving on.

    • #111356


      Yes I said that to her already. I told her the story that Fluttermind shared in her post in order to help her to see that it isn’t all that bad. It didn’t go well and we both ended the facetime call in tears but not before I said that if she can’t talk to the tutors, then talk to me, get me to go through the workload with her and we can plan and prioritise. I was always good at this part just not the implementation.

      I had another email from this same teacher to let me know that she “actually engaged” with her and had a verbal conversation about the answers to this test on Friday. She is now confident because of that, that my daughter will be fine. But I also had to tell her that we are trying and that the appointment to have the script written is coming up and to please understand that we are working to get this corrected.

      Because she worked well yesterday and asked to use headphones to drown out the verbal distractions (she wanted to listen to a song she was learning since she missed her voice lesson) and actually got work done on the computer and actually engaged with the teacher and actually apologised for not working well the other day, it just goes to show that she can we just need it to be consistent.

      I’m really surprised that the psychologists at school haven’t told the teachers that doodling helps concentration and taking a little break to stretch and move around helps concentration. It doesn’t have to be a “reward” thing, just strategies in getting her to get the work done.

      And yes she told me off for going 5 minutes longer than needed on explaining that if she just writes one sentence then takes a breather then writes another sentence and takes a breather, she will still get her essays etc done- yes I get it mum she says.

      It is frustrating because all I am getting are complaints and no real action. She had a fantastic teacher last year who really used the strategies like chunking down and homework extensions to help her and her English grade lifted. That woman is a very talented teacher who is off studying her masters this year and when we were talking tutors she immediately popped into my head as someone my daughter knows well and works well with.

      We will get there in the end. I know its coming. And I cannot wait.

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