April 17, 2014

Don’t settle for the ADD/ADHD label

My oldest daughter gives me the most gray hairs.  At 17, I still have to manage her academically.

When she was in 8th grade her grades were horrible.  I was reteaching the material at home so she could do her homework.  She couldn’t remember things I had just taught her.  I emailed all her teachers to find out if she was paying attention in class; they all replied that she was!  They said she was a joy to have in class, organized and paid attention.  Why was she struggling for C’s and D’s then?  Why wasn’t she retaining what she was learning in a matter of an hour?

I started to probe school administration. I was concerned though about confidentiality, making sure she wasn’t just another brown girl to be quickly misdiagnosed with ADD/ADHD. And frankly, I wanted to be sure the latest testing/measurement techniques were utilized.  Sue me, but the overall school system is broken and many employees are overworked and underpaid so my husband and I opted for private testing.  After a consult with her Pediatrician, we were referred to a Clinical Psychologist for a Psycho-Educational Evaluation.  The cost?  A little shy of $1000.  The results? Priceless.  After weeks of behavioral observation, review of school records and various testing we were called in to meet with the psychologist and received a 6 page Summary and Recommendation.

To sum it all up, she didn’t fit in the ADD/ADHD box.  She had habits that ruled her out to be diagnosed with having ADD/ADHD, but did indeed struggle with focusing and forgetfulness.  The doctor’s recommendation? A low dosage of stimulant medicines to be taken on school days only (pretty much what ADD/ADHD patients get but a much lower dosage) and the following classroom modifications: front of the class seating, additional individualized prompting from the teacher and extended test times.

I was concerned about the school administration following the recommendations in the report but the doctor explained to me that her written report is a legal document and they are bound by law to follow her recommendations.  Hallelujah!!  I scheduled a meeting with all her teachers, her guidance counselor and the school system’s psychologist.  We discussed the findings and I privately provided a copy to the school psychologist.  I did not share with them that she’s be on meds as I only shared what I felt was important – additional prompting, preferred seating and extended test time.  The teacher’s were not allowed a copy and the report was noted not to be copied.  I used to teach and I didn’t want her put into a “box” so I am a donkey’s butt about confidentiality in the school system.

She is now in 11th grade and she is a straight B student (even in math).  We’ve had to adjust her meds due to headaches as a side effect and up her dosage a little but now she is preparing to take the SAT and ACT.  She doesn’t like that fact that she has to take a prescribed medicine but I just keep reiterating the reasoning and necessity behind it.  It’s helping and the bottom line is in the results.  I can always tell when a few days have been missed because the grades drop and assignments are late. At first, it was very scary and emotional for me to come to terms with the fact that she has to take a stimulant to help her neurologically, but part of being a good mom is staring the issues in the face and trying to fix them the best we can.

I urge all my friends to not be easily swayed with the ADD/ADHD label. Ask plenty of questions and do your own research.  While many people cannot afford private care, take your insurance to the best doctor in town (I believe in the value of that).

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Pascha Dudley

Pascha Dudley

Pascha Dudley is a wife, mom, contract paralegal and freelance editor. She writes The Posh Blog, www.theposhblog.com and is a Social Influencer for an online retail forum. She resides in Suwanee, GA with her family.

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  • Gotjaz

    Great article Pascha! More parents should be like you and NOT accept the first thing a “professional” tells them. You are so right to have asked plenty of questions and checked it out yourself (like you needed me to tell you that you’re the bomb Mommy! :-)

    Only way to help is to be involved and on top of every aspect, especially when talking about medicated a child. YOU GO GIRL! Sounds like some serious SAT/ACT scores are coming up soon….

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001527579457 Kristina Brooke Daniele

    Active Parenting! It’s so simple! Be your child’s greatest advocate, plain and simple. I love that you went out side the schools which have their own reasons/incentives for classifying/not classifying children. I am with you; ask questions and voice concerns.

  • Khareen

    Great example of active parenting. Glad to see this post. It gives me hope! Talking to our 1st grader’s teachers and school administrators has made a tremendous difference in her behavior at school and their acceptance of her differences. – Khareen, http://www.notexpectingtoomuch.wordpress.com

  • Mary Brune

    Great article. I’m struggling with the same issues with my daughter, who is in first grade. She is smart, capable, but has problems with focusing. When seated next to chatty classmates, she simply cannot get her work done. We’ve seen her schoolwork quality suffer and he self-esteem has taken a hit as a result. I’ve added fish oil supplements to her diet and stress the importance of eating her meals so that her brain has the fuel it needs to stay on track. My husband is VERY anti-medication, but I wonder if even a low dose like your daughter is on might help her. We battle every day over the minor tasks like brushing her teeth, putting on her shoes, etc. She gets so distracted. We are often late to school even though we live two blocks away! Anyhow, thanks so much for your helpful article.

  • LYNN